Soft Vise Jaws

A Round Tuit™ finally arrived for this long-delayed project:

Vise soft jaws - installed
Vise soft jaws – installed

They’re bandsawed from an impossibly heavy-duty U-shaped aluminum extrusion salvaged from a scrap pile; the flanges are 6 and 7 mm thick. I’ll put in a good word for the Proxxon 10/14 TPI blade, because it goes through aluminum plate like butter.

The wood strip under the top flange raises the fillet on the interior angle enough to let the extrusion sit flat on the top vise jaw and square against the gripping side. It’s held in place with double-sided carpet tape.

They’re faced with a rubber sheet I thought was twice as thick when I picked it out of the Big Box o’ Squishy Sheets, but turned out to be two thinner sheets invisibly stuck together. Carpet tape holds one of the sheets to the jaw; I expect the other sheet to fall off in short order.

You’re supposed to embed neodymium magnets in the jaws to hold them to the vise. As far as I can tell, they’re perfectly happy to just sit there all by themselves and, anyway, magnets would grow lethally sharp and bulky steel fur coats in short order.

Squaring the long edge didn’t pose much of a problem:

Vise soft jaws - squaring edge
Vise soft jaws – squaring edge

Tidying the ends, however, required more setup:

Vise soft jaws - squaring ends
Vise soft jaws – squaring ends

That’s the Sherline Tilting Angle Plate at 90°, with barely enough room on the far side for the base of a Starrett Double Square to set the extrusion vertical; the hand clamp holds it in place while tightening the step clamps. It sits on an aluminum sheet to put its upper end three smidgens over the angle plate, letting me flycut one smidgen for a clean edge.

Now I can retire the old soft jaws, which have served for too many decades and are far too ugly to show; improvised from weatherstripping glued to bent-square copper pipe and intended as a quick fix. You know how that goes …

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