No matter what the project, a good Hand Tool is one of the basic tools for any workshop; yet there are few do-it-yourselfers that give much thought to a quality bench vise. A vise gives more stability when cutting, drilling, or bending, and better safety. This is especially true when working with metal. Choosing the right vise depends not just on your budget, but the type of job you’re doing. Some home worships have at least two vises of different sizes to accommodate whatever they happen to be working on. In helping to find the best vise for your needs, we’ve narrowed it down to five of the most appealing buys out there.
|SE 8436MVC 3"||4.0/5||$14.99|
|Wilton Tool 10010||4.8/5||$169.7|
SE 8436MVC 3″ Universal Table Vise
Made with durable aluminum, this is a device for light duty projects, with jaws 3″ wide and opening to only 2″. It weighs just 1.4 pounds, but the ability to rotate it 360 degrees and tilt at a 45 degree angle means you can attack your work from all sides. Some of the negative remarks from buyers seem to come from the fact that it was difficult to position to thicker benches or at awkward angles. The design may be somewhat limiting for larger parts or securing to thicker benches, but in that case a bigger vice is probably what’ needed.
Bear in mind this is a light vice; aluminum jaws with rubberized pads means it’s not going to hang on to parts where you’re exerting a lot of torque. But it’s small size and weight make it ideal for your tool box, pulling it out for work on small parts or more delicate materials like wood or fiberglass. This is a great vice for light work. That doesn’t mean it’s delicate – vee-grooves cut horizontally and vertically into the jaws allow you to tightly grip pipes and other round metalwork when needed, and you can remove or add the rubber pads as you see fit. They stay on very securely to avoid damaging the surface of your parts. The plastic tightening knob seems a little out of place on a solid cast-aluminum vise, but it works and contributes to the low cost of the SE 8436MVC.
Some reviewers maintain that it’s too light or doesn’t hold securely enough, but the SE 8436MVC is not made for blacksmithing or rebuilding engine blocks. Those who are focused on lighter tasks, such as repairing remote-control vehicles, and even lock and pistol-smiths, report being more than satisfied with this vise. For a price of under $20, it should be a welcome addition to any home workshop.
Yost V-275 Vise
This is a slightly larger and more expensive vice at around $25.65, with jaws that open 2.5″. But it’s still a small table-top vice at 3 pounds in weight. A 360-degree rotating swivel head and 90-degree pivot give you a lot of options for approaching your work. The jaws have the V-groove for gripping a variety of smaller pipes. It has a suction base that mounts securely to a variety of work surfaces, provided they’re clean and smooth and you apply a little lube. Some people reported that the rubber suction pads could shift, spoiling the vacuum effect, but were easily pulled back into position. Even then, it won’t hold forever, especially if you’re going to exert a lot of pressure. But the lever-operated suction base does afford you some portability options if your working on the go and don’t expect to spend more than a few minutes at a time to get the job done. If that’s the case, at this price, the Yost V-275 is the vise for you.
If you’re fussy you may want to do a little filing of the edges and apply more grease to the screws, as some consumers felt they had to do before giving it a first use.
It’s a handy addition to a home workshop or even the hobby table in an apartment. It opens and tightens easily and the rotating feature works well. The suction will cling to any smooth surface, even porcelain or a kitchen counter top, so you may find it works out for little jobs all over the house.
Bessey BVVB Vacuum Base Vise
This is comparable to the Yost in design and price, and even though it’s a little smaller, it seems sturdier and the suction base on the Bessey is outstanding, so it deserves a mention, as it will also fill the bill for hobbyists. And at this price, it could also make a nice addition to other vices in the toolbox.
The Bessey BVVB also has 360-degree rotation and a 90-degree pivot. It’s made of steel and die cast parts so it feels very solid for its 2.75″ jaw size
The suction base works even better than the Yost, comparable to much more expensive models. The holding power on a smooth, clean surface is excellent. The locking ring doesn’t require much muscle to hold the ball mount still. You might want to add a little lube, as it didn’t seem to come with any. It does have rubber jaw pads, but the steel jaws are replaceable and come with the V-groove for holding rounded objects. It looks to be well constructed, with a metallic silver alloy for the housing, and working parts made of steel. It’s a well-made tool for the price.
