If you’re a regular Bob the Builder around the house (or let’s face it, trying to be), you have to have one of the best bench vises.
The best bench vise will hold your project in place on your workbench so you can get things done knowing your project won’t move.
Most bench vises are made of strong metals, such as cast iron, with textured metal jaws. A vise meant for woodworking will also usually be designed to have wood screwed into it to prevent damage to a sensitive project. There are also soft vise jaws that can go on top of the native metal vise jaws.
In short, if you’re undertaking any kind of home construction or creative art project that involves more than a 2 x 4 or a PVC pipe, you’re going to need one of the best bench vises to allow you to lock your material into place so you can make what you need safely and properly.
That’s why we’ve gone ahead and rounded up a few of the best bench vises below. We also included a few similar vise-like products for different situations so you’ve got vise and clamp options. You’ll never be Mr. Fix It without one of these essential tools, so start making that garage workshop dream a reality.
1. Tekton 4-Inch Swivel Bench Vise
Tekton is in the business of making high-quality tools, and business is good. The Tekton 4-Inch Swivel Bench Vise offers a ton of bang for its buck.
Like most of the best bench vises, it’s made of cast iron and boasts 30,000 PSI of tensile strength, with serrated steel jaws to keep things locked down. When/if the teeth start to get stripped you can even replace the jaws to extend the life of the vise.
Those features are the absolute bare minimum, which is why Tekton added a 120-degree swivel base with lock-down nuts to help you angle your project however you need and secure it. But nothing could be secure if there weren’t mounting holes to attach the vise to the bench.
Honestly, there aren’t too many downsides considering the price for this unit. The jaws have a width of three inches, with a throat depth of a little over two inches, but if that’s not enough for your projects you can always spend a little more and get the six-inch or eight-inch versions that feature more width and greater depth to accommodate your larger projects.
Overall, the Tekton vise offers all the essentials you need in a vise at a reasonable price, and we think it’s one of the best bench vises for most projects.
2. Yost Tools 4.5-Inch Heavy-Duty Vise
The Yost Tools 4.5-Inch Heavy-Duty Vise could easily be the best overall bench vise for most people. Truly, it’s just as effective as the Tekton vise, but we just didn’t think the value was as great as it was with the Tekton.
That being said, the Yost Tools bench vise is still a great, heavy-duty vise for most people for most projects. It claims a clamp force of 3,150 pounds, 30,000 pounds of tensile strength and a torque rating of 73-pound-feet.
And it makes sure you can put those qualities to good use with a 4.5-inch jaw width, four-inch jaw opening and a 2.62-inch throat depth.
In one definite win over the Tekton vise, the Yost Tools bench vise sits on a 360-degree swivel base with two lock-down nuts so you can easily adjust the direction of the jaws to wherever you need them at that moment. And similar to the Tekton vise, you can replace the serrated metal jaws if they wear out, bolt the vise down through holes in its base and upgrade to larger sizes for more money.
It’s hard to identify any flaws in the Yost Tools bench vise, but it’s a little more expensive than the top pick and the two tools are similar enough that we thought the larger sizes weren’t worth it.
Overall, we would still consider the Yost Tools vise to be one of the best bench vises for most projects, and we’re confident it won’t let you down.
3. Pony Medium Duty Woodworker’s Vise
BEST WOODWORKER’S VISE
When dealing with wood, you want to make sure you have a solid vise that will not only keep your project secure but that can also take on cheeks, an attachment to cover the metal so you won’t dent or break your project.
The Pony Medium Duty Woodworker’s Vise offers just that. The cast iron vise is designed to mount to the face of wood workbenches. You might have to do a little mortising or add wood shims to get the jaws flush with the benchtop, but that’s not a difficult task for someone who knows woodworking basics.
The jaws also feature holes so you can attach wooden or nonmetal cheeks to protect your work. It wouldn’t be a very good woodworker’s vise if it was always crushing your projects after all.
And with a seven-inch jaw width and an Acme thread screw, you’ll have no trouble fitting and securing most of your projects.
The only semi-downside to note is the provenance. This vise is made in China, but China still produces decent metals, if not as high-quality as those produced in the United States, so we’re certain the vise will still hold up for you over time.
Overall, the Pony Woodworker’s Vise is a solid middle-of-the-road woodworker’s vise for its price. For those reasons, we think it’s one of the best bench vises for wood projects.
4. WXTools Universal 3-Inch Table Vise
BEST PORTABLE VISE
For smaller projects or work on the go, you’re going to want a more portable vise that can still secure your projects.
The WXTools Universal 3-Inch Table Vise fits that bill perfectly. Of course, it’s made from cast iron and conveniently sits on a 360-degree swivel base. The jaws have a width of 2.75 inches and throat depth up to 2.4 inches, which should be enough for most smaller projects.
All you do is put the base onto the bench and then turn the screw up until it’s tight against the underside of the bench.
Sure, we’ll be the first to say we wouldn’t trust this with any expensive or professional projects or anything too heavy-duty, but everything else is in play. For its strength and portability, we think the WXTools vise is one of the best bench vises. Toss it in your truck or toolbox and you’ll never be without a passable vise when you need one.
5. E-TING Quick-Release Toggle Clamps
BEST BASIC CLAMPS
For the smallest and most lightweight projects, you might consider using these E-TING Quick-Release Toggle Clamps, which come in a pack of four.
They’re made of cold-rolled carbon steel with zinc for protection against corrosion as well as handgrips and rubber tips, which will hold down lighter materials without damaging them.
The clamps themselves are not that big, but they claim a clamp force of 198 pounds, which is decent for their size. Plus, you can always use more than one clamp if you need a little extra security.
Will they substitute for a proper bench vise for bigger projects? Definitely not, but they’ll handle lighter woods no problem.
6. JCL Products Magnetic Nylon Vise Jaws
BEST SOFT VISE JAWS
A strong vise with metal jaws is awesome at holding things down, but it’s also great at crushing and damaging softer materials. That’s where a set of screwed-in cheeks made out of wood or, in this case, soft vise jaws, can save the day.
These JCL Products Magnetic Nylon Vise Jaws will snap to any metal vise, making a soft surface for more sensitive materials backed up by the clamping force you want from your heavy-duty vise. They’re four inches long and feature grooved and flat faces so you can choose the surface best suited to your project. Furthermore, if you’ve got a larger vise and need a longer protective surface, you can upgrade to six-inch jaws for just a few extra bucks.
While attaching wooden cheeks will get the job done, it’s a heck of a lot easier to slap some magnets on your vise instead. Ultimately, whatever you think is the best bench vise will be made a lot more useful with a set of these soft jaws in the tool drawer.