The Ultimate Showdown: Bench Vise vs. Woodworking Vise

Having the proper equipment is crucial for a good result during woodworking. Bench vises and woodworking vises are important for securing workpieces before operations such as sawing, drilling, sanding, and shaping can be carried out. This article will compare and contrast two different types of vises to assist you in choosing the one that will work best for your woodworking endeavors.

Bench vises

best heavy duty bench viseBench vises, also known as mechanic’s vises, are the most prevalent type of vise used in woodworking. Often mounted to the workstation, these vises consist of a pair of jaws that may be tightened or loosened using a handle. There are numerous bench vise varieties available, including:

  1. Front vises: They are positioned on the front of the workbench and include a jaw that can be adjusted to accommodate various workpiece sizes.
  2. End vises: They are positioned on the end of a workbench and have a fixed, perpendicular jaw. Frequently, end vises are used to secure lengthy or irregularly-shaped workpieces.
  3. Tail vises: These are positioned on the back of the workbench and include a jaw that can be adjusted to accommodate a variety of workpiece sizes. Tail vises are particularly handy for vertically holding workpieces.

Bench Vise Benefits and Disadvantages

The adaptability of bench vises is one of their chief benefits. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including holding small parts for drilling and sanding and anchoring bigger pieces for sawing and shaping. Moreover, bench vises are often simple to install and may be moved to multiple workbench positions as needed.

There are, however, several disadvantages to employing bench vises. First, they might take up a considerable amount of room on the workbench, reducing the amount of space available for other operations. In addition, certain bench vises may be difficult to adjust or incapable of firmly holding unusually-shaped workpieces.

Bench vises’ frequent applications

In woodworking, bench vises are frequently used for operations including drilling, sawing, sanding, and shaping. They are especially helpful for holding workpieces in place while carrying out these procedures to maintain accuracy and stop the workpiece from moving.

Woodworking Vises

best machinist cross slide drill press viseBench screw vises or face vises, commonly referred to as woodworking vises, are made exclusively for woodworking activities. These vises often have a huge screw mechanism that is used to tighten or release the jaws and is attached to the front or end of the workbench. Woodworking vises come in a variety of designs, including:

  1. Shoulder vises: They are handy for operations like cutting dovetails and tenons because they can hold workpieces both vertically and horizontally.
  2. Moxon Vises: Similar to shoulder vises but set higher on the workbench, Moxon vises let woodworkers use them while standing up.
  3. Leg Vises: They have a lengthy screw mechanism that is attached to the workbench’s leg and is used to hold objects on the end of the workbench.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Woodworking Vises

The ability of woodworking vises to securely hold workpieces with unusual shapes is one of their key advantages. Moreover, they are frequently more adaptable than bench vises, enabling woodworkers to carry out a larger range of operations. Furthermore, certain woodworking vises have quick-release features that make switching between workpieces simple.

However, installing woodworking vises might be trickier than installing bench vises and might call for either adding more hardware or modifying the workstation. Also, they might cost more than bench vises, which hobbyists or people on a restricted budget might want to take into account.

Common Applications for Woodworking Vises

Vises for woodworking are frequently used for operations including sawing, planning, and carving. They are very helpful for retaining workpieces that have unusual angles or uneven shapes. Moreover, jobs requiring a high level of precision, like cutting dovetails or tenons, frequently involve the use of woodworking vises.

Bench Vise vs. Woodworking Vise: Differences

When deciding between a bench vise and a woodworking vise, several variables must be considered. Design is one of the primary contrasts between the two. Bench vises are often more versatile and can be used for a wider variety of jobs, whereas woodworking vises are intended exclusively for woodworking applications and may give more precision and holding strength.

