Introduction: Magnetic Rubber Jaws for a Vise

Picture of Magnetic Rubber Jaws for a Vise

I own a 5-inch bench vise with very aggressive serrated jaws (the part that clamps onto to your object). These jaws work great for steel but on other materials they usually leave permanent indents (aka marring) on the surface. Things that I work on typically need a nice finish surface. To keep a nice surface while holding in the vise, calls for non-marring jaws or soft jaws. I created some rubberized jaws with Jumbo Erasers. The added advantage of this rubberized version is the low cost and the ease of customization for different applications. I also added magnets for holding it in place and ease of removal.

Step 1: Design and Items Used

Picture of Design and Items Used

Items used

Metal Bracket - 2 pieces of metal 5 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide. I used 9 inch by 13 inch cookie sheet to make the brackets.

Super strong ceramic magnets - ¾ inch diameter - 4 pieces needed

Screws - #8 by ¾ lath screws - I believe a one inch screw will work.

Note: I probably will use longer screws if the holes get worked over after years of use.

Rubber eraser - 5 ½ inch long by 1 ¾ inch wide by ½ inch thick – I found them at the local Dollar store – they call them jumbo erasers


All-purpose cement / glue


Hammer – flat face

Tin snips

Nail punch

Wood backing board

Screw driver

File – for metal

Sander or sand paper

wood scrap for backer board

leather gloves

Step 2: Cut the Metal to Size

Picture of Cut the Metal to Size

My vise is metal, so I choose to make the brackets out of metal for the purpose of using magnets. The magnets will create a temporary bond -to hold the jaws in place.

Temporary means I can take the soft jaws on and off without a hassle.

The two pieces of bracket metal (5 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide) were cut out of a 9 inch by 13 inch cookie sheet.

I do not have a good source for small pieces of sheet metal, so this is why I use cookie sheets. I either obtain my cookie sheets from stealing them from the kitchen or from the dollar store.

I use tin snips to cut out the required pieces for brackets.

Step 3: Punch Holes

Picture of Punch Holes

I placed a rubber eraser on top of the cut metal and scribe a line (with a slight offset from the edge). I did not want the metal brackets to be flush with the edge of the erasers. By offsetting the metal brackets from the rubber allows items to be place in the jaws and not get scratched (by the bracket).

The engraved line provides a good way to locate the position of punching of the holes.

I like to use a metal nail punch for the holes -it is fast and easy. I put a wooden backer block behind the metal and strike the punch with a hammer. In this case I do not remove the little burrs in the hole from the punch; the burrs will sink into the rubber.

I punched two holes per bracket.

I used a hammer to flatten the edges of metal. Flattening the edges make it easier to file and sand the edges smooth. Note: the snips create little burrs with every cut on the edges.

Step 4: Mount Erasers

Picture of Mount Erasers

I did not need to drill the rubber - the #8 by ¾ lath screws work great.

The lath screws have a built in washer. I believe the washer will help hold the metal to the rubber.

The lath screws seem sharper to me, which makes them great for twisting (screwing) into the rubber.

I just used a Philips screw driver to put the screws in.

Two screws per bracket.

Step 5: ​Mount Magnets

Picture of ​Mount Magnets

I decided not to glue the magnets onto the brackets. I plan on leaving the loose magnets on the bracket when not in use.

But the magnets could be glued - to always keep them with the soft jaws.

I wanted the bracket to fall flat on top of the vise. So; for clearance reason between the bracket and the vise,

I elected to put the magnets as far back on the bracket as possible.

Step 6: Cut Rubber and Form Metal

Picture of Cut Rubber and Form Metal

Cut rubber

The rubber erasers have tapered ends, I kept one side with the taper - but I wanted the other side flush (with the vise). So I used my Japanese back saw, to cut off the taper.

Just a side note: one of my most prized tools is the Japanese back saw. I wanted a traditional Japanese back saw with a wood handle, but I am glad I got this one – a modern version. With a push of the button and the blade comes off for easy storage. I use two long plastic binder clips to protect the edges of my saw.


There is not much to forming the metal to the vise. I closed the vise with the soft jaws and pressed the metal down with my gloved hands.

