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Top 4 Best Bench Vises of 2018

Best bench vise reviews 2018

Best-in-class
Yost Vises 750-DI

Yost Vises 750-DI 5″ Multi-Jaw Pipe and Bench Vise

A rugged tool designed for heavy-duty use

High-quality multi-jaw bench vise designed for professional use features a classic 5-inch jaw and a specialist pipe vise on its 360° rotating head.

Yost Vises 750-DI Review

The Yost 750-DI is perhaps the best bench vise for heavy-duty use on the market. It’s characterized by a classic 5-inch wide steel serrated jaws strong enough to exert over 9,000 PSI clamping pressure. Suitable for a wide range of professional and amateur tasks, the unit also boasts a robust construction that adds strength and stability. The 750-DI is engineered in heat- and corrosion-resistant 60,000 PSI ductile iron. A nice heft of 63lbs adds up to stability while the reliable rotating mechanism of the vise allows users to rotate the unit to their liking up to 360° and lock it in one of the 12 preset positions through a secure pull pin locking mechanism. Ultimately, the heavy-duty self-align pipe jaws which can handle pipes up to 3.5 inches in diameter and the industrial strength make this vise the top choice in terms of performance and reliability.

Best value
Yost Vises 455

Yost Vises 455 5.5″ Combination Pipe and Bench Vise

Versatile bench vise with 360° swivel base

A robust bench vise designed for amateur use. It boasts a generous opening and comes with diamond-serrated jaws.

Yost Vises 455 Review

A popular bench vise among specialists, the Yost Vises 455 is a dependable tool designed for light-duty applications. It comes with a nominal jaw width of 5.5 inches and a swivel base designed to ensure a proper placement of the workpiece. Rotating to 360°, the swivel base also locks in place and is recommended for work with iron and hard metals. Durability is ensured by the robust construction in cast iron and steel. Furthermore, solid diamond-serrated jaws exert sufficient pressure to hold your workpiece tight and are easy to replace if needed. Capable of holding pipes up to 2.5 inches in diameter and strong enough to handle all hobbyist and light-duty tasks, the Yost 455 is the best bench vise your money can buy.

Also great
IRWIN 4935505

IRWIN Tools 4935505 Multi-Purpose Bench Vise

All-purpose workshop bench vise

A multi-purpose bench vise designed with the hobbyist user in mind. Perfect for light-duty tasks.

IRWIN 4935505 Review

The IRWIN 4935505 is a solid multi-purpose bench vise characterized by its heaviness, a feature that makes the unit suitable to handle tasks which require considerable strength and jaw pressure. Constructed with the casual user in mind, the unit comes with an incorporated anvil designed to prevent the vise from moving while you work. Like our best-value pick, the IRWIN 4935505 comes with a 360° swivel base that allows a perfect alignment with the workpiece. A machined steel main screw designed for wear resistance and smooth operation adds value to the unit, while the possibility to replace the hardened steel jaws and the internal nut when worn skyrockets the unit’s value.

Best budget
Yost LV4

Yost LV4 Home Vise

Affordable bench vise for home use

Tried-and-true home workshop tool. It boasts a solid construction and handles demanding tasks with ease.

Yost LV4 Review

The Yost LV4 proposes itself as an inexpensive solution for homeowners. This unit won’t withstand heavy-duty use but is versatile enough to hold a wide range of materials in a hobbyist’s workshop. It’s perfect for arts & crafts and is designed to hold pipes and tubes with a diameter from 0.6 to 1.85 inches. Its solid construction in cast aluminum provides wear resistance while the blue powder coat protects the tool from corrosion. You’ll also like the 4.5-inch jaw width and the 3-inch jaw opening. The base brings swivel versatility, rotating to 240°. This unit is dependable thanks to its improved base design while the price point makes it the go-to choice of those looking for affordable versatility in a tool.

2. What is a bench vise?

A bench vise in an essential workshop tool used to manipulate workpieces. It exerts a firm grip on the object, giving you the possibility to perform all desired operations without holding the workpiece in your hands.

Since the vise delivers such practicality, manufacturers propose a selection of models fabricated for various materials.

3. Ways to use a bench vise

Bench vises are versatile tools that serve many purposes. They are designed to hold workpieces for easier manipulation during sawing or threading, but come in handy for:

  • Gluing: A bench vise can be used to hold glued pieces firm until the adhesive dries completely, allowing the object to retain the desired structure.
  • Drilling: This task requires precision and stability, and keeping the workpiece completely firm during operation is the only way to achieve good results. A bench vise is the best tool for the purpose.
  • Sanding: A bench vise can also hold your workpiece securely for sanding. The tool allows you to position the object as needed and holds it tightly while you operate the sander, minimizing the risk of accidental injuries.

