Picking a bench vise

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    Hi folks. I’m very very new to woodworking and just starting to setup my home workshop. First order of business seems to be to build a workbench and I’m using Paul’s design from the YouTube series. There are a lot of options when it comes to what vise style to integrate and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. I figured I’d make the choice when I had a bench to attach it to, but now I’m seeing that if I want to incorporate a leg vise it’s going to have to go into my plans.

    How should I make this decision? My usecase is furniture and children’s toys – is there any major advantage to one style over another?


    For what it’s worth, I think you will be better served long term with a vise like the Record vise Paul uses.
    The quick release function of these vises is a real benefit. With a non quick release feature, you’ll soon get tired of cranking the handle to make adjustments.
    Record has been out of business on these vises for a long time, but they do show up occasionally.
    Several suppliers offer vises based on the same design as Record. You’ll have to search.
    I have both the Record and Eclipse vises and am pleased with both.
    Don’t be cheap,spend the money and cry once.

    SW Pennsylvania

    Peter George

    I agree with Craig.

    I used a regular face vise before I switched to a steel quick release vise. I would never go back. The steel vise grips like a bulldog and is much better in terms of racking etc.

    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"


    Hi guys – thanks for the advice. I’m happy to pay for a quality tool, but ebay doesn’t even seem to have expensive Record woodworking vises currently. Are there other brands I should look into beyond Eclipse and Record? I also had no luck searching for Woden vises.


    Ah, looks like the new Eclipses might be good condition on their own: http://www.woodcraft.com/product/152635/eclipse-10-quick-release-vise.aspx#REVIEWS

    – is that the model you’ve got? You’re pleased with the construction?

    Edit: Amazon seems to have the same model for 3x the price? http://www.amazon.com/Eclipse-ECEWWQR10-10-Inch-Quick-Release/dp/B007521XKM

    But also similarly priced… http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004OCH206/ref=s9_al_bw_g328_i2

    Any idea what the difference is? I’ve heard that I should be looking for ductile cast iron rather than grey and the cheaper version above specifies grey cast iron (while the expensive one doesn’t).

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 10 months ago by kevinclark. Reason: Amazon price, oh man

    Hi Kevin,

    You might find the recent discussion of York vises to be useful.

    Besides Eclipse, other recommended brands that came up in that discussion were Jorgensen and Wilton. In the used market in the US, there’s Columbian and old Craftsman vises from the 1960s, which apparently were rebranded Columbians.


    @kevinclark I’m not an expert on the eclipse vise, but looking at their website there are only 2 types, a quick release version and plain screw. The $400 item you linked is likely just a bad deal. See http://www.spear-and-jackson.com/catalog/542

    Joe in California


    @joe – That’s what I figured too, but both items appear to be from Eclipse’s shop on Amazon and they’ve got different model numbers. Very odd. I’ve emailed their sales team to figure out what’s up.

    – Appreciated! I’ll take a look.


    Really appreciate the help, folks! It looks like I’ve got a few good options now so I’m trying to cut them down. Jaw width seems to matter a lot less than screw length but there’s a dizzying number of jaw sizes available. Are there good reasons to go for a 10″ jaw over a 7″ jaw? It seems like if I’m putting wood pads on it (or using Paul’s put-the-clamp-in-the-vise technique) then the extra width might just be extra cost.

    Marilyn Moreno

    I bought the eclipse 10″ from woodcraft about a year ago. If you can buy the 10″ model, do so. You can clamp larger pieces of material into the larger vise. This is a long term investment, so if you plan on big projects the larger size vise will serve you best.
    As George and Craig stated, the quick release is a great feature..
    This goes with whatever brand you get…
    Happy Shopping.
    BTW, I’am very happy with the vise on my Paul Seller’s type bench. Both are rock solid.

    Marilyn - Lehigh Valley, Eastern Pennsylvania - USA


    I have the 10″ Eclipse, which is about $150 at Woodcraft. Closing the vice on a piece of work that is held off center puts large racking forces on the vice. I think the larger vice may be beefier and may do better at handling those forces. On the other hand, you will often see advice to avoid submitting a vice to this, advice saying to put a balancing piece on the other side of the vice. In any case, I do think the larger vice is an advantage. Don’t forget that the larger vice will often open further, allowing you to put bigger (deeper) pieces into the vice.

    I agree with the advice to have a quick release. It is too slow and tedious to crank every time, at least for me.

    Veritas makes a Jorgensen style quick release steel vice you can consider, too.


    The first link you posted is the vise I purchased.
    If you scroll down to the reviews you’ll find my opinion.
    I seem to recall some previous quality issues reported with the Groz vises, but I can’t substantiate that.
    My Record vise is the 7″ version to which I added a 10″ Oak facer and it has served well. With a leather lining it’ll hold a 2x12x72″ with no problem, so the only real advantage to the larger vise is the wider throat opening. For the Eclipse that’s an $80.00 difference and if funds are limited I wouldn’t hesitate on the 7″ vise.
    Hope this helps.

    SW Pennsylvania


    Jorgensen vises are great too.


    I have the 10″ Eclipse, and it’s been great. The built-in metal dog enables you to use dog holes on your bench to clamp much larger pieces, too.

    Apart from that, you can build a leg vise for very, very little money. I built a copy of this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyRMtMJ-UHw using a 2×10 and some other commodity components. Maybe my entire investment was 15 dollars US? It’s done a great job for work-holding really tall components.

    Take a look at both, maybe they’ll add a couple tweaks to your bench design (or maybe your current design already accommodate them), but between them and the dog holes on my bench, I haven’t wanted for any work-holding help.

    Like you, I’m very new to all this, and I feel like good work-holding is perhaps more important to us as beginners than it might be to our more skilled brethren, both for safety and to allow us the flexibility and convenience we need to produce our best results.


    I’ve been lucky and found a leg vise and a standard face type vise (which I use as an end vise) at my local flea market for very cheap. The face vise is a monster (A ‘Columbian’ I think). It weighs a ton and was rusted and corroded. I spent a lot of time cleaning it up. It’s not quick release, but the screw is pretty coarse and adjustments aren’t as tedious as I feared. I read a lot about leg vises and thought I would love having one, but I’m not too fond of it so far. It racks a TON if only clamping on one side. It does have benefits, such as holding very long boards along the side of the bench, although I still to build my deadman to complete my bench. Perhaps i’ll like it more when I have more experience with it, but my current advise would be that a standard vise is more user friendly, specifically to a beginner. I like the dual screw / Moxon style vises too, but not sure i’ll ever invest one – the kits seem very expensive and I think I’m unlikely to find one at my flea market.

    Good Luck.

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