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How to choose a woodworking vice?

How to choose a woodworking vice

Shop for Vices

questions When purchasing a woodworking vice, there a few points that a user should consider in order to choose the right type.

These points include:

  • The type of application the vice will be used for
  • Any additional features that you may desire in a vice
  • Where and how the vice will be positioned on a workbench


large plank of wood It is important to bear in the mind what type of woodworking you wish to use the vice for, (e.g. light-duty domestic clamping or heavy-duty professional tasks).

If you try using a vice that is inappropriate for the type of clamping you wish to do, there is a risk of the vice being damaged, or even breaking.

model making woodcraft vice

Light-duty tasks

If you only wish to purchase a vice to be used around the home for tasks such as carving, filing, or model making, then a woodcraft type of vice would be ideal as they are best suited for light-duty applications.

flexing muscles for strength

Heavy-duty tasks

On the other hand, if you wish to use the vice for tasks which will involve a large amount of pressure and heavy-duty clamping, then a workbench vice or a woodwork vice (either plain screw or quick-release type) is the best choice.

heavy duty planing This is because they are designed to withstand applications such as sawing, drilling or planing, which involve placing a large amount of force on the vice.

Additional features

additionl features You should also decide whether you want a vice with additional clamping features, such as a quick-release mechanism or multi-angle positioning.
stopwatch A quick-release woodwork vice allows the user to rapidly open and close the jaws in one swift movement. If you wish to save time and energy when woodworking, then this is an advisable choice of vice.
cost and money However, it is important to note that this does come at an added cost, as the quick-release type of vice is more expensive.

For more information on the quick-release mechanism, visit What is a quick-release feature?

pattern maker's vice rotating Another vice with a key additional feature is the pattern maker’s vice, which can be placed in multi-angle positions for working. The jaws of this vice can tilt, rotate and also pivot to accommodate for different tasks.
not suitable for tasks However, the multi-angle feature does have a disadvantage as it means the vice is not strong enough to hold extremely large or heavy objects, such as wooden planks or beams, and so should not be used for this type of heavy-duty clamping.

Position of vice

woodworking workbench face vice Finally, remember to consider the placement of the vice, and whether you wish it to be mounted to the workbench, or installed to become an integral part of the workbench.
woodworking vice bolted to workbench If you wish to have a ready-made vice that you can mount to your woodworking bench, then a woodwork or pattern maker’s vice is best suited to you. These vices can be placed at whatever position you prefer on your workbench, although they are more commonly placed on the workbench’s front to allow for easy application.
routing Workbench vices are different as they are installed into the workbench, rather than mounted to it. There are different types of workbench vices, to be installed at various positions on the workbench. These include: on the front, at the end, or on the table leg, so there are plenty of options available.
frustration The major disadvantage with this type of vice is that it can be difficult to assemble and install, so can take up a lot of time and effort.
woodcraft portable vice There is also a portable version of a woodwork vice available. This vice is ideal if you do not want your vice to be permanent, and would prefer a vice that can be conveniently moved and re-positioned in multiple places.

For more information on portable vices, visit Portable vs. permanent vices.

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