How to Use a Drill Press Vise


A drill press vise is almost a must-have tool with any drill press. Some workers just use clamps but we’re here to tell you that a drill press vise will take your work to the next level.

These tools are pretty simple to use but it might also take a simple explanation to help you really understand how to use a drill press vise.

We’ve put together this guide to give you step-by-step instructions on the process and share with you some tips to help get you going.

Why Do I Need a Drill Press Vise?

What are some of your basic needs from a drill press? You probably are using it to drill holes and maybe for some other purposes. The thing is, you want your holes to be accurate, right?

The very best way to keep your materials stable and ensure that your work will be accurate is to use a drill press vise to help you get there. We mentioned earlier that some workers just use clamps. While you certainly can just use clamps, they are not as effective as a vise.

A drill press vise was specifically made to attach to your drill press and close its jaws around whatever material you might be working with. If you use the right vise with a good grip, it’s going to clamp down on your materials and hold them in place while you drill.

As you can imagine, drilling into a material with the speed and force of a drill press is going to put some pressure. Without a properly used vise, your materials could slide or even turn while you’re drilling. And well, that could lead to a major mess or a terrible drill job.

So go with the vise to make your projects nice.

Steps to Use a Drill Press Vise

Why Do I Need a Drill Press Vise?
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

We’ve put together simple steps to walk you through just how to use your drill press vise. The hardest part is attaching your vise to your table but once you’re past that, it should be relatively easy to use the vise.

Here are your steps.

1.   Mount the Vise

First things first, you’ve got to mount this vise to your drill press table. Most drill press tables have slots or holes in them for just this type of thing. There are several tools you can use and this is just one of them.

First, we recommend trying to place your vise and making sure that it will line up with the slots or holes that are there for the purpose.

If you feel like it’s not going to line up right, it is perfectly acceptable to add some holes where you think they will be needed in order to mount the vise. Your vise should also come with the appropriate nuts and bolts for mounting it. However, if it doesn’t, we recommend a 3/8-inch bolt and washer or nut and washer on your vise. You might even elect to use the bolt on one end and the nut on the other.

Before you mount your vise, make sure your table is level.

Now, follow these steps.

  • Choose your placement of the drill press vise.
  • Loosely attach one end by placing the bolt and washer through the vise and table and begin tightening. Don’t tighten it fully yet.
  • Swing or move the vise so that the other end is where it needs to be. Make sure it is lined up with a slot or a hole to mount it.
  • Insert the other nut or bolt and a washer to attach the end.
  • Tighten both sides until they are tight and secure.

This is probably the hardest part of the process because you have to figure out how to get it mounted and just where you want to mount the vise.

2.   Attach Materials

Now that you’ve got your vise ready to go, we can attach your materials to the vise. Use the rotating knob to open up the jaws of your vise.

Every vise has a specific capacity. Make sure your vise is going to open wide enough for your material. Open it up as far as you need it, or all of the way if you need it.

Insert your materials into the open jaws. At this point, you will want to make sure your materials are lined up properly for you to do what you need to do. They are not going to move once you close the vise.

Once you’ve got your material in the jaws and ready to clamp down, rotate your vise knob to close the jobs. You will want to close them as securely as you possibly can to be sure the vise has a tight grip on the materials.

If you are at all concerned about the jaws harming your materials, try using jaw pads for an extra layer of protection.

3.   Align the Drill Bit

Now, you’ve got your materials placed and secured. If your vise is tight and fully clamped down, it’s not going to move when you hit it with this fast bit that has power behind it. That is the point after all.

Hopefully, you marked your material prior to placing it in the vise. However, if you did not, this is the time to go ahead and do that. You need a mark or a point to align your drill bit to.

Once you’ve got your mark squared away, you need to align the drill bit so that it will drill through the center of your mark. Move the head or the spindle however necessary to get the pieces aligned.

It might even be a good idea to bring the drill bit down to the material just so you can make sure they align.

4.   Start Drilling

You’re all set! Now that you’ve got your grip in place and you’ve aligned and prepared the various pieces, you can drill your holes. We recommend lowering your drill press slowly to the material just in case any alignment is off and you need to make a quick stop.

If you are drilling multiple holes, you will make simple adjustments to line up to your next mark between holes.

Throughout the process, you can adjust your drill bit, your working materials, or even your vise whenever is needed. Just be sure that you turn off the drill press first for safety purposes.

Parts of a Drill Press Vise

Parts of a Drill Press Vise
Image by Capri23auto on Pixabay

If you’re not yet familiar with the makeup of a vise like this, here is a quick overview for you.

  • Jaws – the jaws may be smooth or grooved. Grooved works better for slicker materials but you may need pads to prevent damage to the material.
  • Throat Depth – the throat depth is how deep of a material your vise can hold. This is what determines how thick your materials can be.
  • Base – the base of the vise is what will mount to your drill press table. You’ve just got to make sure it’s equipped to mount and will line up on your table.


We hope that this guide to using a drill press vise is helpful for you. It really is a simple tool to use and it is incredibly helpful when it comes to keeping your materials stable while you drill. What’s your next drill press project?

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