There is no better friend in a woodworking shop than a quality woodworking vise.
The best woodworking vise is even better than a second set of (very) strong hands. You’ll feel like you have a lot more freedom to tackle the kinds of projects you wouldn’t have been able to before with a quality vise – and you won’t have to worry about your projects getting “sideways” on the bench any longer, either.
At the same time, finding a great woodworking vise is often a lot more challenging than most people expect.
But that’s why we have outlined this quick guide below.
By the time you’re done with the inside info below you’ll know EXACTLY how to get your hands on a great woodworking vise perfect for your needs, your budget, and the kinds of projects you hope to tackle today and in the future.
Ready to get started?
Let’s jump right in!
Our Best Woodworking Vise Reviews and Comparisons
1.IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
One of the most popular all-purpose style vises you’ll find on the market today, this particular option is great for light-duty woodworking, finish working, and other projects where you don’t necessarily need a tremendous amount of strength or pressure.
- All metal construction
- Lightweight plates
- Easy to maneuver vise screw
- Top-tier quality and durability
What We Like About IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
There is a lot to like when it comes to this particular vise, but the fact that it has been forged out of heavy-duty iron material separates it from a lot of other competing options.
The choice of Irwin to actually forge this material adds significant durability to the equation that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. A lot of companies like to machine or mill the faces of their vise, compromising its durability quite a bit, but that’s not something that the folks at Irwin have ever been interested in.
Another cool thing about these woodworking vises is that they are available in a variety of different sizes and configurations.
It’s not hard to find options that have anywhere between 4 ½ inch jaws as well as options that expand out even further than that.
Installing them on your workbench is super simple and straightforward, too. These are a great set of beginner tools.
What We Don’t Like About IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
On the flip side of things, these woodworking vise options generally aren’t quite big enough or “beefy” enough to be used in a lot of heavy-duty applications.
If you’re going to be making huge tables, cabinets, or need vises that can withstand commercial project capacities – running your vise all day long, every day of the week pretty much – you’re probably going to want to look somewhere else.
- Square body shape mounts perfectly on all workbenches
- Fantastic for beginners to get started with
- Super easy to install and configure
- Very lightweight compared to other options
- Not all designed with commercial applications in mind
- Jaws just are wide enough for certain applications
2. Eclipse Quick Release Woodworking Vise
Another great option when you are on the hunt for the best woodworking vises money can buy in 2020, these vises not only feature a top-tier build quality and some of the most heavy-duty components around but also have quick release and repositioning systems that are second to none.
One of the few adjustable vises that have a fully adjustable front stop mechanism, you have a whole lot more control and consistency over the performance of this vise compared to options that lack this essential component.
Made out of high-quality materials throughout, the durability of these vises are top-tier as well.
- Heavy-duty cast-iron materials
- Extra-wide jaws
- Smooth spinning vise screw
- Well-positioned “Tommy bar”
What We Like About Eclipse Quick Release Woodworking Vise
There are a lot of things to get really excited about when it comes to this particular set of woodworking vises, but the whole package starts with the forged cast-iron components.
As we mentioned a moment ago, there are a lot of vise companies out there that are skipping out on forging their materials in favor of more modern construction approaches.
We can tell you (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that a lot of those options are going to fail way before you even see a tiny bit of degradation with these vises.
The forging provides a lot of strength, a lot of stability, and a lot of reliability that you’re just not going to get with flimsy options.
What makes things even more aggressive with this vise is how easy it is to open up and close this vise with these heavy-duty plates at either end.
This is all made possible thanks to a very intelligently designed vise screw and lever system that lets you quickly spin in or out, moving the plates and jaws to your work surface and then away from your project as needed – always applying just the right amount of consistent pressure along the way.
The fact that these jaws are 7 inches wide with a 3-inch throat depth definitely helps things along, too.
What We Don’t Like About Eclipse Quick Release Woodworking Vise
The only thing that we really aren’t crazy about when it comes to beads specific vises is the front stop extension.
It just isn’t as high as you would expect, which somewhat limits overall capacity, but at the end of the day, that’s really not that big a deal.
- Cast-iron tabs with mounting screws
- Heavy-duty cast-iron jaws and vise components
- 7 inch wide jaws with a 3-inch throat depth
- Super smooth screw and lever system
- Front stop extension is a bit on the smaller side of things
3. Pony 27091 Medium Duty Woodworker’s Vise
Pony is beloved for making some of the best woodworking tools on the planet, and this particular system is absolutely no exception.
With jaws that measure 7 inches wide and a throat of 8 inches, you are going to be able to tackle pretty much every kind of project you’d like to with these vise options at the end of your bench.
On top of all that, these Pony vises have all been predrilled so that you can attach different accessories, different add-ons, and different jigs directly onto the vise itself. That’s a game-changer.
