Tool Test: Benchcrafted Glide Vise

Machined to the nth degree, this leg vise clamps like a champ.
By Megan Fitzpatrick
Page: 16

From the February 2011 issue #188
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The Benchcrafted Glide Leg Vise takes its design cues from a traditional leg vise with a wooden screw, but this contemporary iteration works more smoothly, easily and quickly. And it cinches down hard on a workpiece with little torquing effort by the user. Benchcrafted calls it “effortless workholding” – and that’s true, once you get the Glide properly installed. It’s a little more work than installing a wooden screw but once you’re done, this vise is a joy to use.

With a traditional screw, you simply cut a through-hole in your bench leg and seat a threaded block in a notch at the back of the leg (and install a garter, if you choose), cut a through-mortise for the parallel guide, then the work on the leg is complete. (With both the Glide and a traditional vise, you also, of course, have to make the chop and parallel guide.)

Glide installation also requires you to mortise a recess and install an acetal bushing for the screw, and cut, assemble and install two blocks to hold the “roller system” – two ball-bearing wheels between which the parallel guide runs. This system helps to support the weight of the chop, which alleviates friction on the screw and allows it to move freely with just a spin of the 8″-diameter cast iron wheel. (The wheel I installed is chrome plated with a rosewood handle, but, by customer demand, Benchcrafted’s new wheels will have black coated, cast iron spokes with a satin polished finish on the rim.)

The extra steps took only a few hours, however, and the instructions are straightforward and easy to follow (and include full-size templates for the roller guides and parallel guide hole locations).

Although I’ve been using the Glide for a few months now, I’m still astounded every time I spin the wheel (yes, you can actually spin the wheel to move the chop in and out). The 11⁄4″, 4 tpi carbon steel screw (secured at the back of the leg through a black, enamel-coated steel flange) moves unbelievably smoothly, and it cinches the chop hard on the work with almost no effort on my part. Plus, the assembly adds a lot of needed weight (and a bit of bling) to my white pine bench.

The Glide, which is made in the United States, comes with all necessary hardware and parts (including a parallel guide pin); you supply the wood for the chop, parallel guide and roller brackets.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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From the February 2011 issue #188
Buy this issue now