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
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
Wood backing board
File – for metal
Sander or sand paper
wood scrap for backer board
Step 2: 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
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
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
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
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
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
I wanted to share a photo of my old aluminum soft jaws next to the new ones.