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Decent quality for the money

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Review by Mark Colan posted 09-17-2013 03:50 AM 3863 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Decent quality for the money Decent quality for the money No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was looking for a good vise for my new bench (see also: my blog on building the bench). I was tempted to buy a used Record vise, but they command higher prices for some in fair condition. Eclipse, a UK company, has imitated the Record style for their Chinese-made vises, and came up with an affordable vise with reasonable quality.

Here is what Woodcraft says about the Eclipse 10 Bench Vise :

This 10” Eclipse vise features a quick-action lever which disengages the vise screw and permits instant adjustment to any point along the vise’s capacity. This unique design characteristic ensures a smooth, efficient operation that will make this vise one of the most versatile and frequently used tools in your workshop.

Eclipse vises feature heavy cast iron jaws and solid steel slide rods for a lifetime of rugged use, and the vise jaws are toed in to assure positive clamping, even under the heaviest of clamping pressure. The large jaw opening allows for outfitting the cast jaws with wider, heavier wooden jaws for the increased clamping pressure necessary to firmly secure heavy workpieces.

Designed with the woodworker in mind, the built-in dog may be used in combination with a bench dog to offer alternate uses. This vise is easily mounted to virtually any style of workbench and can be used in a configuration of your choosing.

  • Jaw width: 10”
  • Max opening: 14-7/8”
  • Quick release mechanism

The vise is available as 7”, 9”, and 10 1/2”. The price difference is not that great between them, so I just went for the largest one. The vise is big, possibly bigger than I’ll ever need. Maybe the next size down would be enough. But it fits my bench, and it’s better to have a vise too big than too small, I guess.

Installation

Installation was straightforward and did not take much labor time.

Out of the box, the vise comes coated with a lot of grease that must be removed, lest it become clogged up with dust. This is easy to do with a rag and kerosene. Thanks to this grease, there was no rust at all and the paint job was good.

It requires stout mounting screws and a wood spacer that you make yourself to thickness required by your bench, for example by laminating plywood. I measured the amount the vise went over the bench top, added a half an inch, then cut some plywood of various thicknesses to make up this thickness. The plywood pieces were measured to be the same as the mounting screw area of the vise, but over-sized so they could be trimmed to exact size after the glue tried.

My inside jaw is the bench apron, whose underside was hollowed out to accommodate the depth of the inner jaw. The outside jaw is a full-thickness (about 1.5”) piece of the same material, to allow me to drill dog holes if I decide to do that in the future, and for plenty of rigidity. The picture shown below is the vise mounted to the bench, with the apron concealing the inner jaw, but so far without the outside jaw wood.

The vise is said to be 10 inches. In fact, it is nearly 10.5” wide at the jaws. That half inch could make a difference in some applications, because you won’t be trimming it a vise to fit!

Performance

Once mounted, I found the main screw does not turn with fingertip strength. This was also true before I removed the grease. I would have like it to be more free spinning, but this is not a big deal, especially when you consider that this is a quick release vise. It isn’t a matter of sawdust, since I have not used it much yet. Possibly some oil on the screw, or some WD40, will free it up a bit. Or maybe it will break in with use.

The quick release mechanism works reliably. One squeeze, and the outer jaw can be pulled in and out freely. I think I prefer this to the kind where you turn the handle a bit to disengage.

One of the “safety” features is “Tommy bar will bend before the vise can become overstressed”. I’m having a hard time imagining what the problem would be with overstressing it, especially when you consider that a bent tommy bar, which is irreplaceable in this design, ruins the vise anyway. I think this “feature” is simply a way of pretending a weak point in the design is actually an asset. I would have preferred an unbendable Tommy bar, but hey, I have not bent it yet, and nothing is truly unbendable.

Bottom Line

I think this vise is likely to last much longer than me. I’m happy with it, but I would have been happier if the main screw turned more easily. I shopped around, both used and new, and I think it’s a good value for the price.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA




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Mark Colan

209 posts in 1598 days



10 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3685 posts in 1917 days


#1 posted 09-17-2013 04:39 PM

Hi Mark,

I have a similar vise, a Shop Fox, still in the box at my Washington vacation home. I am betting it is the same design, and maybe came from the same factory. I bought it in Bellingham at a hardware place before I realized that the Grizzly Store was there….....and that the Grizzly store has an amazing variety of stuff that they don’t make. However, Grizzly sells the same one, since they own Shop Fox. I came to the same conclusion you did, probably good enough for the money.

I have a somewhat better vise here at home, but as I recall, more money…...

http://lumberjocks.com/jbertelson/blog/28188

It will take quite a bit of force, as you might imagine. I bought it on line from Lee Valley…...
I only mention it because if you end up needing a better vise at some time, it would be worth looking at. I have another very old woodworking vise installed on my old bench, and it still gets some use as well.

