Utility Vises – A Picture isn’t Always Worth a Thousand Words

For the typical home craftsman, a sturdy vise is all that is needed.  Many don’t need the robust, heavy-duty industrial vises offered in the Yost Heavy Duty Bench Vise line.  This is why Yost has spent considerable time perfecting the utility vise line.  Yost offers two lines of Utility Vises:  (1) Apprentice series — Yost’s entry-level utility vises and (2) All-Steel series — Yost’s premium line of utility vises.  There are significant differences between premium utility vises, such as the Yost All Steel Series and the competitors’ utility bench vises.

Don’t be Fooled by Looks — The Devil is in the Detail

It seems these days that almost everyone is offering a utility vise line.  This can make it very difficult to choose a vise, especially when they can look so similar.  The saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but with tools it should be the other way around.  Even though two tools look the same, there can exist hundreds of small differences that pictures don’t capture.  This is the case with bench vises, especially in the Utility Vise line.  Looking at the pictures helps determine the quality of the casting and machining but, as always, the devil is in the details.  Shown below are some important considerations when considering utility vises.

Most utility vises are made from separate parts to reduce the cost.  For example, the vise jaw and the vise bar are cast separately.  The vise bar is the first item that is cast or made.  These parts are then put together, either by a weld or during the casting process.  Welding is the preferred method since it creates the strongest bond between the two parts. In order to do this, both the vise jaw and the vise bar need to be made from the same material.

Others Add Weight (But Not Strength) to the Vise

Many other vises (especially the vises that look like a Yost All-Steel vise) are actually made from two different metals – a steel “U” channel and ductile or gray iron jaw.  Since there are two different materials being used, the two parts of the vise can’t be welded together.  The two parts need to be cast together.  This process adds weight to the vise; several pounds of extra material are needed just to hold the two parts of the vise together.  This added weight, however, doesn’t add any additional strength to the vise.

Yost All-Steel Utility Vises — Stronger than Other Utility Vise Styles

Made from Structural Cast Steel (SC37)

The Yost All-Steel bench vises, by comparison, are made completely from structural cast steel, (SC37) distinguishing Yost from all other utility vises.  Yost All-Steel vises are welded together forming a stronger bond between the bar and the jaw of the vise than can be made from casting the two parts together.  This makes the Yost All-Steel vises stronger than other styles of utility vises.

Machinist Jaws

Close up of the Machinist Jaws

The tensile strength of structural cast iron is roughly 55,000 PSI which is almost twice as strong as the 30,000 PSI rating of cast iron.  Other companies will try to add weight to offset this difference in the strength of the material.  Don’t be fooled though.  For a vise to have the same strength as a Yost All-Steel vise it will need to weigh almost twice as much.  This means that a 6” Cast iron vise needs to weigh over 60lbs.  Remember, this added durability means the Yost All-Steel vise will last longer than other cast iron vises available.

Largest Screw/Nut Combination Available in the Utility Vise Category

Machined Steel Bar & Main Screw

Close up of the machined steel bar and main screw. ¼” Cast Steel Bar (904-HV)

It is also important to understand that the size and diameter of the screw and the nut are important in the durability of vises.  These again are parts of the vise that can’t be shown in the main picture.  The All-Steel series uses the largest screw/nut combination available in the utility vise category .

Machined for a Better Fit

Finally, the Yost All-Steel Vises are machined to give a better fit.  Many other utility vises are simply “good enough” once they are cast together.  Machining the bar reduces the lateral movement of the vise when it is being used.  The more lateral movement, the less precise the vise will be when closing.  Additionally, lateral movement that occurs when opening and closing a vise will lead to more wear-and-tear on the vise.  It will also result in more wear-and-tear on the main screw and nut, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Yost has been building quality tools since 1908.  Our utility vise line is no exception.  When you are looking for a quality home bench vise, look no further than the All-Steel series of bench vises.

About Ryan

Ryan is the product expert for Yost Vises. Over the past three years he has been involved in the production and design of all new and redesigned products and is currently heading the team for launch of the next lines of products offered by Yost Vises.


  1. Deryl Jones says:

    Is the only difference between the 905-AS and the 905-HV color?

  2. Glen Linscheid says:

    The close up of the back end of the channel looks like it is a rolled steel product, is that welded to the front jaw?

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