A vise is a mechanical device that is used to hold workpieces in place. The tool is used in situations where a safe distance from the workpiece, rigid fasteners or free hands are needed.

Vice device

Principle of operation

The simplified design of the vise consists of two jaws and a locking mechanism with a handle, designed to tightly clamp parts during processing.

One jaw is immobile because it is attached to a static vise body or bed, while the other jaw supports movement by sliding.

The locking mechanism consists of the following elements:

  • Lead screw – connected to the jaws, passes through the design of the vise. Most often it has a trapezoidal thread and is made of steel. The movement of the screw is controlled by a handle which is located at the outer end.
  • The base plate or bed is most often made of cast iron. There are durable steel and lightweight duralumin variations.
  • Sponges – often replaceable with screw fastening. The movable lip is usually cast iron. Soft variations involve the manufacture of this part from plastic or non-ferrous metals.

The tool is fastened to the surface using screws or clamps. Less common models with magnetic fixation. Flat base or heavy weight designs are available without fasteners.

When the screw is rotated clockwise, the movable jaw moves towards the bed, due to which the part is fixed. When rotated counterclockwise, the handle moves the sliding jaw away from the fixed jaw and opens the gap between them.

Rigid fixation helps when sawing, drilling or otherwise machining clamped parts.

Vise types

Types and characteristics

The main types of vices are locksmith, machine, carpentry and manual.

Locksmith vice


An all-metal tool that mounts on a workbench or table and is bolted to the base.

  • The design distinguishes chair and parallel vise.
  • Available in stationary and swivel options, allowing you to work at different angles.
  • The width of the jaws is 45-200 mm.
  • The stroke length of the movable lip reaches an average of 140 mm.

Parallel Vise


  • They are divided into rotary and non-rotary. The former rotate parallel to the base around the axis by 60 degrees or more. Fixed models are rigidly fixed, designed to work in one position.
  • The movable jaw moves when the screw is rotated parallel to the fixed part.
  • The base of the tool is cast iron, and the moving parts are made of carbon steel.
  • Overhead jaws of high-strength models are made from U8 tool steel, complemented by a cross-shaped notch, fastened with screws to the main jaws after hardening.

Chair vise


Obsolete design type. Previously, they were attached to the base in the form of a chair. Modern fixtures are fixed on workbenches.

  • The structure is made of forged steel. Consists of a body, supplemented with sponges.
  • The working surface of the jaws is reinforced with screw-on hardened plates or a layer of U8A steel is welded onto it.
  • The working surface inside is covered with notches for strong fixation of workpieces in a vise.
  • The fixed sponge is equipped with a paw for fixing, the rod is clamped with a bracket.
  • The width of the jaws is 100-180 mm. According to the opening length, options are available for 90-180 mm.
  • The jaws are moved by turning a screw with a rectangular thread, and moved apart by inserting a screw into a tubular nut.

Models are most often equipped with an anvil platform. The bed is a construction of a base and a rotary disk, which are connected in the center with screws or additionally fixed with a back ring.

When the screws are loosened, the ring releases the mobility lock.

According to GOST 4045-75, the types of locksmith vise differ from those presented. Three types are declared:

  1. general purpose;
  2. with swivel jaw;
  3. with additional pipe jaws.

The standard applies to models with a jaw width of 63-200 mm. Rotary and non-rotary manufacturing options are assumed with or without accelerated idling.

Machine vise

Machine tools

A tool of increased accuracy, which differs from locksmith models in the absence of backlash or its small run-up. Designed for production work.

  • They are fixed on industrial workbenches for machining large parts.
  • For the convenience of adjusting parts, they are often equipped with a rotary mechanism.

They are divided into basic and sinus, additionally a different number of axes is provided:

  • Basic or stationary – the part is attached perpendicular to the tool.
  • Sinus – the workpiece is fixed at an arbitrary angle.
  • Multi-axis – supports rotation along several coordinate axes.

Machine vices for domestic use are also available, but they are smaller in size than production models.

Hand vise


Compact tool for processing small parts, does not need to be fixed to tables. There are two types that differ in the fixation system.

