It’s very simple to use a table vise (sometimes spelled vice). I will go through the steps below:
Clamp the vise to the Table
Most models of table vise will have a c clamp on the underside of the vise. Turn the clamp screw counter clockwise until the clamp opening is slightly larger than the surface you will clamp it to. Take this time to make sure there is no debris or dirt on either end of the clamp pad as this may affect how well your vise clamps to the table. Once the clamp is open and free of debris, clamp it to the work table by turning the screw counterclockwise. C clamps work best on a surface that is flat and smooth. A surprising number of tables have ridges on the underside of the table or awkwardly placed brackets, so make sure to check where these are before clamping.
Open Vise Jaws
Once your table vise is properly clamped to the table, check the vise leadscrew and make sure there is no debris stuck in the screw. Dirt,grime, and shavings of any kind will greatly increase the wear and tear of your vise screw. This is less of an issue on vise models where the leadscrew is hidden inside a slide or a case.
Once you have determined your vise is clean, open the jaws by turning the handle counter clockwise.
Close Vise Jaws
Once the vise jaws are open, place your work piece inside the vise jaws and turn the lead screw clockwise. Turn the vise handle until the jaws are clamping your work piece firmly enough that it won’t move around, but don’t overdo it. If you clamp your vise too tightly, you run the risk of ruining either your work piece or your vise.
Ball Joint Vises
Many table vises have a ball join at the base of the vise that allows you to swivel the vise in nearly any direction. Locking and unlocking this vise is as simple as turning the handle attached near the ball joint. Most vises will come with a set of instruction that will clearly indicate which handle to turn.