The Best Drill Press Vise Options – What Do You Need to Consider?

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The best drill press vice options allow you to work comfortably and safely, reducing the risk of accidents and making sure the drilling process runs smoothly. A drill press vice, in fact, may be one of the most important pieces of equipment you buy for your home improvement projects.

Mechanics and professionals agree. Take Evan Warner, a mechanic for the SRAM factory. When asked what his most invaluable tool was, he confidently answered a pair of custom shock-resistant pliers–but those pliers work like a mini drill press vice to clamp down on materials and keep him safe.

Charlie Santore has a quite adventurous reason to love drill press vises. The forty-eight-year-old Los Angeles native uses drill presses vice to help those whose homes or businesses have been lost in fires or other natural disasters reach valuables, such as safes. His trusty tool is his drill press, which ensures that, when navigating already treacherous environments, his drill does not slip. It’s not a job most would envy, but for Mr. Santore, it means feeling he is making a difference.

Of course, the main reason you’d be in search of a safe has nothing to do with you being a factory worker or offbeat professional. In order to get your next home improvement project done–whether that’s installing cabinets, kitchen bead boards, or use a power drill to make something new, you’ll need to understand your best options for drill vise presses.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to find the best drill press vises for your next project.

Best Drill Press Vise Options

What is a drill press vice?

Let’s cover the basics first. A drill press vice is used, mostly with drilling machines, to help guide your projects to be safer and more accurate. It’s basically a large clamp to secure whatever you’re drilling while you work so the material doesn’t slip, which can cause not only mistakes for the project itself but even result in accidents.

Breaking it down a bit further, the term vise itself refers to a tool with the purpose of steadying any object or surface you’re working on. There are many kinds of drill press vises, which we will get into in a while, but all vices, in general, have the same function–to act as a clamp to secure something as you work.

What are the different parts to a drill press vice and how does it work?

As simple as a drill press vice may sound, there are three different parts but many varieties, which is why selecting the best drill press vice option for your project may be more tricky than you’d assume. But before we can understand exactly what a drill press vice is, we also need to understand how drill press machines themselves work.

Drill press machines, as opposed to other power drills, are machines that stand upright and are among the most commonly used work piece of equipment by mechanics, factory workers, and homeowners working on projects. They are a mounted device, meaning they are always in a relatively fixed position and great for precision work.

While most are traditional upright, drill press machines can also be oriented as radial. Drill press machines are used for drilling of course, but also counterboring, countersinking, spotfacing, reaming and tapping–making drill presses among the most useful and versatile tools you can buy. Drill press machines can also be used for sanding, though most prefer using sanders.

A drill press vice typically has a flat base in the shape of a disc with mounting holes which align with the machine’s mounting holes. Bolts run through the mounting holes to connect and secure.

So for our purposes, as a generalization, a drill press vice has three basic components: a flat base, mounting holes, and bolt system.

A drill press vise also has what is typically referred to as ‘jaws’ which take on the force of drilling. The strength of the jaws helps determine what materials and projects the vise are most suited for. Some also have jaw pads, which prevent surfaces from becoming scratched or otherwise damaged. The softer face of jaw pads slips over the jaws and is especially valued for metalworking projects.

Do I need a drill press?

Do I need a drill press

Before we jump into whether or not you need to invest in a drill press vice, the first basic question is whether you need a drill press at all. Here are some reasons you should look into purchasing a drill press:

  • Metalworking. Metalworking and drill presses go hand in hand. Drill presses are highly valuable for metalworking projects by making it easier to make swirl marks and get the correct drilling capacity.
  • Precision. Drill presses allow you to drill holes the same size, shape, and depth without much worry. If you’re hand drilling, of course, you can do this as well, but lengthy projects or projects that require more fine detail may benefit from a drill press.
  • Tapping holes. If your project involves an extensive period of tapping holes, you might also want to invest in a drill press, as drill presses allow you to tap hole after hole with consistency that may be lost with hand drilling.

Where does a drill press vise come into play?

