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What Is a Table Vise?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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A table vise is a piece of equipment that can be affixed to a table to lock tools and projects in place while working on them. They often are available through hardware stores and tool suppliers, and it is possible to fabricate one for a specific project. Many workshops have one or more table vises for applications such as woodworking, electronics and tool repair. Specialty models that have extra features tend to be more costly.

The basic table vise clamps to a table or attaches with the assistance of a vacuum base to fix it firmly in place. The user can adjust two movable jaws to hold a workpiece. Some vises have soft jaws to avoid damaging pieces when the user applies pressure, and others might have hard jaws, sometimes with a texture scored into the surface of the metal for traction. It might also be possible to slip covers over the jaws for some projects and to leave them exposed the rest of the time.

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Sometimes the table vise has an adjustable angle on the jaws, which allows the user to manipulate the object after it is locked, to put it in the most comfortable position. This can make it easier to perform some tasks, including tricky tool repair that might be difficult at some angles. The user can lock in the desired angle to keep the object in the vise stable while performing work on it. Such table vises can be slightly more expensive, because of the added complexity in the design.

It also can be possible to purchase a table vise made from a corrosion-resistant or non-reactive metal. This might be necessary for some applications in the workshop, whereas other metals might degrade with time or could pose a threat to the integrity of a project. In tasks such as electronics, for instance, the material used on the vice could rub off on electrical contacts and create a problem. These vises also tend to be more costly because the raw materials to make the equipment are more expensive.

One advantage of a table vise is that it can be moved. Vises fixed in place as part of a table or piece of equipment are available, but the ability to unlock and move a vise can be important in some settings. It is common to leave the vise locked onto the table most of the time, but there might be situations when the surface needs to be clear and the vise can be removed, or the user might need to move the vise to a different location because of size, angle or other characteristics of a project.

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