I don’t know why “wagon vises” have their name, but I know that I like them.
vises don’t have the sagging problems that some tail vises have in
their middle age, they give you more of your benchtop back for pounding
and are generally more compact. The only real problem with wagon vises
was that they didn’t really exist in the modern world. No one made them.
Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted changed that in 2006 when he began manufacturing bench hardware (which I purchased and installed on my 2005 Roubo workbench).
Lee Valley has entered the wagon vise market with the Veritas Inset
Vise, an $89 piece of hardware that screws into a recess in your
benchtop. I’ve had a prototype of the Veritas Inset Vise on a mocked-up
benchtop since the spring. And now I have the production version and can
discuss it in detail.
On the plus side, this vise is easy to
install. You cut a shallow cavity in your benchtop, drop the hardware in
place and drive in six screws to secure it. Done.
operates by turning a stainless toggle to move a sliding plate. Your
dogs drop into that plate, and you have two positions and two styles of
dogs to choose from. The two positions allow you have your dog holes far
apart on your benchtop (up to 7-3/4″, which is a bit lazy in my
opinion). The two kinds of dogs allow you to clamp square work with the
standard dog or wacky shapes with the optional rotating dog.
of these dogs are 1/2″ tall, which allows you to clamp most common
thicknesses. For clamping thin stuff, you can make a low-profile dog in a
variety of ways. I plan to make one from a 1/4″-thick chunk of hardwood
with a couple 1/4″-diameter steel pins.
The downsides to the
vise are minor, but they need to be considered before buying one.
Because the vise is inset into the top of your bench, you are going to
have to remove it when you wish to flatten the benchtop. And eventually,
you’ll have to make your cavity deeper. It’s not a big deal, but it is
something to be aware of.
Second, the vise is a little slow
compared to other end vises. The vise’s moving block travels 4″ and
requires 40 turns of the toggle to make the entire trip. It’s not
annoying, but I do get impatient with it when comparing it to my
quick-release end vise.
Overall the vise is extremely well made.
All the parts are well-fit and finished. The knurling on the stainless
toggle is an impressive piece of work. I wouldn’t hesitate to put this
vise on one of my workbenches. But first I’d have to build another
You can read more about the Veritas Inset Vise or purchase one from Lee Valley Tools.
— Christopher Schwarz
Other Workbench and Vise Resources
• Workbenchdesign.net is your one-stop place for all things workbench. Joe-Bob says check it out.
Thinking about building a workbench? Crazy enough to do it by hand?
Then I recommend the DVD we produced this year that documents how I
built a French-style workbench using hand tools. “Build an 18th-century Workbench” is available in our store.