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Bench Vise


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All,


I'm trying to amass my tool library and looking for some advice on a good bench vice. 

 

This will be used for modeling purposes only so the jaws need to align well and no plastic.  

 

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks


Shawn

 

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I have a Record 3.5" bench vise that I like very much.  It has two hefty guide bars in addition to the acme screw. The (rotating) fixed part has an anvil surface, and the front jaw and be removed and repositioned on the back side of the fixed part to give about 6" of span.

 

I also have a Zyliss vise, which is somewhat unusual but occasionally very useful.  Do not buy the modern version -it's junk.

 

Also, you might consider what was known as a Versa-Vise or Parrot vise.  ShopFox makes one that is ok.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7F6N20/ref=asc_df_B01N7F6N205507072/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=395033&creativeASIN=B01N7F6N20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=270628659547&hvpos=1o6&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12839276205461272235&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9016943&hvtargid=pla-451693552537

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I bought this 2 1/2" vise from Harbor Freight that I really like.  I know HF sells junk right?. Well this vise is a lot better than I had expected and for $20 is hard to beat.  Very useful for working on parts that need to be turned a lot while in the vise.

https://www.harborfreight.com/2-1-2-half-inch-table-swivel-vise-97160.html

 

image.thumb.png.1ada47c448184b96f594010bac991879.png

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One probably needs several sizes of vise ... the best small bench vises are those for jewellers/clockmakers, but they can be very expensive, even second hand. Brands are Bergeon, Leinen or Boley over here in Europe. It is a good idea to have one that can be turned. For precision work a jaw width of 40 to max. 60 mm seems a good size. If you cannot buy one of the above brand ones, it is always a good idea to check the one you intend to buy, whether the jaw close neatly and parallel. There is a lot of cast-iron scrap being flogged to undiscerning customers.

 

For really small work, you might also want to look at so-called toomakers insert vises. They come as small as 25 mm jaw-width and are (usually) very precise (at only around 35€). They are mainly used in EDM-machining, but come hand for other purposes. You can use them on the bench, but may have find a way to fix it to the bench - they have normally two M4 threaded holes at the bottom.

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On ‎6‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 9:49 AM, Bob Blarney said:

I also have a Zyliss vise, which is somewhat unusual but occasionally very useful.  Do not buy the modern version -it's junk.

Ditto to that! Designed for Swiss military field mechanics, it's also known as the "Swiss Army Vise." My 30 year old Zyliss vise is one of my favorite tools. It will hold anything in darn near any position. It can even be used as a wood lathe driven by your drill motor. It's the closest thing to a good patternmaker's vise and far less costly. Portable, it can be clamped to a bench top or whatever's handy. Some time back, they subcontracted the casting to some Chiawanese outfit and went to pot metal.  Find an older one on eBay and forget the "70% off" sales. They are trying to unload the crappy Asian units that keep getting returned.

 

1361575392-P2267152-500x500.jpg

Or you can use it as a stationary disk sander or grinder (with a grinding wheel in the drill motor!)

 

49b3960551da1af7dab4b3cb4e17541c.jpg

prod05sm.jpg

 

If you have the luck to find one and the money to buy it, there's nothing better than an old fashioned patternmaker's vise.

 

aw111c.jpg

 

The patternmaker's vise, while appearing like a conventional woodworking bench vise when "at rest," actually has the ability to be moved in all directions so as to provide a convenient angle of attack for the patternmaker's chisels and rasps. Really the ultimate in "planking vises."

 

For fine work, I prefer a jeweler's vise with a detachable head so the head can be mounted in a bench vise if you want both hands free to do the work and standard machinist's vises of various sizes that are also used on my drill presses, milling machine, and lathes. This somewhat unusual jeweler's vise has pegs that fit in holes on the face of the vise to hold irregularly shaped items and will screw off the handle and fit in a larger bench vise if you want. It's perfect for holding small pieces for very fine detail painting, too.

 

210-233.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Bob,

 

I came very close to shelling out $$$ for an Emmert turtleback, but I'd have to build a hefty bench to support the 90lb vise plus whatever it might hold!