A drill press vice doesn’t merely secure the material you’re working with–it can be helpful in other ways, too. Drill press vises, first of all, can prevent your drill press from locking up. Hand drills, in particular, are susceptible to locking up. The main reason most drills lockup is that they become jammed, which can happen when the surface or materials you’re working with slide. The vise, by clamping pressure down, prevents this from happening, making more a much smoother process.

While there are some who insist they don’t need a drill press vise, the fact of the matter is there is little reason not to use one–drill press vises are affordable–and many reasons to invest in one. Drill press vises will make your work easier, more secure, more precise, and smoother overall.

Can I use regular clamps instead?

Some opt to purchase regular clamps instead, but the fact of the matter is that drill press vises are made to work specifically in conjunction with your drill press machine. While a clamp may work for simple drilling projects, what it won’t be able to do is a control for precision drilling. Press vises are also more suitable for hard to drill through materials, as well as extended use.

In short, while clamps can be a temporary solution, investing in the best drill press vise will be your best option.

What varieties do drill press vises come in?

drill press vise varieties

While we’ll cover some other factors you need to consider when purchasing a drill press vise, among the most important is the general kind of drill press vise. By kind or variety, we mean the general structure or form of the machine.

The First Category is How They Operate

drill press vises are typically either tilting or quick release.

  • Tilting drill press vises, as the name implies, contain an inner jaw that can tilt at angles and is used for working with irregular shapes. Often tilting drill press vises will contain both horizontal and vertical grooves. They are also used for working on circular materials. Tilting vises also tend to have good drill press options for different angles.
  • Quick-release drill press vises, on the other hand, are a little easier to use, in that readjustment often takes a single step. Typically there will be a central button or area to press which has the ability to open or close jaws and adjust as needed, whereas tilting vises take more work on your part, and making them a favorite for consistent drilling projects.

Which One is Better?

For this category, it depends on what you plan on using your drill press for. Arguably, quick release drill press vises are more practical for lengthy and repetitive projects–there’s less fuss and they tend to be quicker. If, however, you do foresee yourself needing to drill with circular or odd angles, then a tilting vise is what you’ll need.

  • Cross slide vise vs flat. You’ll also need to decide between a cross slide or flat drill press vice. A slide vise tends to reduce overall wear and adds longevity to a drill press vice; it also has the ability to work along a long axis, including diagonal ones, then does a flat drill press vice. A flat drill press vice is common for quick release and does do a nice job, but is simply more limited.
  • Specialization. Though many drill press vises are multipurpose, there are drill press vises intended for specific types of projects, including ones specifically for the metalworking, woodworking, and heavier machinery.

What other factors do I need to consider in order the find the best drill press vice options?

best drill press vice

Once you’ve decided what general category of drill press vises make the most sense for you, you’ll now need to look at some after critical factors.

Drill machine type

Depending on what kind of drill machine you have, you’ll want a different drill press vice–to make sure it’s compatible. Drill machines are mostly common upright, meaning that they stand straight up and down.

These are the most common and popular in that they are suited for heavy-duty projects. However, it’s also possible you have a radial arm drill press, which is prized for versatility and generates power through a side spindle. Other drill machine types include upright sensitive drill presses and special purpose machines, as well as micro drill presses.

Dimensions

This, of course, is going to be the biggest selling point. Your drill press milling vise must align with the proper dimensions for your drill press machine. You can size your drill press machine, if you no longer have the dimensions, by measuring the distance from the spindle to the edge of the column and double it. Also called the swing, this is the maximum diameter.

Drilling increments

Drilling increments are very important when purchasing drill presses or other power drills, but they are also a factor when it comes to your best options for drill press vises. The drill increments tell you how finely you can drill–some detailed drill press vises can drill in increments as minute as one millimeter.

Throat depth

The throat depth of a drill press milling vise is the distance from the top of the vise jaws to the base. The reason why this measurement is important is that it signifies the depth capacity, or how deep the jaws can go. While not a concerning factor for everyday work, it may become a concern if you’re working with an irregular drill bit or on extended projects.

Intended material

What materials do you plan to drill through? Different drill press vises may be better options for different kinds of material, depending on how much force they are meant to take. For instance, this Central Forge Drill Press Vise is specifically designed for heavy duty construction, in part because it features heat-treated steel vise jaws.