We are into our rainy time of year, starts in August here. We had a beautiful summer, though, with June and July being very warm and dry….....one of our best summers for years.

I am betting you will find your vise is none too big, and it will get a lot of use. Have a good one….....

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1801 days


#2 posted 09-18-2013 08:08 PM

I have two similar vices but with quick release from Harbor Freight for several years.
I am very happy with them.
HF no longer carry them, I am happy that I bought mine then.

-- Bert

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3736 posts in 2487 days


#3 posted 09-19-2013 11:31 PM

Hey, Mark!
I think my vise is the same as yours. It was purchased from Lee Valley a few years ago, and it was made in Chech Republic( or was it Czechoslovakia?) Anyway, here’s a pic of mine for comparison, the label was falling off so I taped it back on for the sake of this photo.

could yours be Eastern European too?
http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=49980&cat=1,41659

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1598 days


#4 posted 09-20-2013 01:18 AM

Hey PK:

It sure looks a lot like mine. Same color. Mine did not have a Made in Czech sticker on it. I thought I remembered seeing “Made in China” on the box, but I have recycled it so I can’t czech it (heh).

As I understand it, it was designed by a British Company that bought the rights to the Record vise design. They presumably re-engineered them for production, then hired that out. It isn’t unusual for a company to change business partners, and it may have started in Czech, then moved to China, or maybe vise (heh) versa.

Sorry for the bad puns. I’ll look at it carefully and see if I can find any indication one way or the other.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1507 posts in 1385 days


#5 posted 09-20-2013 01:19 AM

I have the same HF vise that Bert is referring too. Very similar to the Eclipse. The HF had a few minor fit/finish issues, but for $39, I was willing to make a few tweaks. I really like this style of vise. I was dead set on a leg vise for my bench, but these quick release rigs are brainless to install, less fussy to use, and still offer 95% of the functionality of a leg vise.
As Bert said, the HF product is no longer avaiable, and I’ve considered another quick release vise for my 2nd bench. I’ve seen these eclipse vises advertised before, but didn’t know much about their quality/performance. Thanks for the review. I’ll have to keep these on my radar.

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3736 posts in 2487 days


#6 posted 09-20-2013 09:32 PM

Mark: Thanks for the ad-vice! Hmmm… Medford, home of Bal-a-Rouie or however it is spelled. Is that dive still in business? Us boys would drive all the way down from NH because we heard that “Med-Fid” chicks were HOTTT… Or was it ‘Melrose’?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1598 days


#7 posted 09-21-2013 01:09 AM

I’m not a native of Medford, and I never heard of it. I did a google on Bal-a-Roue and found out it was a skating rink on Mystic Ave (38). That’s a kind of “interesting” part of town. Sorry I missed it!

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View stefang's profile

stefang

13633 posts in 2087 days


#8 posted 06-04-2014 10:22 PM

Hi Mark. Nice review. I’m pretty sure your vise is a Record knockoff made in China. I just bought two of the 10” models which appear to be exactly like yours, except that they are painted green and are sold under the name of a U.K. tool store, namely Axminster. I just mounted the face vise today and I’ll be mounting the tail vise tomorrow. Like yours, the quick release mechanism works very smoothly, but the cranking action is a little stiff. It is worth noting that there is no racking in it whatsoever, so that might compensate for the stiffness. I am hoping it loosens up a bit with use though. You have had yours for about 9 months now. I’m wondering if you are still pleased with and if it does indeed crank easier now. I’ll appreciate any comments you might have about it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1598 days


#9 posted 06-05-2014 06:31 AM

Hi Stefang, Our vises sound similar. I have been using the vise here and there since I installed it. It’s hard to know whether it has loosened up the way I would have liked, or I have just gotten used to the stiffness, but I’m still happy with the purchase.

My rear vise face is now covered by the front panel of the workbench (with a cutout to fit), and I have a block of the same material for the front vise face. Having a very deep jaw opening means it is still deep even with these blocks taking up some of it. I will rarely use most of the depth, but I’m glad to have it when I need it.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View stefang's profile

stefang

13633 posts in 2087 days


#10 posted 06-05-2014 07:23 AM

Thanks very much for your reply Mark. I have had a traditional cabinet makers bench I bought over 30 years ago. It has wooden vises and it was ok, but way to small and with a tool well (which I hated). I replaced it with a longer and wider bench and I’m installing the metal vises on it. I have no previous experience with them, but it is encouraging to hear that you are satisfied with yours. My old bench is going to my son’s workshop in Sweden, so not a waste, as I use his shop when we visit him.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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