Let’s go on a hunt for the best bench vise — or is it vice? Many people get confused with the spelling, so let’s clear this up before we get started.
I often see a vise referred to as a vice. This is a spelling thing and not really something one would discuss in a tool review. Though, for the sake of clarity, here’s a short English spelling lesson. In the USA and Canada, the spelling of the word vice and vise has two separate meanings. Other English-speaking countries use UK spelling. In these countries, there is only one way of spelling both terms, this being the word vice. If you read information supplied by English-speakers outside of North America, you’ll find the word vice used where, in the US, one would call it a vise.
Introduction | Best Bench Vise
A vise is a tool used to grip an object so that you can use both hands when working. A vise is usually attached to a workbench, but I often see them fitted the back of pickup trucks, providing a mobile work station. In contrast, a vice refers to a decadent habit, like smoking or excessive drinking. So, in a sense, the US spelling of the word vise makes it is easier for us to distinguish what we’re talking about. Though, we could say that either spelling is correct – it depends on where in the world you come from.
A vise is such a common item in the workshop that we often take them for granted. The use of one stationary jaw that’s connected to a solid surface and another that can be adjusted by means of a helical screw goes back further than anyone can tell with any certainty. We know that the basic vise was already in common use as far back as the middle ages. Though the vise as we know it today was only perfected in 1925 by inventor Josef Heuer.
The real improvement was the inclusion of a dual prism guide track. Modern vises usually have a round shaft that is held in place by a cylindrical tube. Today, we wouldn’t even notice how important this step was. If you look at the base of any modern vise, it has a drop forged iron track at the base that fits into a clasp. This holds the vise ridged and prevents any movement of the clamping jaw. Without it, old vises could not hold the workpiece in a permanently vertical position.
A Vise is an Essential Tool for any Workshop | TEKTON 5409 : 8″ Bench Vise
As basic as the mechanical technology used in a vise is, they are not all the same. We may not always think that it’s important to pay any real attention to how our vise is manufactured. After all, they all do basically the same job. Or do they? You get really cheap vises and some that seem to be unbelievably expensive. When it comes down to it, not all vises are equal. Some are heavy-duty and others are only designed for light or medium-duty work. There are other subtle differences, like the manner in which a vise grips the material. One of these adaptations may be a vise that is able to grip pipes or other rounded objects. So choosing the best vise for your needs is not as simple as it may first appear.
In this article, we will not only be reviewing some the best bench vises that you can get, but I’ll also be discussing how one vise differs from another. Since it’s going to last you a lifetime, choosing the best bench vise for your shop is something that is worth spending a little time on. Because a vise is virtually indestructible, you’ll only be spending once. So it’s worth paying a little extra, if you need to, in order to get the perfect vise for your needs. It’s something that you’ll appreciate for many years to come.
Reviews | Best Bench Vise
Since we all have different needs, there’s a good selection of vises chosen for this review. The price you’re paying will depend, to some extent, on the brand. Though, more importantly, a heavy-duty vise which is much stronger, is obviously going to cost more. After reviewing the products, I’ll offer up some more information that should help you decide which is going to be the best vise for you. This should help you spend your money wisely.
Best bench vise that is both affordable and well made, with 9000 psi of clamping force. Yost has been building tools for over 100 years.
- Meets NSN 5120-01-520-9328
- Made of Heavy Duty Ductile Iron
- Vise is equipped with (3) three sets of replaceable, hardened steel jaws
- Parallel serrated jaws, pipe jaws and V-jaws for holding both round & flat stock
- Vise head rotates 360° with locking at every 30° or (12) twelve different locking positions
- Vise body rotates 360° using interlocking V-grooved swivel base and (2) two lockdowns to lock at any position
- Swivel base has (4) four 5/8″ Dia. holes for securing vise base to a work bench (fasteners not included)
- Large built-in anvil
- No-pinch main screw handle
The Yost 750-DI is what I’d call a medium-duty vise. Though with its ductile iron construction (rated at 60,000 – 65,000 PSI), many would consider it to be a heavy-duty vise. To my mind, only forged steel vises make the grade as being truly heavy-duty. It can handle quite a lot and will make a perfect fit for most professional or home shops. What I like most about the Yost 750-DI vise, is its versatility, you get several jaw sets with the vise and there are even more available as accessories. So you can adapt this vise to just about any type of material or shape.
