Ultimate Face Vise
By Brad Holden
A good vise is essential to a good workbench. It’s your
extra pair of hands, hands you rely on every day. The trend
in vises seems to be to cut corners in order to make them
cheaper. While I appreciate saving money, I don’t mind saving
up for a top-of-the-line tool, especially one that will last
a lifetime. The new Veritas Quick-Release Front Vise from
Lee Valley definitely fits that bill.
The Veritas is a wood-jaw vise, as opposed to the metaljaw
vise you’re probably familiar with. A metal-jaw vise
comes ready to use; you just bolt it onto the bench and add
wood faces. A wood-jaw vise doesn’t come with any jaws
at all; the edge of the bench becomes the rear jaw, and you
make the front jaw to suit.
Why would this be better? Let me give you two reasons.
First, there’s holding power. The larger the amount of surface
area between the jaws, the better the vise will grip your
work. With a wood-jaw vise, you can make the width and
depth of the jaws any size you want.
Second, a wood-jaw vise neatly solves the long-board
problem, because its rear jaw effectively extends the full
length of the bench. Most metal-jaw vises are installed so
the rear jaw stands proud of the bench’s edge. When you
clamp up a long board (to plane or sand its edge, for example),
its long, free end fl ops around because there’s nothing
to brace it against. With a wood-jaw vise, the board butts
up against the bench, nice and secure. For additional support,
you clamp it to the bench.
The Veritas Front Vise is beautifully engineered, with an
action that’s smooth and easy. You can spin the handle with
one finger, like the propeller on a rubber-band airplane. Rapidly
moving the front jaw in and out to any position, when
the quick release is engaged, is equally effortless. Tolerances
are tight; there’s virtually no racking or sagging of the front
jaw, even when it’s opened up to its full 12" capacity.
The screw has an extruded aluminum cover, a feature
I haven’t seen before. The cover keeps debris out of the
screw’s threads and lubricant off of your workpiece. Nice!
The kit includes all the hardware you'll need, a maple
handle with rubber O-rings and plastic caps, a mounting
template and complete, easy-to-follow instructions. You
can also purchase a set of 20" x 5" leather jaw liners.
Veritas, veritastools.com, 613-596-1922, Quick-Release Front
Vise, #05G34.01; Leather Jaw Liners, set of 2, 05G34.03.