Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We’ve selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day.
No matter how experienced you are with DIY having a helping hand can sure make completing your projects a breeze. If you don’t own a bench-top vise then you need to add this little helping hand to your toolbox.
A vise is one of life’s simple machines, so simple you might not even consider it a necessity for your own workshop. I certainly put off that $100 purchase for several years. Let me say that was a big regret. Vises can bring a lot of much-needed stability and comfort to many of your small and large projects.
Why You Need a Vise
It’s a Helping Hand
Depending on what kind of vise you get, their main job is to grab hold of what your working on and keep it there. For example: I use my woodworkers vise (pictured above) to hold wood still for hand planing and jointing.
Keeps Things Still and Stable
Clamps do a lot of great things but it takes a lot of them to keep something upright and sturdy. When it comes to dovetailing, flattening scrapers or hack-sawing a pipe, having a strong vise can keep your items set in the angle you need and from shaking all over the place is a game-changer.
It Sticks Around
At this very moment, I am not entirely sure where all of my clamps are if I happened to need one of them in a moment’s notice. However, I can always count on my vise to be bolted to the table, right where I left it.
Pick the Right Vise for the Right Passion.
There are all kinds of vises in all kinds of sizes. It’s important to consider which one you need for what you’ll be doing the most of at home. We’ll narrow it down to the two most common for DIY tasks.
Woodworker’s or Bench Vise
A woodworkers vise can be spotted with a shop-made wooden jaw that allows the worker to hold materials without damage to the surface from too much clamp pressure. The wooden blocks are also set and perfectly flat to help with jointing and precision cuts. Most woodworking benches feature a great vise but you can also buy your own kit and install it to any sturdy work surface you have.
Cast Iron Engineer, Machine or Portable Vise
These are more common in a home shop and easier to find in big box stores because of their versatility and cast-iron heft. It’s great for a wide range of materials and can pack a strong squeeze on things like iron pipe when you need a hand for cutting. They also range in size. Pick a size from whatever a store like Home Depot sells. You don’t really need one of those 100 lb dudes.
Expect to spend around $60-100 for a quality vise for regular use. Buy the right one, and it’ll last a lifetime.
- Eclipse EWWQR7-NA Quick Release Woodworking Vise – An amazing place to start. This is the one that sees the most use in the ManMade shop, and a true bargain at around $72.00
- Groz Woodworkers Vise – most big vises are gonna cost a pretty penny. If you’re just starting out (like me) I’ve found this one to be a decent product despite a few reviews of it racking in place. You will have to provide your own wood jaws.
- Tekton Woodworking vise – Great basic vise for woodworkers
- Harbor Freight 6″ Portable Carpenter Vise – I use this one a lot. It’s a perfect portable companion. I end up using screws on scrap wood to secure it over the twist lock.