Last year I had a rush of Record 52 1/2 vices for sale and they all went in a week. It’s testament to how wonderful these quick release vices are. if you find a good one, keep it, I kept two from the batch for my own future workshop! I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had about mounting these excellent vices, but this explanation turned up in a recent book I purchased, Scott Landis’s excellent ‘The Workbench Book’.
He covers four ways of fitting the vices, edge mount, flush mount, flush mount behind apron and mortised mount. I’ve reproduced the drawings and copy to help anyone who is struggling with this. (I hope I won’t get emails from Collins about copyright, if I do, this will have to disappear quickly). My own book is a vintage secondhand edition, so in the spirit of Stewart Brand’s ‘access to tools’ (praise the Lord, for Brand is God), I hope they will respect my wish to get the information out there to help as many people as possible.
(Text and images from Scott Landis’s ‘The Workbench Book’)
There’s more to hanging a Record (or similar vice) than simply bolting it to the bench.To work properly it must be straight level with the top and secure. At the very least, once the vice position is decided, you must accurately bore four holes, attach the mounting bracket (which is a single casting with the rear jaw) and add word cheeks. But there are several fine points and a variety of mounting options to consider, as shown below.
The rear jaw may be mounted onto the edge of the bench top (Fig.1), inset flush with the edge (Fig.2), set behind an apron (Fig.3), or mortise into the underside of the bench (Fig.4). If the working surface of the rear jaw is the front edge of the bench top (Figs. 3 and 4), it will be easy to add additional clamps to secure a long board to the bench. On the other hand, if the cheek protrudes (Figs. 1 and 2), irregularities on the stock won’t strike the bench top edge and make it difficult to close the vice jaws.
Which vice-mounting method you choose depends on the thickness of your bench top, the shape of the edge and your own preference. Here are some other considerations to make vice installation easier and vice operation more effective.
- When positioning the vice, make sure that when the vice is closed, the screw and guide bars will not interfere with any dog holes or with the legs of the bench.
- Fitting the rear jaw/bracket to the bench will be easier if you turn the bench top upside down on it’s edge. If this is not possible, you can remove the front jaw of the vice along with the lead screw and guide bars to reduce the weight whilst fitting.
- Unless your bench top is unusually thick, you will have to insert a spacer between the mounting bracket and the underside of the bench. This can be made out of hardwood, plywood or mdc, or built up out of 1/4″, or 1/8″ tempered Masonite, or similar material.
- Size the spacers to position the top of the rear jaw about 1/2″ to 3/4″ below the top surface of the bench. This allows for periodic resurfacing of the bench top. (The wooden cheeks should be flush with the top.)
- If you let the rear jaw of the vice into the front edge of the underside of the bench, allow a 1/16″ gap above the casting. The spacer is bound to compress when you attach the vice, and this gap will close. Without the gap, the wood may buckle above the jaw and have to be planed off. (A snug fit on the sides of the rear jaw helps position the vice.)
- To hang the vice, use either 3/” bolts or lag screws. Bolts provide a more positive fixing (Fig.1), but their heads must be countersunk beneath the top surface and the holes should be plugged. (The square shank beneath the head of a carriage bolt will strip the wood after several installations, so I prefer to use machine bolts and lock washers.) Lag screws work well (Fig.2), but make sure that you size and bore the pilot holes carefully, and don’t remove the vice more often than necessary. Lag screws and machine bolts maybe be combined using an enlarged spacer (Fig.3), which strengthens the fixing.
- Metal vice jaws should always be covered to protect your work and the edges of your tools: 3/4″ to 1″ thick hardwood is fine. You can make these cheeks wider than the metal jaws to extend their clamping capacity, but bear in mind that the farther you clamp away from the centre screw the more the vice will rack out of square. For a neater job (and more protection), the wooden cheeks can also be routed to fit around the top and sides of the front jaw (Fig.1). Allow about 1/2″ of space between the tops of the guide rods and the bottom of the cheeks so that veneer edges or mouldings can fit between them.
- if you let the rear jaw into the front edge, wood must be rooted away to the exact thickness of the casting. If too much wood is removed, the wooden cheek will dish. If not enough i.e.s removed, there will be a gap at the top between the cheek and the front edge of the bench. Sawdust will work its way in and wedge the cheek away from the bench.
- The Record and Paramo vices are designed to make contact first along the top edge of the jaws. This ‘toe-in’ should be retained for a better grip. If your vice jaws are parallel, you can create your own ‘toe-in’ by tapering the wooden cheeks.
- To make it easy to align work vertically in the vice, inlay thin pieces of veneer in the top of the front cheek. These should lie at a right angle to the outside edges of the guide rods. Work can be quickly installed in the vice by pushing it against the guide rod and alleging it with the veneer on top.
14 replies on “How to fit a Record vice”
Thank you very much. You have provided the best set of instructions I have found. They are of great help in making detailed drawings of the new work bench that I am building. Marvin McConoughey
Awesome pics and instructions!
Excellent sections. Three alternatives could not be clearer. You’ve solved a fair bit of head scratching in one go!
Very valuable and clear! So helpful. Thank you.
Thank you for these detailed instructions, I was at a loss of how to best install my vice. You have said me a lot of time effort and probably grief!
Very helpful. vice has a somewhat odd design in so much as the rear jaw casting has a curve in the right angles so it will not fit flush to bench on initial fit. Using spacers make it happen. Great page many thanks.
Fantastic Instructions to aid in fitting a vice correctly
Echoing all the above. Found a great vise on the web and now the definitive guide on fixing it. Thank you.
This is definitely the definitive instructions on mounting a vice, and I Googled my way through some pretty bizarre alternatives till I got to here. I’ve just used this to mount a large reconditioned Irwin on a new and I used a hybrid of your examples, the back has the apron run through flush but with a replaceable wear pad, and the front is set down 20mm and rabetted. It’s hung off four 12mm blind bolts but the heads are covered by 20mm hardwood fitted to the bench top after installation to form a well in the work surface.
Thank you for the really clear instructions.
Thanks for the clear instructions and important measurements. I now know how to proceed.
Ordered two of this vices from UK to Germany via Ebay (shipping was 22 Euro and took some 5 days) after reading Paul Sellers blog. Paul also has information how to fit this vices but these here exceeds that. Thanks for sharing that information!
THANK you so much your diagram certainly helped this old man in managing to fit the large heavy Irwin-record vice thankful for that (right shoulder thinks I have lifted a ton weight this morning)but we’ll worth the effort with your great help,joe South lakes Cumbria????????
Hi there, I’m aware this is a very old thread. So hoping someone picks this up.
I have a record 52 that I need to fit. It’s not a 52 1/2 as I keep finding guides for.
What is the best way to fit this vice? I’d like to keep the dust cover plate on display if possible?
Simply bolting under the bench would hide this plate if I’m not mistaken?
Any help would be much appreciated.
Also, any info of a record 52 as apposed to a 52 1/2 would be great.