How and When to Use a Pin Vise Drill

A pin vise is a small hand drill, that generally fits small drill bits like sizes #50 through #80. A pin vise features an adjustable chuck on the front end. This holds the drill bits in place when tightened. This precision tool is used in model building and dollhouse building, jewelry making and woodworking.

Some Types of Pin Vises 

Versions of this precision tool like the Mini Pin Vise have features like internal storage, where the drill bits are conveniently stored inside the tool and secured with a knurled twist cap.

a mushroom pin vise taken apart

Mushroom Pin Vise, so called due to its shape, fits more comfortably in the palm of your hand so that the proper pressure can be applied with less discomfort when working on projects. 

Big hobbies and small work spaces? Check out our collection of hobby tools in a compact wooden storage case.

a pin vise with an open storage compartment and drill bits

What are Pin Vises Used For?

Pin vises are generally used to manually drill tiny holes in lightweight wood, clay or soft metals. 

Machinists and tinkers sometimes use pin vises as a helping hand when polishing or grinding pins or small screws as shared on this forum.

Polymer clay jewelry has become very popular, the pin vise is a good polymer clay tool to have on hand in the workshop to make small holes in the clay for jump rings, thread or wire. Wire jewelry is equally popular and there’s a few neat tricks for using the vise for details like twisted wires and wire end caps

Another little known use for pin vises is its use in doll making. Artists use these tools to root hair into the heads of dolls. With either an awl or a special needle attachment, doll hair is punched through and secured.

So, how do you use a pin vise?

Loosen and open up the chuck, this will vary depending on the model of the vise you are using. Select the desired drill bit, insert and tighten the chuck so the drill bit is securely in place and not moving.

Hold the vise in the palm of your hand and use your fingertips to turn the pin vise, you will need to apply some pressure, depending on the material you are working with.

a person holding a pair of jewelers pliers and a length of wire

When using the vise to twist wires, insert the wire end into the chuck and then tighten down. Squeeze the other end of your wire with jewelers pliers. Hold the pliers in your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand, hold the vise in the palm of your hand and with your fingertips, twist the vise. 

>When working with wire, pliers with a side cutter can be helpful to have on hand - check it out!

And remember; always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.