There are many individual vise parts that make up the common bench vice. From the body, base and clamping plate to the stationary jaw, adjustable jaw and the lead screw, all of the components are commonly cast or forged from heavy steel. Small vise parts such as screws, washers and springs are often unseen on the bench vice, however, the parts are crucial to the proper operation of the vice. Some of the optional vise parts that make the vice adaptable to several types of use are removable jaw inserts, pipe jaw inserts and soft copper jaw inserts.
While commonly thought of as a simple device, the ordinary bench vise is anything but. Assembled from literally dozens of vise parts, the vise is a marvel of engineering and design. Using a stationary body, other vise parts, such as the adjustable jaw, are tightened against an object and held firmly in place. Through shear clamping force brought on by the tightening of the lead screw, the many vise parts become one as the vice is clamped into place. Small serrations in the jaw plates help to create grip or secure the object being clamped to create a firm grip and prevent slipping.
On fragile objects such as soft alloy metals, removable soft jaw inserts are placed between the object and the vice jaws to protect against damage. Made of nylon, soft rubber and, occasionally, soft aluminum or brass, these optional vise parts allow the softer materials to be placed tightly in the vice without damaging the composition of the material or scratching the surface of the fragile material while still holding it tightly. There are other jaw inserts that allow pipe and other round materials to be held firmly while cutting or machining the round stock. These parts commonly take the shape of two interlocking V-shapes, one on each jaw of the vice.
One part of the vice that is designed into the vice body is commonly used without clamping the vice tight. On most vice designs, the rear side of the vice body takes the shape of an anvil. This allows a hammer to be used to flatten or otherwise shape steel by providing a solid area to hammer against. This is among the often-overlooked vise parts that are used so frequently in a workshop. It is often much more affordable to simply rebuild an older vice with new replacement vise parts than it is to replace the entire assembly as a complete unit.