A universal vice, or called vise, is a mechanical equipment to keep an object stable so that it can be processed. There are two jaws on two sides of a universal vice. One is fixed and the other is movable. The latter one is usually moved by a lever or a screw. It is these two jaws to pinch the object tightly and firmly on a vice. Differentiating by the designs and the uses, there are bench vices, hand vices, machine vises and many other subtypes of it.
A universal vice makes the works possible to be performed at any angle with the 360° swivel base. With the swivel base, the horizontal rotation along the swivel base is smooth and firm. With the additional vertical axis to the swivel base, the working piece can be properly locked and it is now allowed with perpendicular movement. It can be mounted on either a high bench or a low platform to fit different working processes.
Vices are widely applied in industries, woodcrafts, and handicrafts. They essentially come from the same idea to secure an object so that works are allowed to perform on the object, but the features varies depending on what objects they are going to clamp or how strictly the objects need to be secured. The works that are involved is also one factor that affects the design and the material a vice is used.
To take an engineer’s vice for example, it is used mostly to steady metal while the piece of metal is being filed, milled, or cut. An engineer’s vice is most of the time made of cast iron. To further fit into required needs, it can be made of cast steel, or malleable cast iron as well. Cast iron is preferable as the material in this type of heavy use is that the cast iron is strong and inexpensive. The jaws that are engraved with serrated teeth are usually changeable. For some extended use, the jaws may be covered with soft or ductile materials such as plastic, wood, aluminum or copper. This is to protect the objects to be processed. An engineer’s vice is usually installed on a working bench.
A woodworking vice, on the other hand, is usually aligned with the work surface or the working bench. The jaws of a woodworking vice are often made of either wood or metal. It is the metal part of the jaw that faces the working piece and it is called the cheeks, which are made not to harm the work. The movable jaw of a woodworking vice sometimes includes a retractable dog so that the working piece can be held against a bench dog. The bench dog is a part of the jaw which allows the working piece to be secured firmly and worked or processed at the same time.
There is also the quick-release vice. This type of vise is comprised of a split fastener, or a nut, that enables the screw to engage and disengage with the handle of a vice. When the movable jaw is disengaged, it will be released and set back to the end of its position. This mechanism is designed for speeding up the adjustment process. The conventional models of workbench vices are mounted to the front end of a workbench, or the left end of it for right-handed worker. They are also known as the face vices.
Machine vices are the vices that are attached to a grinding machine or a milling machine. This is a compact counterpart of a typical bench vise because it has a smaller size. It is useful particularly for hobbyists because of the size and the cost is lower than a bench vise as well.
A miniature vise or a clamp-on vise is probably the smallest of its kind. They are made for delicate handicrafts. For example, a miniature vice is used mostly for assembling models and a clamp-on vice is for wood, plastic or light metal pieces.
Overall, a vice is an instrument to secure objects for further process to be performed on the working pieces. There are a plenty of types equipped with different options. The user needs to pay close attention to the features to select the best type for his or her work.
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