Step 7: Finished

Picture of Finished

Is it Vise or Vice -

Well in the United States, the word for the clamping tool with two jaws closed and opened by a screw or lever is spelled vise.

Outside American English - the vise spelling rarely appears; the gripping tool is instead spelled vice.

I want to thank Phil B, for all his help.

Step 8: New and Old

Picture of New and Old

I wanted to share a photo of my old aluminum soft jaws next to the new ones.


Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-26

Great idea, I want to make these for my new vise

doctorkred (author)2014-02-18

Fantástico, estos son los "instructables" que más me gustan, sencillos pero ingeniosos.

  • ---

Fantastic, these are the "instructables" I like simple but ingenious.

No Espanol

Fikjast Scott (author)doctorkred2014-02-19

Thank you, I like instructables so much.

Arty Marty (author)2014-02-23

That is awesome. I make jewellery and sculptures and use copper or brass as my "soft jaws" Even though it's metal, it is softer than most other things you put in there.
Total pain in the ass when they keep falling off though, so I have been meaning to do something with magnets.

A few tips:
* conveyer belt rubber is great stuff, I got a lot of it the other day when I went to a place that makes industrial belts. They will have tons of offcuts you could probably get for nothing, in a range of sizes.
* if you make a set out of brass or copper, you can soften the metal by heating it glowing red hot, and then let it cool down. This process is called annealing. Copper goes like rubber after you do this. As you hammer and bend the copper, or it gets bent and crushed in a vice over a few months, it goes back to being hard as rock. To make it soft again, just heat it up to glowing red and let it cool.
* I just had an idea to stick a magnet on the back of the copper with glue, and it should work through the metal. (and just take the magnet off if you need to reheat the metal and then stick it back. neodymium magnets would be good for this... They are very strong for their size.
I just did a quick sketch of this idea - (see attached)
* Magnets don't like being heated or banged about - both things which make them lose their magnetism

Awesome Insttructable!

Fikjast Scott (author)Arty Marty2014-02-24

Thank you for viewing and commenting on my Instructable.
Your ideas are great the newer magnets are so strong.. Take care.

Slim49 (author)2014-02-21

That is so clever!

I had many years ago some lead sheet I would wrap over the vise jaws.

the Jumbo eraser is stiff enough to work well.

Arty Marty (author)Slim492014-02-23

Just be careful with lead, it's nasty stuff for your health.
If you are making jewellery or something that will touch the skin, you will get lead impregnated in it from the vice.
Also, if your working hard and building up a sweat, and the lead is getting bashed about in the vice, when you take the item out, it will have lead on it, you touch it with sweaty hands, and it will get absorbed into your skin. (not to mention if you wipe your face with your hands etc..)
So yes, its fantastic stuff to use in our vice and not damage things, but the side effects!!! Eeek!

Fikjast Scott (author)Slim492014-02-21

Thank you for observing and remarking on my instructables.
I like your saying " want to know it all!! "


stanwitham (author)2014-02-21

Great idea! I've been wanting a pair of these but did not want to spend a lot. A couple of suggestions. 1. make the metal plate wider so that you could close the vise and use a rubber mallet to form the metal to the vise. That might eliminate the need for magnets. 2.On embedding magnets into the rubber, you might risk breaking them when closing the vise too hard. great instructable . Thanks for sharing!

Fikjast Scott (author)stanwitham2014-02-21

Thank you for your comments and ideas.

tjk1939 (author)2014-02-21

Nice, but you could have sunk the magnets into the erasers with a little epoxy, or not. If you bored the holes a little snug on the magnets, you wouldn't even need epoxy. You could also use smaller magnets. It doesn't take much to hold onto the vise. Good job anyway.

Fikjast Scott (author)tjk19392014-02-21

Thank you for the ideas and viewing my instructable

Ninzerbean (author)2014-02-21

This is just great, thank you for sharing.

