The Veritas Inset vice is a real gem which is why I chose it for our Little John Bench. There’s nothing excessive about it and its qualities lie in its simplicity; simple in design and simple to use. Compared to the wagon vices we’re now more familiar with this one is very compact and so you only get about half the travel however the clamping capacity is surprising large thanks to the two positions for the dog so all in all simple and functional.
For the most part bench dogs go straight through your bench top and they will hold themselves in place with some kind of spring so they can be set at any height you need. In contrast this little vice uses a low dog that locates on top of the moving block so its height is fixed and this is the one draw back that I have found.
The set height of the dog is ½” (12.5mm) and whilst this provides ample support for any thickness you clamp its just too high for anything thinner. For boxes or small drawer sides you would find yourself determined to make it work by packing the work piece up from below and holding it in a balance whilst you try to close the vice around it. That simple use becomes chaotic and out comes the holdfast and batten.
I had a chance to discuss the vice with the chaps from Veritas and it turns out they were aware of the problem and had already taken a look in to some solutions. Offering a lower dog sounds straight forward however due to its small size the aluminium they used wasn’t going to offer enough strength. A prototype had been made up in steel and this works a treat (they sent one over to me and I’ve been trying it out for a little while now). The obvious concerns with the steel are the potential damage it could do to your plane iron if accidentally hit but personally I feel that it works, I’ve always been a plane wielder rather than a sander and I’ve never come in to a time where I’ve hit the dog. A bit of care when your working ought to avoid disasters and it holds very well. Perhaps a quick amendment could be made in the workshop, say a thick piece of suede added to the top for protection? Alternatively you might feel it needs a more permanent soft topper added when its made? We’ll be looking to supply the lower dog with our Little John Workbenches so it would be great to hear your thoughts.
If you’re looking for a low cost wagon vice then the Veritas Inset is the only option that I’m aware of, this is available in our shop and from any Veritas stockist in your country. You can also see the vice being used in this video at the Little John Workbench where I’m making a small box.