I recently finished a new workbench with a face vise on the left and Veritas Inset Vise off on the right. Most of my bench work is on the medium-to-small size and I wanted a means to secure those pieces to the bench top without clamps. Most operations will be things like holding the work for assembly or sanding. I don’t do a lot of hand-planing but when I do I use the face vise.
Benchcrafted’s wagon vise looks pretty sweet but it’s also at least $300. Making one from scratch is an option but I’d still have to spend some money on the hardware not to mention the extra time on making the darn thing.
So I went with the Veritas option because it wasn’t horribly expensive and the installation looked pretty easy; just rout out a channel for it. Installation was simple, I used my plunge router with a guide fence to make two parallel grooves forming the edges of the channel and then hogged out the middle. I screwed up the routing process, cutting out the a 3″ wide channel the full depth leaving hollows underneath the two wings. Oops. But this wasn’t a huge deal I just made two spacer pieces to fill that void back, in gluing them in place.
I located the edge of the vise about 2″ from the edge of the bench in order to give more support to either side of the clamped piece. As you can see I went with round 3/4″ dogs, starting them about 1.5″ from the end of the vise and spacing them every 7″. The vise allows a spacing of 7-3/4″. I made mine as Paul Sellers shows in this video.
So that is where my vise lives, but how well does it work? I’d say pretty darn well. My first test was a piece of plywood clamped up between the vise and one of my dogs. Yanking on it I moved my entire bench before it budged at all. So it is not lacking at all in the power department, it would easily snap off one of my oak dogs if I really torqued on it. The work is very resistant to rocking motion too, but for extra stability there one could install parallel bench dogs for an ultra-sturdy triangular holding pattern. As I said earlier I’ll be using those for mostly light-duty things so I don’t need to get that fancy.
The little toggle handle is kind of cheesy but it’s necessary for the vise top to be 100% flush. While a wheel would be easier to use it’s really not so hard to quickly spin it around with your finger.. just not as intuitive.
My only real complaint was with the optional 1/4″ jaw that I ordered along with the vise. Its locating pegs were a bit too close together, preventing the jaw from fully seating into the vise. To remedy this I had to file away some material on their inside faces.
So overall I’m very happy with this vise. It works very well and due to its simple installation it can retrofitted into existing benches. After spending a few weekends building this workbench I was very glad to be able to install the vise in one evening!