If you have a shop then you’ll certainly have at least one vise in it, whether it's a static vise or a portable vise. It’s a necessary piece of equipment not only for woodworking, but also for metal work and all manner of other jobs. You can use it for anything where you need an item held securely. It used to be the case that the only vises you could buy were those that were permanently fixed to a workbench. These days, however, portable vises, which can easily be attached to different surfaces, have become very popular. Both have their own individual uses, depending on your particular needs.
Pros of Portable Vises
When it comes to portability, portable vises have most of the advantages. If you’re working on a job that’s not in your shop, you can easily take a portable vise with you rather than having to carry materials back to the shop. This makes life much easier and cuts out a large amount of manual labor.
Portable vises are at their best with smaller, lighter items. Their grip on a bench or table simply isn’t going to be enough to hold something heavy and even two of more probably won’t be able to keep a big item stable.
There’s very little to choose between portable and static vises when it comes to reliability. Both are very easy to use and portable vises are almost always easy to attach to benches and tables. Ideally, once attached, it should be possible to open and close the vise with one hand since the other will be positioning the item that needs to be gripped. A static vise isn’t particularly versatile. It’s there when you need it, but you can only use it in the shop. There’s little doubt that portable vises can be useful when doing jobs, especially small ones, in different parts of the house.
A portable vise can be placed in any location where you can attach it securely. Portable vises come in different sizes and with different methods of attachment (suctions cups or clamps) that offer greater choice of placement. They’re made for hobbyists as well as those who work around the home so you can actually buy a very small vise for making jewelry, for example.
Cons of Portable Vises
You often need a good, solid surface for the vise where it’s not going to slip. Since portable vises use clamps or suction cups for grip, it can sometimes prove difficult to find somewhere suitable for them.
The fact that portable vises are held on with clamps or suction means that they just don’t have the same strength as one that’s heavily bolted on to a work bench. This is important if you’re working on a big job or want to grip an item that’s especially heavy or awkward.
When you need something held securely, knowing that it won’t move at all, you need the security of a static vise. That’s especially important when doing delicate work such as making exact cuts or sweating pipe.