Best Woodworking Vise for 2020
The classic image of a carpenter tends to have someone endlessly hammering or sawing away at something, often with a mouthful of nails or a tape measure near at hand. None of those are necessarily outdated images – there are all sorts in the woodworking world, after all – but there are a few key pieces of equipment that tend to get left out of the rustic picture in most people’s minds.
Hammering and sawing are hardly worth much, after all, if the piece is lopsided when you get finished, and that means keeping it in place – measure twice, cut once takes on a new meaning when a mistake can mean scrapping your entire project. Most carpenters don’t have the number of hands or strength of grip needed to properly counter the vibrations that woodworking causes, so they use a vise to keep everything exactly where they want it until the project is more securely fastened together.
Vises come in a few different varieties, each one with its own distinct advantages over the rest of the tools on the market. The most recognizable is a benchtop vise, which has two heavy steel brackets mounted on a threaded rod that is affixed below the tabletop; this allows you to hold a workpiece perfectly steady at the right height for our hammer, saw, drill, and other tools.
Best Woodworking Vise Comparison Table
|2. Yost M7WW
|3. Pony 27091
|4. GROZ 39006
|5. Shop Fox D4328
|6. IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
|7. Woodstock D4648
|8. Wilton Tools 550P
|9. TEKTON 53986
|10. Forward CR60A
For projects either too big or long term to have on your workbench, you can use a clamp vise instead, which has the same general appearance but without being mounted to the table. These are great for times when you need to set something in place, such as after gluing two workpieces together.
One other category of vise you should get to know is the angle vise, a tool meant to hold wood still without losing the shape of a curve or corner. They are used in the intermediate stages of a project when the final bracing piece to permanently hold a precarious shape has yet to be installed. These require a certain amount of skill and patience to properly emplace, but the results can rarely be had any other way and are well worth the trouble in a finished product.
Although hardly as iconic a tool as some others, the vise is nevertheless a mainstay of any woodworking shop, and there is fierce competition to make the best one. As with any tool, endless suppliers vie to produce the best on the market, and the choices can get overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We’ve put together some of the best vises on the market to help you choose how you’ll outfit your shop. Choose one that fits your needs and budget and you’ll be all set to get to work.
Our Best Woodworking Vise Reviews and Comparisons
The test of time is one of the best ways to check something’s integrity, and Eclipse passes in spades. The company has been a leading manufacturer of woodworking supplies since 1909.
- Unit weighs 39 lbs.
- 4” throat depth
- 10” unit jaw width
- Cast iron construction
What We Like About Eclipse
This vise is more than just lumps of cast iron. A fitted front dog and tail stop gives you two kinds of vise action in one, and an integrated tommy bar gives an early warning by bending before the vise can overstress in any direction.
What We Don’t Like About Eclipse
There are numerous flaws in evidence where the metalworking on the cast iron parts appears to have been done either hastily or with metal in mind instead of wood, meaning that the user will need to find ways to adapt the vise to work through these deficiencies.
- Cast iron durability
- Multiple functions in one tool
- Trusted manufacturer
- Overstress early warning
- Quick release trigger
- Machining errors
- Can be stiff when tightening
2. Yost M7WW
This saw comes pre-drilled to allow easy mounting while the workpieces are still held firmly in place.
- Steel and cast iron
- 7” jaw width
- 3” throat depth
- Unit weighs 20.5 pounds
What We Like About Yost M7WW
This vise has the compact dimensions needed to move freely about your shop making it a highly versatile piece of equipment to have on hand.
What We Don’t Like About Yost M7WW
Despite being smaller and made of more advanced steel, this vise is still noticeably heavier than other models – a factor that could negate its otherwise improved portability.
- Easy release lever
- Compact size is easy to move
- Predrilled holes for face mounting
- Tommy bar gives early stress warning
- Adjustable front stop
- Heavier than other models
- Smaller in nearly every dimension.
3. Pony 27091
This model has won the prestigious Amazon’s Choice award for being the best balance for cost and value in its class.
- 8” throat capacity
- 7” jaw width
- Cast iron construction
- Unit weighs 11.8 pounds
What We Like About Pony 27091
Although the dimensions of this vise are almost identical to others, it weighs only half as much and includes all the durability of a solid piece of cast iron.
What We Don’t Like About Pony 27091
Although a suitable vise for most tasks, the manufacturer warns the buyer that it is not meant for the very heaviest of jobs, which will mean getting a new piece of gear.
- Cast iron reliability
- Easy to use and mount
- Installation pads included
- Amazon’s Choice winner
- Lighter than most other models
- Cannot handle heavy tasks
- Needs to be ground flush to most workbenches
4. GROZ 39006
This model aims to straddle the line between a casual woodworker and professional carpenter, with something to offer to each one and everything in between.
- 6” jaw width
- 4.5” jaw opening
- Four pre drilled mounting holes
- Unit weighs roughly 7 pounds
What We Like About GROZ 39006
With several mounting holes and a light enough body that even a novice can use it, this vise is a great choice for those looking for simplicity in their workshop.
What We Don’t Like About GROZ 39006
The measurements on this tool are relatively small, making it unsuitable for those looking to work with larger pieces of lumber.
- Compact and lightweight
- Toe-in clamp does not damage or mark the workpiece
- Close-grain cast iron resilience
- Highly portable
- Wooden liners can be mounted to prevent damage
- Too small for larger projects
- May not be strong enough to resist experienced woodworkers
5. Shop Fox D4328
Shop Fox has for some time been a household name for everything for the craftsman, and is back with this fine vise to add to its long line of quality tools.
- 10” jaw opening
- 9” jaw width
- Unit weighs 25 pounds
- Cast iron with dusted metal finish
What We Like About Shop Fox D4328
Shop Fox is known for making good tools at good prices, and that’s certainly true here. This model is meant to fit all kinds of workbenches to allow you to use it straight out of the box.
