A pipe vise is an apparatus which enables a pipe to be held tightly. Complete with two half-circle jaws, the pipe vise can be tightened to grip a pipe and hold it securely while it is being worked on. Often a feature of a common bench vise, the addition of a pipe vise makes the bench vise an all-purpose tool capable of performing many more tasks. The teeth of the vise are critical in the gripping success of the tool, as rounded or dull teeth allow the pipe to slip and roll even though the vise is tightened.
Certain models of pipe vise contain a linked chain component that is used to grip and hold the pipe. By placing the chain around the pipe and securing it into position on the vise, it is tightened by the vise handle and provides the ultimate in clamping force. The chain's ability to wrap tightly around the pipe instead of simply contacting two sides makes it possible to grip the entire circumference of the pipe, more than quadrupling the clamping surface of the vise.
Professional pipe workers and plumbers often have a pipe vise mounted on a tripod. This stand-alone vise is able to be located at any work site the pipe worker requires. By having the vise nearer to the actual work site, the worker saves valuable time by not having to return to a shop or work truck each time to clamp the pipe into a vise. This design also allows for the placement of the vice at any distance away from the work site, compensating for different lengths of pipe being used on the project.
Some vises used in welding are equipped with an electric motor. This style of vise allows the welder to rotate the pipe as it is being welded. By rotating the pipe, the welding bead is able to remain constant from start to finish without having any gaps or spaces in the bead. This rotational vise design is also available for pipe threaders. As the pipe is rotated in the vise, threads are actually rolled into the end of the pipe. The threads are installed in order to allow thread-on adapters, faucets and splices onto the pipe sections.
In a manufacturing environment, the pipe vise is a critical component in the assembly of pipeline components. The vise is able to hold the section of pipe in place while an assembly line worker performs his task. Once the particular task is accomplished, the worker is able to release the pipe from the vise at his station and send it on its way to the next station.