 

Oh, and I made a 'speed knob' with a peg for my Zyliss to replace the crank.  It's ~3" in diameter with a peghole in the knob's face to rapidly open & close, and there are also peg3 holes drilled around the circumference for snugging it down.

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Hi Bob, that 'speed knob' sounds very interesting - I have a Zyliss and find the crank handle cumbersome also.  Any chance of posting a picture and if you could please advise the materials you used?  I think I understand the concept of your adaption/device but a pic to confirm would be much appreciated.

 

For all - i am also looking at some way to convert a inset tail vise (set into and flush with the top of the bench) so that I can adjust it from the top as I cannot access the end of my bench.  I wish to use it in conjunction with some bench pups/dogs  but all the tail vises I have found all require you to crank the handle from the end of the bench rather from the top using a crank handle inserted into a receiver much like the lifting mechanism for a router.  Any suggestions most welcomed :)

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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What you mean actually by 'set into and flush with the top of the bench' ? Not sure then that would help you, but you may want to look into so-called toolmakers insert vices. They don't have a horizontal spindle, but the loose jaw is tightened with a bolt from above. The bolt screws into a horizontal bar that is held by either notches in the underside of the vise, or the bar goes through horizontal borings (in this case you need access from the side). They came from 25 mm jaw width upwards.

 

Here a sample picture:

Accusize - Mini Precision Toolmakers Insert Vise, #GA41-0050

I have several of them for use on my machines.

 

It is strange, but the brand name Zyliss conjures up in me not exactly the image of a precision tool, as the company seems to be mostly known for its hand-driven kitchen implements, such as meat-grinders, onion-choppers, salad-spinners, and the likes ... I have seen these bench-vises, but thought they were made from cheap die-cast zinc.

 

 

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Hi Eberhard and thanks for the feedback.

 

I don't use the Zyliss for any 'real' precision work but rather as a woodworking and general purpose tool.  As with the intended insert/tail vise, the size of my workshop precludes fitting larger more specific vises so I find the Zyliss very flexible, and being the non-chinese production version, also very strong and is well suited to a multitude of general wood-working and other holding tasks in and outside of the workshop - great when I travel to my son's place to help with his renovations.  For model-related work, it assists in holding larger items for shaping etc where I do not need to get close to the jaws with the shaping tool.

 

As to the insert vise, I think you may have misinterpreted, or I may have not have clearly stated the purpose of this - by flush mount I mean the operating mechanism but not the jaw itself is flush to the top of the table/benchtop.  Again it is intended for general (non-precision) woodworking tasks.  The types of 'tail vises' I have seen all mount flush with the bench top (with a protruding jaw) but need to be mounted on the tail of the bench for access to the winding mechanism such as shown below.  What I want to achieve is a similar result but being able to operate the drive from the top - I hope that makes sense?  The vise is then the moving part and the bench pup/dog becomes the fixed part of the 'jaws' for holding work for planing etc.  I wish to mount this in the workbench top but not at the end of the bench (as I don't have access to this) and, as a result I therefore need to operate the mechanism from the top rather than with a wheel or handle.

Image result for tail vise

 

many thanks 

 

Pat

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Hi Pat,

 

Indeed completely misunderstood you. However, perhaps the design of these toolmakers vises could perhaps be adapted to your problem. Have a block running in a slot in the bench and tie it down with a bolt that screws into round bar, which in turn is pushed into horizontal holes in the bench.

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That is a great idea Eberhard; many thanks.  So obvious :( -  that is why you are the machinist and me, well .... let's just say I am still learning.  All I need to do is find one with a reasonable jaw mouth to provide a relatively useful amount of 'travel'.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Pat, I was rather thinking of fabricating something from hard wood that would fit onto the bench. One can make the moveable jaw in two pieces, the main part flush with the bench-top and then having the holding actual jaw plugged/screwed onto the top of it. In this way, the jaw doesn't get into your way when not needed and you can have differently shaped jaws according to needs.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/25/2018 at 9:21 PM, BANYAN said:

Hi Bob, that 'speed knob' sounds very interesting - I have a Zyliss and find the crank handle cumbersome also.  Any chance of posting a picture and if you could please advise the materials you used?  I think I understand the concept of your adaption/device but a pic to confirm would be much appreciated.

