Best Bench Vise

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or even just a handy person with a workshop, you probably have a bench vise. If you don’t, you need one. Bench vises are staples of both home and professional workshops. 

Not all bench vises are alike, however. Some work far better than others, although it depends on what you plan to use it for. Regardless, you should know the best bench vise for your job so you don’t waste your money on something that won’t work for you. 

We looked at several different bench vises and reviewed the best ones to make your decision easier.

Bench Vises Reviewed

So what are the best bench vises out there? After extensive research, we’ve narrowed the field down to the five best vises you can find today.

Tekton’s four-inch swivel bench vise has a cast-iron design, giving you the ability to hold many different items still as you work them, whether they’re large and awkward or small. With its secure gripping capabilities, you can bend, shape, build, thread, and fasten your materials with a minimum of hassle.

It comes with a 120-degree swivel base, too, so you can position it exactly how you need it without having to unbolt and adjust it on your workbench. All you need to do is tighten the lockdown nuts once you have it at the angle you require to hold it still. 

What We Liked

You only need three bolts to mount this vise to your workbench, and while it’s a heavy vise, it’s not so heavy that you need to reinforce your bench to install it. Instead, its weight gives it added stability to aid you with your work.

What We Didn’t Like

It doesn’t come with especially accurate installation directions. The holes for the bolts with which you mount it to your bench may not be the right size for the bolts you supposedly need, either. It also seems to come with an unusual amount of shipping grease you need to clean off before using it.

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Great for hobbyists and people who do their own vehicle maintenance
  • Very smooth action

Cons:

  • Better for lightweight work
  • Does not come with installation hardware
  • Not recommended for use every day

Yost bills its bench vise as a home workshop vise, and at 4 1/2 inches, it’s a great size for that. You can use it for woodworking, general maintenance of various machined items, assembly, and more. 

Like most bench vises, Yost’s uses cast iron in its construction, giving it the stability and durability you need for your projects. It also has a 240-degree swivel, making it so your major limitation when positioning the vise is your bench.

What We Liked

Yost recently redesigned this vise to eliminate side-to-side shifting for even more stability while you work. Its jaw design specifically allows you to work with round objects such as tubes and piping as well. 

What We Didn’t Like

The jaw only opens to three inches. While that’s sufficient for a lot of work, you might find it limiting depending on why you bought it. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive for the quality you get
  • Rotation mechanism locks down solidly
  • Easy to install and remove if necessary

Cons: 

  • You have to be careful about overtightening to avoid breaking the vise
  • Does not come with installation hardware
  • You need to grease certain moving parts regularly

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty vise for multiple applications, Forward’s five-inch heavy-duty bench vise may work well for you. This is a large, heavy vise that Forward designed for larger, heavier materials, including pipes and machinery. Its 60,000 psi, cast-iron design ensures reliability for some of your most demanding projects.

You get a full 360-degree rotation with this vise as well. Unlike other swivel vises, you can genuinely position this one exactly where you need it, even at an unusual angle. It also comes with pipe jaws so you can work on tubes and piping when necessary.

What We Liked

It has a larger anvil than other home bench vises, making it suitable for some light industrial applications. The vise itself uses cast iron, but its jaws have replaceable steel plates in case they wear down too far.

What We Didn’t Like

Since this vise has such a thick base, you need to measure your workbench’s depth and then add at least 1 1/2 inches to the length of the bolts you plan to buy. You also need to determine the right threading for those bolts. The wrong size and wrong thread bolts can give you all kinds of grief. 

Pros: 

  • Five-inch jaw opening allows you to work on large pieces
  • Comes with both base and head swivel
  • Great value for its price

Cons:

  • Difficult to find mounting hardware that fits well
  • Doesn’t always swivel smoothly or easily
  • Can’t replace pipe jaws

Wilton’s six-inch shop vise is suitable for projects large and small. Like any good vise, it has a cast-iron design, but it’s gray so you have less to worry about when it comes to paint chipping off. It comes with four mounting posts and a 360-degree swivel head that locks down hard for the stability you need.

This is a heavy vise, so be careful when you try to pick it up and mount it on your workbench. Also, make sure your workbench can handle its weight and that you have the correct mounting hardware for it.

What We Liked

The jaws line up well, which means your pieces will remain quite stable while you work on them. It also comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, so if you buy a defective vise, you’re covered.

What We Didn’t Like

The pipe teeth are rough and serrated, so you can end up damaging any pipework you do if you aren’t careful, especially when it’s new out of the box. Also, the working surfaces aren’t as big as you’d expect with this size vise.

