What is a Hand Vise?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A hand vise is a tool which is designed to grip things. It can either be held in the hand, as the name implies, or fastened in a bench vise. There are a number of uses for these tools, ranging from woodworking to jeweling, and many crafters have a hand vise or two available for projects.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

A typical hand vise has a handle attached to a set of jaws which can clamp down on various items. The jaws can be tightened with the assistance of wing screws, and they typically have a spring catch which keeps them open to the width they are set at. The jaws are also typically textured to increase their traction, ensuring that items in the hand vise do not slip.

Much like a regular bench vise, a hand vice can be used for all sorts of things. Some people like using hand vises to hold small or delicate items while they work with them, ensuring that a slip of the hand does not cause damage. These tools can also be used to hold things while they are painted, glued, or otherwise worked with, to ensure that the user's hand is not in danger. Hand vises can also hold things for tightening or be used for more grip to undo something.

Steel is the most typical material used to make hand vises, although other metals like bronze can also be found. Corrosion resistant metals tend to be preferred, as the vise can be exposed to a wide assortment of substances on the job which could potentially cause damage. The handle may be integrated into the jaws, making a hand vise almost like a pair of tongs, or it can be a separate component, depending on the design.

When selecting a hand vise, you should think about what it is going to be used for. If you have experienced moments in the shop or working on projects when you wished that you had a hand vise, think about the sort of vise which would have worked best in those situations. You may also want to see how a hand vise feels in your hand, and test to see how easy it is to tighten and release to determine whether or not it will be a good fit for you.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I found that a hand vise was ideal for bending metal pieces for an art project I did for a class. I could clamp the vise precisely where the bend needed to be made and then press it down hard on a metal table. It was faster than using a traditional vise and a hammer.


I've used a hand vise whenever I've had to heat pieces of metal for a repair project. Sometimes I need to heat the corner of a piece to bend it and I couldn't do it with my bare hands.

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