Mounting a Bench Vise - Left or Right?


A common question that arises in woodworking and metalworking is where to mount a bench vise on a workbench. Bench vises are important tools that provide stability for securing workpieces during various tasks. Should you mount the vise on the left or right side? Let’s discuss the debate associated with different placement options, including their advantages and considerations.

Understanding Bench Vises

To better understand the debate on placement, it's crucial to have a grasp of the fundamentals of bench vises, including their definition, purpose, various types, and important features that determine how suitable they are for different tasks. Let’s go over the factors to keep in mind when choosing a table vise for your workbench.

Advantages of Mounting a Bench Vise on the Left

Usually, when using bench vises, right-handed people tend to mount them on the left side. The benefits of this placement include improved visibility and control for certain tasks. Using the dominant hand can result in greater power and accuracy. Mounting the vise on the left can make work more comfortable and prevent strain during long sessions.

Advantages of Mounting a Bench Vise on the Right

Although it is more common to mount a bench vise on the left side, placing the gear on the right side also brings some perks. Firstly, this caters to the needs and preferences of left-handed workers. Placing the vice on the right side can give you more options and freedom to adjust your position while working. It distributes the workload equally between your hands and can result in more precise control and better results.

Factors to Consider When Deciding the Placement

Important factors include your dominant hand and personal preference, the type of work you usually do, workspace limitations, and available bench space. Don’t forget about the importance of adaptability, especially for multi-user or shared workbenches.


Adjustability and Portability Options

There are bench vises available in addition to the traditional fixed placements. These devices include adjustable and portable bench vises that offer more flexibility and convenience. They are designed to cater to various work scenarios and offer added versatility. Let’s discuss how these options function and their benefits.

Adjustable Bench Vises

This type of vises has mechanisms that you can customize to modify their position, angle, or clamping capacity based on your needs. They come with adjustable jaws, swivel bases, or rotating mechanisms to provide flexibility. Here are some benefits of using adjustable bench vises:

  • Versatility. An adjustable table vise can be used for a wider range of tasks because of its ability to change its position, angle, or clamping capacity. This makes the device suitable for accommodating larger workpieces, working at different angles, or performing intricate operations.
  • Workpiece accessibility. By using adjustability, you can position the workpiece in a way that provides better accessibility and maneuverability. This means you can work on various sides or angles of the workpiece without having to readjust the entire vise setup, making the work process easier.
  • Ergonomics. Adjustable vises can help you work more comfortably by allowing you to set the height and angle that best fits your needs. This feature can reduce the strain and tiredness you may experience during long work sessions. It is especially useful if you have specific ergonomic requirements or if you are working on complex projects that require precise positioning.
  • Multi-tasking. An adjustable bench vise enables you to quickly switch between different tasks or workpieces. This enhances productivity and efficiency whether you are working on woodworking, metalworking, or other crafts as you can adjust the vise on the go.

Portable and Rotating Bench Vises

Portable and rotating workbench vises offer more convenience and mobility compared to other kinds of vises. They are designed to detach easily from the workbench with vice or have built-in mechanisms that make movement effortless. Let’s outline some advantages of using such vises:

  • Flexibility. If you need to use a vise in different places, a portable bench vise is a solid option. You can easily move it around or store it away when not in use. This is especially useful if you work in a shared space or need to take the vise to different job sites.
  • Enhanced accessibility. Swivel vises, also referred to as rotating bench vises, have a base that permits horizontal rotation. This characteristic lets you adjust the angle of the workpiece without the need to move yourself or the workbench, making it more accessible and convenient to work with.
  • On-the-go adjustments. Portable and rotating vises often have adjustable features such as swiveling jaws or adjustable clamping mechanisms. These features allow for quick adjustments without requiring extra tools or setup changes. This makes it easier to work with different sizes or angles of workpieces on the go.


How to Mount a Vice on a Bench - Step-by-Step Guide

Properly installing a bench vise is crucial once you have decided on the right placement. To ensure stability and functionality, mounting the vice on a workbench requires precise installation and careful consideration. Follow this guide to properly mount a vice on your workbench.

Materials Needed:

  • Bench vice
  • Workbench
  • Mounting hardware (bolts, washers, nuts)
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Wrench or socket set
  • Screwdriver
  • Level
  • Pencil or marker
  • Safety goggles

Step 1: Choose the Mounting Location

Find the best spot for your vice on the workbench by taking into account factors such as the amount of space available, ergonomic placement, and accessibility to other tools or work surfaces. Make sure that there is enough space for the vice handle to rotate without any obstacles at the mounting location.

Step 2: Mark the Mounting Holes

To properly position the vice on the workbench, align it parallel to the edge. Use either a pencil or a marker to mark the mounting holes on the workbench. Align the holes in the vice mounting brackets with the corresponding holes on the workbench, and make sure to mark the holes accurately and visibly.

Step 3: Preparing the Workbench

For your own safety, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes. To prepare the workbench for mounting, use a drill bit that perfectly matches the size of the mounting hardware to make pilot holes in the marked spots. Make sure to drill the pilot holes deep enough to fit the mounting hardware.

Step 4: Attach the Vice

Place the vice onto the workbench by making sure the holes on the brackets are in line with the pilot holes on the workbench. Add the mounting bolts to the brackets and the corresponding pilot holes. To distribute the load evenly, place washers over the bolts on the underside of the workbench. Securely fasten the nuts onto the bolts from beneath the workbench. To securely attach the vice to the workbench, use a wrench or socket set to tighten the nuts further.

Step 5: Level the Vice

Use a level to check if the jaws of the vice are horizontal. To level the vice, adjust the tightness of the nuts on the mounting bolts until it becomes level. Keep checking the level during the adjustment process until it is perfectly horizontal.

Step 6: Test the Vice

Make sure the vice is mounted securely and level, and then test if it works properly by opening and closing the jaws. The mechanism must run smoothly, and the jaws must be properly aligned when they are closed. To keep the vice steady and prevent any shaking or movement, apply a moderate amount of pressure to the vice handle.


Deciding where to place a bench vise on your workbench depends on your personal preference and the specific tasks you'll be performing. To determine the best placement for you, consider your dominant hand, the type of work you'll be doing, and the space available. By understanding the advantages of each placement option, you can get the most out of the device.