Fikjast Scott (author)Ninzerbean2014-02-21

I am glad you like it. Thank you for viewing my instructables.

mrademeyer1 (author)2014-02-21

great tip I use pieces of conveyor belting as i had it lying around here by me great for not damaging threaded rod when you want to cut short pieces off

this is why I like instructables. I just bought a reel of conveyor belting. I replaced plastic scraper bars on a few snow blowers. That belting is bullet proof. I have some left over - I might try rigging something with it.
Thanks for the idea and viewing my instructables.

soundgod06 (author)2014-02-20

The snips will not create burrs if you don't close them all the way. Try closing them part way so that each cut stops about a cm from the tips of the blades.

Ninzerbean (author)soundgod062014-02-21

Good advice and the same is true for scissors.

Fikjast Scott (author)soundgod062014-02-20

This idea will come in handy on a project I am working on right now. Thank you for the great tip. I will share this with others.

gloflyer (author)2014-02-21

This is an elegant simple solution to a common problem. Thanks! I have modified my vice by placing copper 'shoes' over the jaws. I can think of all kinds of uses with this modification.

Fikjast Scott (author)gloflyer2014-02-21

Thank you for viewing and commenting on my instructables.
I like simple

BurgersBytes (author)2014-02-20

Hmm, how did the aluminum ones stay on?

not so well, I made the top of the aluminum to short. I rolled the edges over to form to the vise. They fall off all the time, I am sure you must have heard me yell cheese and crackers when this happens. They hold the work tight in the vise. One day, one day -- I'll make another aluminum set.
Thank you for viewing my instructables.

You could drill some holes in the back side of the aluminum ones and put magnets in them. Then you could use them for tougher work. Aluminum gives a better grip too.

Thank you for the idea.
Yes, different materials provide diverse abilities to grip. I can not
have enough tools.

Passing You (author)2014-02-20

You could also drill holes the width and depth of the magnet into the eraser. Than glue the magnets into the holes and your set. I love the Jumbo Eraser idea.

Thank you for the comment and viewing my instructables. I like the idea of Embedded magnets.

I would have never though of large erasers. Never knew they existed. That leap was very helpful.

I can drive my family crazy when we are out shopping. I can
stare at something for a very long time, I am thinking of what it could be, and
not what it is. I used to give my mother in-law odd things (like an over sized
wooden coat hanger), then she would make really cool items out with it. She was
a master of converting things. I gained so much from her.

dmvangoe (author)2014-02-20

Great idea, think i will make a pair of these. Thank you.

Fikjast Scott (author)dmvangoe2014-02-20

Thank you for the comment and viewing my instructables

dorybob (author)2014-02-20

wonderful idea and instructable

Fikjast Scott (author)dorybob2014-02-20

Thank you for viewing my instructables and your comments

Blue Hawaii (author)2014-02-18

Genius! This gives me a spring board on how to make a pair for my vise. I am thinking glue the jumbo erasers to a piece of "L" angle with the magnets on top. Thank you for the idea.

Right back at you, I did not think of coming down into the vise with the metal. this why I like instructables. Thanks for the comment, idea and viewing. - scott

hunter999 (author)2014-02-18

Genius, pure genius! Well done, you did a great job, thanks for sharing!

Fikjast Scott (author)hunter9992014-02-18

thanks for viewing and the comment. I tell my wife about the term genius on my stuff - she says "that's nice take the trash out". I would like an air cannon to shoot the trash out. Maybe one day. scott

foobear (author)2014-02-18

I love it when people make stuff out of Dollar Tree things. Are those Dollar Tree cookie sheets too?

Fikjast Scott (author)foobear2014-02-18

I bought a stack of dollar tree cookie sheets after my wife caught me. They are the perfect thickness to work with. I made a nice mower chute blocker out of one.

Kiteman (author)2014-02-18

That's a great idea, thanks for sharing it.

Fikjast Scott (author)Kiteman2014-02-18

Thank you for the nice comment and viewing my instructable

Kiteman (author)Fikjast Scott2014-02-18

You are very welcome - keep posting cool projedts

M3G (author)2014-02-18

This is genius! I'll have to make some!

Fikjast Scott (author)M3G2014-02-18

Thank you for the nice comment and viewing my insturctable

foobear (author)2014-02-18

I love it when people make stuff out of Dollar Tree things. Are those Dollar Tree cookie sheets too?

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