You Don't Have a Wood Vice? Hack Your Metal Vice!




About: I have been an electrician, an OTR truck driver, a bank teller, and a customer service rep at a major insurance company as well as a combat medic for the U.S. Army. So needless to say my best friends are duc...

I have a few projects queued up, one of them is a wooden vice, I already have all the parts for it I just haven't gotten around to making it yet.
Well yesterday I was working on something else and I needed to put some wood in my vice so I could use my grinder to carve something on it, this being an almost finished item I had to have it so loose that it would have been impossible to work on it or I would have had to search for scraps that were big enough to hold the piece yet small enough to be out of the way!

So instead I hacked my vice and made new jaws out of soft wood that can be adult replaced if they get dirty or damaged and I can put the metal ones back at any point.


Step 1: Locate Your Vice

Lol if you don't have a vice or can't find it then it would be kind of hard for you to hack it... Lol

Step 2: Unscrewing the Jaws

Can your vice open wide enough that you can comfortably remove the screws holding the jaws in place? If not then just take it apart.

On my vice and on most I've seen before you can just turn the screw until it's loose but some have safety mechanisms so that you don't accidentally drop half your vice on your foot. So look at your vice and determine how to best remove the jaws. After you've determined that then just unscrew the two screws holding each jaw to the vice.

Step 3: Now Look for Some Soft Wood

I have what I'm pretty sure is a pine 2x1 scrap, this will work great, it's not too soft and not too hard either and it's cheap to replace

Step 4: Cut It Down

Now either measure it or put the original jaw next to it and mark it or some how determine where you'd need to cut it to fit.

I just put my metal jaw right on the cross sled I built earlier for my saw and while holding it to blade I clamp a stop on the other end, this makes cutting easy.

Now to cut the depth just stand the 2x1 on its side and determine the depth you want, I made it a little bit bigger than my metal jaws because it's wood and I wanted to keep it strong, but it's your call.

Now that it's the same length and depth are set let's cut the hight the same way, just put your original jaw next to the blade and move your stop to its place and clamp it. Now just run it thru and you should be able to get both sides from this, provided that you have the same vice and used the same wood if not just cut another one down to size

Step 5: Mark the Holes

Now that you have two pieces of wood that are the right size all you need to do is mark the two holes on each piece.

Now drill it with the appropriate bit, if you have a brad tip it would probably be better to use that and I set mine up on my drill press but it's ok to use a drill just make sure you drill exactly where you had marked, this is critical so take your time.

Step 6: Countersink!!!

Now if you don't have a countersink set you should buy one! They are not expensive yet they will help a lot and after you own then you will ask yourselves "how did I ever lived without this?"

So countersink your holes so that the screws are safely hidden away, if you don't have countersink bits just use a bigger diameter bit and be very careful to only go in about a 16th" (might be different depending on the depth of your piece and shape of the screws.)

If you want you can sand your pieces now but you do t have to.

Step 7: Put Them in Place

Now that you've drilled the holes just screw your new jaws in place.

Then assemble your vice and you are done!

Step 8: Take It for a Spin.

Ok don't literally take it for a spin, I just meant test it out.

I named my vice George Washington!

So let's test the General by clamping done some random circle I had sanded down for some reason, and as you can see I tightened it tighter than you'd normally tighten any piece and it wasn't marked at all!
So I call this one a success, now back to the other project, see you soon!



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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    That looks great! I need to make myself some wooden soft jaws, But I think I'll attach them with magnets, Instead of removing the original jaws, Because I need them...

    I made myself some Vise Soft Jaws with Silicone Adhesive, But they don't work very well for woodworking projects.

    Thanks for sharing!

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    After you've made wooden ones it takes less than 30 seconds to exchange the wooden ones for the originals, provided you have a screwdriver small enough to fit in the jaws, but even if you have to remove the moving part of the vice it will only take a minute tops to replace the originals. If you do use magnets you'll need to inlay them and possibly glue them, which will make it a little more inconvenient to replace your wooden jaws if they break or get greasy or something. It's still doable and either way will work.

    Ps just remember that the total opening of the jaws will be less if you use the magnets, but that's not really an issue most of the time as my vise opens about 6 inches and I've never needed to clamp anything bigger than 4 on it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I was actually planning to use very thin MDF, And place the magnet on the top of the jaws

    The opening of my jaws isn't very big, 4" I think. So I can't really use a thick piece of wood...


    3 years ago

    Very nice... I've been mulling over some plastic inserts for my vice, but I have lots of pine scrap in my wood bin and like this solution much better.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah at first I was going to go with plastic too but I live in Ft Lewis, WA so it rains daily and I didn't feel like going out in the rain to look thru my recycling bin and possibly not find anything suitable and having to go buy plastic so I decided that I had lots of pine scrap and most woodworking vices are made of soft wood anyways so that was it.

    Ps I need to do some research, is it vice or vise I see about 50% people use c and the other half use, I think it's like gray vs grey.

    If your heart is set in doing plastic, search YouTube for how to recycle milk jugs, there is a guy that melts milk jugs and other similar plastics and makes plastic blanks which can then be worked just like wood, you just might need to go on Craigslist and buy yourself a little oven for the shop I just don't have space for that right now.


    3 years ago

    Nice hack. :)

    You can attach the wood pieces temporarily with magnets inlayed to the back side. Another temporary method is the good old universal masking tape, it also can hold the woods in place.


    3 years ago

    Nice and simple solution! Before I had a dedicated wood vise, I used to just clamp wood bits between two pieces of paint stir sticks. It was finicky and not ideal. This is much better! :)

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah that's how I've always done it but I got tired of searching for scraps that fit and then you have to hold all 3 pieces of wood while you clamp down, and if you need to adjust it's almost impossible without the whole thing just falling apart so I decided to do this for now and soon I should have my wooden vice on the other bench, but I figured that this might help people that aren't planning on getting a wood vice and it's easy enough that it takes less than ten minutes for everything, it took me way longer to write the instructions that to actually do the whole project.