Skip to content
All About Woodworking Vises by Hi-Spec

All About Woodworking Vises: Types, Uses, and Tips

Woodworking vises are essential tools for any DIY enthusiast, handyman, or professional woodworker. They provide stability and support, allowing you to work with precision and efficiency on a variety of projects. 

This comprehensive guide will explore the different types of woodworking vises available, their uses, tips for choosing the right vise, maintenance, safety precautions, and more. 

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out in the world of woodworking, this in-depth article is sure to provide valuable insights.


  1. Types of Woodworking Vises 
    • Bench Vises 
    • Face Vises 
    • Tail Vises 
    • Leg Vises 
    • Carving Vises 
  2. Uses of Woodworking Vises 
  3. Tips for Choosing the Right Vise 
  4. Proper Vise Maintenance 
  5. Safety Tips for Using Vises 
  6. Conclusion 

Types of Woodworking Vises

Bench Vises

    Bench vises are versatile and can be used for a wide range of woodworking tasks. They are typically mounted to a workbench and have two jaws that can be adjusted to securely hold your workpiece. The jaws may be padded with wood or other materials to prevent damage to the workpiece. Bench vises come in various sizes and styles, including quick-release models that allow for fast adjustments.

    Example: A woodworker may use a bench vise to hold a board securely while planing its surface or cutting dovetail joints.

    Face Vises

    Face vises, also known as front vises, are specifically designed for woodworking tasks such as edge planing and joinery. They are mounted to the front edge of a workbench and have wide, flat jaws that provide maximum surface contact with the workpiece. This ensures a strong grip and minimizes the risk of the piece moving or slipping during work.

    Example: A face vise is ideal for securely holding a large panel while cutting tenons or other joinery.

    Tail Vises

    Tail vises, also known as end vises, are mounted to the end of a workbench and typically feature a sliding mechanism that allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw opening. They are often used in conjunction with bench dogs - small pegs that are inserted into holes in the workbench surface - to secure long or wide workpieces for tasks such as planing or sanding.

    Example: A woodworker might use a tail vise and bench dogs to secure a long board for edge planing.

    Leg Vises

    Leg vises are a traditional type of woodworking vise that consists of a large wooden screw and a movable jaw. They are mounted to the leg of a workbench and provide excellent clamping pressure for a variety of woodworking tasks. Leg vises often feature a parallel guide system that ensures the jaws remain parallel to each other when clamping, which helps prevent the workpiece from twisting or slipping.

    Example: A leg vise is perfect for holding a workpiece securely while carving intricate details or cutting complex joinery.

    Carving Vises

    Carving vises are specifically designed for holding workpieces during intricate carving tasks. They often have a ball-and-socket joint that allows for 360-degree rotation and can be tilted at various angles, providing the user with optimal access to every part of the workpiece. Carving vises may be mounted to a workbench or used with a portable stand.

    Example: A woodcarver would use a carving vise to hold a wooden sculpture securely while working on detailed areas.

    Related Article: Bar Clamps for DIY Enthusiasts

    Uses of Woodworking Vises

    Woodworking vises are used for a wide range of tasks, including:

    Clamping Workpieces Securely For Sawing, Planing, Sanding, Or Carving

    A woodworking vise provides a stable and secure platform that allows you to focus on the task at hand without worrying about the workpiece moving or slipping.

    Holding Boards Or Panels For Edge Planing Or Joinery Work

    When working with large boards or panels, it's crucial to have a secure and stable method of holding the workpiece in place. A face vise or tail vise is ideal for these tasks, as their wide jaws provide maximum surface contact with the workpiece, ensuring a strong grip.

    Securing Long Or Wide Workpieces With The Help Of Bench Dogs

    Bench dogs are small pegs that can be inserted into holes in the workbench surface to create additional points of contact for securing a workpiece. When used in conjunction with a tail vise, bench dogs enable you to clamp long or wide workpieces securely. 

    Providing Stability And Support During Intricate Carving Tasks

    Carving intricate details or patterns into a workpiece requires precision and control. A carving vise offers the stability and support necessary for this type of work by holding the workpiece securely and allowing for 360-degree rotation and various tilt angles. This enables you to access every part of the workpiece with ease, ensuring your carvings are precise and consistent.

    Tips for Choosing the Right Vise

    1. Consider the types of woodworking tasks you perform most often. This will help you determine which type of vise is best suited to your needs. For example, if you frequently work on large panels or boards, a face vise or tail vise may be more suitable than a bench vise. 
    2. Choose a vise with high-quality construction and materials. Look for vises made from durable materials such as cast iron or steel, with sturdy screws and clamping mechanisms that will provide years of reliable use. 
    3. Select a vise with the appropriate jaw width and opening capacity. The size of your vise should be determined by the size of the workpieces you typically work with. Larger vises can accommodate larger workpieces, while smaller vises are more suitable for delicate or intricate tasks. 
    4. Opt for a quick-release feature if speed and convenience are important to you. Quick-release vises allow you to rapidly adjust the jaw opening, making it easier to switch between different workpieces or tasks. 

    Proper Vise Maintenance

    1. Keep your vise clean and free of debris. Regularly wipe down the jaws and other surfaces with a cloth or brush to remove dust and wood shavings. 
    2. Lubricate the screw and other moving parts periodically. Apply a light coating of oil or grease to ensure smooth operation and prevent rust. 
    3. Inspect your vise for wear or damage. Check the jaws, screws, and other components for signs of wear or damage, and repair or replace them as needed. 

    Safety Tips for Using Vises

    1. Always secure your workpiece properly. Ensure that the jaws are tightly clamped around the workpiece to prevent it from slipping or moving during use. 
    2. Use padding or soft jaws when working with delicate materials. This will help protect the workpiece from damage caused by the vise's metal jaws. 
    3. Avoid over-tightening the vise. Applying excessive pressure can cause damage to the workpiece or the vise itself. 
    4. Keep your hands clear of the jaws and other moving parts. Always be aware of the position of your hands when using a vise, and avoid placing them near the jaws or other moving components. 


    Woodworking vises are indispensable tools for any DIY enthusiast, handyman, or professional woodworker. With various types available, such as bench vises, face vises, tail vises, leg vises, and carving vises, there is a vise suited for every woodworking task. 

    By understanding the different types, uses, and maintenance tips, you can choose the perfect vise for your needs and ensure its longevity.

    Additionally, always prioritize safety when using a woodworking vise to prevent accidents and protect your workpiece. With the right vise and proper care, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any woodworking project with confidence and precision.

    Related Topics

    Protecting Your Workpieces: Proper Clamping Techniques
    Protecting Your Workpieces: Proper Clamping Techniques
    A bench vise is an indispensable tool for precisely fabricating, modifying or repairing workpiece...
    Read More
    Understanding the Importance of Owning a Ladies' Toolkit
    Understanding the Importance of Owning a Ladies' Toolkit
    Whether exploring a new hobby, tackling household repairs, or pursuing a career in the trades, ha...
    Read More
    The Ultimate Ladies' Toolkit Guide
    The Ultimate Ladies' Toolkit Guide
    In a world where women are increasingly taking charge of their own home improvement projects and ...
    Read More
    Previous article Computer Tool Kit Guide: Everything You Need to Know