ManMade Essential Toolbox: Why Every DIYer Needs a Solid and Strong Workbench Vise

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. 

ManMade Essential Toolbox: workbench vise

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

ManMade Essential Toolbox: workbench 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. 

ManMade Essential Toolbox: workbench vise

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

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Workbench Vise

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.

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Workbench Vise

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.

ManMade Recommended: 
Expect to spend around $60-100 for a quality vise for regular use. Buy the right one, and it’ll last a lifetime. 

Woodworkers Vises 

Machine Vises

  • Yost 6.5″ ViseGreat standard workshop vise at a good price.
  • Bessey – Known for their woodworking clamps, this is a great product too!
  • Irwin 4.5″ Bench Vise – Smaller, but great for basic use. If you don’t have a benchtop vise, this is the first one you should get.