As with all articles of this type, I must start by stressing that vise names do not have enforced standards. Retailers and resellers will slap whatever name they want on a vise; usually this is a name that they think will sell well. There is also a tremendous variation in what people call certain vises colloquially. Names can vary greatly by geography, company, industry, etc. People can’t even agree on how to spell it! Some people spell it vice, rather than vise. I try to use the latter spelling in my articles.
As such, it’s not possible for me to give super definitive answers as to what the different types of table vise are, I will instead do my best to generalize the vise market as I personally see it. You will find exceptions to all the rules I write below.
That may seem a bit pedantic, but I think it’s important to remember this lack of centralized standards. A quick look at vises being sold on amazon will show you just how much variation there is in the naming of vises.
With that vise naming got’cha out of the way, let’s take a quick peek at some of the different types of table vises.
A hobby vise is an ideal vise for small arts and crafts. You will commonly find hobby vises used in:
- Jewelry making
- Model making
- Gluing operations
A hobby vise will be lighter and smaller than an engineers vise. A hobby vise will usually be made out of aluminum and will have a soft material for the vise jaws – at least compared to the serrated hardened steel jaws you will find on a lot of metal working vises.
Smaller and softer? That doesn’t sound like a good thing! Well these design choices make a hobby vise A LOT cheaper than a solid metal working vise. If you know you will only ever work with small arts and crafts, a hobby vise will get the job done and save you a lot of money.
As the name suggests, a jeweler’s vise is specifically aimed at the making of jewelry. There is a lot of overlap between a jeweler’s vise and a hobby vise. Most jeweler’s vises are small and made of aluminum – although I do occasionally see cast iron jeweler’s vises that are selling well. Most jeweler’s vises on the market at the time of writing have a C-clamp for table attachment, and quite a few models have a swivel ball joint at the base.
A multi angled vise is usually just a vise with a ball joint. As I mentioned earlier in the article, both hobby vises and jewelers vises can have a ball joint as well. A vise labeled as a multi-angled vise is just making this feature it’s primary selling point.
Because remember, there are no standards for vise naming.
This ball joint make it easy to move the vise to accommodating positions for unusually shaped work pieces. It’s also useful for making angled cuts and detail work, as you can position the vise in such a way as to maximize your own comfort.
All of these table vises are on the smaller side, and are not meant for heavy work such as working with steel. If you are looking for something a bit beefier, check out my guide to the 3 best bench vises.