Versatile Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise Hits a Sweet Price Point
When you need a third hand, a vise is your best friend in the entire world. That’s a frequent need in our shop and in the field, so we brought in the sub-$100 Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise to see what this wallet-friendly model has to offer.
We normally talk about price near the end of our reviews, but with retail prices running less than $100, it’s a really big deal. Other vises with similar features can cost hundreds of dollars more.
Of course, hitting a price point this low requires some trade-offs. We’re going to take a look at what those are, keeping in mind that value is what you get for what you’re paying.
The big draw for us is the versatility the Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise provides. It has 360º vertically-rotating jaws to go along with a standard 360º rotating base. The combination of the two movements lets us shift the material we’re clamping into nearly any position to work on.
Rotating the base involves loosening the two base handles and swinging it in the direction needed. There are no bearings in the base, so add some grease to smooth out the action if it starts feeling rough.
Replaceable Jaws with Decent Bite
The jaws have just one locking handle. Loosen it to allow the jaws to swing around vertically. The rotating action on this is much smoother than the base. You get 3-inches of throat depth (7 cm) and the 5-inch wide jaws open to 4.9-inches (12 cm). That’s a decent amount of space to work, and you can always spend more if you need more clearance.
The jaw inserts have knurling that’s very effective at holding material. If they wear down, or you want to swap them for a different set, a Phillips head screwdriver lets you easily remove them.
The V jaws and pipe jaws live on the opposite side from the main jaws. The V-jaws form a cross pattern. Since these are cast in that shape, you get no inserts to replace over time.
The replaceable pipe jaws sit to the outside of the V-jaws.
Shifting away from the moving parts, this Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise also gives you a 3-inch x 2.5-inch anvil right on top. Use it for smaller work where you simply need to bend something over or otherwise have a flat metal surface to work on.
We found a bit more play in the screw handle than we see in something like our Wilton Tradesman vises. While this doesn’t affect the clamping force or cause the screw to slip, it’s a solid indicator of a more budget-conscious vise.
Also, keep in mind that the screw and slide are exposed along the bottom. The “bottom” becomes the “top” when using the integrated pipe clamps or V-clamps. For best results over time, you’ll need to apply grease as needed and check to make sure there’s not a lot of debris collecting on and around the screw.
Clamping Down on Expectations
Before you pull the trigger on the Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise, you need to understand that it’s a light-duty design. In fact, the maximum clamping force on this vise is just 3,500 pounds. The vise also only weighs around 33 pounds. More expensive vises with a similar design might double that—but that also might double the price or more.
Most of the complaints I’ve heard regarding this vise come from folks that tried to use it like a heavy-duty vice. They simply put too much force onto the jaws. As a light-duty model, the jaws are actually not solid cast iron through-and-through (see photos above). They’re hollowed out. If you consistently clamp over the rated force, they’re going to crack sooner or later.
We use our bench clamps most often to hold material while we cut or grind. This is a great vise for that kind of work. If you’re expecting to use this vise to press in connections or for other high-force applications, you should boost your budget and go with something with a higher clamp force rating.
The Bottom Line
The Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise is very attractive for about $95 as long as you keep in mind its light-duty design intent. It’s a great fit for a DIYer’s shop or garage and has some potential for Pros that don’t need 2 tons or more (literally) of clamping force.Get it on Amazon
Irwin Multi-Purpose Vise Specifications
- Model: 4935505
- Max Jaw Opening: 4.9 in.
- Jaw Width: 5 in.
- Pipe Capacity: 4.9 in.
- Throat Depth: 3 in.
- Clamping Force: 3,500 lbs.
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $94.98