Where do I start? What woodworking tools do I need Part 2 - Vise

Before I begin with what tools I think you can't marginally enjoy the work without, if it isn't obvious, these are all related to hand tool methods of joinery, not power tools. That's a totally different set of things.


Now, if you want to shape something, you must hold it first. Your workbench and vise are going to be the center of your work. This particular post is going to focus on the vise, and give some information about them specifically.


A woodworking vise differs from other types of vises. First, a woodworking vise is mounted to the underside of a bench or work surface rather than on top. This aligns the top of the vise flush with the top of your bench. The moveable jaw of the vise sometimes contains a retractable “dog” which can be raised to pinch a workpiece between it and other dogs in the bench. The jaws of the vise can be made of metal or wood, and metal jaw vises should be lined with wood so work is not marred.


Some vises are equipped with a “quick-release” feature which allows the vise to be opened or closed along its entire range of motion by engaging a switch or other mechanism and bypassing the screw. This feature is especially useful in terms of efficiency when compared to making wide adjustments by turning the handle.


Woodworking vises are referred to as “face” and “tail” or “end” vises. Face vises are attached to the face of the workbench, usually near one end of the bench. Tail vises are attached to the end of a workbench and primarily provide a method of dogging a piece along the length of the bench.


Personally, I use the Eclipse 10” quick release vise. It is designed based on the Record 53 model vise. It has a maximum opening of 14 7/8” and while the metal jaws are 10” wide, they can be lined with cheeks that are wider than 10” to extend the width greatly if needed. The jaws of the vise are slightly toed inwards. This allows for even pressure under high clamping strength.


There are several excellent options for vises by makers like Veritas, Lie Nielsen, Eclipse, and many other, as well as some vintage vises on the used market. The style comes down to personal preference and style of work, and even the style of workbench.


Installing a vise is not awful, but it's not fun either. I only mention this to urge you to procure a good vise that will meet your needs now and down the road, because you'll likely not want to repeat the installation process.

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Justin Moon | Justin@oldlinecraft.com | Birmingham, Alabama