Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Welcome to our big vice test 2021. Here we present all the vices we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best vice for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a vice.




Summary

  • With a vice, workpieces can be easily and conveniently fixed in order to work on them in all kinds of ways. A vice is practically part of the basic equipment of a workshop.
  • A distinction is made between parallel vises, machine vises, mini vises, bottle vises and pipe vises. However, only the first three types of vices are commonly used.
  • Parallel vises are the "normal" vises used on workbenches. Machine vises, on the other hand, hold the workpiece in place when machining in machine tools. A mini vice is the mini version of a parallel vice and is used for machining very small components.

The Best Vice: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a vice

What are the advantages of a vice? Do I need a vice?

Generally speaking, the vice is one of the most useful clamping tools, and provides a strong and secure hold for simple fixing of workpieces. It can be used in many ways. For one thing, if you change the jaws appropriately, you can work on all kinds of materials.

On the other hand, the vice can be used for a wide variety of machining methods, from simple work with a spanner or repairing household appliances to machining workpieces with heavy machinery.

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A vice can be used in many different ways for manual work. (Photo: Free-Photos / pixabay.com)

Since high-quality models in particular last a very long time, it is worth making a one-off purchase in order to then ideally have this clamping tool in one's workshop for a lifetime.

For do-it-yourselfers, and of course for professional craftsmen, a vice is part of the basic equipment. Even if it is used rather infrequently, it is practical to have a clamping device to hand in everyday life.

How much does a vice cost?

Vices can be found in different price ranges. Apart from the quality, it mainly depends on the area of use. Due to their small size, mini vices are available in good quality for as little as ten to 15 euros.

For occasional use, at least 50 euros should be invested to obtain a certain quality. However, you do not have to spend more than 100 euros for this.

As a do-it-yourselfer who likes to work often in his workshop, it makes sense to spend 100 to 200 euros on a vice that can then withstand something. A professional needs a robust, but at the same time very precise model, for which you can expect to pay 200 to 500 euros.

Use Price
Mini vice 10-15€
For occasional use 50-100€
For DIY 100-200€
For occasional use 50-100€
For professionals 200-500€

Does it make sense to buy a used vice?

Buying a vice used can save you money and still give you high quality parts, especially with more robust models. However, you should look for good quality.

Three ways to get used vises are online portals, Amazon Warehouse Deals and clearance sales.

Probably the most popular online portal is ebay.de. Here, you have to make sure that you have a good look at the product pictures and descriptions. You can also assess how trustworthy the seller is by looking at dealer ratings. If you are careful, you can find good bargains.

You can also get used vises through Amazon Warehouse Deals. Amazon checks shipping returns and offers them cheaper as used models. This way, you can get as-new or hardly used products at a reduced price. In addition, you sometimes even have a right of return.

When locksmith's shops or industrial halls close down, there is often a clearance sale. At these sales you can buy professional vises at a low price. If something like this happens to be taking place nearby, you can get a very good vice.

What do I have to consider when buying a vice?

Basically, when buying a vice, you should pay attention to the size of the vice and the material. First you should find the right type for you. Information on this can be found in the decision section above.

Then, of course, the right size of vice depends on what you need it for. For bulky workpieces a larger vice is recommended, for smaller ones a smaller vice will do. Important sizes to consider are the jaw width and the clamping width. Often the total size of the vice is given by the jaw width.

There are two types of vise material. They are either forged from steel or cast. The forged version is more stable, but also more expensive than the cast version. More detailed information to help you decide which one to buy can be found below in the buying criteria.

What accessories are available for my vice?

