Whether woodworking, metalworking, or re-enacting this famous scene from Scorsese’s Casino, a bench vise is an ideal addition to any workshop both at home and professionally. Taking your pick of one of the best bench vises gives your projects the stability, accuracy, and security you’d otherwise miss out on.
Just like the best circular saws, the best screwdriver sets, or and, yes, the best portable workbenches, a vise, whether it’s an American-made bench vise or an international model, is something anybody who works with heavy duty tools all day long should have at their disposal. They are robust and powerful, making them perfect for a variety of demands you may struggle to complete without one, regardless of how tough you think you are.
The Best Bench Vise
Our top pick for the best bench vises is the Yost Heavy-Duty Multi-Jaw Rotating Combination Pipe and Bench Vise. A solidly built option, it’s also one of the few tools boasting a multipurpose design that is actually multipurpose.
The casting quality is yards ahead of similar products at the same price and ensures a rugged and robust reliability capable of handling heavy-duty demands, providing over 9,000 PSI for a secure grip. The pull pin mechanism allows for easy rotation while hardened steel keeps the head locked firmly in place. It’s suitable for both professional and at-home workshops and with such versatility is a marvelous choice for anybody. It might not fit your tool bag but it is a tool worth having.
Rugged design is more reliable than other options available
Ductile iron castings provide over 9,000 PSI of force
Pull pin mechanism for easy rotation
Hardened steel pin to lock head in place
- Weight63 pounds
Slightly smaller but also highly effective, the Wilton 4-Inch Jaw Width Bench Vise is a medium-duty vise for performance during smaller projects and is also a great first-choice for beginners. It most of the qualities of your standard vise including a large anvil to ensure stability and pin-base that prevents slippage, and the by rotating to 120-degrees, it fits comfortably on the bench corner without feeling awkward.
It’s easy to attach to the work surface and remains steady even after repeated daily use. The jaws are smooth, and the serrated surface ensures better grip against your workpiece but still avoids damaging it. Make sure you also check our guide to the best cordless drills.
High strength steel construction
Double lock down swivel base
Large anvil work surface for stability
Pin-base prevents slippage
- Weight15 pounds
Delivering a powerful 30,000 PSI, the TEKTON 4-Inch Swivel Bench Vise is a rough and tough choice for long-term use, especially at the price. However, because of its size, it’s not designed for large jobs, but is still useful for quick repairs and woodworking projects.
The serrated jaws are replaceable, and it works as a workbench vise using the 3 mounting holes, which call for 3/8” mounting screws but really just needs 1/4” bolts with washers to guarantee stability. The swivel mechanism is smooth and easy to control, and its size ensures it doesn’t crowd the work surface like larger options might. Our handy guide to the best tape measures features more great products like this.
Cast iron construction delivers 30,000 PSI tensile strength
Replaceable serrated jaws ensure non-slip grip
120-degree swivel base with dual lock-down nuts
Three mounting holes allows easy attachment to workbench
- Weight13.23 pounds
The IRWIN 5-Inch Multi-Purpose Bench Vise is a substantial and no-nonsense option for a variety of demanding projects. It incorporates the anvil to provide reliable stability, while its hollow cast iron construction is both lightweight but also sturdy to tackle heavy-duty jobs, capable of handling repeated use for years.
It delivers PSI of around 65,000, making it an excellent choice for both professional and home workshops without sacrificing quality. The 360-degree swivel operation adds another dimension of versatility, while fused steel handle makes adjustment easy, simple, and straightforward which is always something to look for in workshop tools and accessories. Love this product? Check out our review of the best infrared thermometers for our top picks.
Fused steel handle to simple adjustment
Incorporated anvil ensures stability when working
360-degree swivel rotation
Hollow cast iron construction combines lightweight and sturdiness
- Weight33.1 pounds
5Yost 4-1/2-Inch Home Vise
Our best value pick is this Yost 4-1/2-Inch Home Vise which despite its compact size and lightweight construction is still an excellent choice for those who need a reliable and small bench vise for the home. The swivel base allows a greater range of movement for a variety of projects while the built-in jaw pipe transforms it from a standard vise into a multi-purpose one without sacrificing other features.
