Catch Small Parts




About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

I spend too much time in my workshop on my knees looking for a small piece I have sawn in my vise, and it fell to the floor, into debris around my vise, or into a partially open drawer under my bench. (See the second photo.) I have wanted something to catch small pieces of steel that separate from the stock in my vise. This Instructable will show how to copy what I made.


  • Paper
  • 1/8 x 1/2 inch steel bar
  • Sheet aluminum from an old license plate
  • Pop rivets


  • Compass
  • Marking pen
  • Vise
  • Pair of pliers
  • Drill
  • Grinder
  • Tin shears
  • Pop riveter
  • Wire feed welder
  • Spring clamps

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Step 1: Paper Pattern

I made a circle 4 inches in diameter on a piece of scrap paper and cut it out. I removed a wedge about 80 degrees wide (2 1/4 inches between corners). I transferred the paper pattern to the back of an old license plate.

Step 2: Cut Aluminum

When I cut the aluminum to fit the pattern I transferred to the back of the old license plate I left 1/2 inch extra on one side of the missing wedge. This will make an overlap so I can make a cone and use pop rivets to hold it in place.

Step 3: Shape the Cone

I bent the aluminum between my thumbs and first fingers a little at a time as I went around the piece to shape it into a cone. I used a pair of pliers to raise the overlap area a little. I chose a cone rather than a box because there is less chance a small part might bounce out of a cone.

Step 4: Bend Bar Stock

I put a piece of 1/8 x 1/2 steel bar in the vise and held the aluminum cone so the top is roughly parallel to the vise jaws. I bent the bar to fit the side of the cone.

Step 5: Drill the Bar

I drilled two holes in the bent portion of the bar for pop rivets.

Step 6: Fit to the Vise

The first photo shows sawing the steel bar after it has been bent to fit the far side of the vise member that encases the jack screw.

The second photo shows welding a piece parallel to the bent section.

Step 7: Drill for the First Pop Rivet

I pulled the sides of the cone together and clamped them so they could not move. I drilled for a 3/16 inch pop rivet long enough to go through two layers of aluminum and one piece of 1/8 inch steel bar.

Step 8: The Second Pop Rivet

After the first pop rivet is secure, position and bend the cone as necessary. Drill for the second pop rivet. Install the second pop rivet.

Step 9: Midcourse Correction

I found the vise jaws would not close sufficiently to hold some of the small rods I may want to saw. I decided to make my catch cone raise up to catch the notches under the jaws. See the text box in the first photo.

I found I needed to add a 7/16 inch spacer to hold my catch cone so the notches under the jaws would fit around the steel bar. I also ground away a bit of the corner bend to fit the notches better.

Step 10: How It Works

Position the steel bar over the part of the vise connecting the jaws and close the vise on your work. The second photo shows a short piece of steel rod I have sawn off and it fell into the aluminum cone. I will not spend time on my knees looking for it.

The third photo shows how completely the jaws of my vise close with the catch cone in place.

Not all have access to a welder. Other things, even wire from a coat hanger, could be fitted to hold the cone. I thought about using magnets to hold a short bar to the side of the vise.

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9 Discussions


3 years ago

Phil, this reminded me of an exchange between my Dad and my uncle in 1945. My uncle was a barber, so my dad mentioned that every time he dropped his electric razor it would break. My uncle replied, "Stop dropping it."

That has struck with me for 70 years. LOL


3 years ago

Good idea. This may make it work even better.

A variety of magnetic parts holders/trays are available from Harbor Freight ($3-12 depending on size and shape), Amazon, eBay, and most auto parts stores. These are generally quite cheap. Some sort of mount for one (or more) attached to your vise should catch most small parts.

The "magnetic" part won't help with much but iron or steel parts, but that's a help.

3 replies
Phil BJGDean

Reply 3 years ago

I have one or two of those magnetic dishes for small parts. They attach to a horizontal metallic surface. The vise offers a vertical metallic surface. Otherwise, it is a good idea. Thank you.

JGDeanPhil B

Reply 3 years ago

Even just stuck vertically to the side of your vise below where you are working you might be surprised how many small parts it will catch.

However it's pretty easy to attach a small steel bar across the lower part of your vise with Velcro or a rubber band and set the Magnetic tray on that. You can even have one on each side of your vise

parts catcher 01.jpgparts catcher 02.jpg
Phil BJGDean

Reply 3 years ago

Thank you for the photos. Your vise has a different configuration than mine. That would not work with my vise, I purposely made my catcher so I can turn it to catch on the other side of the vise.

Phil BBeachsideHank

Reply 3 years ago

The catch cone can be holdin' all felled parts.