  • Protective jaws: In order not to wear out the jaws, it is always advisable to use protective jaws. They are usually attached with magnets or screws or simply clipped on. They not only protect the jaws, but also have different functions. For soft and sensitive materials, there are protective jaws made of aluminium, rubber, plastic or felt, so that the workpieces are not damaged and are still well fixed. Wood, for example, can also be worked well with these. There are also special tube jaws, ribbed jaws for better grip, fibre jaws that do not deform even when workpieces are heated, and protective jaws with prisms for holding round or oval objects.
  • Turntable: With a turntable, the vice can be rotated 360°, it can then be swivelled. This makes working much more comfortable, as you do not have to reclamp the workpiece to get the ideal position.
  • Stand lift: The stand lift can be adjusted to the optimum height for any body size, for any workpiece and for any type of machining.
  • Folding lift: With the folding lift, the vice can simply be folded down to have more space on the workbench. In addition, the vice can be rotated and adjusted in height with this aid.
  • Table clamp: The table clamp makes it possible to attach the vice flexibly in different places and without drilling. This means that a normal vice can also be used in a mobile way.

How can I recognise good quality?

Good quality can be recognised by the workmanship of the vice. The individual parts should fit tightly and have little play. The jaws should close parallel and flush. You can also look at the name of the manufacturer and customer reviews to assess the quality.

What are the options for attaching a vice?

You can attach a vice to a workbench by drilling it into place, screwing it into place or mounting it with a clamping device.

The best way to mount a vice is on a workbench. (Photo: Free-Photos / pixabay.com)

Some vises are drilled into the workbench. This gives a very stable hold, but it is awkward to remove the vice again. Other vises are screwed to the edge of the table and can be removed more easily.

Clamping devices are often used for smaller vises and mini vises. Especially for mini vices, there are also models with a vacuum suction foot, which makes it easy to attach the vise to smooth surfaces. There are also models where the vice is already integrated into the workbench or a workshop trolley.

What special vices are there besides the types already presented?

More unusual vice variations are pliers, filing pistons and sewing pistons.

  • Tongs (carpenter's vice), grinding vice: These vises are found on workbenches. They are used for woodworking and are used in joiner's workshops.
  • Filing pistons: Filing pistons are used for very small workpieces. Mostly they are used by precision mechanics, sometimes also in model making.
  • Sewing vices: These vices are used to clamp textiles and leather for sewing.

If you only need a vice for a specific activity for which there is a special vice, it is worth investing in this.

Decision: What types of vises are there and which is the right one for me?

Basically, five different types of vises can be distinguished:

  • Parallel vice
  • Bottle vice
  • Machine vice
  • Pipe vice
  • Mini vice

They differ in their mode of operation and thus also in their field of application. This results in individual advantages and disadvantages for each type. Depending on what you want to use your vice for and what is particularly important to you, a certain type of vice is best suited for you.

The following section will help you find the ideal vice for you. We will explain how the different types work, what advantages and disadvantages they have and what they are used for.

What is special about the parallel vice and when do I use it?

The parallel vice is what is generally understood by a vice. It can be mounted on a workbench and is used in both the DIY and industrial sectors. Its special feature is that the two jaws always remain parallel to each other due to an additional guide rail.

When the crank is turned, the movable jaw opens and any angular workpiece can be clamped.

Advantages
  • Even clamping force
  • For small and large workpieces
  • Versatile in use
  • Wide range
  • Inexpensive to obtain
Disadvantages
  • Not ideal for special requirements

Since the jaws move in parallel, the clamping force is evenly distributed at each opening width. This is why workpieces can be clamped particularly firmly and precisely with the parallel vice.

In addition, it can be ordered in different sizes, both in terms of jaw width and clamping width. This makes it suitable for both small and large workpieces. The parallel vice is the all-rounder among the vises. Therefore, there is a wide range of products as well as a large price range, so you can also buy it at a reasonable price.

So if you want to use your vice for various jobs, such as working on workpieces with different tools, such as files, drills and saws, or for clamping and fixing objects, then this versatile vice is best for you.

What is a bottle vice and what can I use it for?

In contrast to the parallel vice, the bottle vice has only one slide rail. This means that the movable jaw can be rotated. If you open the vice with the crank, the angle between the movable and fixed jaws changes. Only when closed are the two jaws parallel.

