Ask any woodworker about the necessity of a woodworking bench vise and they will tell you that it is quite indispensable. A sturdy bench vise acts like a set of extra arms that can hold a wooden stock in place and make working on it easy. When you work on a piece of wood, it should be free of vibrations; else you will not be able to get smoother cuts as a result of which you will have to work more on the piece than needed.
These are the most important features of good woodworking bench vises
A good woodworking bench is vital to woodworking. So, you must know about the features that you have to consider when buying one. Essentially, there are two types of bench vises – the ‘front vise’ and the ‘end vise’. The front vise is typically at the left side of the work bench. It is used to hold a board horizontally for hand planning or for other such tasks that need your hands to be free and the stock to be really steady.
When buying a front vise, try to find one that comes in cast iron. Such vise has two jaws made up of cast iron and it has a steel screw using which you can adjust the width. Such vises also have two steel rods that keep the jaws aligned. Another important feature that you should look out for is the quick release mechanism. This feature makes it easy for clamping various widths. The maximum width a front bench vise can accommodate is used to describe the vise. For example a 8” vise means it has the maximum opening capacity of 8”. So, depending on the type of work you want to carry out, look for a vise that can accommodate the thickest piece of stock.
The other commonly used woodworking bench vise is the ‘end vise’. It is usually attached at one end of the workbench. It main function is to hold the material flat on the bench surface. One or more bench dogs will also need to be used in conjunction with the vise to hold the stock steady. The end vises with screw and guide rod mechanism are a good choice.
When you go looking for bench vises in the woodworking store, you are likely to be confused with all the variety you will see. But, if you ask which one is going to be more useful for your work – we will say that most woodworkers find a front vise with a clamping arrangement very useful. Those vises with a pop-up dog on the outer jaws are quite popular as they lets one hold a piece stock face up across the width of the table. However, there are certain end vises that come with a set of bench dogs, can do the task of front vises quite well.
In a nutshell, if you want to buy woodworking bench vises, you should first understand the tasks it can do. If they are capable of doing the work you want, you may go ahead and buy it.