While it’s not the largest vise in the world, you can trust its stability with an improved base design that prevents rocking and movements during your tasks. It’s unlikely to set the woodworking world alight compared to more expensive options, but for small work surfaces and anyone trying to get their kids interested in such crafts there’s nothing better at a price like this. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best moisture meters.
Swivel base provides 240-degree rotation for versatility
Built-in jaw pipe holds small pipes and tubes
Improved base design prevents side-to-side movement
Compact design is ideal for home workshops
- Weight10.76 pounds
On the other end of the price and demand spectrum, the Capri Tools 6-Inch Rotating Base and Head Bench Vise is our premium selection with 60,000 PSI and 6,600 pounds of clamping force along with a heavy duty construction that’s sure to survive an encyclopedia of doomsday scenarios. Despite its intimidating performance, it’s easy to use, and with a 360-degree swivel you can lock will pull pins, you’re guaranteed versatility like few other options.
The large throat also maximizes your project capabilities, and the smooth operation prevents fatigue and potential parts damage to both you and the vise. Yes, it’s pricey, but for an undeniably awesome heavy duty bench vise guaranteed to outlast every other bench vise in the world (probably, anyway), it’s more than worth it. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best nail guns.
Heavy duty ductile iron construction with 60,000 PSI and 6,600 pounds of clamping force
Head rotates 360-degrees and locked with pull pin
Large throat depth is suitable for a variety of demands
Easy placement and locking of jaws
- BrandCapri Tools
- Weight57.2 pounds
Considering it uses the word Tough in its name, you expect the Performance Tool Hammer Tough 8” Machinist Vise to handle any job with ease and come out looking unscathed. Thankfully, it’s not just a name, and this machinist vise is durable and robust, both aesthetically and mechanically.
The durable powder-coating protects from damage, while its 360-degree swivel base allows for several applications all of which deliver consistent high quality. With it, you’re guaranteed precision with a footprint that ensures there’s plenty of room for other projects along the workbench. If you are looking to upgrade your tools, then make sure you read our hedge trimmer review.
Durable powder coat finish and chrome plated hardware
360-degree swivel base with 3 mounting holes and 2 lockdowns
Polished built-in anvil ensures stability during projects
Heavy duty and robust design for durability
- BrandPerformance Tool
- Weight42 pounds
A solid addition to your heavy-duty workshop tools, the HardwareFactory Store Milling Machine Lockdown Vise is tough and powerful boasting 80,000 PSI for a secure grip regardless of the workpiece. This is thanks to the highest quality ductile iron construction, which ensures durability and quality.
The 4-inch jaws can handle most workpieces, and the horizontal design ensures the piece remains steady and secure for all your milling demands. While it’s perhaps not ideal for consistent professional use, hobbyists and casuals will get a real kick out of it, and it will continue to impress long after you expect it to falter. You may also like to check our guide to the best electric chainsaw for more great tool options.
Perfectly aligned precision jaws for premium quality performance
Highest quality ductile iron construction with 80,000 PSI
Horizontal jaw design keeps piece in the right place
Enclosed lead screws are ground and hardened to ensure durability
- BrandHardwareFactory Store
- Weight30.3 pounds
Boasting the largest vise jaw range on dry land, the Eclipse 7” Quick Release Woodworking Vise is a superb addition to any shop around. Unlike other vises we’ve selected, it provides fast and efficient operation, ideal for both emergencies and for streamlining your projects while still maintaining a secure grip.
It’s easy to install, with two pre-drilled holes allowing for straightforward surface mounting, and for increased safety the fused tommy bar bends before it breaks from over-stress. It’s also not too pricey, so if you’re after a reliable woodworking vise, this stands out more than standard vises as a massively viable and reasonable option. Our guide to the best laser measuring tools may be of your interest so check it out.