Advantages
  • Even clamping force
  • For small and large workpieces
  • Versatile use
  • Wide range
  • Inexpensive to obtain
Disadvantages
  • Not ideal for special requirements

Since the jaws move in parallel, the clamping force is evenly distributed at each opening width. This is why workpieces can be clamped particularly tightly and precisely with the parallel vice.

In addition, it can be ordered in different sizes, both in terms of jaw width and clamping width. This makes it suitable for both small and large workpieces. The parallel vice is the all-rounder among the vises. Therefore, there is a wide range of products as well as a large price range, so you can also buy it at a reasonable price.

So if you want to use your vice for various jobs, such as working on workpieces with different tools, such as files, drills and saws, or for clamping and fixing objects, then this versatile vice is best for you.

What is a bottle vice and what can I use it for?

In contrast to the parallel vice, the bottle vice has only one slide rail. This means that the movable jaw can be rotated. If you open the vice with the crank, the angle between the movable and fixed jaws changes. Only when closed are the two jaws parallel.

Advantages
  • Robust
Disadvantages
  • Small offer
  • Expensive
  • Lower precision and clamping force

Bottle vices are less common, which is why they are not available everywhere and have a higher price. Because the jaws are not parallel when clamping, some of the precision and clamping force is lost.

This vice is often forged and therefore very robust. For this reason it is mainly used in forges, where it can withstand the hammer blows of the blacksmith.

In addition, the bottle vice is often collected and is therefore a collector's item. So if you are a collector or want to use the vice for forging work, the bottle vice is suitable for you.

What are the characteristics of a machine vice and what do I use it for?

As the name suggests, the machine vice is used for working with machines.

It is somewhat flatter and more compact than a parallel vice and can therefore be used in machine tools such as drilling or milling machines. There, you can move it as you like with the help of slotted holes on the side of the vice and thus place it precisely to work on the workpiece.

In addition to mechanical versions, it can also be found in hydraulic and pneumatic versions.

Advantages
  • Precisely worked
  • Withstands large impact forces
  • Large range
  • Inexpensive to obtain
Disadvantages
  • Especially for machines

A machine vice can be used for very precise work. It is also very stable against high forces acting on the workpiece fixed in it. This makes it ideal for machines. However, due to its design, it is only suitable for working with machines.

It can be used both in simpler versions for personal use and in high-precision and more expensive versions (so-called pull-down vice) for industry. The machine vice is also suitable for model making to achieve millimetre-precise drilling and milling.

If you need a vice for your (pillar) drilling machine, milling machine or other machine tool, the machine vice is the right choice.

What is a pipe vice and what can I do with it?

A pipe vice has four jaws. Two of them face each other vertically so that a pipe or other round object can be clamped horizontally. This allows such a workpiece to be clamped firmly without the risk of it being deformed by the clamping force.

Advantages
  • Optimal for round objects
  • Also for pipes with larger diameters
Disadvantages
  • Not usable for other workpieces

Due to the even force distribution of the four jaws, this vice provides a firm and secure hold. This is especially important for larger pipes. Some models even allow diameters of up to 7.6 cm to be clamped.

At the same time, the workpiece is clamped cleanly and not deformed. Pipe vises are therefore well suited for working on pipes and other round objects.

If you need your vice mainly for such work, it makes sense to use this type. However, if you only occasionally work with smaller round objects and otherwise with square workpieces, it is advisable to use a parallel vice.

There are either additional or already integrated special jaws for this. In this way, both round and square objects can be machined.

What is a mini vice and what can I use it for?

The mini vice is actually a mini vice for small workpieces. It is easily attached to any suitable surface with a table clamp or suction foot. In addition, it usually has one or two ball joints so that the clamped workpiece can be rotated in all directions.

