If I’m going to get my workbench build started in December I’ll have to pull out all the stops. I’ve a project underway for which I soon hope to have a video done, and any Christmas knick knacks I might have planned to make as gifts will have to wait.
As far as my bench, with speed in mind, I’ve decided on a quick-release vise. I’ve enjoyed working with my traditional face vise, but I’ve also missed the versatile and robust quick-release function. We have six and one plain screw in our shop. Unless you want a small vise keep away from the plain screw as it’s dog slow. Should this be your choice? Not at all, there are so many options for you to consider. Mike Siemsen has a great introduction if you wish to go viseless and Bill Latanzino has just finished up installing a leg vise to his bench. However I think the quick-release is a top all rounder.
If you subscribe to my Instagram feed, you saw the speed of moving from two extremes in the post pictured above. It’s easy to see why in 1902 George Ellis wrote “The modern instantaneous grip iron bench screw is a great improvement on the old wood form, and will save its cost in a few months in economy of time.” Further, these vises grip hard, too. The one shown in these clips is very old and worn, but still bites nicely. It’s one of the surviving tools of our former workshop. Below is a crude demonstration of not just the grip but also my enormous strength (ha!).
All of the vises at the benches in our shop are the 9″ variety and seem to satisfy our needs well. There is about 13″ between the jaws when they are fully opened on a typical 9″ – pretty generous! But instead of going for new, I checked out eBay and found a nice WODEN brand vice for £20 ($30). Record is also a brand of secondhand vise that is well respected here in the U.K. (Please mention in the comments any U.S. brands with which you’ve had good experience.)
One issue with trying go the secondhand route with a iron vise is the postage. Many of the listings are collection (pick-up) only. There are, however, ways around this. On this occasion, I owe thanks to furniture-making student Toby Nava. I’ve been following his journey through his early work on Facebook, and knew he lived close to where the vise was. So I hoped he would be happy to help! He was, and I’m very grateful; it’s a peach of a vise. The casting has a nice texture, it feels honest and has a real charm.
So … will I fit the inner jaw flush with the apron or allow it project? Stay tuned!
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