It can go anywhere quickly with its light weight and secure suction base. The rotation and swivel let you maneuver the vice into position in seconds. It’s great for detailed work such as filing or grinding smaller metal parts. Do keep in mind that’s a small suction vise meant for the hobbyist and home shop. Putting too much torque on it means the base will come loose, and in some cases consumers have reported the vise breaking. It isn’t designed for that – buy something bigger for a bigger job.
That being said, it’s a terrific and versatile little vise you can take anywhere to secure light projects. If anything, the suction base is more reliable than most of the versions out there.
TEKTON 54004 Bench Vise
A model for heavier work, this is good old-fashioned cast iron construction rated to 30,000 PSI tensile strength, but protected against rust by a powder-coated finish. Replaceable steel jaw pads grip any work piece tightly. It is also designed with a polished steel anvil surface for pounding and shaping metal, while a 120-degree swivel let you position a work piece the way you want. With a 3″ jaw opening and a price tag under $50, it’s not the biggest or most expensive vice you can buy. But it is rugged and satisfyingly versatile.
Tekton makes a number of different tools that are well-constructed, and the 54004 bench vise is no exception. The screw-type adjustment doesn’t feel as solid as the rest of the vise, but it does hold parts very securely even under considerable torque. Be warned though, that the steel jaws are serrated, and you might want to put rubber pads on to avoid damaging the surfaces of the part or even protecting your fingers. Also, some of the edges on the vice itself are not milled as fine as they could be, and if that appears to be the case with yours, you might want to take a few minutes with a metal file to smooth them out and avoid scratching from burred edges. But with an occasional oiling or a little grease on the screw mechanism, this is well-made to the point where it should provide many years of service in even professional jobs.
It does come in the box pretty well oiled and greased, so you’ll probably have to wipe it clean straight away with a little WD-40 to avoid slippage and accumulating dust and particles. The mount calls for 3 3/8″ bolts, but they are not included, so you may have to make a run to the store. You can probably get away with something lighter, or even 2 bolts, though you want to minimize any play and secure it as much as possible if you’re really going to work it hard. The clamp lever seems a little light and may bend if you over-force it.
The Tekton appears solidly made and designed without any looseness, yet is cheaper than some of the comparable 4″ bench vises you’ll find. But there doesn’t seem to be anything cheap about its performance. It’s the right vise for moderate-to-heavy work and with a little clean-up, seems like it will last forever.
Wilton Tool 10010 Truck Vise Hitch2Bench
This is the heavyweight of the bunch at nearly 40 pounds. It does come with an integrated carrying handle to make it somewhat less of a chore hauling back and forth. It can be mounted securely on a sturdy work bench or to a 2″ truck hitch for taking along to job sites. The 6″ jaws should be big enough to hold even heavy parts securely. The fastening handle was relatively easy to tighten and loosen again. Although this vise comes with the powder coating, some reviewers have noted that the coating is prone to chipping and therefore rusting, especially if used outdoors, so wiping down with grease or oil periodically might be advisable.
This is the biggest and easily the most expensive vise on the list, but still far cheaper than a professional machinist’s vice, and the portability of being able to attack it to a truck hitch for repair jobs around the yard or farm is a big plus. Some buyers have reported the jaws to be misaligned or feeling a little loose or limited in motion, to somewhat less than the advertised 5.75″, but still serviceable for most uses. It’s something to watch for. Hopefully Wilton improves quality and consistency to the point where every vise is performing at its best.
Still, if what you’re looking for is a heavy-duty vise that you can drop into the back of a truck and take with you, or even if you want to attach it to a sturdy bench for a real pounding, the Wilton will get the job done.