Comparison table between bench vises and woodworking vises:

Bench Vise Woodworking Vise
Made of heavy-duty materials such as cast iron or steel Made of hardwood or high-quality metal
Ideal for heavy-duty tasks Ideal for woodworking tasks
Can hold metal and wooden materials Perfect for holding wooden materials and irregularly shaped objects
Suitable for cutting, grinding, or welding Suitable for drilling, sawing, and chiseling
Mounted on a workbench or with a clamp or bolt-on base Mounted on a workbench
Offers stability and durability Offers stability and durability
Provides precision for accurate and precise work Provides precision for accurate and precise work
Ideal for DIY projects Ideal for woodworking projects
Best for metalworking tasks Best for woodworking tasks
Comes in various sizes and styles Comes in various sizes and styles
Ideal for light to heavy-duty tasks Ideal for light to medium-duty tasks

Bench Vise vs. Woodworking Vise: Features

The features of bench vises and woodworking vises are one of their main distinctions. To grasp the distinctions between each feature, let’s look at each one in more detail:

Clamping Mechanism

Each vise must have a clamping mechanism, which is an essential component. Most bench vises contain a quick-release mechanism that makes opening and closing the jaws simple. Conversely, the screw mechanism in woodworking vises requires greater effort to open and close. With the help of this function, the material is held firmly in place and prevented from moving while being worked on.

Jaw Width and Opening Capacity

The jaw width and opening capacity of a vise are other crucial aspects to take into account. Bench vises are great for heavy-duty work since they typically have bigger jaws and can handle heavier things. Woodworking vises are perfect for retaining things with unusual shapes because their smaller jaws can open to a broader width.

Throat Depth

The distance between the front of the jaws and the back of the vise is known as the neck depth. Bench vises are perfect for holding longer materials since they have a deeper throat depth. The shallower throat depth of woodworking vises makes them perfect for retaining smaller materials.

Base Types

Another element to take into account while selecting a vise is the base type. The clamp or bolt-on base that most bench vises have makes them simple to install and move around. On the other hand, woodworking vises are typically fixed on a workbench, providing stability and a solid foundation.

Uses of a Bench Vise vs. a Woodworking Vise

Bench vises and woodworking vises each have particular uses. Let’s examine each to comprehend how they differ from one another:


Woodworking vises are specially made for woodworking activities. For holding wooden materials in place when cutting, drilling, or planning, they are ideal. Moreover, strangely shaped objects and delicate materials are perfectly held by woodworking vises.


Bench vises are more appropriate for demanding metalworking tasks. They are made to firmly secure metal objects while cutting, grinding, or welding. Bench vises are also excellent for holding objects of erratic sizes or forms.

DIY Projects

Bench vises and woodworking vises are both adaptable enough to handle a variety of DIY projects. A vise is a crucial piece of equipment that may keep materials firmly in place, whether working on a car engine or making a piece of furniture.

Advantages of a Bench Vise vs. a Woodworking Vise

Many advantages can be obtained by selecting the ideal valve for your requirements. Let’s examine the advantages of both bench vises and woodworking vises:

Stability and durability

Bench vises and woodworking vises are both constructed for stability and durability. Bench vises are perfect for heavy-duty operations since they are composed of sturdy materials like steel or cast iron. The majority of woodworking vises are built of hardwood or premium metal, which offers stability and durability for woodworking activities.


Bench vises and woodworking vises are both versatile tools that can be used for a variety of activities. Bench vises are perfect for DIY projects since they can hold both metal and wooden items. Woodworking vises are suitable for gripping oddly shaped objects and timber materials, making them the best choice for woodworking projects.


Precision is one of the key advantages of utilizing a vise. While cutting, drilling, or filing, a vise can hold items firmly in place, ensuring stability and accuracy. Woodworking vises and bench vises can both offer the accuracy required for precise work.

Woodworking vise or bench vise?

Which one ought you to pick then? Depending on your needs, yes. A bench vise is the greatest tool for metalworking. A woodworking vise is your best bet if you work with wood. A woodworking vise is a perfect choice if you work on simple jobs. A woodworking vise that can be mounted on a workbench is your best bet if you’re short on space. The best choice is a bench vise with a clamp or bolt-on base if you have plenty of room.

Final Words

Bench vises and woodworking vises are both necessary tools for any workshop; therefore, this is the conclusion. Both of them have special qualities, uses, and advantages. Many advantages, including stability, durability, versatility, and precision, can be attained by selecting the ideal vise for your purposes. You can choose the ideal vise for your requirements and enhance your experience with metalworking or woodworking by taking the aforementioned factors into account.