 

For all - i am also looking at some way to convert a inset tail vise (set into and flush with the top of the bench) so that I can adjust it from the top as I cannot access the end of my bench.  I wish to use it in conjunction with some bench pups/dogs  but all the tail vises I have found all require you to crank the handle from the end of the bench rather from the top using a crank handle inserted into a receiver much like the lifting mechanism for a router.  Any suggestions most welcomed :)

 

cheers

 

Pat

Pat -  Sorry for the delay.  Here are pics that should be informative.  The knob was made from two 3" disks of 3/4" baltic birch ply.  On the face of the knob is a hole for the peg to quickly close the vise.  Then the peg is inserted in one of the holes in the circumference to cinch the vise jaws. (120d apart and angled at 60d to point at the next hole).  The peg gives plenty of leverage to tighten the vise.  The peg is attached to a string with a small weight to keep it from getting lost or tangled in the screw.   Also, you might notice that I drilled holes in the clamps, so as to drive 1/4" lag screws into a bench or 2x sawhorse top.

 

 

IMG_20180716_193438.jpg

IMG_20180716_193450.jpg

Edited by Bob Blarney
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10 hours ago, BANYAN said:

Many thanks for the photos and video Bob; perfectly clear :).  Now to to modify mine.   I liked the idea of holding the 'modified' bench hook also, better working height for smaller cuts.

 

cheers

 

Pat

Yes, clamping a bench hook in the vise works very well. (That one has seen much use!)  It's at the best (elbow) height for close work, and it can be rotated to suit the type of saw - whether a western style push-saw, or an asian style pull-saw.  I've come to prefer the pull-saws, and for the larger ones I've copied and fitted western style pistol grips because I've never liked the stick handles.  

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Thanks again for sharing Bob; I am a convert to Japanese (pull) saws also - except for my larger saws, all are now pull-saws.  I find them easier to use and for some reason (opinion) appear to provide a cleaner finish.  I also prefer Japanese knives (marking etc). 

 

I like the idea of changing the handles on the saws also; hadn't thought of that - watch out I may copy your workshop ;):)

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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On 6/24/2018 at 9:59 PM, Bob Cleek said:

Ditto to that! Designed for Swiss military field mechanics, it's also known as the "Swiss Army Vise." My 30 year old Zyliss vise is one of my favorite tools. It will hold anything in darn near any position. It can even be used as a wood lathe driven by your drill motor. It's the closest thing to a good patternmaker's vise and far less costly. Portable, it can be clamped to a bench top or whatever's handy. Some time back, they subcontracted the casting to some Chiawanese outfit and went to pot metal.  Find an older one on eBay and forget the "70% off" sales. They are trying to unload the crappy Asian units that keep getting returned.

 

1361575392-P2267152-500x500.jpg

Or you can use it as a stationary disk sander or grinder (with a grinding wheel in the drill motor!)

 

49b3960551da1af7dab4b3cb4e17541c.jpg

prod05sm.jpg

 

If you have the luck to find one and the money to buy it, there's nothing better than an old fashioned patternmaker's vise.

 

aw111c.jpg

 

The patternmaker's vise, while appearing like a conventional woodworking bench vise when "at rest," actually has the ability to be moved in all directions so as to provide a convenient angle of attack for the patternmaker's chisels and rasps. Really the ultimate in "planking vises."

 

For fine work, I prefer a jeweler's vise with a detachable head so the head can be mounted in a bench vise if you want both hands free to do the work and standard machinist's vises of various sizes that are also used on my drill presses, milling machine, and lathes. This somewhat unusual jeweler's vise has pegs that fit in holes on the face of the vise to hold irregularly shaped items and will screw off the handle and fit in a larger bench vise if you want. It's perfect for holding small pieces for very fine detail painting, too.

 

210-233.jpg

 

 

 

Bob, I just got a line on an Emmert K1, complete, for $200.  Is that a reasonable price?

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