York vise problems


Hi Paul,

Sorry to bother you on a Sunday. I’m using the record-style vise York 53ed since 4 years now. I keep it clean and oiled. Since a few days I can’t apply a lot of or even enough pressure and everytime I try it jumps open. In the past I encountered this only when I was trying to hold very uneven workpieces but right now I am trying to plane some square pieces and they won’t hold.

Thanks for your great work!

Best regards from Germany,



Hello Florian,

Good to hear from you.

Yes I have experienced this issue with ten out of twenty such vises made by York in the recent past. I too expected these vises to last for a lifetime simply because the design is a good one and the metal parts seemed (at least at first) to be comparable to my Record versions. Unfortunately that was far from the case. It didn’t take very long for me to regret installing them because after even only a few days the cast iron mechanism crumbled away inside. York vises are made in the Czech Republic We let York know and they replaced the parts but did not improve them so we don’t really recommend them as good vises. Until I here back from York as to what they plan to do about them I would advise people not buy the York vises.
The place to check is inside mechanisms. There you can see if you have powdery swarf inside from the casting and also if the threads are even still there.
A second problem we found with the York vises was that when both bar aligners each side of the threaded mechanisms were fully tightened the vise no longer functioned as a QR vise. We had to leave one of the bars loose and this then tended to rattle. We ended up using thread dope to stop them from loosening.
I use old Woden and Old Record vises for my school workbenches and am about to replace many of them with larger vises. They seem never to go wrong although a nut or bolt can sometimes come loose. I doubt whether any one of them is less than 60-80 years old and they are still going strong.
I have three new makes I am about to test out so we will see.
Contact York direct and tell them the problem.
Best for now,

37 thoughts on “York vise problems”

  1. I think Parkinson’s Perfect Vice (in various sizes) could be added to your list of good old vices. I suspect that they are even older. I have heard there can be a problem with the half-nut support being broken, but I suspect that only happens when they have been badly abused.

  2. To hopefully ward off this problem I completely tore down my York vice when new and gave it a complete cleaning and applied fresh grease. The existing grease and oil on a new York vise is contaminated with metal particles from the manufacturing process and needs cleaned off. I also picked a lot of metal filings off of the screw and block threads that should have been cleaned off before assembly.

    This may not turn the cast blocks into a lifetime part, but as supplied from the factory they never had a chance to perform as designed.

  3. I had this exact issue on a brand York automatic quick release vice that I got from Axminster. wouldn’t hold for toffee and on tightening would put pressure on wood then slip and would come loose . After much investgating tracked issue down to the nut that works the automatic mechanism , it is rectangular with two corners ground off and on on tightening it locks on one of these ground corners. My nut seemed to have been ground a few millimetres to small , height/width wise not on the corners, so under pressure the nut was rotating and not locking as it should do, Axminster sent me a replacement nut(as I bought the vice over a year previous) , this was actually to large in height/width wise as it was cast, so had to file it down to correct size by trial and error and can’t do it with vice upside down as gravity gets in the way!!! .Now vice works a charm and has done for a few years.
    So it looks as this nut (it’s about 2inches long) is not well cast and is then ground down by York in the factory to fit , but it’s a narrow window between to big and to small.
    I would say the vice is very good now , but I wouldn’t recommend one unless you like doing a lot of tinkering to get it to work

    1. Is this the vice that Axminster sell as the “Axminster Trade Vice”? There’s no maker’s name given on the web site.

      I bought a 225mm Axminster Trade Vice about 18 months ago and every now and again the quick release mechanism fails to release completely and the jaws jump apart and drop your work piece as you tighten the vice just when you least expect it (following Murphy’s Law)

      I’d take it out of the bench and have a good look at it myself to see if I can spot the cause and fix it but following major surgery earlier this year I’m banned from lifting anything heavy so that will have to wait until I get the all clear.

  4. Thank you so much for these comments – I just ordered one of these from Lee Valley, and it is still in its box and within the 3-month return window. Lee Valley will even pay the return postage. I begin to see why people like Lee Valley.

    I eagerly await the results of further vise testing, because I am not sure what I want to try next.

  5. If I didn’t already have a vise I would probably buy a Milwaukee / Morgan available from TFWW in the US. The vise is made in the USA. Also, I would consider the Jorgensen if it was also made in the US.

    1. Generally most US brands are only available in the US for US residents. So you generally don’t buy US products in the UK although that is changing some. Axminster controls most distribution in the UK as most outlets buy through Brimark, which either owns or is owned by Axminster. Brimark controls all distribution because exporters from the US would rather deal with one UK importer. Independent catalog companies can then only buy from Brimark. All a bit weird really.

