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Picture of Bench Vise Work Protector
Whenever I work with my bench vise there is always the chance I'll become over zealous and mess up the finish of the piece I'm working on. Most of the time this is no big deal. However, for those times that it is, the only solution I had seen was wrapping a piece of leather around the piece. And invariabley the piece would slip. So in brainstorming for a gift for my Dad for his birthday I hit upon a solution: rubber. I decided to coat something in rubber that could be applied to the vise as needed. This should keep the piece in place and protect the finish at the same time.
 
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Step 1: Tools & Materials

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You'll need the following materials:
  • Rubber grip in a can.
  • Base material to be coated (I choose an L-shaped piece of aluminum stock)
  • Twine, fishing line or some other way to hang drying pieces

Update
  • Magnetic tape (or magnets)
  • E6000 (or other glue)

You'll need the following tools:
  • Dremel, hacksaw or other metal cutting implement
  • Bench Vise
  • Ruler
  • Marking pen
  • Clamps
  • Razor blades or knife (not pictured)

Step 2: Measure and Mark

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Measure the length of the clamping area of your vise. (Picture 1)

Mark this length on your stock (Picture 2)

Cut the stock (Picture 3). Once this is done be sure to clean off any metal burrs with your dremel.

Step 3: Dip

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Read the directions on your can of dipping stuff. Dip your stock pieces into the rubber and then use your twine and clamps to let it dry. Repeat the process until you get the desired thickness of coating and the piece is covered completely. You may have to dip one end, wait for it to dry and then dip the other end.

The biggest problem I had was with air bubbles getting trapped in the coating and then leaving little pock marks in the coating. It doesn't hurt the functionality any, it just isn't pretty. In addition the coating material I used bubbled up in some areas because it didn't stick to the layer below. I'm not sure why this happened, but it doesn't appear to have hamper functionality.

After hanging the pieces to dry inevitably a little tail of rubber will form at the lowest point as the excess runs off. Once this is dry you can trim it off with razor blade.

Then just set the completed pieces on the vice and tighten around your piece. I tested it on my metal ruler and it seemed unwilling to move. However, this may be b/c it is nice and flat. So use some common sense and make sure your piece is really secure before you start working.

Step 4: Add Magnets Update Step

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When I first published this Ible I said that I should have added rare earth magnets to the work piece potectors to hold them to the vise. Two years after the fact I decided to add magnets, but chose not to use rare earth magnets. I think the pressure exerted by the vise would probably destroy these magnets. Plus you don't need massive hold. You only need enough magnetism to hold the protectors to the vise so they don't fall off as you try to position the work piece. That being said here is how I added magnets to my work piece protectors.

After the rubber grip dried there was a blister of air on the back. This won't make a good attachment point. If you have this blister use a kinfe or razor blade to cut it.

With that done cut your magenetic tape to length. (If you're using individual magnets choose where you want to place them.) I chose to cut my magnets a little shorter than the protectors.

Place your glue of choice (E6000 in my case) on your magnet. Then secure the magnet to the work piece protectors with clamps. Allow the glue to dry. Remove clamps. Your work piece protectors will now cling to your vise making positioning of work pieces a little easier.

Step 5: Lessons Learned

I'd probably clean my metal stock with rubbing alcohol or some other solvent before I dipped them just to be on the safe side. This may have prevented the blistering/bubbling I described in previous steps.

And I would use fishing line instead of twine so little bits wouldn't get stuck in the coating material.

Hope you enjoyed and/or found this useful.
An elegant solution to an annoying problem, bravo sir. I do think I'll make a set of these soon.
Babfab5 years ago
I used those thick rubber pot holders that are on sale at all houseware stores, cut to size. Glued them to the inside edges of my vices with liquid nails.
rredmon5 years ago
at the shop where I work ...we frequently use masking tape to cover the vise jaw when vising up anything that has a finish or paint on it...its simple and quick...Yours is a good Idea though...be a lot quicker to remove than tape.
W6LSN7 years ago
Thanks! I'm still doing it the "before"way. This will be a great addition to the workshop. I have some of the rare-earth magnets on the fridge I'll use.
subnc W6LSN5 years ago
Thats a really nice and simple way to solve a problem all wood workers have with using a vise.. Thanks for sharing.
RadBear (author)  W6LSN7 years ago
Hope they work out for you. I've found them very useful.
dontno6 years ago
I use discarded mouse pads to cover the vise jaws. Conforms to any shape and are found everywhere.
Phil B6 years ago
I just found this Instructable by searching under Random. I have a number of old leaking bicycle tubes. I would like to try slipping a piece of strap iron into a length of old tube. I could either bend the strap iron over at the ends to grasp the sides of the vice jaws, or wrap wire around it and run a strong current through the wire for a few seconds to magnetize it.
RadBear (author)  Phil B6 years ago
That would be a good use for those inner tubes. I know very little about electricity other than it can hurt you if you're not careful...so don't fry yourself!!! :) Post pictures if you get it to work.
LasVegas8 years ago
Nice instructable! I suggest you add your final picture to the Intro step as well so it shows the final project at the description and Insructables list.
RadBear (author)  LasVegas8 years ago
Thanks for the kind words. I added the pic like you suggested.