VIDEO | Watch this excellent video of the Yost Vises 750-DI – 5″
The 4” throat depth, with a 5” jaw opening and width, makes it one of the smaller bench vises. Though this is the size vise that you’ll find in many shops. I doubt whether most home users would need anything bigger. It secures to the workbench by means of four ⁵⁄₈” diameter holes, giving it a solid foundation. The base can swivel a full 360°, with 12 locking positions every 30°. Once locked in position, the base will not be going anywhere. This is thanks to the V-grooves in the base that lock like teeth. It has two lockdowns that ensure there can be no lift in either direction.
It is supplied with 3 sets of hardened steel jaws. You get the standard parallel serrated jaws for flat material, pipe jaws that can accommodate a diameter of 0.125” up to 3.5”, and a set of V-Jaws that can grip both flat and rounded material. You’re also able to order a great selection of aluminum jaw caps as optional extras. These include a 5” aluminum jaw cap; a 5” magnetic aluminum jaw cap; a 5” magnetic aluminum jaw cap with a rubber contact surface and a 5” prism aluminum jaw cap.
These all come in sets of two and are quite expensive relative to actual cost of the vise. I suppose this is to be expected, as they’re precision cut aluminum jaw caps and that will always cost a bit. Like most vises, it has an anvil positioned directly behind the fixed jaw. The main screw handle has rubber buffers on either end that prevent you from pinching your hand as you adjust your jaw width. Something I’m sure anyone will appreciate.
As the basic vise (excluding the aluminum accessories), the Yost 750-DI comes at a very reasonable price for an item of this quality standard and versatility. Not to mention that this is a highly respected brand. Yost manufacture a wide range of vises ranging from heavy-duty options with a lifetime warranty down to light-duty vises with a 1-year warranty. The 750-DI has a 3-year warranty, which indicates its medium-duty expectations. For many professional shops, and certainly most home shops, this is the ideal choice as it doesn’t cost too much and yet provides you with strong and sturdy, very useful, benchtop vise.
Capri Tools 10519 (6″) — Capri Tools 10518 (5″)
Best bench vises that have proven themselves to be highly reliable and well-made.
- Made of heavy-duty ductile iron (60,000 psi)
- Exerts 9,000 lbs. of clamping force
- Head rotates 360° and can be locked in with pull-pin at 12 points, each within 30°
- Base rotates 360° and makes it easy to place and lock jaws where needed
- Includes a 10 year limited warranty
Capri Tools 10519 — 6″
- Contains 6 in. W jaws, 5.7 in. jaw opening, and 4.2 in. throat depth
Capri Tools 10518 — 5″
- Contains 5 in. W jaws, 4 in. jaw opening, and 3.5 in. throat depth
The Capri Tools 10519 is a 6” bench vise and the 10518 is the same model, just with a smaller opening of 5”. There’s a price difference of about $20 between the two, but in all other respects they are exactly the same. Both these vises compare very well to the Yost 750-DI and are manufactured from ductile iron, with a 60,000 PSI rating providing 9000 pounds of clamping force. Even the larger 6” 10519 is a little cheaper than the Yost 5” bench vise, so the Capri vises make excellent sense in terms of budget.
These vises come with regular flat parallel jaws at the top and V-shaped shaped jaws at the bottom for rounded objects. Both the head and base can rotate 360°, providing the best versatility in positioning the vise precisely where you want it. The base has V-slots with 12 locking positions. There is the obvious inclusion of a built-in anvil. For both models, the anvil measures 3.5” and both have ⁵⁄₈” diameter holes for benchtop mounting.