  • With sponges – consists of a jumper with a screw, steel lips and a handle. The convergence of the jaws is achieved by turning the handle. The cone is located on the reverse side, enters between the shanks of the jaws, causing their compression.
  • with levers – they look like snap-on pliers. They have a locking mechanism, which consists of two levers that clamp the jaws.



Used when working with wood and plastic blanks. More often they are fixed with screws to the table or bed. Available with front clamp.

  • Wooden spacers are usually attached to the jaws to hold the workpiece without damaging the surface of the workpiece.
  • Overlays are provided so that no marks are left on light or softwood parts.
  • Front mount models are suitable for vertical surfaces.
  • There are models with a combined clamping device – a combination of cast iron and wood.

Some carpentry vise models are equipped with quick clamping screws for easy positioning of the movable jaw and pre-clamping.



The advantages of a vice are usually considered in accordance with their type.

Benefits of a vise


  • Sponges are most often hardened, which gives them additional wear resistance.
  • The anvils present in most models are resistant to mechanical damage.
  • Models with a swivel mechanism support rotation up to 360°.
  • Weight and dimensions are often small.

Benefits of a chair vise


Chair models differ from other types in a set of advantages:

  • It is possible to clamp long parts.
  • Due to the spring, when the screw is unscrewed, the jaws are quickly unclenched; full turns are not required to lower the workpiece.
  • Simplicity and strength of design.

Machine tools

Machine tools

  • Increased clamping force makes it suitable for clamping large metal parts.
  • The high-strength case maintains serious mechanical loadings.
  • Most often, a protective coating is provided that counteracts corrosion of the body.
  • Suitable for high precision work.
  • There is no backlash – the fixation of the workpieces is rigid.

Benefits of a hand vise


  • Support easy disassembly for inspection.
  • Do not require fasteners and organization of the working space.
  • The play in the hinges is minimal, and often completely absent.
  • Suitable for small precision work.
  • The handle is often covered with santoprene, so the tool does not slip out of the hands during operation.
  • Clamping of flat parts with an extended contact area is possible.
  • The most common manufacturing material is carbon steel.
  • The only type of vise suitable for quick and correct work with mounted aluminum profiles, metal tiles.

Benefits of a carpenter’s vice


  • Suitable for soft workpieces.
  • Fixing the jaws flush with the surface of the workbench allows you to process large parts in a single plane.
  • Increased stroke of the sponge solution.
  • A wide range of fastening systems are available, models without frames are suitable for clamping directly on the finished structure, without the need for preliminary disassembly.



Instances made of cast iron are less durable compared to steel products. The remaining inconveniences are associated with the individual characteristics of each type.

Cons of locksmith vise


  • Most often they have a backlash.
  • Sponge alignment is required, which is not always possible without the use of a professional tool.
  • Rapid wear of the lock washers requires their regular replacement.
  • Long parts are difficult to clamp across the jaws.

Cons of a chair vise


  • The fragility of fastening the tool on the workbench and grip.
  • Capturing narrow objects during clamping is possible only with the upper parts of the jaws, and wide objects with the lower ones. This is because their working surfaces are not parallel to each other in all positions.
  • Clamps cut into the part, leaving dents on it.
  • An open threaded screw becomes dirty and prone to rapid wear.

Cons of a machine vice

Machine tools

  • They are oriented to lifting parts due to the skew of the sponge along the vertical, therefore, with uneven laying, traces of a vise remain on the workpiece.
  • To level the warp under the base of the movable sponge, you have to slip the foil or use a vise, capturing the parts only with the upper edge.

Cons of a hand vise


  • The small width and run-up of the jaws do not allow the processing of large elements.
  • The correct clamp is only for soft metals, but the teeth that most handheld models are equipped with leave dents on it.
  • Not suitable for working at an angle without additional tools.
  • It is impossible to clamp the overall part in the desired position.

Cons of a carpenter’s vice


  • Not suitable for machining parts with increased rigidity.
  • More often applicable only as a household improvised tool.
  • Models without workbenches are unpopular due to reduced grip rigidity.
  • Variations with workbenches often come in an expanded configuration, demanding on space and lighting.

How to choose a vise

How to choose

When choosing a vice, the scope of their application and the dimensions of the workpieces that are planned to be installed in them are taken into account.

