As I started to do more and more metalwork and woodwork it became clear to me that I needed something to stop my vise from marking up my work. I considered buying some soft jaws but didn't want to have to take apart my vise every time I needed to remove them, plus I'm operating on a teenager's budget. I eventually began to just clamp the work between scrap wood to protect it, which was pretty awkward. Every time I re-positioned my work I had to move the wood as well. So, after some brainstorming, I sketched out a design for slip-on soft jaws.
Step 1: What You Need:
- Thin aluminum, around 30 gauge
- Hacksaw, or other way to cut metal
- Bench grinder or equivalent
Step 2: Template
- Measure the width and height of the jaws of your vise. Add about a 1/4 of an inch to each measurement and then double the height measurement. Draw a rectangle with the dimensions.
- Divide the rectangle in half lengthwise.
- Add square tabs to each side of the rectangle that are half the height.
- Transfer the template to the aluminum.
Step 3: Cutting & Grinding
- Use the hacksaw to cut out the soft jaws.
- Use the bench grinder or whatever you have to smooth and shape the edges of the metal.
Step 4: Bending
- Use the vise to bend the side tabs on the dotted lines at 90 degree angles. Make sure the jaws can slide onto the vise.
- Use the vise and hammer to bend the jaws at 90 degrees on the dotted line. Make sure the jaws still fit on the vise.
- If the corners of the bends are rough file or grind them smooth.