Here we have two vises in heavy use in our shop.
Rating: ***** (out of five stars possible)
Below is a number 72 1/2 Gyro Vise. In our opinion this is the most useful luthier vise available. Unfortunately, these are no longer made. However, they are often available on eBay. If you are considering a used one, make sure the jaws close to 100% parallel. On abused vises the top edges won’t come together because a previous owner over tightened the vise. This is hard to do because these are very rugged vises.
Now you might wonder, "How do I conform those odd vise jaws to fit a guitar neck"? See below."
The next two images show a pair of soft jaws. The one on the left fits against the stationary jaw. The one on the right fits against the moving jaw. Note the dowel screwed to the 1/2" plywood piece. This allows the moving jaw to conform to any odd or angled shape.
We prefer the 72 1/2 Gyro vise to all other available so called luthier vises. It is excellent for reset work on the neck heel. The first image above shows this. The Gyro vise is excellent for working very small items such as nut and saddle material, planing shim stock, holding a sanding block for adjusting small parts and for many other uses. This is the only vise that you can use straight up or turn on it’ side. It rotates 360 degrees. Flexibility is unsurpassed.
Other companies copied this vise. Brands I am aware of are Versa Vise and Will-Burt. These vises are just as good as the Gyro vise.
Avoid the short jaw versions. They are much less useful because the jaws are too thick and too short. Once you use a Gyro/Versa vise you will know what I mean.
The mat piece glued onto the tilting soft jaw is from ptree.com "router mat".
Rating: ***** (out of five stars possible) for "Made In USA" version
This is the best general wood working vise money can buy. Veritas used to make a slightly more flexible vise, but those are seriously expensive.
The Jorgensen 41012 is no longer made since the Adjustable clamp company went out of business. You may see imitations with a feature called "lever action" or "interrupted thread". These are intended to allow easy opening and closing of the jaws. The interrupted thread version has the threads removed along the length of the screw. This lets the jaws slide in and out without turning the handle. This version is very awkward because the threads bind and make tightening clumsy. The lever action type is also clumsy. What makes a vintage 41012 so nice is the thread disengagement system. It has a thread block under the screw that falls away from the screw when the handle is reversed 1/2 turn. This system always re-engages smoothly.
One year we went crazy and replaced all of our old dime-store vises with Jorgensen 41012 vises. Best buy we ever made.
Good luck finding used versions of this vise online.
Warning! Editorial Opinion: Too bad American wood workers did not recognize great quality. Instead we purchased cheaper but badly functioning imported tools. We sent much of our metal working technology to China, Taiwan, and Mexico. So now we gave them free of charge technology invented in USA but no longer made in USA. What a shame. You buy cheap junk, you got cheap junk. BUY MADE IN USA!!