If you’re looking for a vise that you can take just about anywhere with you, then ideally you should be looking to buy something that is lightweight, relatively small in size, and most importantly, a portable vise that is quick and simple to clamp onto most surfaces. The Irwin 226303 3 Inch Clamp On Vise is a great specimen of a tool that you can quite easily leave in your van or the boot of your car, ready to whip out when you arrive at a location that requires its assistance. Irwin is a well trusted brand, responsible for thousands of awesome tools available on the market, and their expertise is evident when using this vise.
The jaws of the Irwin vise remind you that the vise is most suited for handling smaller and lighter objects, with a jaw width of only 3 inches. The jaws open enough distance for most clamping jobs that are small enough not to require a bolted vise, but of course if you require a tool to work on bigger and heavier stuff, then I’m afraid this little fella just isn’t for you. This clamp on vise also provides a 3 inch throat depth which allows for items of a reasonable diameter to be worked on.
The uncovered main operating center screw, though sturdy, is more prone to damage and will require regular maintenance, unlike a covered jack screw. The end of the screw does not come fitted with any kind of stopper, which means if you screw too much, the jaw will drop off. No big deal, but you just have to be sensible and to leave a few threads visible on the back end of the screw when opening (although it makes greasing the screw a breeze!).
There are stainless steel levers for adjusting the jaws of the vise and also for tightening and loosening the clamp for mounting. They are designed in a way that allows easy twisting and are movable to increase leverage for some extra push!
The Irwin 226303 has a “C” shaped clamp which allows you to attach the vise to any workspace, provided that it is no thicker than 2 inches. The mounting grip is obviously not as sturdy as you would get with a vise that is bolted to the surface with screws on all four corners, but with 1250 pounds clamp force it is sufficient for quick jobs on the go. The only issue we have with the clamping system is that you have to be careful not to mar the surface you are clamping to (if you care about that sort of thing). However, we find that placing pieces of cardboard, wood, or fabric between the points is a great way to spread the pressure and prevent this from happening.
Great things come in small anvils. The small flattened platform on the back of the clamp on vise will let you shape or bend any parts that you’re working on. Just make sure you don’t go beast mode on the anvil, as it can only withstand light hammering and forming work.
This forged iron vise weighs only 4 pounds. However, even for a lightweight portable clamp on vise, it has a pretty impressive feature set. The overall build of the body is decent with a structure that’s solid. The finish is nice with few imperfections that both helps resist corrosion and resist chipping.
The great thing about the Irwin 226303 is that you don’t have to work overtime over the weekend for the next month to get hold of one! They are dead cheap, you should be buying twenty of them and giving them away as gifts! Amazon.com tends to be one of the cheapest prices due to their volume and free shipping, at just around $25 bucks. So if it’s value for money that you’re looking for, we think the Irwin is a pretty good bet.