One tool I acquired sort of on a whim when I was soldering some wires was a vacuum vise. It picked it up at Harbor Freight Tools for not a lot of money and figured it would be tossed into the back of my tool chest never to be used again. I soon found that this little vise turned out to be more useful than I had expected.
Working on the boat most of us do not have a fixed vise available to hold things as we work on them. Once I had the vise I found it was helpful for holding all kinds of things while working on them. Everything from holding the wires I started with to drilling and cutting wood and metal parts I was working.
Although this vise is no competition for a regular shop vise bolted firmly to a solid work bench this handy little tool is fairly strong and can hold more than I had expected. The vacuum base holds surprising well to many surfaces making it even more versatile. The smoother the surface the better it will hold. I have found that I use it most often in the galley as this is a good work height but it has been stuck all over the place while I have been working. I find it is great stuck on the inside of the cockpit coaming as I am often working on projects out there. I have stuck it on the side of the mast when doing rigging work as well. It helps to keep the base clean when sticking it down and you do have to be careful it does not suddenly let go.
I always keep a hand on it when applying pressure and can feel when it is getting ready to let go. Although you cannot really put a lot of pressure on it particularly when turning as in loosening pipe threads and the like it does hold well when cutting small pieces of metal and when doing light drilling jobs. And let’s face most of the work we do is lighter in nature. When it comes to the heavy projects I use the shop vise at home.
Another feature that makes this tool versatile is the ball joint base that allows you to position the vise jaws just where you need them. This helps when sticking it onto angled surfaces as well. Being able to rotate and angle the jaws means you can always get the tricky part in just the right place to work on it. The swivel will slip if too much pressure is applied but it has to be expected with a light duty tool like this.
Of course this is not a really heavy duty tool but is well worth having for all those little projects on the boat when a extra hand would come in handy. For the price I think you will find it is well worth keeping in your onboard tool kit.
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