A woodworking vise is a device used to secure pieces of wood for cutting, fashioning, or other types of woodworking. Most modern versions of the woodworking vise are made of metal, though others are made of wood to prevent damaging the wood being worked on when being compressed by the jaws of the vise. A woodworking vise will open and close to allow wood of different sizes to be fitted between the jaws of the vise; one jaw is fixed in place, while the other moves in and out on a screw-like system controlled by a turning arm.
The difference between a woodworking vise and other types of vises is subtle, but important: many vises feature jaws with teeth that hold pieces of material more effectively, but a woodworking vise does not feature these teeth. Instead, the jaws feature flat surfaces to avoid making indentations in the wood when clamped. The surfaces of the jaws are often quite broad to distribute the clamping load onto a larger swath of the wood rather than in one centralized location, which can risk the likelihood of cracking or otherwise damaging the wood. Some metal woodworking vises feature blocks of wood within the jaws to further prevent the metal from damaging the wood.
Much of the process of woodworking is done indoors at a work bench, so a woodworking vise is often designed to mount to a work bench or other solid surface. In some cases, the fixed jaw side of the vise is actually part of the bench, and the moving jaw is set flush with the top of the bench itself. This allows wood to be secured close to the surface of the woodworking bench for more stability and ease of use. Other vises are mounted to the top of the bench or the side of the bench with two jaws independent of the table itself.
Vises are not always mounted to tables or workbenches. Some handheld vises feature two jaws fixed to one or two screws operated by one or more handles, and the jaws can clamp down on one or more pieces of wood. Such clamps are usually used for lighter duty jobs, since they are less secure than vises that are mounted to a table. Handheld vises may be used, for example, to clamp two pieces of wood together during the gluing process to allow the glue to cure without the pieces of wood moving.