Look at the product description to see what materials the drill press vice is intended for. Metalworking vises, which can also be used for woodworking, are specifically designed to hold the metal in place.

Central Forge 6" Swivel Vise with Anvil | Amazon
$91.35

Keep materials in place with this durable swivel vise Every shop and garage needs a vise for holding materials and work – Visit Harbor Freight Tools For More Information.

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Jaws

The jaws matter a great deal when it comes to selecting your best drill press vice options. Etched or textured jaws, like on this Irwin Cast Iron Drill Vise, are helpful for extra grip on more difficult surfaces, such as more slippery wood or even metals.

Irwin 226340 Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$25.98

This Drill Press Vise features a slotted base for easy installation and positioning. Crafted of forged iron for durability with textured 4″ jaws that grip securely, this lightweight and portable drill press has a 4-1/2″ jaw capacity and is perfect for light duty tasks.

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Padded jaws are especially helpful when working with soft metal or other materials that can easily be scratched or otherwise damaged–while many drill press vises do not come with padded jaws, you can buy them separately as long as they are compatible. You’ll of course also need to pay attention to jaw width. Smoother jaws, however, are preferred for woodworking.

drill press vice jaws

Easy installation

Most drill press vises are not overly complicated to install but easy installation may be a draw for anyone who’s never owned a drill press vise. Typically, all you need to do is place it through the mounting holes and secure with bolts; check the description to see if there’s any information about the installation process.

Clamping capacity

The clamping pressure capacity refers to how much material the drill press can clamp at a given time, and is normally measured in inches.

Weight

While weight is not a huge concern, if you plan to change out drill press vise or you want something more portable, a lightweight option may be more attractive, such as this Hammer Tough Drill Press Vice by Performance Tool, which weighs under three pounds.

Just keep in mind that lighter weight drill press vises are mostly intended for smaller projects and are not suitable for heavy duty work. If you do foresee yourself using a drill press vise for heavier work, your best option will actually be to go for a heavier drill press vise.

Performance Tool Vises & Clamps | Amazon
$17.39

Etched jaws to prevent slipping. Pivot handle for easy turning. Slot design mounting holes. Durable build construction.

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Secure lock

Not everyone will consider this feature a necessity, but a secure lock on a drill press vise is helpful for safety reasons but also while you’re changing from different angles if you drill press vise has that capability. The Wilton Cradle Style Angle Drill Press offers a locking feature that has been praised as smooth going from angle to angle.

Wilton 11753 Angle Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$72.99

The cradle style drill press vise is designed for angled drilling and tapping applications. All boast hardened v-grooved jaws for clamping round objects vertically and horizontally. Backed by Wilton’s lifetime warranty.

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Warranty

Many drill press vises actually come with lifetime or extended warranties. While drill press vises tend not to be overly expensive, what an extended warranty does signal is that the company has a higher degree of confidence in their product. This four-inch drill press vice by Bessey, for instance, comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Bessey BV-DP40 Drill Press Vise, 4" | Amazon
$27.27

4″, drill press vise, 4″ wide jaws, 4-1/2″ clamping capacity, grooved jaws for firm grip, 4 elongated mounting holes, high quality cast iron construction provides strength & durability, gray powder coated finish.

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Consider steel

Steel tends to be a great option for your main material for a drill press vice; it does well under force and heat and considered durable.

Multipurpose

Though most drill press vises are used, of course, for drill presses, some vises are compatible with other devices, including workbenches and bench tops, such as this Compound Cross Slide Industrial Strength Drill Press Vise by Wen.  See how Wen compares to Harbor tools here.

WEN 414CV Compound Cross Slide Industrial Strength Drill Press Vise | Amazon

Remember when you could make fine-tune adjustments with the simple turn of a wheel? The WEN 4.25-Inch Cross Vise provides stable support for your workpieces. Perfect for incremental drilling and other precision work. 

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Slotted base

A slotted base allows your drill press vice to be directly bolted to drill press table, which can be handy if you find yourself working on drill tables often. One option for a drill press vice with a slotted base is the Irwin Four Inch Cast Iron Drill Press Vise, which also includes textured draws and is suitable for woodworking.

