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Woodworking Tool News - Ultimate Face Vise


Ultimate Face Vise

By Brad Holden

A good vise is essential to a good workbench. It’s your extra pair of hands, hands you rely on every day. The trend in vises seems to be to cut corners in order to make them cheaper. While I appreciate saving money, I don’t mind saving up for a top-of-the-line tool, especially one that will last a lifetime. The new Veritas Quick-Release Front Vise from Lee Valley definitely fits that bill.

The Veritas is a wood-jaw vise, as opposed to the metaljaw vise you’re probably familiar with. A metal-jaw vise comes ready to use; you just bolt it onto the bench and add wood faces. A wood-jaw vise doesn’t come with any jaws at all; the edge of the bench becomes the rear jaw, and you make the front jaw to suit.

Why would this be better? Let me give you two reasons. First, there’s holding power. The larger the amount of surface area between the jaws, the better the vise will grip your work. With a wood-jaw vise, you can make the width and depth of the jaws any size you want.

Second, a wood-jaw vise neatly solves the long-board problem, because its rear jaw effectively extends the full length of the bench. Most metal-jaw vises are installed so the rear jaw stands proud of the bench’s edge. When you clamp up a long board (to plane or sand its edge, for example), its long, free end fl ops around because there’s nothing to brace it against. With a wood-jaw vise, the board butts up against the bench, nice and secure. For additional support, you clamp it to the bench.

The Veritas Front Vise is beautifully engineered, with an action that’s smooth and easy. You can spin the handle with one finger, like the propeller on a rubber-band airplane. Rapidly moving the front jaw in and out to any position, when the quick release is engaged, is equally effortless. Tolerances are tight; there’s virtually no racking or sagging of the front jaw, even when it’s opened up to its full 12" capacity.

The screw has an extruded aluminum cover, a feature I haven’t seen before. The cover keeps debris out of the screw’s threads and lubricant off of your workpiece. Nice!

The kit includes all the hardware you'll need, a maple handle with rubber O-rings and plastic caps, a mounting template and complete, easy-to-follow instructions. You can also purchase a set of 20" x 5" leather jaw liners.



Veritas,, 613-596-1922, Quick-Release Front Vise, #05G34.01; Leather Jaw Liners, set of 2, 05G34.03.