      1. Christopher Mitchell

        Paul, Im not trying to cut anybody out here on a sale but I will pass on this information, as for you it could mean a huge savings and for your readers here as well.

        I have two Vintage Morgan Vises and I found the phone number for the company that purchased Morgan years ago. He still makes pretty much the same vice with just a couple small changes. They are really good vises. Heave Duty. Anyway I bought a couple new bronze nuts for my older vises and asked him for a price on a new one. 10″ QR. He gave me a price of $154.00 which I think was almost $100.00 cheaper than the retailers.

        If you like I can look up the phone number for you . I still have the invoice from the parts I bought put up somewhere or you can look it up yourself. If I remember it was pretty hard to find online. He’s just an old Man that cant hear that well so you have to speak up when you talk to him.
        . Im sure these vises will last the rest of our lifetime anyhow.lol
        And Im definetly positive you will not find any metal dust particles anywhere. To activate the QR you just turn the handle counter clockwise just a tad and then push or pull the head where ever you want and then when you turn the handle clockwise it locks into the threads so there isnt any lever to hold down to activate the QR like some are. The new name is Milwaukee. Just let me know if I can help I would be happy to. Cheers
        Chris .

    2. I experienced the same problem with this vise. The threads on the quick release mechanism wore out in a year. TFWW replaced the part, but I had to wait about 6 moths for it and it was the same quality as the original. I put that vise on the curb.

      1. Christopher Mitchell

        Are you saying that you had a problem with a new Milwaukee vice from TFWW. I know that they speak very highly of them.

        Wow thats the first I heard of that. I will say that you didnt have to wait the six months you could have called Milwaukee direct as I did. Also those vices need to be installed level on the bench or they wont work right. Its really simple just a couple shims at the most.
        I have two 10″ but they are the older ones. I just recently bought a Older Record 52 1/2 that is in perfect shape. Got it off ebay . I was really lucky though for sure. But I did buy two Colombians from a friend who sells on Ebay and I like them alot. There very similar to the Wilton . I like the Record but you have to push that lever to engage the QR and Mine is stiff. But you can tell this vise was never used there wasn’t even a scratch on the original Paint so Im hoping it will break in and loosen up some. Cheers

        1. Yes, the Milwaukee vise. I installed it properly. I’m also a professional woodworker and use my vises everyday — all day long. It worked well for a little less than a year and then stopped working. While there’s not much info regarding this problem on the web, I found at least one other reference to it online. And TFWW seemed to understand exactly what was wrong. I emailed the manufacturer and never heard a response from them. I suppose I could have called, but I just bought another vise, an Eclipse, which has worked great so far.

  6. Not that it’s much help but… I just restored a 1963 Wilton vice and while I have not installed it on a bench, it certainly seems like it will do the job. I did have to have one piece made in a machine shop, 40$, but hey it seems like the real deal.Perhaps you should check Ebay ?

  7. Does anyone have any experience working with an eclipse vise?

    I got a pretty good deal on a new 10″ quick-release recently but it will be a few months yet before I can put it to the test. I already have it so I’m going to use it. From my own inspections it looks like it will do a good job… Heavily made, operates smoothly, simple to install. But perhaps you guys have experience of using this doing actual work over a period of time which is all that counts in the end.

    1. I have used an eclipse for two years and have had no problems. The release mechanism is hard to operate at first, but wears in smooth in a few weeks of use.

  8. Acorn Carpentry

    I have a really old craftsman vise lined with suede and it holds exceptionally. I can mortise in it or whatever and it holds. It was 40 dollars on eBay. I also own a five inch vise that was made in japan. It seems old and has exceptional holding power as well. I paid twenty for it at a flea market.

  9. Paul’s recommendations of woden and record are solid.I will never buy new if I can help it.I have 2 vices both 14″ woden and record.they are dam heavy and will probably outlast my children.u just can’t beat the Gud ol stuff.the woden looks quite pretty too.glad I bought all my tools months ago the price has grown reflecting there quality,but still cheaper than the new tat sold today.Paul is also right about the feel of used tools,just so comfortable,I really connect with them.

  10. How Timely. I have the inside catch of my Harbor Freight vise that gave up holding last week. This is from one of those 60″ work benches they sell. Unfortunately, they don’t have replacement parts. Looks like I’ll be building that Paul Sellers workbench along with a new vice. 😉

  11. Paul- How parallel should vise faces be in the vertical direction? Should the top close before the bottom and, if so, how much is too much? Do you every need to plane your wood vise blocks to adjust this?

