One of the first accessories you will get to go with your drill press will likely be a drill press vise – a tool that will hold your workpiece securely in place.
While it’s a fairly simple tool, if you haven’t installed or used one before, it can be a bit confusing in the beginning. If that’s the case, continue reading to learn how to use such vise – both regular as well as a quick-release one.
How to Attach a Vise to Your Drill Press
Attaching the vise securely to the drill press table is essential to prevent injury to yourself or damage to the workpiece. This can be done by either bolting it down or using clamps. Using clamps is the better option in case you don’t want to attach the vise permanently in place.
Always take the necessary safety precautions when working with drill presses. Always unplug and turn off the drill press when installing it. Also, ensure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Below is an overview of the general installation process.
Step 1: Determine the placement
You need to first determine the best position and placement for the vice before you can secure it. Consider the material and the type of work you’ll be doing on it.
The placement of the vise will be dependent on each person’s unique requirements.
Step 2: Place the vise
Next, you have to place the vise on the table or workbench in a way that the mounting holes line up with the drilled holes on the table.
Some models have a three-way base design that allows the vise to be mounted in three different positions, which allows for more versatility.
Step 3: Secure the vise
The final step for installing the vise is securing it, for which you’ll need four to six bolts.
The bolts should be installed loosely first before being tightened to make sure that they all fit. In the end, the bolts must be tightened properly to prevent unwanted movement of the vise.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Drill Press Vise
Once you’ve securely installed your vise to your drill press table, it’s time to put it to use.
Here are the basic steps you will need to go through when using a drill press vise.
Step 1: Mark drill point
Thie first step is simple.
Using a pencil or marker, place an ‘X’ mark on your workpiece where you want to drill.
Step 2: Open the vise jaws and position the workpiece
The jaws of the vise can be opened by rotating the handle in an anti-clockwise direction.
Place the workpiece into the jaws while ensuring that it is the best position for drilling. The workpiece should not be set at an angle as this may result in an uneven hole.
When repositioning the workpiece, always turn off the drill press.
Step 3: Close jaws
Once the workpiece is in position, tighten the jaws of the vise around the workpiece by rotating the handle clockwise. Tighten the jaws until the workpiece is held securely and there is no possibility that it can slip out of place.
While most drill press vises have hardened jaws that greatly help overcome the powerful forces that a drill press can exert, some models are equipped with jaws that have horizontal and vertical grooves that can grip even pipes and other irregular or circular shaped objects.
If you think your workpiece may get damaged by the vise’s jaws, you may want to consider getting a drill press vise with jaw pads on it.
Step 5: Align the drill bit and drill
Next, align the drill bit with the workpiece’s drill point by positioning it onto your ‘X’ mark. Aligning the drill like this ensures that the hole is accurately drilled.
Once you’re ready, turn on the drill press machine and lower the drill press slowly into the clamped workpiece. But more about that in my guide to using a drill press.
How to Use a Quick-Release Drill Press Vise
Using a quick-release drill press is simple and very similar to using a regular one. The main advantage, though, is that its design makes one-handed usage much easier – and that it is much easier to reposition than a regular drill press vise.
To use a quick-release drill press jaw, first, you need to open the jaws, position the workpiece, and close the jaws. This part is fairly simple.
Next, you need to align the mounting holes of the vice with the drilled holes in the table. The quick-release latch is attached to a bolt. Place a washer on either side of the drilled hole, then thread the bolt through the hole. The quick-release latch should be on the underside of the table.
Once the bolt is completely through, place a nut on the top and tighten it until the vise is firmly in place. To loosen the vise for repositioning, simply release the quick-release latch, then close it again once repositioned.
Having a good drill press vise can completely change the quality of your work regardless of whether you use it with a benchtop drill press or a floor one. As you can see above, using the accessory is really simple. Simply get it out of the box, attach it to your drill press table with bolts or clamps, and you are ready to go.
Once your vise is strong and steady, open its jaws and place the object inside them. Tighten the jaws and you are ready to go. The one thing you should be careful about, though, is that the jaws are metal and so can damage a workpiece fairly easily. To avoid that, you will want to get soft jaw pads that will wrap the metal jaws in plastic and thus minimize the damage that the jaws can inflict.
In the case of a quick-release drill press vise, you will have the additional option of moving the vise around easily.