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What Is a Drill Press Vise?

Dale Marshall
Dale Marshall

A drill press vise is a device designed to secure a workpiece firmly enough between its jaws that it won’t move at all when the drill bit is pressed into it. It’s similar to other vises in that it uses a threaded rod to force two jaws together. Some drill press vises clamp to the table itself, while others have systems that use the miter-gauge slot to secure to the table. One notable drawback is that most drill press vises have jaw openings of no more than 6 or 7 inches (15.24 – 17.78 cm); larger workpieces must be secured by other means.

Most machine shops and wood shops have a drill press, a stationary power drill that drills holes with a much higher degree of accuracy than a hand drill. To increase its stability, it’s usually built within a heavy cast-iron frame that sits on the floor or on a workbench. The workpiece is placed on the work table, and the operator turns a handle to press the rotating drill bit down into the workpiece. The drill bit cuts a hole in the workpiece to whatever depth the operator presses it. If the operator drills all the way through the workpiece, there’s a hole in the worktable that accommodates the drill bit when it passes through the workpiece.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

There are two ways to secure a workpiece firmly enough to prevent most movement. The first is to use clamps to secure the workpiece to the table, and the second is to use a drill press vise. Drill press clamps are preferable for larger or irregularly-shaped workpieces, but won’t work well for thicker or tall pieces, such as when the core must be drilled out of a lamp base. Drill press vises are best suited for these pieces as well as for narrower workpieces that will fit within the relatively narrow space between the vise’s jaws.

A drill press vise is very well-suited for some forms of production work where multiple holes must be drilled. Once the location of the first hole is determined, the vise is set in place and tightened, and the hole is drilled. The vise is loosened and the workpiece is moved so that the next hole location is lined up under the drill bit. At this point, all that’s necessary is to ensure that the drill bit is lined up properly and the vise is tightened again. The same concept holds true when drilling holes in multiple identical workpieces; once the drill press vise has been secured to the work table, the work can go quicker because the stationary jaw of the vise acts much like a fence.

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      Man with a drill