Advantages
  • Precise machining of very small components
  • Optimal angle due to rotatability
  • Mobile use
  • Very inexpensive
Disadvantages
  • Not very robust
  • Only for small workpieces

Due to its small size, small workpieces can be clamped very precisely and finely. In addition, you can work in a concentrated and relaxed manner on this vice, as you can turn the workpiece in all directions and do not have to constantly reclamp it.

Due to the simple attachment and the low weight, the mini vice can also be easily taken along and used anywhere.

This type of vice is also available in good quality for a small price of 10 to 15 euros. The mini vice is mainly used by model makers, precision mechanics, watchmakers, electronics engineers and hobbyists, i.e. for everything that has to do with very small components.

So if you want to use your vice more for small parts and fine machining methods and also want to take it with you sometimes, a mini vice is the right one for you.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate vises

When buying a vice, there are several criteria that you can use to compare and evaluate the products. They are briefly explained in the next paragraphs to help you make your purchase decision.

These factors should be taken into account:

  • Range of application
  • Size
  • Material
  • Functions
  • Fastening

You can read about what to look for in the individual purchase criteria below.

Application

The different types of vise and what you use them for have already been introduced above. If you are not sure, you can read about them again or have a look at the following summary. In general, there are vises for use on a workbench, for machine tools and for model making.

For the workbench you take the normal parallel vice. You can do little wrong with it and use it for almost any work, be it fixing objects together for example, working on metal or wood, loosening screws and much more. So an all-rounder like this makes sense if you are going to use your vice in different ways.

If you need a vice for your machine tool, such as a drill press, the machine vice is suitable. It should also be mentioned here that you can also attach the machine vice to a workbench with screws in the slotted holes. For people who often work on machines, but also on the workbench, this method is ideal.

For model making and all work with very small workpieces, the mini vice for precision mechanics is best, as it is finely adjustable and the small parts are not damaged.

Size of the vice

The right size of vice depends, of course, on what you need it for. If you tend to work with small workpieces, it makes sense to take a smaller one, if you want to clamp bulky objects, you need a larger one. There are models between 70 and 500mm long.

The two most important sizes of a vice are the jaw width and the clamping width.

  • Jaw width: The larger the jaws, the more stable larger workpieces can be clamped. There are jaw widths between 40 and 180mm. For DIY use, a jaw width between 100 and 140mm is usually used.
  • Clamping width: The clamping width is selected according to the size of the workpieces to be clamped. It ranges from 30 to 225mm. The clamping width of many vises is very variable, so that both large and small workpieces can be clamped. Such models are ideal for hobby craftsmen who only have one vice.

For a mini-vice, the size is rather unimportant as they are all roughly the same size. With a machine vice, the required clamping width and the appropriate hole spacing for fastening are more important than the jaw width.

Material

Vices are either forged or cast from steel. The forged version is very robust and can withstand heavy loads, but therefore costs more. It is recommended for professionals. Cast vices are less durable, but are perfectly adequate for home and hobby use.

Features

There are different features that can make your work with the vice easier. These are:

  • Anvil
  • Turntable
  • Ball joint
  • Interchangeable jaws

If functionality is important to you and you are willing to spend money on it, it is advisable to choose the features that suit you.

Anvil

Many vises have a small anvil on the body that you can practically hammer on.

Turntable

A turntable under the parallel vice helps you to work on the workpiece from different sides without having to unclamp it.

Ball joint

This device is usually found on mini vices. It allows the part to be easily machined from all sides and angles, which is especially important in model making and precision engineering. This would be less of an advantage with larger vises, as a ball joint cannot withstand large forces.

Exchangeable jaws

The advantage of this is that when the jaws wear out, you only need to replace them and the vice will last longer. However, with most robust and high quality vises, the jaws do not wear out that much. Protective jaws can also be used to protect the jaws of the vice.

Fastening

Basically, there are three fastening mechanisms on a vice:

  • Oblong holes
  • Holes
  • Clamping devices

Oblong holes are on the side of a machine vice. They allow the vice to be fixed in the machine and at the same time moved flexibly. As mentioned above, it is also possible to screw the vice to the workbench with slotted holes.

