I needed an extra set of hands in the workshop, and hand clamps can only do so much – I needed a bench vise or clamp. If you’ve ever shopped for these, you know their downfall. And if you haven’t, I’ll clue you in – they are expensive as all get out. A lot of things are in the woodworking world, and this is now exception. However, I was able to find a couple of alternatives.
Some of you may have heard about Harbor Freight. Some of you may know their penchant for cheap tools. Some might call them total crap. And indeed, some are. But there are a few gems that I and others have found that are not only worth the risk, but are just as good at a much better price. There’s quite a few items that I will take the chance on with them first, and spend more money later if I need to. Some stuff you just want to spend the money up front.
In order to save a bit of cash, I decided to try HF for the bench vise. I went with the 10” blue vise, but found that I would have to use screws to attach it to the bench. Not something I was real comfortable with, to be quite honest. I’m not even going to link to it because I don’t even want you to see it.
I ended up taking a chance on the 9” quick release vise from them instead.
Bench vise – (please note, as of sometime in 2011 this product is no longer available and the link has been removed – 5/9/2012)
This is a pretty substantial piece. It’s predrilled for bolts for attaching it to a table, and predrilled faces to add your own inserts. Upon further review, it looks like an exact copy of the Shop Fox vise, perhaps even made in the same factory in China. It has an extendable dog, and a level to quick release. It’s been a great addition thus far.
The faces aren’t perfect, but this isn’t intended to be a final resting place. Once I figure up a better mount (so as to not have the heads of the bolts above the table), I might flush trim the faces. As for now, a small chamfer on them will do nicely.
I must remember to do a Harbor Freight Gems post one day…