- Heavy-duty cast-iron materials
- Predrilled face elements for easy customization
- Incredibly smooth screw and lever system
- Easy installation process
What We Like About Pony 27091 Medium Duty Woodworker’s Vise
As highlighted above, the overall build quality of these Pony vises is off of the charts.
When you get your hands on a quality product like this you know is going to last and last, especially since so much of it is made from heavy-duty cast-iron materials with stainless steel and plated steel components throughout as well.
The sturdiness and stability of these vises are top-tier, too.
What We Don’t Like About Pony 27091 Medium Duty Woodworker’s Vise
For reasons we can’t really figure out on our own Pony decided not to include any of the mounting or installation hardware in the box with these vises.
That means you’re going to have to pop down to the local hardware store or dip into your own fasteners supply to attach this Pony vise to your workbench.
The overwhelming majority of vises on the market today include their own mounting hardware which makes this so strange.
- World-class build quality
- Obviously designed with woodworking projects in mind
- As sturdy and as reliable as they get
- One of the most flexible and adaptable systems you’ll find today
- Doesn’t include necessary mounting hardware or fasteners
- A little pricey
4. Yost M7WW Rapid Acting Wood Working Vise
This is very much a professional woodworker vise as opposed to something that a DIYer will want to add to their garage workbench – though they are able to get just as much use out of this platform, that’s for sure.
Designed with optimal performance in mind, everything about this particular vise revolves around efficiency. Everything is smoother operating, everything is intelligently layout, and everything “makes sense” purely from an operational standpoint.
- Heavy-duty stainless steel and cast-iron materials
- Includes bench dogs for oversized woodworking components
- Built-in adjustable bench dog does a great job of extending reach as well
- Legendary durability
What We Like About Yost M7WW Rapid Acting Wood Working Vise
The smoothness of operation with this woodworking vise help to put it over the top when you stack it against the rest of the competition out there.
Sure, a lot of vise options promise the moon and the stars when it comes to smoothness of operation and overall ease of use. But none of them are quite as smooth, quite as easy to use, or quite as quiet as this vise is.
Making this even more impressive is the fact that this is a vise with a 7-inch wide jaw and an 8-inch wide jar opening.
For a vise that is this big and this heavy-duty to be as easy to use and to manipulate is nothing short of exceptional.
Because it is so easy to operate you’re also going to have no trouble going from light-duty projects to heavy-duty projects and everything in between with just the right amount of pressure every step of the way.
What We Don’t Like About Yost M7WW Rapid Acting Wood Working Vise
Maybe it’s just the vise that we get our hands on (though we have seen a couple of other best woodworking vise reviews out there mention this problem, too), but the top jaws themselves are not always perfectly parallel.
We had to do a little bit of customization work to this vise to get it back into position. That took about an hour of playing around, but we were able to get into place.
That might be something that you have to tackle all on your own, too.
- Heavy-duty construction materials throughout
- Stainless steel offers durability and almost frictionless operation
- Oversized bench dog accessory is a real treat
- Internal adjustable bench dog works well, too
- Out of whack top jaws are a bit of a headache to have to fool around with
5. TEKTON 6-1/2-Inch Woodworking Vise
If your ultimate priority with a new woodworking vise purchase revolves around durability above all else (aside from performance, of course) there may not be a better option on the market than this one.
Specifically designed from top to bottom with durability and reliability in mind, everything about this vise feels like overkill, overbuilt, and almost unnecessary – all resulting in a workbench that is strong, stable, and super dependable.
- Effortless to adjust clamping system
- A variety of different installation options
- Compact and lightweight compared to other options
- Smooth motion screw and lever system
What We Like About TEKTON 6-1/2-Inch Woodworking Vise
Straightaway we love the fact that you can install this woodworking vise pretty much anywhere and everywhere you want to on your bench with no real difficulty at all.
A lot of other options on the market today basically force you into putting your vise exactly where they want you to, leaving you little wiggle room even if it doesn’t make the most sense for your workflow.
That’s not going to be a problem here.
This vise works well in a variety of different applications (as a face vise as well as an end vise). It’s also overbuilt to the point where you never have to worry about overall durability and reliability, either.
What We Don’t Like About TEKTON 6-1/2-Inch Woodworking Vise
One wrinkle we don’t love with this woodworking vise is the fact that the jaws themselves generally don’t open up large enough to accept bigger pieces of material or bigger projects that are almost completed.
There are ways around this if you are willing to get a little bit creative. But straight out-of-the-box and for the most part, this is something that’s going to limit your utility with these woodworking vises.
Recognize that ahead of time and you won’t have much to worry about.
