Harbor Freight Quick Release Vise

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Forum topic by DouginVa posted 03-19-2013 12:10 AM 6854 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2298 days

03-19-2013 12:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve read all kinds of reviews on Harbor Freight Tools and I’m well aware that you get what you pay for…’s a balancing act: budget vs. quality. Having said that I’ve been wanting to add a face vise to my work bench for some time now until I can find the time to build a quality Ruobo bench.

I read some reviews on the Harbor Freight quick release vise and I recall people saying they had difficulty operating the quick release mechanism because it wouldn’t slide open and close without some fidgeting and wiggling of the vise jaws. Now that mine is installed I’m experiencing the same problem.

What I want to know has anybody come up with a solution or a quick fix to these vises that will allow the quick release to slide open and closed smoothly without muscling it open and closed?

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

15 replies so far

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1917 days

#1 posted 03-25-2013 01:48 AM

Haha, fitting your new vise to your bench will lead you to making another bench.

Seriously though, I am shopping for a face vise too but starting to consider if I really want and will be happy using a quick release type. Is the slight but repetitious annoyance of fidgeting/muscling with the quick release actually worse than a vise with no quick release where you might have to sometimes crank the jaws more than 3” at one time (happily with no fidgeting/muscling though)? I hope I can figure this out soon.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View LoydMoore's profile


105 posts in 1981 days

#2 posted 03-25-2013 01:58 AM

I have a quick release that is supposed to be top of the line and I have the same problem. You just have to learn to hold your mouth just right and DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT cuss at it. They are rather sensitive.

-- Loyd, San Angelo, TX

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1917 days

#3 posted 03-25-2013 02:28 AM

That’s it. I’m getting a non-quick release vise. Or maybe I’ll sleep on it a bit longer. And read more opinions.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Julian's profile


1347 posts in 2715 days

#4 posted 03-25-2013 03:37 AM

I purchased a quick release face vise from HarborFreight over a year ago. Some parts of the casting was very rough and I had to do some filing to make the quick release work properly. I did this work before installing the vise. I have not had any problems with it since. It definitely is not a great vise but it has worked for me so far.

-- Julian

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2298 days

#5 posted 03-25-2013 09:49 AM

redSled; One thing you must consider is that we’re talking about a Harbor Freight product here. I doubt the quality quick release vises from Lee Valley/Veritas, Lie Nielsen, or even Woodcraft products perform like these ones. Remember HF is a bottom of the line bargain basement product and you get what you pay for ins this regard.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2298 days

#6 posted 03-25-2013 10:40 AM

Another consideration, at least for me, is a face vise, quick screw or traditional, doesn’t allow a very wide board to be clamed across it’s width for dovetailing. Which is why I’m considering a twin screw vice with at least an 18” capacity. I’ve been doing mostly hand cut dovetailing practice on scraps lately using my quick release, but mostly on narrow boards. I can see that being a problem with wide boards.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#7 posted 03-25-2013 10:54 AM

I disagree.
I have a rather expensive vise. I bought it at a yard sale, but it was still new in the box when I recieved it. It is made identical to the quick release one at HF. I’ve looked closely. It has the exact same problem to the extent that I don’t even try to use the quick release anymore. It unscrews manually plenty quick enough that I can live without the quick release.
If you want an inexpensive way to hold larger material though, check out the double pipe clamp vise I made. Go here and see it about half way down the page.


View RodNGun's profile


118 posts in 2328 days

#8 posted 03-25-2013 11:00 AM

I have one from Rockler. It has to be jiggled or if you can learn to flip it just right she’ll open right up. Even so, I’d rather do a little jiggling and flipping than a bunch of mindless handle spinning to get it all the way open. Still way faster.

View greyspider's profile


93 posts in 2948 days

#9 posted 03-25-2013 12:46 PM

Check out Lee Valley Tools. They have a vice that is quick release the can be located anywhere on your bench. It’s around 75 bucks. You get one base with the vise, but buy a few of just the bases to put them around your bench

View bondogaposis's profile


4765 posts in 2376 days

#10 posted 03-25-2013 01:23 PM

There are a lot of vintage ones on the used market. I have a pair of Craftsman vises made in the ‘80’s that are American made and have very high quality castings that work very well. Unfortunately they are discontinued. Still some around on ebay.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2875 days

#11 posted 03-25-2013 04:10 PM

Doug: Your question is answered—Julian’s attention to detail is admirable.

I just wanted to expand a little on the budget vs. quality conundrum. It’s true for all of us to some degree.

What I don’t see often on LJ but is reflected in this thread is the frustration factor of living with a tool that does not perform as it should, or at least as we expect it should.

To me, this is not about time, it’s about the quality of the work in the end. If I had to fiddle with the vise to get the block of wood in it, would the first hole I drilled be as accurate as I could do? Probably not. Add a bunch of these kinds of frustrations together and you could even theorize that there could be safety issues.

What do we consider when we’re interested in buying a tool? Certainly improving quality of work, efficiency, pushing ourselves to new levels of accomplishment, and even bragging rights. But rarely, I think, do we consider the issue of frustration.

This is why I appreciate LJ so much. We can so simply discover everything we need to know about, say, an item for the shop, and make a much more informed decision than we could pre-world wide web.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#12 posted 03-25-2013 04:53 PM

I have a costly Record vise and it hangs up and misbehaves.

The way to make it work is maintenance. The sliding parts
need to be kept free of oxidation and waxed. Performance
degrades over time so it is easy to forget how it works with
fresh wax until it starts working so poorly the situation
becomes intolerable.

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3073 days

#13 posted 03-25-2013 05:14 PM

I have two of HF quick release vises,they work fine for me but I am not sure that they still are available.
The last time I looked for one there was none. If you look on the website, they are not there.
Make sure that they are machined correctly, some are way out of square.

-- Bert

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1917 days

#14 posted 03-26-2013 10:47 PM

Good comments, thanks Loren. Anyone recommending anything other than wax to smoothen their woodworking vise action? Currently looking at a used Record quick release vise.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#15 posted 03-26-2013 11:49 PM

I use nothing but Johnson’s Paste Wax for any type of lube needs on my wood working machinery, even the vise.


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