This is an offset bench vise, with jaws that overhang its side. When mounted to a work table, the offset jaws allow for taller objects to be held in the jaws, with longer parts extending down while also clearing the work surface.
A reader wrote in, looking for such a vise to suit specific tasks. There look to be a couple of different makes and models of offset jaw bench vises and offset jaw engineers’ vises, but there’s one small problem.
I’ve done quite a bit of searching myself, and it seems that this style of vise is no longer available anywhere in the USA, at least not new and from typical industrial suppliers.
The first vise shown here is available on Amazon via a 3rd party seller for over $500. Another vise somewhat resembling the second vise is available via a another seller on Amazon for ~$200.
But, I cannot find anything similar via McMaster Carr, MSC, Grainger/Zoro, or other typical industrial suppliers I would expect to carry this type of product.
My search did turn up several seeming name brands of vises, but every single one of them is based in Australia.
So that’s two mysteries. Why aren’t these vises easily available in the USA? And why are they seemingly very plentiful in Australia?
Why are they so hard to find here, but not in Australia? It’s a mystery.
While the reader’s application allows for some flexibility, this is really the best solution for their needs.
Have you ever used a vise like this? Do you know of a modern day brand that makes a quality offset jaws vise and ships to the USA.
The Bessey BVMPV5 multi-purpose vice will accomdate a workpiece in the way you describe if mounted near the edge of the bench and hold it securely. Includes pipe jaws.
There’s something similar from Yost – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SIQ1DHM/?tag=toolguyd-20 – but when you rotate the head, the jaws are vertical and might not be wide enough for what the user has in mind.
The pipe jaws could potentially be used, but not without damaging the work. A non-marring insert would be needed, and it seems that this would work best with jaws oriented parallel to the floor.
This is the answer. I’ve had one of these in my shop for so long I’ve forgotten a bench vice can look different. I’ve beat the CRAP out of this thing and it’s lasted a good 15 years already. At this point I can’t imagine owning anything different.
Here’s one for $130 from California: https://www.ebay.com/c/1701744259
another one that is green in the “similar items” below that ad.
I’d put them in the same bucket as 3rd party Amazon sellers.
We both came across that one, and their bare-bones website outside of ebay.
It seems they’re just selling a bunch of generic-branded products from Alibaba. That’s still a source, but doesn’t answer why typical bench vise sources don’t carry anything like this here.
Maybe it’s a demand issue (lack of demand that is)
It does seem like it would have a somewhat narrow application.
Couldn’t most people holding long stuff just mount a regular vise at the front edge of the worktable and overhand the item in front? That’s how my vise is mounted and I sometimes use it to hold my dirt bike forks when I work on them.
Wait, even as I type that I’m realizing what makes these different – the offset means the center piece is out of the way so you could hold stuff right in the middle of the jaws – i.e. it’s not just about the long item hanging out over the edge of the table. When holding forks in my current vise I just put then to one side.
Dang it. Now there’s a tool I need that I didn’t know existed 5 minutes ago. 😛
I solved the problem many years ago by purchasing a vise with wider jaws and then installing it correctly on the bench. I can so exactly what you described. I can’t remember the exact dimensions but I can easily hold up 32mm pipe. I seem to recall that the trick was to swing the vice 90° when needing to hold stuff vertically.
This. I run a 6.5 inch Yost vise. This one in fact:
Properly mounted on the corner of my work bench the jaws fully clear the bench top on both the front and the side. The reversible jaws give you enough span to hold things that would normally require bench dogs. The entire vise is more than strong enough to resist my 36 inch pipe wrench when I need it. I really wanted a forged steel vise but costs were just too high. This was my compromise and I’m not disappointed.
Yost Vises and Milwtool makes them here in the USA but your not going to find those by browsing Amazon there direct sell only.
I think Wilton Tools might still be making one but I haven’t looked at them in along time.
I think they had a model 125 OS, but read it was last seen in a catalog in 2004.
I checked Yost’s website and didn’t see any mention of such a model.
i can see the use of such a vice. for my needs i have gotten by with the hf swivel vice. it is not a great vice but i use it more for positioning things when welding than anything. i figure it is plenty good to get covered with weld splatter and smoke.
Check out the Parrot vise. It’s an older vise style that Grizzly has now, and it should do what you’re describing. They do look a little bit gimmicky, though.
You could also go hardcore and mount a vise on the side of your bench, or get a drill press vise or similar that you can hold in your existing vise.
