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What is a Bench Vise?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bench vise is a type of vise grip which is designed to attach to a workbench. Bench vises can be extremely useful tools to have, and they are stocked by many hardware suppliers and specialty companies. There are a range of sizes and styles to choose from, which is something to consider when buying a bench vise.

Vise grips are tools which are designed to be cranked shut to hold on to something. Essentially, a vise grip is like an extra pair of hands, but unlike hands, a vise grip can exert considerable pressure, and it will never tire out or get bored. Most vise grips consist of a pair of large jaws which can be moved closer together or further apart with the use of a crank, with safety measures or locks which hold the vise grip shut unless the user takes a specific action to open it.

Woodworkers and construction workers often have uses for a bench vise. The vise can be used to hold something while glue sets, or to hold pieces of a project in place while they are worked on. Without a vise grip, the worker might be forced to wait for an assistant who can act as an extra pair of hands, which can be a nuisance. Vise grips are also steadier and more reliable than assistants, and they carry the definite bonus of not being susceptible to injury if they are accidentally struck with tools.

Vise grips generally clamp onto a workbench with an adjustable clamp which can be used to move the grip around or change the angle. Some are padded to reduce the risk of scarring the workbench, while the jaws themselves are usually made from textured metal which provides traction and a firm hold. Jaws of different sizes and potential opening widths are available, and vise grips are also rated by the amount of pressure they can exert, from light to heavy duty bench vises.

This utility tool can be used in a variety of ways. Many people with a workbench or work counter who do construction or home improvement projects can benefit from having access to a bench vise, and some people invent some very creative uses for their bench vises. Like other tools with moving parts, a bench vise does need to be kept regularly oiled to ensure that it works smoothly, and it may need to be periodically wiped down to remove paints, glues, oil, and other workroom drips.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Perdido — On May 21, 2012

My dad has a work bench vise in his shop. I have seen him use in for a variety of projects, and since he works alone, it comes in really handy.

He sometimes uses it when building model airplanes. He has to use epoxy resin to glue the parts together, and they need to be held together until the resin dries, which can take hours. He simply puts them inside the vise and clamps it gently shut, and then he can go about his business.

I have also seen him put jars in the vise in order to get a stubborn lid off the top. This is much easier than holding the jar still in one hand, because you can concentrate all your force on the lid.

By anon81357 — On May 01, 2010

Where are the parts of a bench vise?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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