Quick release trigger for fast adjustment, clamping, or securing pieces
Adjustable front stop is multipurpose
Two pre-drilled holes provide quick, reliable, and sturdy workbench mounting
Fused tommy bar bends before vise becomes over-stressed to provide safety
- Weight21.2 pounds
Our final pick is the Grizzly Multi-Purpose 5-Inch Bench Vise, which boasts multi-purpose application to accommodate a range of workshop demands for the busy professional or curious hobbyist. The bench vise comes with 360-degree rotation, making it simple to position the workpiece however suits you and allows complete control over your jobs, while the even angle base delivers stability.
The jaws can hold both flat and rounded pieces with equal ease, which further pushes this as a vise for all occasions and projects, and while it’s a heavier than some, this further adds to the secure standing to prevent injuries. The adjustments are smooth, and the construction solid, so if you want to spend a little more for a range of features, this is the vise for you.
Multipurpose design for a variety of applications
360-degree rotation provides unlimited workpiece positioning
Even base angle delivers stability and prevents mistakes and accidents
Holds both flat and round stock securely
- Weight42 pounds
Bench Vise Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Bench Vises
Now you’ve check out our pick of the best bench vises, make sure you have a look at these important features before making your final decision.
Jaw Width - For small workshops, 4-inch jaw width is sufficient, but for larger shops, it may be worth looking for a wider jaw range to comfortably and reliably accommodate bigger projects with more heavy-duty demands. The largest we’ve selected 7-inches, so picking something between this and 5-inches will give you enough width to complete your projects.
Jaw Opening - Consider what pieces you will work on. Larger pipes and blocks of wood demand a larger jaw opening, but if you’re working with small pieces, you won’t need as large of a jaw opening, and anything too big will take up too space on your work surface and may be overkill.
Throat Depth - A deeper throat distance allows you to grip larger pieces with enough purchase for more varied work. As vises are typically smaller than other workshop tools, you’ll likely not need something too deep though. The distance is usually between 3 and 5 inches.
Swivel Rotation - For greater versatility, a larger swivel rotating is ideal for having total control over your work. A vise with no swivel rotation is okay for quick and easy projects, but for larger grinding, drilling, sanding, and other applications, you’ll need a bigger range. Rotating vises range from 120- to 360-degrees, and top quality vises allow you to lock at degree increments.
Size - Large vises will take up more space on your work surface, so if you don’t have this space, you need a vise with a lesser footprint. This gives you the chance to use the rest of your workbench for other projects. Smaller vises are also lighter, so they are easier to move if needed.
Mounting - You’ll find vises with mounting options ranging from 2 to 4 screw or drill holes. The more holes the greater the stability and are ideal for heavy-duty demands. However, if you have a small workshop and focus on medium-duty projects, 2 or 3 mounting holes will be fine. You may also want to minimize the number of holes so as not to drill too many holes into your work surface although you can find ways around this.
Types Оf Bench Vises
Vises are not entirely all-in-one products and sometimes you need a different vise for different applications.
Woodworking - Your standard vise used for woodworking has either metal or wooden jaw cheeks to prevent damaging the workpiece. They have a quick-release feature to disengage the piece with a single half-turn of the handle and you can either attach them to the side or to the top of the work surface.
Machinist - Also known as an Engineer vise, this is a heavy duty vise which is used with metalworking. The body is cast iron and provides a higher PSI than woodworking vises. The jaws have serrated teeth as there is less risk of damaging the material when clamped.
Mechanic - You’ll find these vises mounted on drill presses and grinding or milling machines. They aren’t as common as machinist or woodworking vises, but because of their low cost, you may find them in hobbyist workshops.
