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What Are the Different Vise Parts?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

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.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

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.

Discussion Comments


@JimmyT - I am with you that a normal woodworking vise isn't always optimal for certain projects. Is it possible to find a vise that has a larger gripping surface?

I am having the problem that the teeth are biting into the wood and leaving marks. I know you can buy covers for them, but it is still annoying.

Even with the covers, sometimes I need my vise to hold long pieces of wood straight up and down. Since the grips are fairly narrow, sometimes the center of gravity gets thrown off and the wood starts to lean over in the vice. That's why I'd like one with a larger surface. Does anyone have any suggestions?


@JimmyT - Making your own vise certainly couldn't be impossible, but it probably wouldn't be simple, either. I think the hardest part of the whole thing would be finding the screwing mechanism.

I have never had to replace any parts of my vise, so I'm not sure if you can buy these as a kit or not. Perhaps the one you saw was one that was purchased and was just older or had been modified to be mounted under the table.

I never look at a lot of vises to know what is available, but it seems like vises that mount under the table wouldn't be rare. For people that don't have a lot of work space, this would probably be preferred.

I would keep checking around, and maybe you'll find what you are looking for. If you think you could build one yourself, it would be worth a shot.


Is it possible to make your own vise? I know in the shop where I used to work, the work bench had a vise that was almost surely homemade. Instead of sitting on the top of the bench like most do, it was mounted below the bench. This would be perfect for me, since I am not that tall, and using a normal vise can be kind of difficult depending on what I am working on.

The one I saw had two flat wooden faces instead of the normal metal ones. I really liked the wooden faces, too, because they let you have more surface area and didn't have teeth that would lead marks in the wood if you overtightened the vise.


I guess the article was right. I have never really thought about all the parts of a vise that have to work together.

I never use the anvil on the back of the vise for anything, but it is a great place to put a couple magnets to keep screws and nails handy. I have a few of the neodymium magnets on there, and they are able to keep everything from rolling away or getting lost.

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