Most vices have holes, which makes it easy to screw the vise to a workbench or table top. This creates a very stable hold.

Some larger vises and almost all mini vises can be attached to tables, window sills and other flat surfaces with clamping devices. In this way, you can use your vice in a mobile way and attach it easily. However, one must make sure that the clamp is large enough for the intended table top.

Facts worth knowing about vice

A vice consists of clamping jaws, a threaded spindle, guide rails, a crank, a body and a fastening mechanism.

Perhaps the most important part of the vice are the jaws, usually one movable jaw at the front and one immovable jaw at the back. They are connected by a threaded spindle and guide rails and can be moved towards or away from each other with a crank. This clamps the workpiece.

There is also a body, which is sometimes a little more robust and thus serves as a small anvil for hammering and center punching. At the bottom, the vice has a fastening mechanism with which it is mounted.

How do I mount a vice?

Vices are mounted on flat surfaces, usually on workbenches, tables or windowsills. Normally the vice is mounted in a corner so as not to take up too much space. Nevertheless, there should still be enough space around it to work.

For right-handers, the left-hand corner is better, as there is room to work with the right hand, for left-handers the other way round. So, if there is enough space at the edge of the workbench on the corresponding side, the vice can be mounted above the table leg, as it is most stable there.

The rear vise jaw should be flush with the edge of the workbench, or protrude slightly above it, to allow enough space to clamp the workpieces. For fastening, through bolts with nuts are more stable as they cannot tear out.

In addition, the drill hole should be about two millimetres larger than the screw. This prevents the screw from jamming and provides a good hold.

How do I care for my vice?

Since a vice is very robust, it does not need much care. Nevertheless, you can clean it, oil it, and possibly varnish it to prolong the life of your vice:

Lubricants Properties
Oils More liquid than grease. It can therefore flow more easily into the vice. Reduces wear, as the components often no longer touch each other due to the oil.
Grease Also reduces sliding friction. Adheres better to the applied areas than oil.

Cleaning

Metal and wood chips as well as rust and grease should be removed with a wire brush or rag after work so that the spindle and rail guide do not become dirty.

Oil

The turning spindle and the sliding surfaces should be greased regularly - at least once a year - so that the vice works without friction. Squeaking is a sign that the oil should be replenished. The spindle should only be oiled with grease, not with a spray.

To thoroughly maintain your vice, you can disassemble it for oiling. Remember, however, that it must be reassembled. The instruction manual or a specialist can be helpful.

Painting

It can happen that the varnish flakes off after some time. Then the vice can be repainted to protect it from rust. This can be done with hammer varnish. Before varnishing, the vise must be sanded down so that the varnish adheres well.

Note: It is important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions, otherwise warranty claims may be voided.

How long will my vice last? Depending on the quality, a vice can be used for different lengths of time. However, most will last a lifetime if handled carefully.

Can I make my own vice?

Yes, you can build your own vice. It is easier to make your own wooden vice. Such a vise can be made in a well-equipped hobby workshop. For a metal vice, you need machines such as drills, milling machines and possibly lathes.

If these are available, it is possible to make a simple vice. This is more like a mini-vice. Instructions can be found on the internet.

How and when did the vice come into being?

Clamping devices have been around for a very long time. However, the first step towards a vice was taken in the Middle Ages. At that time, people started to use a thread and a lever for clamping. However, as with the bottle vice, the movable jaw could only be moved radially.

Did you know that the vice was invented from a sketch in 1505?

It was invented by Martin Löffelholz from Nuremberg.

It was not until around 1750 that the parallel vice was invented, in which the movable jaw is guided on a sliding carriage. The vice is still used in this way today.

The history of the vice as we know it today therefore began in the Middle Ages. In the middle of the 18th century it was developed into the form we still use today.

Image source: Pixabay.com / Capri23auto

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