A bench vice is an essential tool for any hobbyist, do-it-yourselfer or professional craftsman. In deciding on the best vice for your needs, note that vices made for metalworking differ from vices made for wood, and some can accommodate both. Think about the kind of metalworking you will be doing and the tasks associated with it. Remember that, as your skills grow, so will the demands you make of your bench vice. Different vices have various features that you might find desirable such as changeable jaw surfaces that will hold a pipe or that have a smooth, non-marring face.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Bench vice with bolts and nuts
- Metal plate
- Flat wood shims
- 4 bolts
- 4 nuts
- 4 metal washers
- 4 lock washers
- Lag screws
- Electric drill
- Drill bits the same size as your bolts
- Crescent wrench
Consider your work habits before mounting your vice. Mount your vice to the right if you are left-handed and to the left if you are right-handed. Leave room to move large pieces of work or make room for your body when you work close-up on small items. Purchase a metal plate to mount between your vice and the bench if you intend to weld or solder at your vice. Decide whether you will be sitting or standing while you work.
Choose the ideal location on your bench to mount your vice. Orient the inside plate of the fixed jaw facing frontward and just forward of the bench edge. Shim your vice with flat wood pieces until the top of your vice will be close to your elbow height when you work. Mark the spot by making pencil marks in the four mounting holes provided. Mark the same holes in your shims and metal plate, if you plan to include one.
Check the size of the bolts that came with your vice to be sure that they are long enough to go through your vice, your shims, your metal plate, a metal washer and a lock washer before securing with their matching nut. Buy longer bolts with matching nuts if needed or replace the bolts with lag screws if the assembly is above a bench leg and can not accept a nut.
Use an electric drill with a bit that is the same circumference as your bolts to bore all the holes you have marked in the metal plate, your bench and any shims required. Place the metal plate and shims on your bench and line up the holes. Add the vice to the top and insert your bolts through the holes. Thread a washer, lock washer and nut onto the bolts and use a crescent wrench to tighten them.
Tips and warnings
- Do not drill completely through your bench when using lag screws. Instead, drill to a one-inch depth to get the screw started while leaving plenty of wood for the screw to grab.
- Some metal working tasks involve "drawing" or pulling metal in a vice. In this case, secure the back of your bench to a couple of wall studs using lag screws.
- Home bench vices usually mount on the top of a bench, but some speciality vices mount on the front and may be supported by an extra leg.
- Before using your vice check to be sure it is secure.
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