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Tools

Best Bench Vise

The bench vise is the best shop helper one can have. The grip of a vise makes cuts straighter, joints stronger and all projects easier. Buying one that is made with quality metal and offers the functions you need is one of the most fundamental choices you can make when setting up shop, so make sure you're getting the right vise for the job. From delicate hobby vises to industrial monsters built as strong as the Jaws of Life, vises come in a wide variety. Compiled here, however, are picks for the best general use bench vises that will work for a wide range of jobs and offer great service for decades.

Olympia Tools 38-614 " Mechanic's Bench Vise

A vise which is a good fit for the DIY enthusiast working with a moderate budget and a mid-sized shop The Olympia Tools 38-614 4" Mechanic's Bench Vise is one of the most economical options available when shopping for a budget bench vise. The strength of this vise is well beyond what most people will need and the grip is solid when tightened down with only a little wiggle in the swivel. Included replaceable jaw faces are a nice feature too often absent in this price range but mandatory for someone like me. My only real complaint is this model it doesn’t move as smoothly as I’d like when opening and closing the jaws but it’s to be expected from a budget vise.

Wilton 11104 Bench Vise, Jaw Width 4", Jaw Opening 4"

This offering from Wilton uses steel to further increase the strength over the more commonly used cast-iron. If your jobs require the strength of steel to survive, this is a great option for a good price. Sadly, to increase the stability and solidify the body of this vise, the throat depth is fairly shallow and does not offer pipe jaws. There are jaw inserts that can be used to hold round and square stock, but these will take up room inside the jaw opening. This decreases the available space by a small amount, which is already scant on smaller vises.

Pony 29040 4-Inch Heavy-Duty Workshop Bench Vise with Swivel Base

It's not the most important feature for most people but the addition of a large forming horn on this vise is definitely a bonus. I work on a lot of small items which need forming on a smaller anvil meaning this vise ends up doing double duty where a small anvil might otherwise be used. Strong with a powerful grip, this brightly colored tool stands out for the traffic cone-orange finish along with a good balance of performance and price.

Irwin Quick-Grip 226304 4" Heavy Duty Workshop Vise

Looking at the price of this vise I would never have expected the quality Irwin is offering. It has a nice amount of metal used in the construction of the body and they list this as a “heavy duty” vise but I’d categorize it more in the light-medium range. It’s built solidly enough to survive many years in your shop and function nicely, but I wouldn't recommend buying this one for a professional shop where vises tend to be really abused. Irwin doesn't offer much information on the materials used or their strength, so I don’t want to be the test subject who finds out at what point this vise fails. The handle and main screw are steel, so they’re going to keep performing for a long time. Honestly, I don’t see this vise failing under a normal workload, so I’d confidently add this one to my home work bench. It also has the bumpers on the handle, which my fingers appreciate so much.

Wilmar Performance Tool MV4 4-Inch Machinist Vise

It looks a bit like a toy but Wilmar definitely wasn't playing around when they made their MV4 4-Inch Machinist Vise. The operation is much smoother than expected for the price and the grip is perfectly solid for something so small. Not a fan of the yellow color but I'll look past this cosmetic detail in light of the solid construction and high quality. The anvil block is larger than you'd think for a vise of this size and it's just one more note in the benefits column of my check list. This tool needs a serious cleaning and re-oiling when you first get it thanks to a copious amount of packing grease but it's a minor inconvenience.

Yost Vises 880-DI 8" Multi-Purpose Reversible Combination Pipe and Bench Vise

Versatility is the name of the game with the Yost 880-DI, designed to give you the maximum number of gripping options in one single tool. Not only are the jaws reversible to accept and securely grip a wide range of sizes but both the face plates and pipe jaws are replaceable in the unlikely event they wear out. The face plates can even be flipped to offer textured or smooth surface. This is all on top of an extremely strong body, beautifully smooth action and guarantee of quality.

Wilton 21800 748A 8-Inch Jaw Width by 8-1/4-Inch Opening Mechanics Vise

The 21800 748A 740 Series Mechanics Vise is set at a fair price for the level of quality craftsmen come to expect from Wilton. This vice is constructed from strong, quality materials guaranteeing you a long life of smooth operation. Large and very heavy, this vise weighs in around 69 lbs so make sure you have a sturdy surface to secure this beast. The only downside about this unit has nothing to do with the vise itself. Because this tool is so heavy, the packaging doesn't hold up well during shipping so there’s a chance the tool may arrive with some cosmetic damage. It won't affect the vises function at all but still something to consider.

Ridgid 66997 F-60 6-inch Forged F-Series Vise

The F-60 vise from Ridgid is for the craftsman who needs a vise which can take more abuse than the bench to which it’s bolted;  forged steel rated with a tensile strength of 75,000 psi. While expensive, this vise delivers phenomenal strength and grip. Breaking the jaws on this vise is nearly impossible but just in case, Ridgid offers a lifetime guarantee. The trade off  is you can’t swap out jaws for specific jobs or materials. Users should also be careful not to over-tighten materials because this vise delivers a lot of force with surprisingly little effort leaving jaw impressions in your work. If a secure grip is a priority and marring the surface of your project is not a problem, this is a great choice.

K Tool International KTI-64108 8" Steel Vise

This is not the most expensive, heavy duty or even cheapest vise on my list, but it’s a good all-around model for a nice price. Steel construction makes the K Tool International KTI-64108 8" Steel Vise a very durable unit along with replaceable jaws offering amazing versatility. While the ability to change jaws adds a potential failure point where the jaws meet the vise, the amount of pressure to cause a failure would likely destroy your project long before the failure occurred. A highly appreciated feature is the anti-pinch rings which serve to protect the operator hands while tightening the unit.

Wilton 10500 Aw45 4-1/2” Jaw Round Channel Outdoor Vise with Swivel Base

The Wilton All-Weather 4-1/2” Jaw Round Channel Outdoor Vise is built to stand up to the rigors of the elements and keep operating with a perfectly smooth action. This vise can handle anything short of a lightning strike and keep working. Rest assured, this vise will outlive just about everything else in your shop and can handle heavy duty jobs if you give it a home indoors. This vice is expensive enough where it’s suggested only for a professional-grade shop turning a good profit.

Paul Joseph Morin
I grew up breathing sawdust and dirt. Now I'm back in the shop after an overly long break. This time I remembered my respirator. I have my father to thank for setting me on the path of the DIY guru and he didn't waste a day that could be spent with a trowel or hammer in hand. Now I use these skills to grow my own vegetables and fruit, craft wooden toys and tools, and keep my home running smoothly.
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