Z-Vice – Review Continued

Last weekend I mentioned I’d picked up a Z-Vice, or Zyliss Vice as they used to be known. These are a bit of an oddity in the woodwork world, being a clip on vice rather than being bolted onto the bench.

They really are an interesting beast. I’ve given it a thorough workout this week and it’s done everything I’ve asked of it and more.

You can take a look at what I thought of the basic features in last weeks post, but I’ve had the opportunity to try out a few of the other features and I’m again impressed.

For example, I’m making a replacement saw handle for a dovetail saw right now and trying to grip in in a normal vice got in the road of the coping saw. I decided to try in sideways in the z-vice and found that with one of the plastic pipe holder covers on it worked perfectly.

I’ve also been restoring some saws, and as a saw vice it’s turned out to be fantastic. I used the aluminium jaw covers this time and it held it firm with no damage to the saw blade.

If you wanted to work the other way, just put the vice onto the pivot plate and it works great. This is also apparently great for carvers. Not being one I can’t confirm if this is true but it does look like it would work.

I’ve been reading the manual and apparently you can reverse the jaws as well so it can be used with the end stop to hold drawers for example, and if both reverse then you have a very powerful spreader as well.

I know I sound like an ad for them but it’s not often I find something so well thought out. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.



The Z-Vice and more thoughts on the topic of workbenches

I had planned to buy the wood on Wednesday to redo my bench on Friday while I was home, but didn’t get around to it. It appears that this was a good thing, as I got something today that has made me glad I built it the way I did.

I’d mentioned the Z-Vice (Zyliss Vice) in a previous post, as I saw them being demonstrated at the Better Homes & Gardens show a few weeks back. I thought they were fantastic and would suit my way of working but they were not cheap though, so I didn’t get one at the time.

As it happens, I was at my local woodworking club today and one of the members had an old one for sale, unopened and much cheaper than new so I bought it.

The overhang of my benchtop happens to fit it perfectly, and I’ve been quite impressed with the testing I’ve done on it this afternoon. For those not familiar with it, it’s a portable vice that the demonstrators claim will do it all and sounds to good to be true – it holds wood rock solid for planing either along or across the bench, it makes a great carving or dovetail vice etc etc. The thing is, from my testing today, it actually does appear to do all of this remarkably well.

Here it is in action, the perspex was all I had to hand but it gives you an idea of the potential – it holds it firm while you rout and edge in this mode, or lets you plane long ways as in the second picture.

It actually did hold it steady very well – no movement at all. It’s also great across the bench or holding wood upright

There’s a number of features I haven’t explored yet but simply for the ability to hold work solid for planing makes it worth the price I paid. It also saves me a lot of work drilling bench dog holes as I don’t appear to need them anymore.

Second Impressions – Xu1 Orbital Sander

Well I was quite impressed with this out of the box, but right now it’s sitting on the shelf unused for one simple reason. The paper clamps just won’t hold the sandpaper on. I noted that they were a bit stiff initially, but they have loosened up too much and now I can’t really use it. I’m considering returning it to see if it’s a fault with this particular one but I think it’s more likely a design flaw.

I’m going to see if I can improve the situation, if not then it’s $20 wasted and my first bad experience with the brand. Shame really…

First Impressions – Xu1 Oribital Sander

I was only a few minutes into the days workshop time when my old sander departed this world, and I had plenty of work planned for it so decided to replace it quickly.

The local superstore had just got the redesigned line of Xu1 tools into stock, and the sander was $20, perfectly priced for a quick replacement tool. I could have bought something a little better, but sometimes better isn’t what you need.

I’ve had success with this brand before, and I am led to believe they are the low-end offshoot of the ozito tools. With a 2 year walk into store and get a replacement warranty, you can’t really go that wrong for the price.

My first impression was that they were trying to make them more appealing – new box with colourful pictures instead of the plain cardboard one the older models came in, and new moulded blue casing. I’m not a huge fan of the plasticky look for tools so this wasn’t much of an improvement in my eyes.

I got it home and opened it up. The package comes with the sander, one sheet of bad quality sandpaper and the manual. I’ve ignored both of those items as I don’t need to read the manual and already have better sandpaper on hand.

I plugged it in and turned it on, and the first thing I noticed was how much more powerful it sounded compared to my old sander. Quite loud actually, though not overpowering. I ended up reaching for my earmuffs anyway, because it could become quite annoying over a long period of time.

I gave it a run on the plane blades and was quite impressed – the new casing actually feels quite sturdy and the unit does work well. I managed to knock the tip off one of the paper securing arms right away though, so that’s a negative. Those were a bit stiff too, though that can be a good thing as it held the paper on well.

Overall I’m quite pleased at the first impression, enough so that I considered going and getting my father one as an additional fathers day gift. I’ll check if he wants it first though.


  • – Cheap
  • – Quite powerful and does the job well


  • – Looks a bit plasticky
  • – Noisy