- Really easy to adjust clamping mechanism is smartly designed
- A bunch of different installation options opens up a world of versatility
- The lightweight and compact form factor allows you to use this vise in ways you couldn’t have used other options
- The jaw width is pretty limiting with these
6. Shop Fox D4328 9-Inch Quick Release Wood Vise
If you need a set of really big, but really smoother operating woodworking vises then this is the choice for you!
The folks at Shop Fox have smashed a home run with this particular toolset, giving you a vise that has a maximum jaw opening of just over 10 inches and a jaw width that you can work with that goes beyond 9 inches.
That’s a huge deal when you’re talking about woodworking vises!
- Oversized jar system accommodates larger format projects and materials
- Guide rods have been polished to perfection
- Internal vise screw take advantage of acme threading
What We Like About Shop Fox D4328 9-Inch Quick Release Wood Vise
For a woodworking vise as big as this one it’s amazing that they’ve been able to create something as smooth in operation at the same time.
With most oversized woodworking vises you’re dealing with a tool that is a pain in the you-know-what to work with most of the time. They like to clank around, they like to get gummed up, and they are almost always impossible to tighten or loosen all that quickly – but the Shop Fox is the complete opposite of all those things!
Instead, this quick release woodworking vise has been designed to give you a much easier time working with larger projects and larger materials.
Everything about it – from the stainless steel materials to the forged cast-iron plates to the acme threaded screw – was very carefully and intentionally thought out to make your life as a woodworker just a little bit easier.
It’s not hard to come away from using these vises feeling like you’ve got a second set of hands helping you in the shop.
What We Don’t Like About Shop Fox D4328 9-Inch Quick Release Wood Vise
Like another of the woodworking vises we mentioned earlier, this option from Shop Fox inexplicably doesn’t include mounting hardware in the package.
You’re going to have to spring for your own mounting screws and mounting bolts to fully assemble this vise and attach it safely to your woodworking bench.
That’s not going to bother a lot of people, but when you spend the kind of money this particular tool commands you expect everything you need to be in the box when you pop it open.
- While large enough for big format projects it never gets in the way
- Polished guide rods allow for quick release and tensioning system
- The screw is fully acme threaded
- Does not include any of the installation or mounting hardware you need to attach to your bench
Even though you really can’t go wrong with any of the options we mentioned above, and all of them are worthy of the title “best woodworking vise in 2020”, for the money it’s tough to beat the value that you get with the Pony 27091 Medium Duty woodworking vise.
Well-made, smartly engineered, and the kind of woodworking vise those beginner woodworkers, DIYers, homeowners, contractors, and professionals could all use on their workbench.
Now that we have covered some of the best woodworking vise options on the market in 2020 it’s important to really highlight a couple of things you’ll want to consider as you review your next purchase.
Two Main Types
To kick things off, there are really two main types of woodworking vises that you’ll have to pick and choose from:
- Front vises
- End vises
Let’s cover both of these options a little more in-depth right now.
Front vise options are incredibly popular and for good reason.
Designed to hold things right up front and center (on the face of a woodworking project), you’ll be able to move, rotate, and maneuver the material that you are working with quite easily with this kind of vise configuration.
End vises, on the other hand, are most often situated at the extreme end of the workbench – which is how they get their name.
These kinds of devices are usually designed to hold material flat against the surface of the bench, pinching the project that you are working on between a couple of “vise dogs” that you can move and maneuver quite easily.
Truth be told, it’s not a bad idea to get your hands on both of these kinds of vises if you have the budget and the room on your bench to do so. If not, get a face vise to start things off and then add an end vise later down the line.
Other (Rarer) Vise Options to Consider
The Leg Vise
A leg vise is a lot less common today than it used to be in the past, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to use this vise every now and again!
Super simple, superstrong, and one of the easiest vises to make all on your own (rather than having to buy one from the store or online), this vise is usually attached to the front left half end of the bench on the leg.
The outside jar of this vise is the one that moves and maneuvers and it’s designed to handle larger dimensional hardwood materials that are often big, bulky, and super heavy.
The Engineer Vise
Engineer vises are even more heavy-duty vises than other options, almost always bolted directly to the top of a workbench surface.
Sometimes weighing as much as a blacksmith’s anvil and designed to let you hammer away on it whenever necessary, sometimes this vise has been called a machinist’s vise or a railroad vise, too.
The general purpose of this vise is to grab a hold of things and keep them steady so that you can bend, move, hammer, cut, drill, or otherwise manipulate the material that you are working with without it moving even a little bit.
It’s not a bad idea to put something on the surface of the jaws of this vise to better protect your materials, especially if you’re going to be working with a lot of hardwood and softwood options.
If you’re going to be working in metal, though, this is a vise you want to be sure that your workbench has for sure.