What to Look for When Buying a Drill Press Vise? Quick guide

To work safely with your drill press, you usually need a drill press vise. However, there are many types, and it is difficult to pick the right one. So you want to know what to look out for when buying a drill press vise.

In short, the things to look for when buying a drill press vise are the type of vise you need, the material from which it is made, physical characteristics such as weight, size, jaw opening, and jaw depth, and its versatility in your workshop.

With the information you will discover in this article, you will know exactly what you need to pay attention to when buying a drill press vise. Read this blog carefully and use your knowledge to find out what drill press vise is perfect for your workshop.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Drill Vise?

When you get started with the drill press, it’s better to use a vice. Personally, I use my drill press vise in 90% of the jobs I do with the drill press. Below I briefly summarize the advantages of the drill press vise so that you are convinced to use the drill press vise as much as possible for your tasks.

  • A drill vise will hold your workpiece securely in place while you perform your drilling work. It’s perfect for securing the workpiece while drilling holes through it without fear of the workpiece turning with the drill.
  • Locking the workpiece in place with your hands is not only dangerous for your hands and the workpiece as a whole, but it also causes you to stand too close to the workpiece, and you have a less good overview.
  • Some types of drill press vise will provide even more benefits for more complicated tasks. For tasks such as cross drilling, it is best to use a modified vise so that it moves quickly and glows harmoniously in the direction that the drill press or milling machine is going.

What To Look for When Buying a Drill Press Vise?

Not every drill press is the same and equally suitable for the tasks you want to tackle in your workshop. There are a few things you need to think about before buying a drill press vise to find the one that best suits you and your workshop. That is what I want to go over in this part of this article.

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Types of Drill Press Vise

The first thing to consider when buying a drill press vise is the type of vise you need.
There are three main types of drill vise vises, each distinguished by the degree of adjustability you have while working. I summarize these types below.

Standard drill press vise

Standard drill press vises, also known as flat vises, provide secure clamping of a workpiece but no adjustment points. They keep the piece firmly in place, and you’ll have to unclamp it if you need to reposition it under your drill bit. Even at lower prices, these are frequently the cheapest options and provide excellent stability.

Tilting drill press vise

Unlike standard and sliding vises, tilting vises can be tilted to hold your workpiece at an angle to your drill bit while clamped. They have the ability to drill into your stock at a specific angle.

If you’ve been following me on my website or YouTube channel, you’ve probably seen me build and use my homemade tilting drill press vise. Check out my article How To Make An Easy DIY Tilting Angle Drill Press Vise | FREE PLANS, if you want to build it yourself.

Sliding drill press vise

Sliding vises clamp the workpiece and then allow for lateral adjustment, allowing you to reposition your stock without having to unclamp it. Some sliding vises can only move in one direction, whereas cross slide vises can move in two planes.

These are frequently more expensive, and those with a high degree of precision are the most expensive vises available.

Materials from Which the Vise Is Made

Vices are usually made in metal, and sometimes you can also find them in wood. If you only do woodworking, a wooden vise is perfect for you. If, like me, you also want to clamp metal, you are better off with a metal vice.

Some metal vise jaws have V-shaped grooves that run vertically, horizontally, or both. It allows you to clamp round materials such as metal pipes and reduce the chance of slipping.

In principle, metal vises can handle wood and metal, the only drawback is the textured jaws. While they provide perfect grip on smooth metal parts as well as wood, they can leave indelible marks, especially on softer woods. To prevent this, you can start making vise covers. In the video below you can see how I made my vise covers. Recently I also made this #shorts video where I show you how you can easily make vise covers with self-adhesive weather strips.

Physical Characteristics of the Drill Vise

There are numerous physical features to consider when making a selection for buying a drill press vise the best vise for your workshop. I’ve listed and briefly described them below to help you see what you should pay attention to.

Clamping power

Because the purpose of a drill vise is to provide secure clamping while drilling, clamping force is one of the most important features. Most options will suffice if you intend to use your vise for basic woodworking.

Choose a vice with excellent clamping strength that does not shift during use if you need it for professional use, want the most security while working, or want the highest degree of safety and precision.

Adjustment steps

Sliding and tilting vises typically have specific steps that you can adjust or use to accurately measure. Most tilting vises have preset angles into which you can clamp your stock, limiting your adjustability. Choose a vise with the steps you believe you will need for the work you normally do.

Sliding vises frequently have dimensions on the adjustment handles that allow for some precision. Some allow for micro adjustments for greater precision.

Clamp handle

The clamping handle you use can have a surprising impact on ease of use and clamping force. A standard knob provides adequate clamping pressure and leverage for most applications. When clamping a workpiece, it is simple to make major adjustments.

A twist handle offers the most leverage and thus the greatest clamping force.
A screw handle, like a screwdriver handle, is typically the most comfortable to use but provides the least clamping force.

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The stock and drill press you can use with your full vise are determined by its dimensions. Longer jaws and a wider base support longer workpieces better, but a larger one may not be compatible with your drill press. You should select a vise that will not only mount to your drill press but will also provide the necessary foundation for the stock you intend to use.

Simple installation

The type of mounting bracket you use has a big impact on how easy it is to install your vise. Some vises have single-hole brackets that limit compatibility, whereas others have a slotted base that works with almost any drill press. Others only have rails or T-slots and require a clamp kit to be purchased.

Throat depth

The distance between the base of the vise and the top of the jaws is measured as throat depth. It measures the depth of the stock that can be securely clamped.

Greater throat depths provide more vertical support and thus better control with thick material. Shallow throat depths are better for thin material but do not hold deeper pieces as tightly.

Depending on what type of materials you want to clamp, you will have to pick the right vise for this.

V-grooves and jaw pads

Because the jaw pads on your vise are the only point of contact with your stock, the grip they provide is critical. A textured pad is great for smooth materials like polished wood or metal, but it will damage (soft) wood.

Furthermore, many jaws have V-grooves, which allow you to clamp round material safely and without slipping.

Jaw capacity

The maximum jaw capacity of all drill vises limits the thickness of material that can be clamped. If you intend to work with thicker material, go with a larger jaw capacity.


Most drill vises are made of steel or iron and are quite heavy. They are usually the most sturdy and long-lasting, but they are difficult to move or transport.

Lightweight vises, on the other hand, are easy to move around your shop and from workstation to workstation if you are mobile. They are, however, made of much less durable aluminum, other lightweight metals, or wood, which does not last nearly as long as heavier materials.


Of course, all drill vises are intended to be used with a drill table. Some vises, like the Wilton CR3, 3-Inch Cradle-Style Angle Drill Press Vise shown below, can, however, be clamped to both a drill press and a workbench.
Because a vise can be used with a variety of tools, you can complete more and easier projects with fewer resources.

Now that you’ve determined what to look for when buying a drill press vise, it’s time to find the best drill press vise for your workshop. To help you with this, I suggest you read my article, Best Drill Press Vise for woodworking (My Honest Opinion).

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I hope this article on what to look for when buying a drill press vise was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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