Skip to content

Vise Liner Eliminates Grip With Slip

DSC_0016It’s inevitable that after a few weeks of use, especially as much use I give to my vise, that the wooden  jaws themselves become slick and without surface friction the wood being clamped inevitably slips unless you increase torque. I have the bad habit of under clamping not over clamping, so 99% of the time there is no problem. I have posted on this recently but here is the improved Paul Sellers’ rare-earth-magnet-anti-slip-get-a-Jaw’s-grip-retrofit for your vise.

First off I should say that I am making my flip-flop liner because I don’t like permanent liners in place the whole time.

For the original prototype I used silicone shelf liner and this grips the work very well and I still use this for difficult to grip pieces such as spoons or shaped pieces that defy parallel clamping and such. However, I found that when I permanently installed the liner between the wooden liner and the metal jaw of the moveable vise jaw, the outer one, that the shelf liner broke down more quickly than I liked. Now leather doesn’t grip quite as well but it does grip and grip very well, so i tested everything out loose first to see if zi liked it and I did.

First I removed the vise jaw to install the leather piece. The leather is just softer upholstery hide that seems to grip better and fold better than the harder leathers. I am using the suede out so the suede is gripping the wood and the smooth side is against the wooden jaw.

I used two sided adhesive tape on the metal part and used that to secure the leather first. Then, with the leather in place, I relocated the wooden jaw and screwed it back in place.

DSC_0033When the leather is flopped over between the jaws it tends to bulb up above the wooden jaw so when you want to plane close too in say 3/4″ stock the leather can get in the way or get caught by the plane or other tool. To solve this I made sharp folds in the leather using the following technique:

DSC_0017

I spray the leather with a light spray of water.

DSC_0030I install a scrap board lightly clamped in the vise. Not too tight but tight enough that the leather grips the wood.

I tapped the edge of the board downwards into the vise so that the leather tightens up on the corners of the wooden jaw. Tighten more and tap to tighten as tight as feels right making certain that the leather is even all the way across the vise. Also, make sure all of the leather is sandwiched from top to bottom between the board and the wooden vise jaw. Leave overnight or until dry.DSC_0031

In the morning the leather will have nice tight corners and the leather will flop nicely to the jaw.

DSC_0032Now I used the liner like this for a couple of weeks and was very happy with the way it worked. because I liked it I decided on a further improvement. DSC_0014By adding a rare earth magnet to the suede face near the bottom I could flip the leather out of the vise for the times I didn’t want the leather there. Before, because I had creased the leather, the leather tended to bulb up and create a hump on the top side adjacent to the vise jaw. Adding the magnet meant I could tug the leather and the magnet held it tight and out of the way.

DSC_0011_1To receive the magnet when the leather was in use, I drilled a shallow hole in the vise jaw. DSC_0012

DSC_0010

5 Comments

  1. Bill Schenher on 12 January 2014 at 3:34 am

    Could you explain , Why, you don’t like the leather in the vise full time? I have been using leather on one side of my face vises for years without any negative results. I typically use strap leather, which is a thicker harder leather, vegetable tanned (free of dyes that may rub off) , and can be sanded if ever the need cleaning.



    • Paul Sellers on 12 January 2014 at 4:31 pm

      The leather fails at the corners near the top after continued use of the vise usually and on thin, narrow stock I prefer to clamp more solidly than I feel I can get with leather. Remember I am not just softening the face of the jaw but using the leather to increase grip.



      • Bill Schenher on 13 January 2014 at 2:49 am

        I guess it comes down to the leather one uses. I have never had my leather fail at the corners or along the edges. And I’m not exactly gentle with it either. The advantage of the better grip is really why I made it a permanent fixture on my vises.



    • Whitney on 18 January 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Hey Bill, where do you get your leather? Got a link? Thanks.



  2. Marty on 18 June 2016 at 4:58 pm

    The first time I saw you using the shelf liner I realized I had a large roll of the stuff just sitting around catching dust so I tried it and have never looked back. I use a good deal of used lumber so I really don’t have to worry whether I might snag it on a stray nail or what not. It’s cheap and very useful. I might use leather some day, but until shelf liner becomes prohibitively expensive I’ll probably stick with it and keep your leather trick in mind.



  • Landon Vaughn on Two OppositesGreat read! Thanks for you wisdom and all you do!
  • Jeremie G. Doiron on Two OppositesBravo! I love these musings. As always, your generosity in sharing wisdom is a spacial gift to those listening.
  • Paul Sellers on Vlog 015 Up!I remember you clearly, Mike, two daughters, I think, a hope that they too might adopt woodworking into their lives n some way. All is well here, enjoying life all the more but mis…
  • Mike Starks on Vlog 015 Up!Paul, I first heard you discuss the importance of stepping off the conveyor belt in I think 2011, when you were teaching at the New Legacy school in upstate New York. It is nice to…
  • Samuel on All in a Day’s WorkoutGood morning
  • Salko Safic on Vlog 015 Up!That was quite enjoyable to watch Paul.
  • Samh on All in a Day’s WorkoutMagnifique
Scroll To Top