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A vise is a tool that clamps down to keep your work in place. They can hold wood or metal tightly in place, so that you can work on it. Of course, they can hold plastic or other types of material too, but their main use is for wood or metal. (Most plastics can be molded with a clamp instead of a vise.) Here is a list of different vises and what they are used for.


Woodworking Vises

Traditional Vise

A traditional vise has two flat surfaces that adjust to hold a piece of wood. The vise clamps to a work bench to secure itself, then you can move a half nut into threads of the vise to hold your work in place. The vise is lined with 2 pieces of wood to protect your work. Make sure these pieces of wood are sanded well, in order to protect the wood you place between them.

Clamp-on Vise

The clamp-on vise works very similar to the traditional woodworking vise. One side of the vise clamps on a bench to hold itself in place, while the clamps on top hold your work in place. The only difference is that the size of the space is set by you. Unlike the other machine that sets the space with a half nut, you turn a handle that closes or widens the space. Once you have it where you want it you tighten it down.

Hold-down Vise

The hold-down vise is probably the most simple vise. It holds work in place by pressing against the table or bench you are working on. It clamps on the side of the table, and when you screw the clamp down to hold it in place, it gets closer to the bench. It comes with a pad, so you do not hurt your wood work. Just put the pad on top of the wood, and screw the clamp down to tighten it onto the pad and wood. Obviously, this only works if you need to work on the wood from one side. You would have to un-tighten it and turn the wood over for work on the opposite side of the wood.


Machinist Vises

Swivel-base Vise

The swivel-based vise does just that: swivel. It's made so the bottom of the tool bolts to a bench or work table, and the top part rotates. This is so metal can be bent if needed. The swivel will lock if you do not need it. This vise has one section that stays still, while you rotate a clamp that closes or widens the gap between the two sides. This is probably the most sturdy of the three vises.

Clamp-on Vise

The clamp-on vise clamps to the side of a bench instead of bolting down. It's crucial you have the vise tight against the bench, so the vise does not move while you are working. The top of the vise works the same way as the swivel-base, one side is motionless, while the other widens and closes in to hold the metal you place inside.

Drill Press Vise

A drill press is the smallest of the vises. You can bolt it to a work table, like the swivel-base vise. The jaws of the vise are small and grooved, so it's best used with a round or relatively small piece of metal. It works like the others, with a movable jaw that you can adjust closer or further away from the fixed jaw.