Locksmiths – require increased clamping force when machining parts, so rigid models are preferred from steel, rather than from powder metal.

  • The lead screw with a triangular metric thread wears out quickly, and the clamping force is not enough to process large workpieces.
  • The weight of the structure indirectly characterizes its strength.
  • For processing parts in a vertical position, modernized locksmith vices are selected. Their base rotates 360°. More often equipped with an enlarged anvil.
  • For round blanks, models with a body equipped with prisms are preferred. These vices are more often used with a slider.


joinery – Pay attention to the diameter of the auger and the uniform alignment of the rods. Parallel movement is assumed when screwing in.

  • If the tool runs unevenly, the risk of damaging the workpieces increases.
  • Additionally, the clamp pads are inspected; when selected, they are checked on a piece of plastic. It is important that there are no marks or dents on the surface.
  • In models with a workbench or bed, the evenness of the plane is visually checked. To do this, you need to stand in such a way that the nearest corner of the bed is at eye level – flaws become noticeable when the plane looks like a string.
  • The front vise is only available with screw mechanism and guide rod. It is worth considering whether this is convenient for current operational needs.


Machine tools – are selected for processing materials of increased rigidity, so functionality is a priority.

  • Jaws for fixing the workpiece are of a lower height than in other types.
  • Compared to a bench vise, the design is more rigid.
  • The tool clamps the part at a specific angle and maintains rotation around a vertical axis.

When choosing, the material from which the tool is made is taken into account. Hardened steel models are preferred.

If this option does not fit into the budget, try to choose a device with steel moving parts, as they are subject to the greatest wear.

Anti-corrosion treatment of the tool is important – the coating is most often applied to threaded parts, but it is also found in one piece.

Machine tools

Double machine – support the simultaneous processing of several parts, but are inconvenient for constant household use.

Sinus – are used in complex processing of parts. They support the slope of the fastening of the part in several mutually perpendicular planes.

Manual – when choosing, it is worth checking the parallelism of the jaws, the quality of convergence and the size of the gap.

  • Handle play is a sign of a tool with which there will be difficulties.
  • The width of the working gap in the open state is a parameter that determines whether the workpiece will enter the tool. The gap in manual models is usually small, so you should carefully try on the dimensions.
  • Check to see if the teeth are making indentations on the soft metal. In such a case, a tool with a lower clamp thread height is preferred.


The swivel base for fixing the tool is convenient to use, but reduces the rigidity of the structure. The rotation mechanism is the weakest link of the tool, so this functionality is selected only in cases where work is impossible without it.

When choosing, it is worth determining the size of the angle, which is often required during work. Variations with a minimum angle of rotation and models that rotate 180 or 360 degrees are available.

Static models are more reliable, but the selection of the attachment point is hampered by the parameters of the workbench. With non-standard blanks, additional devices for fixing are more often used: baiting with bolts or gripping with a clamp.

Which vise is better

Which is better

Determining the best vise by type cannot be correct, since their functionality is different. In this case, the evaluation of the working elements of the structure is applied.

  • Jaw sizes. Wide jaws prevent workpieces from slipping during operation. The effective surface area is increased by the use of pads, but vices are preferred, which come with wide jaws to begin with.
  • Movement of the movable jaw. The vise rarely opens to full width, but the deep travel makes the clamping versatility. If the tool is not selected for single use, models with a maximum stroke length are preferred.

When choosing, remember that the stroke is determined not only by the height of the workpiece – you also need a margin for entering the part.

  • Lever. It should be convenient, since it is with this detail that the main interaction will occur. Large-diameter metal handles are more convenient than rod-type counterparts.

The pressure adjustment when clamping the part should not be tight. This parameter depends on the length of the working part of the handle – the distance from the center of the screw to the tip.

How to use a vise


Proper operation of the vice consists in the timely care of the tool and the observance of a number of precautions.



Keep the threaded and moving parts clean by wiping with a solvent-based cloth after each use to keep your vise in good working order.

Lubricant – parts and assemblies are treated with engine oil to maintain smooth opening of the movable jaws. The procedure also contributes to protection against corrosion:

  • fully spread the jaws and apply a layer of lubricant;
  • close and open the parts several times to evenly distribute the coating.