What We Don’t Like About Shop Fox D4328
The central screw of the quick release mechanism is lead, not iron or steel, and can warp or break easily and leave the entire mechanism unusable.
- Large capacity
- Fits most workbenches
- Trusted manufacturer
- Polished guide rods and screw for smoother operation
- Sliding dogs for longer workpieces
- Quick release has been reported faulty
- Dogs can break with relatively little force.
6. IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
This model uses rectangular plates to make it super easy to mount to workbenches of any description.
- 4.5” jaw capacity
- Forged iron
- 6.5” jaw width
- 6” spread
What We Like About IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
While everyone knows how reliable cast iron is, forged iron takes it up a notch to give truly unequaled strength and resilience. The square jaws are easier to align with a workbench surface, and a toe-in grip keeps it from making unnecessary markings on the wood.
What We Don’t Like About IRWIN Woodworking Vise 226361
The threads and guide rods on this model can bind, making it necessary to rewind and release the vise again. There is no instruction booklet, an important omission for novices.
- Forged for longer life
- Easier to mount
- Highly versatile
- Wooden liner mounting holes predrilled
- Made compact for finer work
- Not up to heavy woodworking
- No instruction manual
7. Woodstock D4648
This vise uses a piece of solid birch for a jaw to make it both lighter and less likely to produce unsightly markings on the finished product.
- 13” jaw width
- 1” screws
- Solid wood and steel construction
- Unit weight 14 pounds
What We Like About Woodstock D4648
The best thing to hold a piece of wood is another piece of wood.
This vise uses a solid piece of birch to secure the workpiece firmly in position without marking the wood. The omission of approximately half of the unit’s weight has made it one of the lightest models currently on the market.
What We Don’t Like About Woodstock D4648
Wooden components tend to have a shorter lifespan than their metal or plastic and are also subject to mildew and rot where a metal one would still be fit for use.
- Smooth wooden jaws are non marking
- Toe-in design
- Extra large bite
- Lighter than vises of comparable sizes
- Cast-iron skeleton keeps the vise strong despite wooden jaw
- Wood is weaker than metal
- Prone to mildew or rot
8. Wilton Tools 550P
This vise combines woodworking science and solid construction to make a hi-tech piece of hardware suitable for any task.
- 5” jaw width
- 360 degree head rotation
- 2 ¾” throat depth
- Unit weighs 42.5 pounds
What We Like About Wilton Tools 550P
Being able to turn 360 degrees lets you use this vise to clamp at any angle, making it a great choice for corners and other junctions.
What We Don’t Like About Wilton Tools 550P
This vise is prohibitively heavy and will need to be mounted on a workbench to be of any real use.
- Impressive durability
- Clamps at any angle
- Integrated pipe jaws
- Hardened steel jaws
- V-jaw for specialty work
- Extremely heavy and hard to maneuver
- On the pricey side
9. TEKTON 53986
Built to provide incredible pressure, this vise can handle the rigors of serious construction work.
- 6.5” jaw width
- 30,000 psi when fully closed
- Unit weighs 2 kilograms
- 4.5” opening
What We Like About TEKTON 53986
Polished and rounded threading makes this vise easy to open and close to its full pressure and ensures that they will corrode far more slowly than other metals.
What We Don’t Like About TEKTON 53986
Although it can provide exceptional pressure, this vise has a relatively narrow opening that makes it unlikely to hold more than a few workpieces at once.
- Premium polished threading
- High-tensile cast iron
- Pre-drilled mounting holes
- Chrome T-bar handle resists threading
- Easy to adjust
- Chrome flakes off easily
- Narrow opening
10. Forward CR60A
Get two tools in one with this vise – it includes an anvil for modifying metal workpieces as well.
- 6.5” jaw width
- 270 degree base rotation
- 60,000 psi when fully closed
- Cut iron construction
What We Like About Forward CR60A
Once mounted on your workbench, this vise can be used for a number of purposes both in professional or DIY applications.
What We Don’t Like About Forward CR60A
Most woodworkers will find this to be too heavy-duty a tool, especially for a home project or casual workshop.
- Double the strength of the nearest competitor
- Rotating base for added axis of convenience
- Solid iron durability
- Lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defect
- Overkill for casual workers
- Needs a strong workbench to mount properly.
Final Verdict: Woodstock D4648
Although there are plenty of reasons to like each of these vises, this one has a balanced weight and strength that makes it an easy choice for a wide variety of pursuits. The use of a ‘toe-in’ pattern keeps it from marking the workpiece without sacrificing any of the gripping power in the process.
Another point in this product’s favor is the large, smoothly sanded T-rod protruding from the side. Most models employ a metal bar only; the decision to include a bigger T-bar that is easier to manipulate makes it far more comfortable than the minimalist amenities included with other tools.
The only real detriment to this model is that the wooden section can easily become subject to a number of ills unique to wood, such as the formation of mildew or mold and rot on your tool. Keep in mind as well that the handle is not as durable as most models are and will more readily break than bend, giving need for an added measure of caution when using this vise.
A vise is used to hold two workpieces together while further refinement is performed on one or both of them. Arguably your first question, then, should be which type of vise is really needed for the job, and at what strength. A vise’s strength is measured in the standard psi scale, allowing you to easily determine what pressure gauge is desired.
Your next question should be one of mounting these things as most of the models here will be pointless without something to hold them in place. Decide whether or not your project needs one, and then use this guide to pick out a vise that will assist you in many projects for years to come.
Last and not least, of course, you should ask yourself what budget you are willing to use on a vise. Many excellent options for a vise can be eliminated solely because of their price tag, so decide how far you’ll go for quality before you get turned back.