We are lucky to live in a new age of tool design – yet some designs seem timeless. There are many new takes on older designs for vises – but what of the Zyliss? You know the Swiss army knife of vises, now called the Z-Vise. I picked one up a few years ago in its original packaging – seems like it was never used. There is very little written about these vises online, or maybe nobody wants to admit to actually using one. They advertise them as being four devices in one, 4×1=1 – a vise, a bench for planing, a clamp and a glueing press. It really is a versatile device.
It could be used as a standard vise, or by reversing the vise obtain a “low-jaw grip”. As a clamp it could be used as a bar clamp (reversing the moving jaw and using the end stop, or as a G/C clamp. The Zyliss vise/clamp appeared circa 1970, apparently commissioned as a field vice for the Swiss Army. It is made of cast magnesium alloy, with stress points reinforced with Swedish steel. The original is no longer manufactured in Switzerland, although an improved version SwissRex still is.