Call me crazy, I want a wood handled vise

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    Bill Epstein

    My Jorgensen Quick Release is kaput after 30 years. The usual wear on the half thread part and no replacement available.

    I’ve Googled my brains out and decided for my small project needs and $$$ the Eclipse touted here and elsewhere is the thing, but like all steel vises the handle is steel. Ugh. Perhaps you’ll understand when I tell you my projects are mainly wood bases for Vacuum Tube electronics: amplifiers, etc.

    If I can’t get over the wood handle hang-up I’ll look into having a machine shop weld a nut on the Jorgensen and going “no release” but I’m interested in your opinions of a “front vise”. From what I understand racking and capacity are more of an issue than with Record type steel vises. Will my typical size 3″x20″ workpieces I clamp for edge planing or using the dog on the moving jaw for occasional drawer holding across the bench be all right? Or should I accustom myself to a cold, slippery metal rod?

    Chris Wood

    Why not get another Jorgensen? They are nowhere near the quality of the USA made originals but they still have a wood bar. You should be able to pick up a good one pre-owned.
    For what it is worth I think the Eclipse vise is far superior.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Dear Bill,

    There’s a book “Best Workbenches” published by Fine Woodworking, in which a substantial number of front vices are evaluated: commenting that the vices by Lie-Nielsen, Sjöbergs, and Veritas are “virtually free of racking”.

    My own front vice is a metal one with the quick-release in the screw (can’t remember the brand). It opens to about twice the 8 1/4″ of, e.g., the Lie-Nielsen vice, a difference of almost no relevance to me, as I mostly secure wide work pieces between bench dogs on the vice and bench top.

    Work pieces that has to be secured along the outer parts of my vice, become much better secured if there is a counter part at the opposite edge (please see attached photo). This problem is perhaps common to most front vices, though there are those with up to 24″ between the screws. Supposedly that should be enough to allow fitting most stuff between the screws.

    Finally, the wooden handles are generally around an inch in diameter. A narrower one (½”?) would be required for a metal vice, I imagine, and would perhaps not be sufficiently strong.

    My tail vice has a wooden handle. It is pleasant enough for me to consider replacing my front vice.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Larry Geib

    Another ( expensive) solution is Veritas single or twin screw QR vises.
    You have to add your own chops, but everyone does on the eclipse.

    And you might consider a wooden screw vise. Lake Erie Toolworks and others make premium but expensive screws with nuts.

    There are folks out there making a hard maple screw and nut for maybe $120 that are very nice.( search eBay)
    They aren’t quick release, but at 2 tpi there isn’t much difference. Once you wax wooden screws and break them in a little, you can spin them with a finger.
    Again, you need to add your own chop and maybe a garter.

    The wood screw solution requires building the whole vise assembly, but you get to choose what style.

    Bill Epstein

    Thanks guys,
    I decided on the $100 Lee Valley Large Front Vise. It isn’t quick release but I seldom had reason to open the Jorgensen more than an inch or two. I’m a little concerned about depth capacity, like clamping a 12″ x12″ x3/4″ board for edge planing. That will be answered after receipt. If it’s an issue I’ll simply move it to the bench tail and have a superior arrangement for securing work between Dogs than my present well-used LV Super Dog (a quite valuable accessory).

    Then, I’ll have the perfect excuse to order another vise for the front, probably the Eclipse.


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Bill Epstein.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Bill Epstein.
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