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A vise (American English) or vice (British English) is a mechanical apparatus used to secure an object to allow work to be performed on it. Vises have two parallel jaws, one fixed and the other movable, threaded in and out by a screw and lever.
Woodworking vises are attached to a workbench, typically flush with its work surface. Their jaws are made of plywood or metal but mostly metal, the latter usually faced with wood, called cheeks, to avoid marring the work. The movable jaw may include a retractable dog to hold work against a bench dog.
"Quick-release" vises employ a split nut that allows the screw to engage or disengage with a half-turn of the handle. When disengaged the movable jaw may be moved in or out throughout its entire range of motion, vastly speeding up the process of adjustment. Common thread types are Acme and buttress.
Traditional workbench vises are commonly either face vises, attached to the front of the workbench, near the left end (for a right-handed worker) or end vises, attached to or forming part of the right end of the bench.
One common variety of face vise is the leg vise, which has a long extension down to the floor, with a provision to adjust the spacing of the bottom of the leg, to keep the clamping surfaces of the jaws approximately parallel, even though the work to be clamped may be of various thicknesses.
An engineer's vise, also known as a metalworking vise or fitter's vise, is used to clamp metal instead of wood. It is typically made of cast steel or malleable cast iron. Cheaper vises may be made of brittle cast iron. The jaws are often separate and replaceable, usually engraved with serrated or diamond teeth. Soft jaw covers made of aluminum, lead, or plastic may be used to protect delicate work.
An engineer's vise is bolted onto the top surface of a workbench, with the face of the fixed jaws just forward of its front edge. The vise may include other features such as a small anvil on the back of its body.
Other kinds of vise include:
- Hand vises
- Machine vises - drill vises (lie flat on a drill press bed). Vises of the same general form are used also on milling machines and grinding machines.
- compound slide vises are more complex machine vises. They allow speed and precision in the placement of the work.
- Cross vises, which can be adjusted using leadscrews in the X and Y axes; these are useful if many holes need to be drilled in the same workpiece using a drill press. Compare router table.
- Off-center vises
- Angle vises
- Sine vises, which use gauge blocks to set up a highly accurate angle
- Rotary vises
- Diemakers' vise
- Saw vices - These are used for sharpening hand saws.
- Pin vises (for holding thin, long cylindrical objects by one end, or used as a drill(scale modeler's pin vise))
- Jewellers' vises and by contrast
- Leg vises, which are attached to a bench but also supported from the ground so as to be stable under the very heavy use imposed by a blacksmith's work.
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