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What are the different types of
metalworking vice bases?

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Wonkee Donkee information on vice bases Metalworking vices are available with different bases. These are listed below along with some information about each type.

Fixed bases

Some metalworking vice have fixed bases A vice with a fixed base attaches straight to the workbench and is stationary. A fixed base extends from the main body of the vice and commonly has bolt holes in order for it to be attached to the work surface.
fixed base vice All types of engineer’s vices are designed with a fixed base which bolts directly to a workbench.
Table vice with fixed base Table vices are also available with a fixed base, however they are different to an engineer’s vice with a fixed base as these vices clamp instead of bolt to a workbench (see below for ‘clamp base’ vices). Despite this, the concept is still the same, as once they are clamped down they are then stationary and the vice body cannot be moved.
ADVANTAGES  DISADVANTAGES
Advantages and disadvantages of a fixed base
  • Extremely reliable
  • Less risk of vice moving during work applications
  • Withstand heavy pressure from sawing or hammering
  • Less versatile
  • Can only be used in one position for working

Swivel bases

Some metalworking vice have a swivel base A vice with a swivel base can be rotated, allowing the vice to be placed in various positions while working.
360 degree rotation A swivel base can rotate 360 degrees and then be locked in position at the best working angle.
Swivel base with lock nut and handle A swivel base is usually fitted with two small lock nuts, one on either side, which controls the movement. To adjust the base, the nut is loosened by a small handle which allows the vice to be moved into the desired position. The nut is then tightened to keep the vice static.
Multi-purpose vice Some types, such as multi-purpose vices, are designed with a swivel base attached which then bolts straight to the workbench…
Engineer's vice with swivel base …Whereas on other types, such as engineer’s vices, the swivel base is an extra feature that can be attached onto its fixed base.

For more information on how to do this, visit  How to attach a swivel base to an engineer’s vice.

Swivel base table vice Some table vices, including the hobby vice types, are also available with a swivel base, which allows them to rotate the vice body around once clamped to a workbench.
ADVANTAGES  DISADVANTAGES
Advantages and disadvantages of swivel base
  • Versatility
  • Allows user to place workpiece in a variety of positions while still in the vice’s hold
  • Can save user time
  • No need to constantly open and close jaws to reposition workpiece
  • Not as sturdy as a fixed base
  • Greater risk of vice moving during tough applications
  • Expensive

Clamp bases

Some metalworking vice have a clamp base Portable vices are usually equipped with an integrated clamp which attaches the vice to the edge of a worktop.
Clamp base table vice Instead of bolting to a workbench, as a fixed and swivel base does, it clamps, meaning it can be attached for working and then removed when needed.

All types of table vice are available with a clamp base.

ADVANTAGES  DISADVANTAGES
Advantages and disadvantages of a clamp base
  • Portability
  • Versatility
  • Used in a variety of locations and situations
  • Can be used in the home for DIY purposes, or taken outside and used in a garage
  • Not as strong as a base that is bolted down
  • Can’t withstand holding heavy or large workpieces

Vacuum bases

 Some metalworking vice have a vacuum base Another type of base available is a vacuum base which holds onto a work surface by sucking onto it.
Vacuum base lever To mount to a workbench, the base has a lever which is rotated in an anti-clockwise direction to lock the vice onto the workbench. The lever can then be rotated clockwise to unlock the vice in order to remove it from the workbench.
Using a vacuum base vice The only vices available with this type of base are table vices, including the hobby and jeweller’s types.
ADVANTAGES  DISADVANTAGES
Advantages and disadvantages of a vacuum base
  • Portability
  • Easily moved and re-attached in any convenient space
  • Use both indoors and out
  • Not as secure as fixed or swivel base
  • Not capable of holding large or heavy workpieces
  • Suction may not last for a long period of time
  • Vice may have to be reapplied to a surface a number of times during long tasks