Capri Tools 10518 — 5″
The Capri 10519 has a jaw width of 6”, with 5” for the 10518 model. Throat depth is 3.5”, and the jaw opening is 4” for the smaller bench vise. The larger 10519 model has a throat depth of 4.3, with a 5” jaw opening.
While the more expensive Yost 750-DI bench vise has a few extras that you don’t get on the Capri 5” and 6” vises, they’re very similar. This is both in their rugged construction and usability. So the Capri vises are probably better value for money. They come with a very impressive 10-year warranty. Though there really isn’t much that can wrong with a vise, so the warranty isn’t as important as it would be if you were buying a power tool. I guess it’s still a good sign when a manufacturer offers a long warranty period. This is an obvious indication that they have complete confidence in their product.
TEKTON 6″ — 54006 | TEKTON 4″ – 54004
Application : For repairing vehicles, metalworking, or assembling parts, this Tekton vise allows you to work better, faster, and safer knowing your workpiece is fully secured. Just lock it in and thread, fasten, build, bend, shape, or sharpen with confidence.
- Cast iron construction (30,000 PSI tensile strength) with replaceable serrated steel jaws holds work with a sure, nonslip grip
- 120-degree swivel base with dual lock-down nuts positions workpiece where you need it
- Three mounting holes anchor vise securely to workbench
- Polished steel anvil offers a smooth, consistent work surface for shaping metal pieces
- Acme-threaded screw glides smoothly without binding
Note : There’s also an 8-inch model if you need a larger size : TEKTON 8″ — 54008
Tekton offer two sizes for this vise. The 6” (54006) costs double what you’d be paying for the smaller 4” (54004) model, which is surprising. Apart from the larger throat on the more expensive Tekton 6” 54006, they are identical. Both are light-duty, cast iron vises. This gives them a tensile strength of 20,000 to 30,000 PSI. Because of their light-duty construction, they are a good deal cheaper than the other vises we’ve looked at so far. They are fairly basic in their features. But I’d say that if you’re looking for well-made light-duty vise at a very affordable price, either of the two Tekton options are well worth your consideration. If you don’t need the 6” width, the 4” Tekton 54004 is really cheap.
The Tekton series are fitted with very conventional serrated steel jaws. Like any vise, these are held in place with two screws and can be replaced if needed. So, while neither the 54006, nor the 54004 have jaws that can accommodate pipes, it’s possible to fit V-shaped jaws if needed. The base can rotate 120° and locks on both sides. The vise fastens to your bench by means of 3 bolt holes. I’m not too sure of the size bolts that you can use, but it looks to me like they are ⁵⁄₁₆” – which is what I’d expect to see on a light-duty vise of this size.
As a basic 6” or 4” vise, these two models have what one needs, if a light-duty vise is what you’re looking for. I can’t see one getting anything better for this price, which is what makes them stand out from the crowd – affordability without compromising on quality. Tekton state on their website that they guarantee every product, with “no time limit and no fine print”. If your vise is substandard in any way, you can go to their website and upload picture of it. There’s a simple form to fill in and they will send you a replacement for the damaged component, or replace the entire item if necessary. That’s really great for a vise this cheap.
Wilton 1765 — 6.5″ (63201)
Best bench vise for professionals. Most vises have a fixed center nut BUT the Wilton 1765 Tradesman round channel vise nut is anchored at the rear which, providing straight line pull and even pressure resulting in far greater durability.
- Wider jaws provide greater clamping surface
- Fully enclosed spindle and nut increases the life of the vise
- Large anvil work surface
- Precision turned sidebar
- 360° swivel base with double lockdowns
- Made in USA
- Ideal for all industrial and professional applications
The Wilton 1765, 6.5” bench vise is by no means cheap. Then again, I wouldn’t expect it to be. Not only is this a highly respected brand, but this vise is obviously made to endure through the toughest situations. Like the other medium to heavy-duty vises in this review, the Wilton is constructed from ductile iron with a rated pressure of 60,000 PSI. Though what impresses me most about this vise is the way they’ve designed the round channel mechanism.
