Workbenches With Vice – Choosing The Best Setup
You can use a vice with any workbench, although some worktop surfaces are better than others, depending on what work you do.
If you want to bolt your vice to your workbench, a steel or hardwood top is best because wood is strong when drilled. We don't recommend bolting a vice to an MDF top because the bolted connection won't be robust.
If you want to move your vice around and swap it out in the future, you can use a hand-held vice fixed down onto the top with pressure. Hand-held vices suit all workbench types, whether metal, laminate, hardwood or MDF.
It's also crucial to match the vice to the type of work you do; there are different types of vices for metalwork, woodwork and machine tables. Using the wrong vice is dangerous and could also damage your project.
There are three main types of vices for workbenches:
- Woodworking vices: These have smooth jaws designed to clamp wood and plastics only, mounting from underneath the workbench.
- Metalworking vices: These have textured jaws that clamp metal securely, but they can also clamp woods if you don't mind them getting marked. They mount to the top of the workbench.
- Machine vices: These have special jaws that hold parts, models, and materials in place when using a drilling or milling machine. The clamp places greater pressure on the workpiece to hold it in place.
All types of vice are available in common 4", 5", 6", and 8" sizes. The right size depends on the work you do. Sometimes, two smaller vices are better than one big one, but most people generally prefer one big one.
An 8" vice is considered the best option as a single vice because having more size means you can perform a broader range of work. Keep in mind that the larger the vice, the heavier it is, which may impact your installation ability.
Workbenches are available in a wide range of sizes. Here are a few:
- 1200 x 750 x 840mm
- 1500 x 600 x 840mm
- 1500 x 750 x 840mm
- 1500 x 900 x 840mm
- 2000 x 600 x 840mm
- 2000 x 750 x 840mm
- 2000 x 900 x 840mm
Match the workbench size to the space you have available in your workshop. Next up, consider the duty (load rating) you need. Heavy and super-heavy duty workbenches are made from steel or hardwood.
An MDF or laminate top will probably serve you well if you need a workbench for light and medium-duty work. Stepping up to hardwood or steel brings durability benefits but may not be necessary for DIY and tinkering.