Safety Tips: Bench Vise
Even if you invest in the best workbench vise around, you still need to take care you don’t injure yourself or anybody around you. In a workshop, safety is paramount over everything else and so to make sure you use your vise carefully and safely make sure you follow these tips.
- Always clamp the vise securely to the work surface
- Support the end of long workpieces with an adjustable box, table, or stand
- Do not weld the vise to a metal surface
- Do not weld or braze to repair a vise, in fact, don’t attempt to repair a vise yourself
- Only ever place heavy duty objects in a heavy duty vise
- Do not try to extend clamping pressure with DIY extensions
- Never use a hammer on parts of the vise
For most, these tips are common sense, but there’s always a few people (not you, of course) who despite all their experience working with heavy duty tools believe they know better and end up hurting themselves. To stop this from happening, make sure they follow these tips.
Bench Vise FAQ
Q: What can I use a bench vise for?
A: A bench vise is a highly useful tool in the workshop and is used to hold workpieces steady and in place when sawing, nailing, sanding, or - with metalworking - bending. Using a set of jaws, vises hold a piece in place and prevent it slipping, ensuring accurate modifications and you can work without risking damaging the piece or hurting yourself.
Q: How to install a bench vise?
A: It’s often advised to install a bench vise by attaching it to a workbench, however, a workbench isn’t necessary. What is necessary, though, is that the work surface you attach it to is stable and secure.
You can fix the vise to the top of the work surface or on the side, whichever is more convenient depending on the demands of the project. The vise will come with a base anvil which provides stability and there are also mounting holes which you can drill a screw through to attach it securely to the work surface.
If you don’t want to drill holes into your workbench, you can use from excess wood discarded after previous projects to act as a buffer between your workbench and the vise screws. Because this wood isn’t attached to your workbench, you won’t mind drilling into it while still ensuring a stable attachment for successful projects.
With side-attachments, you will need to use a clamp to fix it between the top edge and bottom edge of the surface. These are less common, though, and you’re likely to find top-fitting designs even with small vises. Attaching to the top of the work surface, also allows you to swivel your vise to its degree limits (typically between 120- and 360-degrees), which helps you rotate it for versatility during your project and allowing more control over your wood or metalworking.
Q: What are the main parts of the bench vise?
A: The main parts of your bench vise are:
Jaws - The jaws hold your workpiece securely in place. They are arranged parallel to each other and are typically made from wood, plastic, or metal depending on what they are most commonly used for. Most jaws are made with metal, though, and so if you want to protect your piece (which will likely be wood) it may be wise to line the jaws with softer material.
Handle - A vise handle is the part which tightens the jaws. Not exactly a marvel of engineering, it’s still an essential part of the vise and allows you to choose how loose or tight you need the jaws to be.
Swivel - The swivel is used to rotate the vise head around to increase versatility. They are not available on all vises, but for demanding projects, a swivel feature is useful for maximizing potential and productivity.
Anvil Base - The anvil base is used to keeping the entire vise secure on the work surface. They have pre-drilled holes for easy attachment and help to counterbalance the vises against the workpiece or heavy head.
Q: Should I choose a medium-duty or heavy-duty model?
A: Your choice depends on the purpose. Both vises are commonly used in industrial environments, but the difference between them is usually the material used in construction,
Medium-duty vises are made from iron and will have both replaceable and pipe jaws. They have a built-in anvil and swivel features and depending on the application will have either flat or serrated jaws
Heavy-duty vises are designed for more intensive applications. They are built much like the medium-duty, but will provide greater PSI and can handle more demanding jobs and projects. They will also be heavier and most are stationary, but there are some which rotate.
You know your workshop demands better than we do, so consider how intensive your projects are and make your vise-buying decision from there.
- Choosing a Bench Vise: 5 Steps - Instructables
- Wonkee’s Top Tips for Using a Vice - Wonkee Donkee
- How to Install and Mount a Vise without Drilling Holes in Your Workbench - Man Made DIY
- A Guide to Vises - Thomas
- Vise - Wikipedia