Rust – mechanical cleaning is ineffective, more often special anti-corrosion compounds are additionally used.

  • apply the substance to the rust and leave overnight;
  • clean the surface of the tool with a metal brush until the rust comes off;
  • Rinse off the substance with water and dry the vise completely.

Precautionary measures

Precautionary measures

Vices are designed for certain loads. Failure to comply with the conditions of the instructions threatens the instrument with premature failure.

  • Locksmith models are sensitive to the difference in the volume of parts – it weakens the fixation of the lips. This type of equipment is not suitable for processing hot steel parts.
  • It is unacceptable to lengthen the vise handle, especially in clamping models, as it increases the load on the structure.
  • Models with a bed are fixed only on flat surfaces for safety reasons and to prevent breakage of workpieces.

In parallel models, it is important not to bend the clamped parts in order to avoid damage to the mechanism.



Warranty obligations apply to equipment with the correct set of documents:

  • Coupon with serial number, date of purchase, stamp of the seller. In some cases, the buyer’s signature is required.
  • Documents confirming the purchase: invoice, cash or sales receipt.

Manufacturers’ obligations do not apply to the following items:

  • interchangeable accessories – depending on the model, more often these are lips or cams;
  • devices for surface mechanical protection – casings, couplings;
  • parts with rapid wear or limited resource – guides or rollers made of plastic and rubber, bearings.

Warranty service will be denied if the tool has signs of mechanical damage, has been used for other purposes, or has been worn out as a result of improper care.

Malfunctions and repair of a vice

Faults and repairs

The functional parts of the tool or the body are more likely to wear out.

Hull destruction

Hull destruction

Occurs due to excess loads or weakness of the metal. Pieces break off in models made using cast iron elements. Repair involves welding the damaged element and the base. It is carried out in the service or at home.

Nickel or iron-nickel electrodes are more commonly used. Welding of the bodies of vice nuts is carried out by the gas-powder method.

Screw wear

Screw wear

The stem and nut with a trapezoidal thread are removed, after which it is replaced by an analogue.

In the absence of an analogue, it is machined independently using a turning tool:

  1. Alternatively, a suitable part is turned using a drilling machine or a hacksaw, a grinder with a cutting wheel.
  2. The threaded part is cut off from the stem.
  3. In the rest of the rod, holes are drilled along the axis of symmetry.
  4. The parts are aligned with a pin and then welded.

Detent pin wear

Detent pin wear

Symptom – The shaft will unscrew, although the part remains clamped and cannot be removed. Repair is laborious, requires a complete disassembly of the tool and turning a new pin. The main problem with the replacement is the assembly. The vise performance depends on its correctness:

  1. On the cleaned base, the main lips are pushed as deep as possible to the side of the body (usually it is located on the left).
  2. The strips are installed and fastened in turn, then for their rigid fixation it will be necessary to move the lips slightly in the opposite direction.
  3. A screw clamp and the lead screw itself are inserted inside, after which the structure is fixed with a nut.
  4. A new pin is mounted, previously lubricated with lithol.
  5. The protective cover is installed and fastened with screws.
  6. The tool is screwed to the base.

The listed malfunctions cannot be repaired without improvised equipment or similar parts. If not, the tool will require service repair.

Vice Manufacturers


Some manufacturers do not provide warranties for household hand tools, the obligations apply to professional models.



Ukrainian manufacturer of hand tools and equipment. Vice metalwork with function of turn. Warranty from 1 year.



Manufacturer from Canada. Budget models of pneumo-electric and hand tools. Bench and machine vise Hand tools are not guaranteed.



American manufacturer focused on hand tools. Bench vice with an anvil made of fine-grained cast iron. The manufacturer’s warranty is lifetime, but dealers in Russia declare a period of 1 month.



Manufacturer from Germany. Mostly hand tools are presented, including a vice with clamps. Warranty period from 12 months.



Russian manufacturer, several brands of budget tools. Locksmith vise and bed are available. Warranty period 14-25 months depending on the tool.



German manufacturer specializing in household tools. Vice from aluminum machine and universal. Warranty 5 years.



Manufacturer from Russia, focused on budget hand and power tools. Swivel, carpentry and manual vices are available, there are models with a clamp. Hand tools are not guaranteed.

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