Irwin 226340 Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$25.98

This Drill Press Vise features a slotted base for easy installation and positioning. Crafted of forged iron for durability with textured 4″ jaws that grip securely, this lightweight and portable drill press has a 4-1/2″ jaw capacity and is perfect for light duty tasks.

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Pivot handle

A pivot handle design gives you more room to maneuver and a higher degree of flexibility when it comes to products requiring finer attention to detail. If you’re looking for a solid drill press vice with a pivoting handle, the Wilton Four Inch Cross Slide Drill Press Vise is a good drill press option; not only is it highly rated, but it also allows you to drill both horizontally and vertically and to drill in one-millimeter increments.

Wilton 11694 Cross Slide Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$119.99

Wilton’s cross-slide drill press vises allow repeat drills or taps in a workpiece by sliding along two axs. This vise boasts hardened v-grooved jaws for clamping round objects vertically and horizontally. Backed by Wilton’s lifetime warranty.

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What are some of the best options for drill press vises?

The best options for drill press vises include some or all of the recommended features, with an emphasis on quality construction and materials, versatility, and reliability. While the best option varies depending on your desired project, here are a few we can recommend:

  • HHIP Pro-Series High-Grade Iron Quick Slide Drill Press Vise: This highly rated drill press vise is made from iron casting for improved durability and strength. The three and a half-inch jaw opening allows plenty of clutch for a variety of materials, and at just under nine pounds it’s neither lightweight or excessively heavy, ideal for heavier jobs without being impractical. Most customers enjoyed the stability of this design; overall it’s a good one to go with if you’re looking for a mid-range drill press equipped with the sliding capability for more difficult to reach projects.

HHIP 3900-0183 Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$56.04

HHIP Pro-Series High-Grade Iron Quick Slide Drill Press Vise is made of high grade strong stress relieved iron casting. Precision ground. Jaw width is 3″. Jaw opening is 3-1/2″. Jaw depth is 1-1/4″. Approximate width between bolt holes is 4″. Total width is 5 1/2″. 1/2″ mounting slots.

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Shop Fox D4082 4-Inch Cross-Sliding Vise | Amazon
$89.30

This vise features an exclusive slide bar to prevent jaws from tilting up or sideways when tightening. Adjustable gibs take up any slack on both top and bottom slides. Use this vise on your drill press for cutting keyways and doing light milling jobs.

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Yost Heavy Duty Drill Press Vise | Amazon
$73.00

This rugged drill press vise is designed for durability. The 30,000 psi gray iron castings are designed for years of service. Two V-Grooves are featured in the stationary jaw to grip circular objects.

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DELTA 20-621 4-Inch Drill Press Vise | Zoro.com

Cast-iron construction includes large-capacity jaws for holding work pieces up to 4″ wide. Built-in groove supports dowels up to 1/2″ in diameter during drilling operations. Use with wood or metal.

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Wolfcraft 3410405 Heavy-Duty Drill Press and Workbench Vise | Zoro.com

Quality results require quality tools. Since 1949 Wolfcraft has brought innovative woodworking solutions to professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. Wolfcraft Quick-Jaw Drill Press Vise is a durable tool that functions as a third hand for every handyman. 

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What is a drill press vise?

A press vice is used to jaw your work piece for more accurate drilling. They are designed to firmly hold your workpiece to ease your drilling operations when you pierce the surface.

What is a cross slide drill press vise?

Cross slide vises reduce overall wear and add longevity. This slide vise is adjustable and their jaws can be placed in different positions and they have two mounts instead of one.

What to consider when installing a drill press vise?

Installing a drill press vise isn’t a hard task. Your main consideration should be finding a good place based on what material you usually work on and whether you like to install it on a rotary table or not.

Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson is passionate about making the space you live in as comfortable, affordable, and personal as possible. With her vast nonprofit experience, including for organizations like Habit for Humanity, as well as experience writing for startups, she brings both financial, mechanical, and stylistic advice to make your home uniquely yours. Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio.

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