Alternative to Bench Vise

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Established Member
15 Oct 2023
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Hey, all.

Me again. No point in a forum if you don't use it, right?

I'm intrigued, does anyone use any alternatives to the standard bench vise?

I'm currently on my second Screw-Fix bench vise, this time it is the bigger one, but like the first one I got, the smaller pattern, the damn thing isn't cast square.

The vise racks and closes at the top before the bottom and always holds the work piece at an angle. Coupled with my workbench that I built out of offcuts and scrap pine - the edges aren't square - it makes for an infuriating time. I've tried planing the wooden "cheeks"* to counter this with mixed results.

* is that the term?

I've researched a bit and I might just do away with the damn thing and just use hold fasts and cramps to secure wood to the bench.

Also thinking of a home-made Moxxon-style vise I can knock up out of scrap.

Does anyone use something that isn't a bench vise?
Got mine from rutlands when they was on offer - quick release carpenters vice - record lookalike -no issues and a 5 “ engineers vice again no issues ..
As said any good vice should close at the top first to resist wracking. Adjusting the chops/cheeks is the way to fine tune it. The cheek at the bench side should be at 90* to the bench top and the outside one slightly angled so the top closes first. With tension the vice wracks itself flush.
There are a whole host of work holding methods that can be used and some people can get by without a vice but for me I still like a vice as the main holding option. Most can be home made so have a look at this.
Mike Siemsen, Workholding on Viseless Bench - YouTube
My old vice (inherited from my grandfather!!!) was out of square AND worn at the tops of the jaws- not a lot but enough that it didn't grip properly, although it still had plenty of 'meat' in the grip pattern, it closed up at the bottom before the top... and because it was nearly always gripping on the left (grandad was a southpaw) it also was worn more on that side that the right...
Meaning that things often 'slipped' when in the vice when you put a lot of pressure on...

Took a while to get it right, but as it had removable jaws, I took them off and filed the BACK of those down until the faces were again parallel (lots of file, put on, do a 'grip pattern' test on a known square block with mechanics ink, take off and file some more, rinse and repeat)

You 'should' end up with the top gripping 'slightly' more in practice, I was happy with even grip over the entire surface under tension (something to look out for with cheaper vices- they often are 'parallel' when not done up tightly, but putting a lot of effort into doing them up, the tolerances are so sloppy the jaws end up 'racked' out of parallel with a gap at the top)

Works better than my newer one in fact- one day I'll probably do it too...
Thanks, all.

I genuinely didn't know that a out vises.

My main issue was when I put a board in the vise to plane the edges, I'm already starting a fight as the thing's at an angle.
I use a bench bull, a scrap frame of heavy wood that can be clamped to in multiple directions and planes, also gives a raised surface which saves the back, comes out of use in a matter of seconds and moves around the workshop just as quickly.

several variations on youtube
I also got on to the bench bull some years back and find it very handy.
Bench Bull 006.JPGBench Bull 003.JPG
In essence its just the back half of a moxon so a few years later I went the whole hog.

Both see a fair bit of use but I am still not going to ditch the bench vice.

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