Yost offers what appears to me to be a more versatile product for under $200:
seems like something a bespoke tool maker could make fairly easily. that comes at a price though.
fireball tools comes to mind, can’t imagine what a woodpeckers vise would cost…
That’s that westward one for 180
Just picked up a Holland offset vise this summer, don’t know of any US manufacturer making one now.
holey moley, where ya been man? good to see you are still kicking.
C’mon Fred, help us out!
Bench top vice, clamping the mounting plate of a second vice with jaws now facing outward. Boom.
or custom mount it sideways.
First off, the first half of the 1900’s, there were dozens of American MFR’s of vises. As we got into the latter part of the 1900’s, possibly because of automation or other reasons, the vise was not as important and many companies went under or were bought out by their competitors.
Today there are only a handful of MFR’s in the US; Yost and Morgan for sure still made in the USA. Wilton still exists but belongs to an overseas entity; only their top 3 models still made in USA. Reed still exists but I believe they only make their own pipe vises. Their bench vises are made by Columbian, and they were bought out years ago by Wilton.
Hollands used to make an offset vise they haven’t been around for decades.
The Australian connection is due to Dawn. Of the many well known vise brands worldwide, Dawn was the most famous for offset vises (they made Wilton’s one model they had), and Dawn is Australian.
This is an online spreadsheet that lists 1000’s of models. There is not a specific column for “offset” but if you do a “ctrl” + “f” search with just the word offset, there are about 28 listed.
If you look at old pictures of warehouse during the industrial revolution, they had vises everywhere. Today, the vise is still an important “3rd hand” tool but so much less in the manufacturing process, probably due to the many automated processes which take away the need for the vise.
So in the end, few companies are still around, and like everything, if there is a need, someone will make it. Today there is a need, but it is very small and thus few MFR’s and an offset vise is just too niche for there to be a wide selection for the purchaser.
I have some of those old vises dating from the mid-century (Starrett Athol, Parker, Columbian, Erie, Wilton and Yost.) My Starrett and Parker vises are mounted so you can swivel them around to hang over the side of the bench. For Pipe – I mostly use a Ridgid tripod chain vise – but only horizontal. The Erie Yoke pipe vise that I have is mounted on the side of a bench for vertical use. The 4 woodworking wises on each corner of a bench can also easily hold items horizontally – gripped on either side of the acme screw (need to add a piece on the opposite side to avoid racking) . And I’ve routed v-grooves (one vertical and one horizontal) in their maple faces to better grip things like round dowels.
Not all Yost’s are USA made until you get up in the $450+ range.
I don’t think Yost makes any vises in the US anymore, they are all made in Taiwan as of a few years ago.
There are 3 other types that will hold long items vertically; Post vice, rotating, and carpenters.
My Park Tool bicycle stand arm (S4WM) might also be used to grip in a variety of orientations. I have it mounted to a steel pipe post in the garage
Fireball Tool’s giant vise is capable of much wider jaws. Jason said he could offset the jaws but then realized he should just make wider ones, specifically for the offset you’re after.
Of course, the thing’s scale is off the chart for almost everyone else, but the concept of the jaws is straightforward.
The guy’s amazing.
so the demand question. did this perhaps get supplanted by vises that swivel on their base or some other vise version.
I have a swivel vise on one corner of my worktable. If I have to hold a long piece to the floor I would unlock is – turn it 90 or near 90. Then place the pipe or whatever in front of the thing.
Also I wonder if wider jaw vises also supplanted the demand for this style.
Why not just design a set of offset jaws out of 3/4″ plate for a high quality normal vise? Seems like a fairly straightforward project, that in a pinch could even be traw plasma cut pieces.
Why not mount a normal vise overhung on a 1/2″ or 3/4″ steel plate?
I may be necessary to fit a thick plate on the fixed inner jaw so that the work piece get free of the vise body.
A moxon (twin screw) vise seems to fit the need stated (designed for tall workpieces), and are rather common/easy to rig. I’m not seeing the necessary use cases to have a large market for offset jaws.
Dawn (Australian brand) has a website for US sales (https://www.vice.tools) and ships to the US. They are not cheap but then again no good vise is, at least in my experience.
Those offset jaws are handy. I built a moxon vise to clamp tall things hanging below my workbench, and it works great. For really tough work or using a torch, I clamp a 5″ machine vise into my moxon, and it’s solid as a rock.
I got one of these
You can bot it to your bench with the bracket. Drill another hoe in the shaft and you can turn it 90 degrees.
Gressel makes a very high quality offset vise, you can buy one right now from Amazon.