Chris Schwarz's Blog

First Look: Veritas Inset Vise

I don’t know why “wagon vises” have their name, but I know that I like them.

Wagon
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).

Now
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.

The vise
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.

Both
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
bench.

You can read more about the Veritas Inset Vise or purchase one from Lee Valley Tools.

— Christopher Schwarz

Other Workbench and Vise Resources
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built a French-style workbench using hand tools. “Build an 18th-century Workbench” is available in our store.

19 thoughts on “First Look: Veritas Inset Vise

  1. Bobo4255

    Just finished installing this vise in a torsion box bench top. Most of the comments here are spot on. I would strongly support comments along the lines that this is a “starter vise,” and not a replacement for a full blown tail or wagon vise. What it is great for, however is a my-first-bench type project (what I used it for) or for secondary bench applications.

    In my case, because my top has a replaceable tempered hardboard working surface, “flattening” simply means re-cutting the top 1/8″ recess for the plate in a new piece of hardboard. If I had used solid wood for my bench top, I wouldn’t have considered this vise due to it’s functional and aesthetic limitations.

    All said however, the vise is well built and represents a bargain entry (money/effort) into wagon vise territory. I will be making custom low-profile dog(s) for the vise for planing thin materials, or having a stack of known thickness backers to prop up my work.

  2. Dean

    Sounds like it would be ice to have both a wagon vise and just across the bench the Veritas inset vise. Just a thought. Or, Veritas Quick-Release Sliding Tail Vise ($269) & Veritas Inset Vise ($89). Hey, it’s easy to spend other peoples money.

  3. John

    Sounds like a great tool. I am happy that you gave up both the pros and the cons. I have listened to some very positive tool reviews and been disappointed when their are minor, unexpected drawbacks.

  4. Jon

    I went to the Woodworking Show in Denver this afternoon and got to play with all the fun Veritas toys. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the other new Lee Valley vice — the sliding end vice. The quick release and overall "beefiness" impressed me. Have you had a chance to play with it much?

  5. Gary Roberts

    Just happened to receive a copy of M. T. Richardson’s two volume set on carriage making. It seems the wagon vise was intended for holding round stuff such as spokes and hubs. Makes sense for a wagon maker.

    Gary

  6. Josh

    Thanks for the review Chris. I saw this on their website and immediately thought "WANT" I usually get by just fine with battens and a planing stop but some boards just don’t want to play nice in that setup. I’ve been looking for an endvise solution for a while but nothing I’ve seen has looked to be worth the time/money/effort required. This little add-on though looks tailor made for me.

    Cheers,

    Josh

  7. Niels

    Thanks for the review Chris!

    I like the idea of a simple wooden face plate. I generally dont like the idea any metal parts in the surface of a bench to mess with my plane irons, sharp things, etc.

    This product looks great as easy add on to a bench that is already built. My bench is a total mutt built from maple butcher block top. Two years ago, I slapped a crappy end vise on one end to work on faces. If this product was available I would have strongly considered it. I’m assuming it’s cheapishly priced?

    For my next bench (built right from scratch) I’m definitely going wagon vise. Originally I was thinking Benchcrafted for sure. However, I think the new LV quick release sliding tail vise could be modified to the task with just a little bit of imagination.?

    Cheers,

  8. Sean

    Thanks. I didn’t realize how small the product is. I thought I was looking at something roughly the size of normal tail vises.

    Oh, and one big thing tail vises have over wagon vises of any sort is that tail vises have a massively powerful and stable jaw that is terrific for, among other things, holding boards for cutting joinery.

  9. Christopher Schwarz

    I guess you could add a top plate. But I don’t see it as a big deal as-is. The vise pops in and out of the cavity in a couple minutes.

  10. Christopher Schwarz

    The vise has a clean-out port that you can’t see in the photos. It works well.

    Also, the vise allows you to put the centerline of your dog holes 1-1/2” from the front edge — that’s close enough in my shop.

    Chris

  11. Christopher Foote

    I have a wonder dog, and though the range isn’t 7" it is sufficient. I may be missing something, but this doesn’t really seem like an improvement over the wonder dog, especially considering the aesthetic hit your bench will take by adding this to the top (We all know how important that is!!!). Plus it would be a bit of work to install this sucker, hogging out all of the wood for the mechanism to fit.
    In lieu of the wagon vice, I have my eye on the tail vice add-on:
    http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=65746&cat=1,41659
    Now that’s something to put on your list to Santa Clause.

  12. Sean

    Two thoughts:

    1. Doesn’t the vise quickly fill up with gerbil bedding (i.e., saw dust and shavings)?? And it wouldn’t fall through even. Constant ShopVac-ing would look to be in order, and even then, I wonder is the threads would get gunked up because the grease would hold the saw dust?

    2. It looks a long way from the edge of the bench. That’s a down side for a lot of hand work in my experience where you are working narrow stuff or need the edge to hang over so as to allow a fence/guide (various planes and even electric routers) to pass free of the bench top.

  13. Chris Kenney

    It looks like you could add a wooden top plate, as long as you made a custom jaw. (The specs say that is possible.) That would also eliminate any dust getting into the screw mech. and the flattening issue.

  14. David

    Sure looks like a lot of metal right on top of a woodworking bench. Any chance of adding a wooden top piece? That would should also solve the workbench flattening issue assuming it works and doesn’t compromise performance or holding ability too much.

  15. Paul Scott

    It’s a pity the toggle doesn’t have a stub of 6mm(?) hex shaft on the end, or as a socket with a hex bar that could be inserted – then you could straighten the toggle out and spin the 40 turns end to end with a powered screwdriver…

    …I can’t really see any good reason why this couldn’t have a quick release mechanism fitted anyway?

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