10 Types of Woodworking Vises

Different types of woodworking vises in the workshop.

Imagine yourself cutting or drilling laboriously on a wood piece that keeps on moving and wobbling. You will indeed find it hard to cut straight or drill onto that wood piece with precision. Such a scenario is not ideal when working on a particular wood. But this could happen if you do not have woodworking vises that keep the workpiece immovable on your workbench while you work on it.

Nowadays, you will find woodworking vises attached to the woodworker’s workbench. They come in a wide variety and types. Yet, they mostly have a design that features two parallel jaws. One jaw remains fixed while the other moves to clamp or keep the workpiece pressed to the fixed jaw.  

You may get by with your woodworking tasks sans the use of woodworking vises. Nevertheless, you can facilitate your woodworking tasks if you equip your workbench with the following helpful woodworking vises:

1) Face Vise

If you want to equip your workbench with a handy woodworking vise, you can check out the face vise. The face vise comes with a design for holding a workpiece while you drill and saw on it. The face vise can be in the traditional or modern form. Moreover, it can either be with cast iron jaws, steel jaws, and auxiliary wooden jaws or with no jaws.  

The traditional face vise features a movable front jaw mounted to a square beam. This movable jaw slides along a matching channel. The beam, however, keeps the jaw aligned and steady. Additionally, a wooden bench screw drives the jaw. Moreover, you can fasten the face vise onto your benchtop from underneath.

The name woodworker’s vise is often the modern version’s name of this vise. You would usually mount this face vise on the bench front. Besides, the contemporary face vise features a complete metal build, saved for the wood’s jaw liners. These jaw liners prevent damage to the wood. Furthermore, the modern face vise attaches to the bench front’s underside. 

The components of modern face vise include two iron jaws, drive, slides, screw, and handle. Its inner jaw doesn’t move. But you can operate the outer jaw by turning its handle. Moreover, you can tighten the screw mechanism via clockwise motion, which draws the jaws together. 

You can loosen it up via a counterclockwise movement. You will often find this vise near the workbench’s leg, and it gets fastened with carriage bolts or lag screws.  

There is another type of face vise called a hybrid face vise that combines metal and wooden components. These hybrid vises often make use of a combination of ready-to-buy metal drive elements and DIY wooden jaws that you equip with blocking and guides attaching points. 

Face vises come in different sizes. The jaws’ sizes usually range between 6″ to 15″ or more. The ideal jaw size, of course, will depend on the usual dimensions of wood pieces you use for your various projects.  

2) Tail Workbench Vise (End Vise)

The tail workbench vise is set at the workbench end, often at the right-hand end. For this reason, it got referred to as end vise. You can use this vise to clamp wood pieces to your workbench. This vise is flush-mounted. The bench, of course, works as the inside jaw. On the other hand, the movable jaw is driven tight against the workbench by the bench screw.

This vise is more flexible than other vises. It also has a distinctive rectangular hole on its top. This hole aligns with the hole series on the benchtop’s front. You can set the workpiece—that you would like to cut or shape—flushed to your bench dog set onto the vise’s dog-hole. 

Then, you butt the other end of the workpiece to another dog that gets inserted onto the nearest dog-hole. Afterward, you can tighten it up. So, with the use of this vise, the whole workbench becomes a large virtual vise.

3) Shoulder Vise

The shoulder vise comes with a distinctive advantage over other vises. Moreover, it comes with an open space between its jaws. This space is free of a support screw or rails. Furthermore, the apron or the benchtop works as a fixed jaw. The movable jaw, however, travels on a solitary screw. 

The Shoulder vise is easy to assemble and is cheap. You only need a piece of wood, a screw assembly that you can buy at the cost of 30 dollars or less. 

The downsides of this vise, however, include its being a bump hazard. You may accidentally bump your legs or hips onto it. Moreover, if your workshop got high humidity, the components of this vise may expand and bind. Furthermore, it doesn’t retrofit with ease to any existing bench.

4) Leg Vise

The leg vise is traditional. You will seldom find this type of vise in most modern workshops because other woodworking vises have superseded it. Yet, despite its rarity at present, it doesn’t mean it is not worth having. Contrariwise, this device is simplistic yet, efficient and provides a firm grip on your workpiece. Besides, it is easy to make. 

The leg vise works best at holding long stock. Moreover, you can clamp the wood to the edge of the bench for extra stability.

To use a leg vise, you only need to set this vise onto the bench’s front left-hand end. It features long jaws. Moreover, the rear one is often the bench leg. The outside jaw, however, moves. 

The leg vise is also fashioned out of hardwood stock. You will find a screw-drive above the vise’s length midpoint, right below the damping surface’s area. This screw drive adjusts the jaws. 

