A few weeks ago, in taking your workbench with you, I discussed the possibility of using a portable workbench for woodworking outside your shop. One portable solution I missed in that post is the Sjobergs Smart Vise.
Made in Sweden, this vise possesses many of the qualities you’d look for in a portable bench – a small work surface, the ability to clamp unobtrusively to a table, and several different methods for holding your work. It clamps down to any appropriately sized tabletop, and with F-style bar clamps you should have an easy time clamping it to a table corner.
Although most users will be interested in using the Smart Vise for woodworking applications, there’s no rule saying that’s how you must use it. One of Sjobergs’ product demonstration images shows the vise being used to clamp together a boot that’s being repaired with glue.
When the vise jaws are closed, the entire Smart Vise measures 14-1/4″ by 14-1/4″ (362 mm x 362 mm). The whole portable worktop measures 2-15/16″ (75mm) thick, and it weighs 14 lbs 12 oz (6.7kg).
Sjoberg’s product page says that the top surface is made from birch laminate, and their 2015 sales sheet (PDF) and some product images show the same. But some USA retailers describe it as having a melamine-coated MDF top. From recent product images, the base looks to be made from plywood, the front and rear vise faces look to be solid wood, and the 1″ top layer looks to be coated MDF.
One nice thing about the Smart Vise is that, even assembled, it fits back into its shipping box which doubles as a portable carrying case.
When fully extended, the jaws open to ~4-5/16″ (110 mm) and you can extend that range with the four “unbreakable” 3/4″ round stem bench dogs that ship with the Smart Vise. The vise jaw sits flush with the top so you’ll need to use the bench dogs in the vise jaw as well as the work surface to hold larger stock.
The Smart Vise can be clamped in place, but it can also be screwed or bolted down to a stable surface to create a more permanent fixture. Sjobergs conveniently provides dowel pins on the bottom so you can align the vise squarely with your work surface. These dowels are even listed as a way to attach the vise to a surface: “dowels for drop-in ease,” although we’re not quite sure how well that would work. It seems like that would be a good way to temporarily install the Smart Vise away from a table edge where it could be clamped.
Even though all of the pictures are taken from the Sjobergs website, another inconsistency I found was that some of the Smart Vise pictures show dog holes on the bottom of the vise and some don’t. It’s unclear as to whether these holes are part of the product, or if users are supposed to drill the holes to match their bench. As the Smart Vise’s surfaces and vise faces are made from wood, they can be modified should the need arises.
Despite a couple of informational inconsistencies, there’s the reassurance that Sjobergs stands behind their Smart vise with a ten year manufacturer’s warranty. Pricing for the Smart Vise is pretty much set at $139 everywhere.
Sjobergs makes a few accessory jaw liners, in cork and aluminum, I can only find the cork version at Woodcraft for $16.
Buy Now (Cork Jaw Cushions via WoodCraft)
Here is a two minute video that Sjobergs produced to show off the features of the Smart Vise.