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Material for Face Vise Jaws

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bp122

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Hi All

My workbench build is coming to a close, very soon.
I have attached the back end of a vintage record style face vise to it.

I need to choose a suitable material for the jaws of the vise. Ideally, out of things I already have.

I have slabs of Oak, Sapele, Tulipwood and Beech (all are about 30mm thick and long enough to get two jaws out of each. I also have some b&q 12mm plywood, enough to glue up some jaws.

Which one is better among these options?

I do have a strip of leather to cover the jaws in the end, it is the jaw material itself I cannot decide on.

I hear many people say hardwood is best for this, but I'd like to call upon all of your experiences :p

Please share your thoughts.
 

thetyreman

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I am using american white oak lined with rubberised cork, which you can buy on ebay search for 'nitrile impregnated cork' pretty much any wood will work though, I'd say go for minimum of 3/4" or 18mm if it's plywood.
 

woodbloke66

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I've got a Record vice on my bench and have used beech for the jaws; it's been fine for almost a couple of decades. Make sure that when you fit the jaws you have a little bit of 'toe in' so that the top grips the job slightly before the bottom. The best way to check this when fitting is to use a piece of printer paper. The top of the jaws should also be dead parallel to the bench; not difficult to fit but they just require careful planing and once fitted, give them a good coat of wax to stop glue adhesion (also the bench top) - Rob
 

ED65

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I think if you're planning on lining with leather the choice of wood becomes largely secondary, anything is strong enough even pine or a similar softwood.

Of the woods you list I'd go with the beech personally, hard enough and no open grain to harbour dirt. If you want maximum stiffness and the greatest resistance to denting go with the oak of course (presuming the tulipwood is poplar).
 

Phil Pascoe

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woodbloke66":30aa83by said:
... Make sure that when you fit the jaws you have a little bit of 'toe in' so that the top grips the job slightly before the bottom ... The top of the jaws should also be dead parallel to the bench
The vice will have the "toe in" anyway. You shouldn't need to compensate with the jaws.
Did you mean flush? You'd have fitted the vice a bit skewed if they weren't parallel.
 

AndyT

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One factor to think about is how long you want the front jaw. I think it's a mistake to make it the same size or just slightly bigger than the steel. Mine is twice the length. There's plenty of strength in the vice to do this and with a big overhang either side of the guide rods it's much easier to clamp a board vertical, either to the left or the right. (If there's any tendency to wracking, you just put a scrap the same thickness on the other side.)
If you do decide to do this, you need something stiff, so don't use the plywood. Any of your other hardwoods would be fine.
 

MikeG.

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I don't understand this fashion for lining the jaws. Leather? Cork? What's that all about? Joiners benches had wooden jaws.
 

bp122

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Thanks for the responses, everyone.

It looks like Beech is the choice for me.
I was also planning on making the moving jaw longer as AndyT mentioned.
 

samhay

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MikeG.":277kvcs7 said:
I don't understand this fashion for lining the jaws. Leather? Cork? What's that all about? Joiners benches had wooden jaws.
It's certainly not necessary, but in my experience does noticably help to stop the clamped item sliding around.
 

MusicMan

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AndyT - +1. My vice jaws are twice the length of the face too, and I agree it is very useful. Mine are about 40 mm thick hardwood to give the rigidity.

MikeG - I use a leather lining, glued on with PVA, on one face. I didn't use one for years, but tried it with a scrap and was converted instantly. The increase in grip is remarkable, and I would not now be without it. I have not tried cork.
 

bp122

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Good to hear, MusicMan. Just to ensure rigidity along the entire length, would it be a good idea to laminate a couple of pieces together? Or perhaps make thinner strips then join them and use them - bit like Paul Sellers's Ply laminate workbench top? Or is it best to use the actual face of the timber to avoid dirt getting embedded in it?
 

ED65

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30mm is pretty thick, that'll likely be good enough. Many people extend the jaws (perhaps not double, but quite a bit) using ply and that's much less stiff than solid wood.

If you do want to go thicker on the moving jaw, go thicker. Even if just because you like the look of it, but the much thicker jaw will more easily allow you to drill for stout dogs should you ever want to add them.

Remember though that you'll permanently lose an extra 30mm of opening capacity; something to bear in mind if your vice, like my old Woden, doesn't have a particularly large capacity.
 

MusicMan

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Yes, I have dog holes in the front jaw, lining up with dog holes in the bench and they do come in useful.

Solid hardwood is perfectly OK, there's no need to laminate if you have a good piece. But laminate is good too, and can make good use of odd bits that are too thin to use on their own. And odd bits are more likely to be 20 - 25 mm thick than 40 - 50. If you laminate, look at the grain pattern and try to alternate the directions of the grain in the ends, eg ()() or \/\/, which will improve stability. They don't even have to be the same wood.
 

bp122

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ED65":3449hwi8 said:
30mm is pretty thick, that'll likely be good enough. Many people extend the jaws (perhaps not double, but quite a bit) using ply and that's much less stiff than solid wood.

If you do want to go thicker on the moving jaw, go thicker. Even if just because you like the look of it, but the much thicker jaw will more easily allow you to drill for stout dogs should you ever want to add them.

Remember though that you'll permanently lose an extra 30mm of opening capacity; something to bear in mind if your vice, like my old Woden, doesn't have a particularly large capacity.
That is the plan now :D
Regarding the capacity, the vise opens up to over 250 mm now, but after clamping to the table and using thicker jaws, I still could end up with 150 mm or more, so it shouldn't be that much of an issue, I think - but a good point to consider.
 

Rich C

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Mine is lined with 12mm ply and 1mm leather on the outer jaw. I should probably reline it with something a bit stouter, but it does for now.
 

rafezetter

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phil.p":3l2q4oa9 said:
I used the softest bit of softwood I could find - it would deform before before anything I clamped in it.
I also used softwood with similar reasoning, new fastgrowth pine (no knots) - Honestly I can't tell any difference in clamping power on the outer edges between my pine faced record 53 and my hardwood faced moxon vice.

Both give me ridiculous clamping power before the "toe-in" or "spring" or whatever it's called closes flat at the bottom.
 

MikeG.

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bp122":1qq29ihc said:
........Regarding the capacity, the vise opens up to over 250 mm now, but after clamping to the table and using thicker jaws, I still could end up with 150 mm or more, so it shouldn't be that much of an issue, I think - but a good point to consider.
Vice.

That wouldn't work for me. I frequently hold stuff wider than 150mm, and sometimes find my c.250mm limit a bit restrictive. Before you commit to losing so much capacity, why don't you use the vice for a bit and see what works for you.
 

novocaine

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I've got engineered hardwood floor on both faces.
it's a vice, line it with what ever you have to hand and get on with making something. :)
 
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