Pros: 

  • Great quality for its price
  • Excellent alignment and jaw strength for a home bench vise
  • Suitable for light industrial use

Cons:

  • Swivel locks are smaller than they should be
  • You may need to use protective covers to ensure it doesn’t cause damage
  • It’s expensive if you want one that’s made in the United States

For people looking for a small, home-use bench vise, Olympia’s four-inch vise may suit your needs well. It has a 270-degree swivel with locking clamps and replaceable steel jaw faces if you wear yours out. 

While this may not work well for heavy-duty, professional applications, it’s great for maintenance, cutting, sharpening, and other light to moderate work.

What We Liked:

This vise’s four-inch jaw opening gives you the ability to work on larger pieces than many other home bench vises. It’s also lightweight, so you don’t have as much trouble picking it up and mounting it to your workbench.

What We Didn’t Like: 

This is one of those items where you get what you pay for. The jaws don’t always line up correctly, nor does it move smoothly. The locking screws for the base are likewise tricky to turn.

Pros:

  • It comes with pipe jaws so you can work on round items
  • Suitable for everyday, hobbyist applications
  • Excellent value for handyman-type jobs

Cons:

  • You need to grease this up regularly to ensure smooth movement
  • Jaws may become misaligned with use
  • The base may flex under too much load

What is a Bench Vise?

A bench vise is a type of clamping device you mount on a workbench. They hold things made from wood to metal to various forms of plastic in place, freeing both your hands so you can cut, chisel, shape, sharpen, and more with both hands. 

In other words, bench vises give you the ability to perform more precise work than if you try holding your piece with one hand and working with the other. 

You can get two types of bench vises: Front vises and end vises. You generally mount a front vise at the left front corner of your workbench. These work well for assembling drawers and other work where you need to hold boards upright.

You put an end vise on the end of your workbench to hold your pieces flat on the surface of your bench. The type of vise you buy depends on the work you typically do.


You’ll find vises suited for specific materials, too. Some are suited explicitly to metalworking, while others, like pipe vises, are good for working pipes. You’ll usually use a bench vise for wood and metalwork. For pipework, you can mount a pipe vise to your workbench, or you can place it on a tripod.

When You Need a Bench Vise

A bench vise will make all kinds of projects more manageable. When you use one hand to hold things, you have too much play with your materials. As a result, you can’t do more than very rough work. 

C-clamps and other kinds of clamps work okay in place of a vise, but have limited applications. Yes, they’re better than just holding things with one hand, but you have to have multiple clamps, and they don’t always work well on slippery or round materials without damaging them. 

Since you mount a bench vise to your workbench with bolts, the vise itself doesn’t move. Furthermore, the jaws are strong enough to stabilize your pieces while you work on them, giving you the ability to do more precision work.

What to Look for in a Good Bench Vise

Do you know what to look for in a bench vise? With so many on the market, you should have an idea of what goes into a quality vise.

The first thing to consider is how you’re going to use it. Tool manufacturers make different types of vises for different purposes. The vise you need for metal machining may be different from the vise you need for woodworking. 

By the same token, if you work with piping, you need a vise with a pipe jaw and a regular jaw or a pipe vise. Some vises also come with a flat pounding surface, so if you need a heavy-duty metal surface on which to hammer things, look for vises with these features.

Pay close attention to jaw width and jaw opening, too. Small vises with, say, a three-inch opening won’t work very well if you work with large materials. 

Check out how many bolts it requires for mounting and how big those bolts need to be. That can give you a decent idea of what vise you need. 

You might find some vises that use a suction cup for mounting. While strong, you only want to buy one of those if you’re working with very small and light materials that don’t require a lot of pressure. For more standard uses, a vise that uses bolts for mounting will work far better. 

Avoid using nails to mount it, though. Nails won’t stabilize the vise sufficiently and may snap under pressure. Always determine what size bolts you need and use those. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the vise you purchase depends entirely on the work you do. Smaller, lighter-weight vises work well for hobbyists and people working with small materials that don’t require a lot of pounding or other pressure.

What if you’re looking for something for machining or other heavy-duty work, including some industrial applications? In that case, you need a much larger, heavier vise you can mount to a corner or end of your workbench. 

Keep in mind the type of work you do as well. In addition to finding a vise that will stand up to the work you do, you also want a vise appropriate to the materials you use. Once you have the right vise (or vises), you’ll find working on your projects becomes far easier.

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