Padded vice jaws


May 7, 2003, 04:03 AM
Where can I get or how can I make some pads for my vice? I only have one vice, a 6" one that has to work for everything from guns to lawnmower blades so I need something removable.
I've tried rubber and leather with magnets glued to the back but they fall off too easily.

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May 7, 2003, 07:59 AM
I have several that I use, and all are hand made. The method is the same for all, the materials vary, as I have found that certain applications work better depending on the job.

Take a piece of cardboard and cut it as wide as the jaws on your vise. It will need to be 8"-10" long. Now, drop it down the inside (between the jaws). You are going to want to cut out a slot so that it can sit down over the center screw/extension. Don't make this too tight, or it's difficult to change without fighting, but you don't want it so loose that the jaws tilt when you put them in either.

One you have this pattern you can use either 3/8" plywood or a moderately hard wood (not pine) to make several "jaws". (I use plywood of a good grade, and seal all the sides with a polyurethene finish to prevent splinters. Getting stabbed in the fingers while working can make ugly marks on the work.)

You can now take these jaws and face them with rubber, leather, hardwood, or other materials. I find that clamping them together and using a belt sander to make sure the top and sides are smooth works best. (Don't clamp them too tight or you will deform the facing material and you won't like that.)

The new jaws ahould easily slip into the open vise, and stay in place without your having to keep positioning them.

For those who need a metal vise jaw that's softer than steel you can use either sheet lead, copper, or aluminum. Try to use 1/4" material. Use low heat (in the case of copper and aluminum) and a soft hammer to forge the jaws. Put the material in the vise (one side at a time) and bend it over the jaw. Once they are roughly shaped the pair can be matched using the belt sander to get a nice square work surface.

Another note: Your vise jaws should be smooth. The very aggressive "pipe" jaws on most vises need to be replaced with something better. That's a good mill project for the do it yourselfer.

May 7, 2003, 08:35 AM
Why didn't I think of that?
Thanks for the suggestion!

May 9, 2003, 07:46 AM
Beware of brass jaws and hammers. Some of that stuff can be super hard, depending on the alloy. I used a brass hammer thinking it was OK to pound on metal, and almost ruined a good gun. SOME brass can be harder than SOME steel. Live and learn.

Jim K
May 11, 2003, 12:43 AM
AFAIK, no brass is harder than steel, but the momentum of a hammer can deform the material even when the hammer material is softer than the being struck. You can break or bend a thin piece of steel with a lead or a plastic hammer although there is no way lead or plastic can scratch steel (the test of comparative hardness).

I use both copper and brass jaw covers, which I bought, and also leather jaw covers which I made and hold on with rubber bands. I have wood jaws also, long, with a slot at the bottom to fit over the screw. They work OK where appropriate.

I found that the magnet type is worthless.


May 11, 2003, 07:36 AM
lead works great for vise jaws. When you get tired of looking for sheet lead do what I did: hammer a piece of lead pipe flat. File away the bends, and you get 2 pieces of flat lead. Stick one piece in your vise with about 3/4" sticking up above the jaws and hammer it down to the contour of the top of the vise open the vise insert the second piece close and repeat, hammering the second piece the opposite direction as the first. They will eventually get so beat up that they are about useless. Mine last a year or so, then they land in the bullet casting pot. a few feet of lead pipe will make enough lead jaws to last years

May 11, 2003, 07:59 PM
I use aluminum angle with my mill vise, available at most Lowes or Tractor Supply stores...

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