The outside jaw sometimes gets hinged to the leg of the bench. Additionally, most leg vises feature an adjustable beam or screw at their foot to keep the jaws aligned.

5) Engineer’s Vise

This vise is a heavy-duty device mounted on the benchtop by bolting it to its surface. It is pretty heavy, like an anvil. Moreover, it can occasionally double up as an anvil. This is because many of these vises come with a flat surface at the back of their jaws. Besides, it is also called a machinist’s vise or bench vise. Sometimes, it gets referred to as railroad or mechanic’s vise likewise.

The engineer’s vise works by grabbing things and holding them steadily using its rough jaws. Thus, with this vise, your hands are free to operate on the workpiece. 

The vise’s jaws feature a machined face that can easily damage the wood. Yet, you will also find newer models that feature reversible jaws with smooth one side and serrated side. 

This vise is perfect for those who frequently need a metal vise. You can also purchase jaw liners to assuage the impact of the serrated jaws on the wood.

6) Quick-Release Wood Vise

The quick-release wood vise is another type of vise that you can use on your workbench. It can let you release its jaws quickly to make your work easy. Of course, the usual thing you would do when using other vise types is to open the jaws up and clamp a wood block into it. Afterward, you can screw back the vise to close it. 

This may be easy to do but is time-consuming. So, with the quick-release wood vise, you will no longer do the tedious task of screwing back the vise. 

7) Swivel Head Woodworkers Vise

Another type of vise is the swivel head woodworker’s vise. You can check this vise out because it is one of the best vises you can use on your workbench. It clamps the workpiece firmly. Besides, it swivels, allowing you to work on the workpiece, sans re-clamping or re-adjusting.

This vise has been here for several centuries. In fact, gunmakers have been using it for rotating their stocks while it clamps the stocks. Moreover, this vise allows for easy access to all surfaces of the stock. 

This vise type, however, isn’t cheap. It belongs to the expensive ones, for it allows for a complete rotation or swiveling. Moreover, it will necessitate a custom cut and installation onto your bench. 

8) Wood Screw Vise

Another unique vise that you can use on your workbench is the wood screw vise. This vise is also a conventional vise that has been in use for several centuries. It comes with coarse threads that allow for fast action. 

Moreover, it is durable and usually made of hard maple. You can check out Lake Erie Toolworks if you are interested in the different wood screw vises.

9) Pivot Jaw Wood Vise

You can use the pivot jaw wood vise if you have an angled stock piece that you need to clamp to your workbench. It can pivot up to 10 degrees. In a way, this vise is worth considering if you are often engaged in securing irregularly shaped stocks.

10) Clamp-on Vise

One vise that comes with softer jaws is the clamp-on vise. It also offers a smooth grip on the stock. You can use it for wood, light metalworking materials, and plastic. Besides, you will find clamp-on vises that come with serrated jaws for better gripping metal pieces. You will also find clamp-on vises that feature a rotating design and clamp-on vises.

Frequently Asked Questions Woodworking Vises

Once you know the different vise types, you can choose deliberately the perfect vise for your use. It will also help if you are familiar with the following frequently asked questions about woodworking vises, for these FAQs may also be the questions playing on in your mind:

What are the Differences Between Carpentry Vise and Fitting Vise?

As you work with different woodworking vises, you will notice that most woodworking vises are permanently clamped onto the workbench for immediate use. In this sense, they are like metalworking vises. However, they differ from the metalworking vises because the woodworking vises get clamped under the workbench instead of on top of it. Besides, the jaw’s top edge is leveled with the workbench’s top surface. 

How Does a Table Vise Work?

The table vise is excellent for metalworking, hobbyists, and jewelers. You can easily mount it to your tabletop or workbench using its built-in clamp. It is pretty easy to use. You just need to place it on your bench, then twist the bottom knob to raise the securing leg. Once secured, you can use it to hold your workpiece hand-free.

What are the Differences Between Engineer’s Vise and Table Vise?

As mentioned above, a table vise is quite portable and perfect for metalworking, allowing you to use it anywhere you need. It is not heavy and is easy to install. Engineer’s vises, however, are quite heavy. Moreover, you need to bolt them onto the workbench before they can be functional. The engineer’s vise is often used for cutting and filing. The material is positioned low in the vise and held tightly between its jaws.


The innovations in modern technology have also brought about remarkable innovations in the designs of woodworking vises. Woodworking vises, nowadays, come with better grips and offer ease of usage. Moreover, you can find various woodworking vises to choose from, giving you ample choices at hand. 

The woodworking vise, of course, is indispensable if you want to raise your woodworking activities a notch higher. So, it will be best to invest in quality vises that can come in handy when you need to set your workpiece firmly on your workbench.

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