Taking cues from early French prototypes - commonly referred to as an "etau(x)" which is simply the French word for vise - we've gone a few steps further and made improvements and refinements over the historical versions.
The body of the vise is designed to be much stronger, yet more compact with its inset arms and single clamping screw for attaching the vise to a workbench or table, as compared to the historical versions. The movement of the chop is smooth and light, thanks to our new Crisscross Nine (for 9") that not only supports the weight of the chop, but also provides a counter force to the clamping action of the jaws--keeping the pressure equalized for excellent holding power with little effort.
Our rolled acme screw is highly polished (a result of the thread-rolling process) and runs in the nut smoothly. The sliding handle is outfitted with a central V-groove which, when positioned midway in the hub, engages with a spring plunger that centers the handle in the hub. This resulting balance allows rapid and fluid adjustment of the vise and in most cases, enough leverage to clamp your work firmly. The spring plunger is adjustable to allow the handle to disengage easily when more leverage is needed. Integral leather washers prevent the annoying banging and pinching of typical sliding metallic vise handles. The two-piece garter is machined to a smooth finish on its inner diameter for a free-spinning and easy action with the groove in the hub. The hub arrives with the screw installed, no assembly required. The black oxide finish helps prevent rust and will age to a nice patina with use.
The Hi Vise is the sort of bench appliance you didn't know you needed until you tried one. That may sound like an exaggeration, or sales jargon. At the risk of stating the obvious once again, we use every product we manufacture in our own shops, on nearly a daily basis, and have a close network of professional and accomplished amateur woodworkers who regularly test our products during the development stage.
The applications for the Hi Vise are numerous. Once you have a leg vise whose jaws extend above the surface or your bench (unlike a typical face vise) you can hold all manner of work that break the typical shape of a flat board. This allows you to hold curved chair parts with ease, and more importantly, gain easy access to that part for working with hand tools such as spokeshaves. Another application is tweaking through mortises or paring end grain. Getting the work raised up to chest height allows you to use your whole body for power, while maintaining excellent control. Cutting small dovetails on small drawer parts is also a great task for the Hi Vise. It also excels for sculptural work involving carving, rasp or file work.
The portability of the Mounting Screw means you can take a box of tools and the vise to the park and work at a picnic table, off the back of an RV, or give woodworking demonstrations at the local club or trade show. The Hi Vise simply fills a niche for those times when typical bench vises aren't quite up to the task. Similar to our limited run Carver's Vise that we produced a few years ago, the Hi Vise serves the same purpose, with the advantage of being much quicker to stow when not in use. It's no wonder that the 19th and early 20th c. French manufacturer of woodworking tools "At The Royal Forge" offered nine different versions of this vise marketed to stair builders, last makers, armchair makers, etc. There is even one version called the "gentleman's vise" alluding to its general versatility among hobbyist amateurs of the time.