I have clamped saws in a vise for four decades. This method holds the saws and keeps the plate firmly rigid to prevent flex and it works just fine. One thing that is irritating when it happens is that last split-second slippage when all three components slip the grasp of the vise as you cinch it tight. Time to start over.

This week I decided to add magnets to the insides of my chock strips for either side of my saws. I’ve planned it for months now but procrastinated because of ordering magnets.

I spaced the magnets towards one end and then set them seven or so inches apart to take 10″ saws and on up. I don’t really like or use shorter saws than 10″ that much generally, though I do have a couple of shorter ones for really fine model-type work.

One mistake is putting the magnets exactly opposite. Duh! They will actually still pull fine but you will feel the slight resistance of the two opposing forces. Not enough to make a change on mine but offset them 1/2″ will be better I think.

Drill the recesses so that the magnets sit dead flush or a paper thickness above the surface, thin paper.

Remember if you use a brace and bit the recess will not be level.

I used a 3/16″ chisel to chisel down the recess on the high side so that the magnet sits evenly and level.

Also, these rare earth magnets will crack if you are too heavy handed cinching down the screw into the countersink. Oops! How do I know this?Aim for snug. I have had success using just superglue with magnets without holes on some projects so you might consider that as another option too.


  1. Bert on 26 September 2019 at 9:07 am

    Aaah, nice!

  2. Dave Pawson on 26 September 2019 at 12:50 pm


    If the wood is deep enough – ‘screw in’ magnets

    They also do lots of different sizes.

    Good idea Paul, a problem I’ve had too!

  3. Brent on 26 September 2019 at 1:26 pm

    That is a great idea !

  4. Jim Stoe on 26 September 2019 at 2:28 pm

    I use a vintage a Disston HD 3D clamping vise. No slippage. There available on Ebay reasonably priced cause most woodworkers send their saws out 4 sharpening. Sad!
    Like the idea of using magnets to hold metal in vice.
    Northville, MI USA

  5. Max™ on 26 September 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I love finding the slightest excuse to use a counterbore so I’d end up drilling in from the back side and backing out the smaller lead bit on the end to get a flat bottom around 3 or 4 mm from the face side and glue or wedge a plug in to keep the magnet snug.

    When all you have is an auger, every problem can be solved with more holes!

  6. Nick on 26 September 2019 at 6:34 pm


  7. Hasan on 28 September 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Great idea Paul.
    What kind of file do we need to sharpen fine toothed saws like this one? is it doable?

  8. John Crable on 30 September 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Hasan. It’s a triangular file usually reference to as a slim taper. Select a file that is at least double the depth of the saw tooth – that way you can use all three sides of the file equally. Have a happy day!

  9. Bob on 30 September 2019 at 1:46 pm

    My first so-called “scrap” wood were pine bed slats I rescued from a bed being thrown away. One of them, sawed in half, became my first saw chocks. I still have them and I have magnets which are now going into said chocks. (grin). Thanks so much for the idea. This will be a big help.

    I am using a machine vise to hold my saw in the chocks and each time I move it down the blade is a tussle between slip and hold. This will save my language. haha

  10. Keith on 30 September 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Your description of the last second slippage before the vise grasps made me wonder if it might be worthwhile to add a thin, shallow lip at the top of each outer face, just below the beveled top edge, so that the chocks + sandwiched blade can seat on the top of the loose vise jaws before clamping pressure is applied. I imagine a 1/8-1/4″ thick strip glued on (or a similarly deep rebate below) would do the trick

    • Paul Sellers on 30 September 2019 at 4:27 pm

      But the magnets do so much more already and there is no slippage now.

  11. Brian Crout on 30 September 2019 at 3:40 pm

    I am surprised that nobody has mentioned saw stocks used by carpenters on site
    I learnt my trade starting in 1957 all the joiners used one set in the workshop
    this set consisted of two legs with joining rails top and bottom.
    The top of the legs had vee notches and the saw was held by two parallel
    battens housed to fit the notched uprights. This held the saw firmly in place.
    I am sorry this is difficult to explain without a photograph

    • Paul Sellers on 30 September 2019 at 4:25 pm

      Not difficult for me as I used one for 20 years, but those were the days when shop carpenters and joiners would not be allowed to sit down I suspect as in the 1960s even that was nono. The vise, two sticks fitted as shown in the post and a comfortable bar stools works very nicely though.

  12. flemming aaberg on 2 October 2019 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve started using the same type of magnets for door catches on wardrobes and small cupboard doors. Good to see yet another use for them here Paul.

  13. Uli on 7 October 2019 at 12:00 pm

    You can order the magnets with N- as well S -pole to prevent the “force resistance”.

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