Metal workers Vices
Engineering or workshop vices are designed to grip metal and are the strongest vices. The best ones are bolted to a workbench for maximum stability whilst the more amateur type can be clamped on by the use of a screwthread and wingnut. Both types can be made to swivel, the bolted type use a swivel base and the clamped type often have a lever that allows the vice to swivel when loosened.
A swivel vice is useful but not as strong as a fixed vice so care must be taken if large forces are applied.
The largest professional engineering vices are held by 3 bolts and do not swivel as they need to be able to take very large forces from hammer blows, hacksaws and wrenches. Irwin Record have been making these vices for decades and the most precisely machined models cost hundreds of pounds.
For full time engineers a quick release mechanism for the jaws saves time but adds considerable cost to the initial purchase. A large quick release professional engineers vice may cost over £1000!
Irwin record also make more general purpose workshop vices with 2 bolts and also include the very useful anvil feature at the rear where flat metal can be struck and worked with a hammer.
Metalwork vices can also be used on softer materials if inserts are used in the jaws and these are often available as accessories.
These tend to be wider than engineering vices, less precise and are usually bolted in a fixed position.
Some of the more expansive models have a “Dog” which is a pop up tab that can help hold larger planks in conjunction with clamps. Quick release mechanisms are another good feature to look for.
As with the engineering vices the professional models are made from better materials and are more precisely engineered so will be smoother to use and hold materials more accurately and securely.
These are generally smaller more lightweight vices that are not permanently secured to a bench but are either clamped on or in some cases secured via a sucker pad. Some of the more specialist hobby or modelling vices may contain articulated arms to hold materials in different positions. Some of them can have built in clamps and magnifying glasses that are useful when working on electronics.
Specialist vices: There are many more vices available for specialist tasks like drilling , welding and machining as well as many variations and sizes of woodworking vices. These tools are generally harder to find and are made by companies who supply to the trade involved.