I first encountered the étaux in the La Forge Royale catalog many years ago, along with a bunch of other French workbench contrivances. I always meant to build one, but Benchcrafted beat me to it.
Benchcrafted calls its version the HiVise, and the thing is absolutely indispensable in our shop (in some cases Brendan and I both need it at the same time). If you make chairs or other curved objects, the HiVise will make your life 32 times easier. It grips odd-shaped parts firmly, easily and at a height where you can work on them comfortably.
If you have a tricky spine or the need to do detail work, the HiVise will make your life 14 times less painful. The jaws hold the work close to your eyeballs without you stooping.
The HiVise has a Crisscross mechanism, which keeps the jaws parallel at all times. But the vise has enough flexibility in its jaws that you can easily grip curved or tapered pieces – something that is tricky with metal-jawed vises.
We also love the HiVise’s optional mounting screw, which allows us to put the HiVise almost anywhere. I have clamped it to our thickness planer and table saw when I needed to work in the machine room. Thanks to the mounting screw, the HiVise clamps to the kitchen table or a picnic table at a state park.
For me, the HiVise has become such a part of my daily life that I might need to revise my book “Workbenches: From Design and Theory to Construction and Use” again. The vise is that good.
— Christopher Schwarz