While a round channel is common on most of the best modern vises, this one is anchored at the rear instead of in the center. This allows for a straight line pull and an even pressure distribution, improving its durability. The enclosed spindle and nut assembly is another great design feature and prevents dust from coming into contact with these important moving parts, further enhancing the overall durability of the vise.
It has, as to be expected from one of the best bench vises, a 360° rotational base. It locks securely on both sides, using super-strong double lockdowns. Thick rubber dampers on the spindle handle prevent pinching and this too, is stronger than most. Naturally, it has an anvil, that’s almost a given on any vise – even cheap ones. It has a 6½” jaw width and maximum opening capacity (4” throat depth).
Below the serrated flat jaws, is a set of V-shaped pipe jaws, capable of gripping round material ¼” to 3½”. There’s a great range of accessories available for the Wilton 1765 vise. These include 6½” jaw caps in aluminum, rubber, or copper. You can also get prism jaw caps and a pedestal base.
This is, without a doubt, one of the best bench vises that you can get. While it may be more expensive than many would like, I think that for a product of this incredibly high standard, it’s worth paying for. You get a lifetime warranty and it certainly looks like it’s made to last forever – both in its design and the materials used.
Best bench vise that won’t let you down. Does what you expect it to do.
- Made of structural cast steel (SC37)
- Replaceable Hardened Steel Serrated Top Jaws
- Finished in High Visibility Safety Yellow
- All Steel Vise features Full 360 Degree Swivel Base With 2 Lockdowns
- Permanent Pipe Jaws and a Large Reinforced Anvil
- No Pinch Main Screw Handle
For a 10” general purpose vise manufactured from cast structural steel, the Yost 910-HV is remarkably cheap. It is Painted using high-visibility yellow for workshop safety and is a well-made bench vise. Unlike the round channel, like that used for most of the others, this one uses a flat channel. Though this appears to be very strong and probably just as ridged as any of the other bench vises in this review.
The 10” width and jaw opening, makes this the biggest vise of those we’re reviewing here. The 4” throat depth is pretty standard. The hardened steel, serrated flat jaws also look just like the type of thing you’d find on any vise. They’ve included permanent pipe jaws, just below the flat jaws and these cast into the metal. The pipe jaws can accommodate rounded surfaces from 0.875” to 2.625”. The vise has a rotational base with dual lockdowns and reasonably large anvil. The main screw handle is designed for no-pinch operation. Like the other Yost vise reviewed here, there is great range of aluminum jaw caps available to fit the 10” jaw. These are a standard flat jaw cap, a magnetic option, a rubberized jaw cap, and a prism.
For a vise this large, the Yost 910-HV is cheap enough not scare anyone away. This can be considered a medium-duty vise. It comes from a company with a great reputation for manufacturing the best quality vises and this model has a 5-year warranty.
Tech Specs (Yost Vises 910-HV – 10″):
- Jaw Width (nominal inches) : 10″
- Jaw Opening (nominal inches) : 10″
- Throat Depth (nominal inches) : 4″
- Min Pipe Capacity (nominal inches) : .875″
- Max Pipe Capacity (nominal inches) : 2.625″
- Base : Swivel
- Material : Steel
How to choose the best bench vise for your needs?
Many folks want to know what the difference is between a heavy-duty and a light-duty vise. I’d say that the categorization is broader than just these two distinctions. I classify vises as being either heavy-duty, medium to heavy-duty, medium duty, or light-duty. It depends on the capabilities of the vise in terms of tensile strength and the force that it is able to exert. This has to do with the materials used and the thickness of the walls and turn screw.
Essentially, a heavy-vise can handle a lot more torque and will provide the gripping strength needed to keep the workpiece locked into position when this force is applied. For metal workers and mechanics who deal with large heavy components, a heavy-duty (or at least, a medium to heavy-duty vise) is essential. If you need loosen a large diameter bolt from a high-tensile component like truck suspension parts, you need a vise that can handle this type of pressure.
