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How to make vise jaws

Picture of How to make vise jaws
The mini-foodgeek has a small vise on his workbench that he uses to hold random scraps of wood so he can cut them into smaller random scraps.  Most of what he's been cutting lately has been dowels, and the flat jaws that came with the vise didn't work very well for the task.  Here's how to turn some scrap aluminum into a pair of vise jaws with a v-groove to hold round material.

You'll need access to a mill, some 3/8" thick material, and a 60 degree drill-mill.  Being mill-less at home, I made it at techshop.
 
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Step 1: Square up the material and cut it to size

Picture of Square up the material and cut it to size
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Cut two pieces of aluminum roughly the size of the original vise jaws.  Square the material on all four edges and machine it more or less to the size of the original jaws.  Given that my kid's vise is from harbor freight and the bolt holes seem randomly drilled, I felt like it was a safe bet to just eyeball the measurement.

Step 2: Cut a groove and drill/counterbore the bolt holes

Picture of Cut a groove and drill/counterbore the bolt holes
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Measure the distance between the bolt holes in the vise jaw.  Using a 60 degree endmill, spot drill both of the holes. Use a DRO to be sure the spacing is correct (1.75" in this case).

Cut a v-groove down the length of one jaw using the same endmill.

Remove the endmill and switch to a drill chuck.  Drill through both holes and then counter-bore with a larger bit.

Step 3: Install the jaws

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Clean up the edges with a file, then bolt the jaws into the vise.  Now the kid can go back to work randomly cutting things!
pfred21 year ago
Instead of the 60 degree mill bit you could have just used a plain end mill and held the work at an angle. Maybe the shop you were in did not have a tilting vise though?
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Phil B1 year ago
Did you use aluminum so it would be softer and not leave marks in softer materials?
FoodGeek (author)  Phil B1 year ago
That's certainly a nice feature, but the real reason is that I just have a lot of random scraps of aluminum sitting around and it's incredibly easy to machine.
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