4. Main types of bench vises

A bench vise is such a rudimentary tool that novices might think that there is only one type. But in reality, there are different types of vises engineered to hold specific materials. The most popular models are the woodworker’s vise and the mechanic’s vise.

  • Woodworker’s vise: Is a carpentry tool installed into the end of the bench and equipped with one mobile jaw (the worktop of the bench acts as the inside jaw) or onto the face of the bench, in this case consisting of a movable jaw mounted to a square beam. Both types have flat jaws made of wood or metal faced with wood and are designed to firmly hold ligneous material or soft metals while sawing, drilling, or manipulating. This type of vise can accommodate large carpentry pieces and is often used in specialty workshops.
  • Mechanic’s vise: Is a tool developed to hold metal instead of wood and consists of a cast steel, cast iron, or ductile iron frame provided with two heavy duty and often replaceable jaws. The jaws can be covered in either soft materials like wood, copper, aluminum or plastic (to hold delicate workpieces) or hard materials like steel and iron, suitable for heavy-duty jobs. This tool doesn’t come installed into the workbench but it can be attached to its surface either temporarily with a clamp or permanently with bolts.
  • Pipe vise: It is a specialty vise used by plumbers to hold pipes and tubing while cutting, threading or welding them. They can be either fixed on the workbench or used with a mobile tripod, and can usually hold pipes with diameters between 0.11 and 2 inches. High-end specialty models have a higher capacity and can hold pipes up to 8 inches in diameter. They usually have a swivel head which rotates to 360°, allowing for a comfortable mounting of the workpiece in the position of your liking.

Besides the three popular models above, manufacturers also propose all-purpose vises which are very similar to the mechanic’s but are equipped with jaws that are also suitable to hold wood and other soft materials. For the most demanding projects or industrial settings, you can also choose from an array of specialty vises such as the multi-axis, self-centering, and extra-capacity vises.

5. Bench vise built

Despite their simple structure, not all bench vises live up to the expectations. When choosing the bench vise for your workshop it is essential to consider its robustness. Most bench vises are made of either steel or cast iron.

Steel bench vises withstand light-duty tasks and are perfect for hobby use. Cast iron vises can be made of either simple cast iron or ductile iron, are stronger than steel vises, and withstand heavy-duty use.

  • Cast iron vises: Are very resistant to wear and tear and moderately resistant to corrosion. They are not particularly influenced by heat, but they can easily crack in the case of a strong impact due to the weak structural strength of cast iron. To minimize risks, manufacturers usually cover the anvil area with welded steel plates designed to absorb impact shocks.
  • Ductile iron vises: Are also made of cast iron but the structure of the iron is round instead of lamellar. This translates into considerable extra-strength and high ductility, hence the name. The hardness and resistance of the material prevent it from cracking due to impact shock. These vises are the strongest but also the most expensive.

6. Bench vise jaw

Another important consideration goes to the tool’s jaw, and this is where things get tricky. The jaw has to be strong enough to hold the workpiece tightly but delicate enough to avoid damaging its material.

Mechanic’s and all-purpose vises jaws usually have a rugged pattern on their surface that improves grip but that can easily damage delicate materials. In fact, this is the main reason why woodworker’s vises exist. Some specialty vises have plastic jaws that won’t damage softer materials, but these tools are unsuitable to use for heavy-duty tasks.

Besides materials, you should also take into account other characteristics, including the width of the jaw, its opening, and the throat depth.

  • Jaw width: Bench vise jaw widths vary from 3 to 8 inches but most mechanic’s and all-purpose models have a standard jaw width of 5 inches.
  • Jaw opening: The jaw opening usually varies between 2 and 10 inches and determines the tool’s ability to accommodate thinner or thicker materials.
  • Throat depth: The throat depth refers to the distance from the top side of the jaw to the slide positioned under the jaw; this number determines the maximum size of the workpiece the vise can hold.

7. Other features to look for

Besides the features above, you should also consider the following:

  • Rotating base: A useful feature that allows you to adjust the position of the piece to ensure a comfortable operation. The most versatile tools allow users to rotate the vise to 360° and some even have a protractor to allow for precise rotation. Lower-end units have either a much more limited rotation or a stationary base.
  • Quick release jaw: Traditionally, the jaws are opened from a lever that operates a screw fixed to the mobile half of the jaw. This operation is laborious though, that’s why a quick-release jaw type is more effective.
  • Weight: Assessing the right weight for a bench vise is a tricky thing. One the one hand, heavier vises are more stable. On the other hand, your workbench could not bear the heavy weight of this tool. Ideally, you should buy the heaviest vise your bench is capable to bear.
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