The first thing to look at when determining the strength of a vise, is the material used. We can safely assume, by looking at the type of metal used, that all the components are up to the task of handling the rated pressure for that metal. So we rate a vise by the PSI pressure that it can handle, by looking at the type of material it’s made from.
Vise Duty Rating by Material
Below, is a list of typical materials used for manufacturing a vise, with its pressure rating.
- Forged Steel 75,000 PSI Heavy-duty
- Ductile Iron 60,000 – 65,000 PSI Medium to Heavy-duty
- Cast Steel 30,000 – 40,000 PSI Medium-duty
- Gray Iron 20,000 – 30,000 PSI Light-duty
It’s important to remember that a heavy-duty vise can also be used for light-duty applications. While the stronger material and thicker main screw allows it to clamp with incredible force, you don’t need to tighten it to the maximum when dealing with material that may be damaged by the excessive pressure exerted on it. Though, the same cannot be said for a light-duty vise. If you’re a woodworker, a light-duty vise is likely to be all that you really need. If you have a home shop and do all types of work, it would probably be better to go for a medium-duty or heavy-duty vise. You’ll be able to use the vise for a greater variety of tasks.
Strength is not our only consideration when choosing the best bench vise. The jaws play an important role. Just about all vises come standard with serrated jaws and these are usually fastened to the main body with screws. If not, I wouldn’t suggest buying it. Being able to change the jaws when damaged, or for different applications is important.
While serrated jaws provide the best grip, the rough surface will damage soft materials like aluminum, wood, and plastic. Electroplated or chromed surfaces are particularly sensitive and you should never use a serrated jaw for these.
One can fabricate your own jaws. I’ve seen many carpentry shops where they’ve made hardwood jaws as these are the best for gripping wood without damaging it too easily. Most of the best vise manufacturers offer a range of additional jaw caps for various purposes.
Rubber jaw caps offer the best protection for material that can easily be scratched or damaged. However, they are not capable of withstanding heat and are, therefore, not the best if you intend welding material in your vise. Even the heat generated from the friction produced when cutting metal with an angle grinder (or similar power tool) can damage rubber jaw caps.
Fiber jaw caps are also great for sensitive surfaces. They are the best for painted or sealed wood objects. Though, like rubber jaw caps, they are not heat resistant.
Aluminum jaw caps can be expensive but, for many, they are the best. An aluminum jaw cap won’t easily damage the surface and can withstand heat.
Copper jaw caps are a cheaper, non-marring alternative to aluminum. While more cost effective, copper jaw clamps are not as durable as aluminum.
Prism jaw caps are designed to cause the least surface damage.
Magnetic jaw clamps are excellent for drilling or cutting metal as they attract the metal filings, thereby protecting the metal and the jaw clamps.
Pipe jaws are V-shaped or rounded jaws that can grip pipes u to the diameter rated for the vise.
Other Considerations when selecting the best bench vise
A rotational base can be very handy. At times you may want the support of the work bench for the piece in the vise. At other times, the bench may be in the way. Sometimes, it’s just super convenient to be able to rotate the piece as you work on it. A rotational base can be a great advantage. The only thing to consider here is to ensure that the base locks securely. The best vises with a movable base will have V-slots that prevent any type of movement once the base is locked. Having dual lockdowns is also essential. You want the base to be secured on both sides. If not, it will tend to lift when force is applied to the opposite side of the lockdown.
The length, width, and design of the main screw handle may not be critical, but some are better than others. A longer main screw handle will give you better leverage, making it easier to tighten the jaws. However, if the handle is too long, it can get in the way. It’s quite easy to pinch your fingers when tightening the handle. A handle that has rubber stoppers or a contoured end stop will prevent this from happening.
An anvil is pretty standard on any vise and provides a flat, strong surface that’s usually used when beating metal to a flat finish. There’s very little to consider here, except the size of the anvil. Obviously, a larger anvil surface area will be more versatile.