    My 10″ Eclipse has worked well over the last year, but this is the only question I have about it, and if there is a problem it may all be in the wooden blocks I added rather than the vise itself.

    1. No, it is intentional with better vises to close at the top and as pressure is applied then close parallel onto the work being held. You can create toe-in with the wooden jaws if they are parallel.

  12. I work at a woodworking school here in the US where we use these York vises and have run across this problem too. I also use them in my personal shop as well. In the directions it says to make a full two turns counter clockwise to fully disengage the mechanism. Once we started doing this, we have not lost any vises. I do the same in my shop also. I have two in my shop and neither shows any signs of breakdown. I also oil them at least once a week with 3in1 oil.
    I hope that helps anyone who paid the money for it and still wants to use it.

    1. Well, I hope you are right, because it’s difficult to find good vices here in France. The used ones (records) are all on Ebay UK with a prohibitive shipping when the seller is OK to ship to France, (and you have the best bid) and the new ones are all China made.

      I make a workbench and I was about ordering a York vice from Dieter Schmidt in Germany, and now I wonder what to do.

      Does anybody can confirm what Logan Simms tels us about the “good” way to use this vice ?

  13. Anyone have experience with the current Wilton vices? I was looking for other things on Amazon and came across the Wilton 63218. Good, bad, mediocre, garbage?

      1. Thanks! I had heard that the old ones definitely were great vises, but didn’t know if Wilton was one of those companies that just didn’t make things like they used to.

      2. Christopher Mitchell

        Paul or anybody. I bought two sets of chisels from Ashley Iles and there being delivered today from the UK. And on the tracking notes it says that the customer has to pay a shipping duty tax when there delivered. Do you know what the heck there talking about? I buy tools from the UK all the time and Ive never heard or seen this before. Thanks

        1. Often it depends on the tool price. When it is less than a certain amount it seems to slip through but when the tools hit a certain amount it is subject to import duties known as taxes too. Here in the UK, when tools or equipment is sent to me from the USA, I must pay 20% taxes. As I say, some things seem to sail on through, other times the taxes are paid and the goods held by the shipper who stand between you and the excise man.

          1. From USA to UK, the limit used to be £18 before they bothered collecting taxes. However George Osbourne *reduced* that to £15, which is a pain because if you go over £15, you also get hit with a fixed handling charge (of £8 or £12, I forget which) from the post office, as well as 20%VAT (& possibly duty on some items). Also, I believe they charge VAT on the shipping as well as the product. So a tool that costs, say, £16 + £4 shipping will likely cost you £32 – possibly more 🙁

    1. I own the Wilton 63218 79A and really enjoy it. It took me a while to come to terms with the price tag. I use my vise more than any other tool in the shop and a vise failure would result in a tons of frustration. If you do decided to purchase one, make sure you check the face alignment prior to installation. My first one was off about a 1/4 an inch and I had to send it back.

  14. Christopher Mitchell

    WMH tool group / Powermatic/Jet Owns Wilton you can buy direct from them and they will work with you on the price some at least they did me when I bought several items from them. Also they have parts for these vices as well.

  15. Well I just bit the bullet and bought one from Lee Valley. Not many good alternatives for my new bench. LV customer service said they have had some problems with these installed in schools. I’m banking on the problems being largely (but maybe not exclusively) due to abuse (excessive racking, pounding/mortising, on the vise, etc.) They do appear to be very well made. Time will tell.

  16. Hi Paul,

    Any update on your new vises you are testing out in your shop? I’m building your workbench and looking for a new vise. I don’t know what vise to buy. Thanks for a ll the great info, from Canada.


  17. Hi.
    Can you make it clear to me a little, because I have confused with your sayings?
    Are you talking about problems with York wood vices here or general speaking about York vices have this problem at all?
    I am interesting to buy the York 125 lux workbench vice, which seems to me very robust and well made, as in these days you can’t find something not made in China and as I see these are the only economical ones that are made in Europe. Is this right, or they are made in China and put their name up to them?
    Here is a link of which model I mean.

  18. I hYork vise that tightebs up but leaves about san inch from closingx I found these numbers on ibut still tightens up to soon . Does not cl;ose .
    t 68589. I cleaned it real good ave an old

  19. I have a vintage Wilton in great condition with the two rotation quick release and it has started to release right away and all the time. It tightens fine but will not crank open. As soon as I turn it counter clockwise it loose a bit doesn’t move down the threads.

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