Magnetic Soft Jaws for a Vise

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Introduction: Magnetic Soft Jaws for a Vise

This is a set of soft jaws I made for my vise. They are made from 1 x 2 inch furring strips. 

A few weeks ago I was watching the Woodsmith Shop TV show on PBS. They showed a set of homemade soft jaws for a vise held in place by magnets. That set used very powerful button magnets set into the wooden jaws on the back side. Fitting the button magnets seemed like something requiring more time and precision than I wanted to devote to the project. 

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools
  • Saw
  • Tin snips
  • Grinder
  • Drill
  • Vise
  • Screwdriver
Materials
  • Ceramic block magnets from Harbor Freight (one dollar)
  • 1 x 2 furring strip
  • Old sheet metal
  • Screws

Step 2: Paper Pattern

Cut two pieces of furring strip the length of the jaws. Place one into the vise as you want it to be when finished. Place the magnets on the vise where they will not slide around easily. See the photo. Take a piece of scrap paper and crease it to fit between the furring strip and the top of the magnet. These magnets are quite strong.

Step 3: Cut Two Pieces of Sheet Metal

When we replaced our old water heater I saved the sheet metal skin to use for future projects. The pieces I cut are about two inches long and a bit wider. 

Step 4: Bend to Fit

I used a grinder to smooth the edges on the sheet metal pieces. I used the vise to bend the sheet metal and tweaked the bends until the fit was pretty good. See the second photo. Some adjustments in the bends were easier if I turned them over and pounded with a hammer.

Step 5: Drill and Attach

I made certain the sheet metal fit both the magnet and the furring strip. I marked the placement of the mounting holes and drilled the sheet metal. Then I drilled smaller holes in the furring strips and attached the metal with screws. I repeated the process for the other soft jaw.

Step 6: When Not in Use

My metal workbench has an upper tier where I can stick magnetic things for easy storage and retrieval. I rounded the sharp square corners with a grinder. When I want to store the soft jaws, I peel the jaws and their magnets from the vise and stick them onto the upper frame of my workbench. 

Step 7: Finished

My soft jaws will do what I need. They will stay in place very well when in use. They are easy and quick to remove, as well as to put in place. And, the cash outlay was only one dollar.

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    79 Comments

    Do you have an idea for using something other than wood? I saw a different Instructable that uses an eraser but I'm wondering if something else can be used

    I am sure many materials could be used as long as they are soft than what will be held in the vise. I had wood available and it is easy to attach.

    Where was this when I needed it... thank you for the idea! will definitely try.

    Thank you for the comment. I wish the magnets were lower in profile. Once in a while the rising sheet metal gets in the way of something I am trying to do, like use a hand plane on a small piece of wood. I also wish I had had the idea earlier.

    I cut an advertising magnet for the Friendship Centre in half and added some plastic sheet and foam. I just made free vise jaws!

    There is something called the Friendshhip Center near where I live. Where do you live and what is the Friendship Centre you have in mind?

    great thinking, I am going to make one. my vise covers are always falling on the ground. I like the magnets. Also, I am going to take this idea and make some soft jaws with oversize rubber erasers

    Thank you. They continue to work well for me. I wish the magnets had a lower profile so the top of the soft jaws was higher than the bends in the metal for the magnets. I hope you will do an Instructable of your eraser jaws.