• Saturday, January 31st, 2015

tail vise liner

The jaws of the traditional tail vise on my old Ulmia workbench seem to the eye to meet accurately but there must be a minute misalignment because in use the grab on the work piece was slightly inconsistent across the full area of the bare jaw surfaces. Paring or scraping tiny corrections on the end grain surfaces of the jaws would have been difficult if not impossible to get right.

Then too, the opposite faces of the work piece not being precisely parallel may also cause an imperfect grip. And the smooth end grain of hardwood does not have much gripping power anyway.

The solution is to line the jaws with material that is firm but with a just bit of give to compensate for such those slight misalignments. It should also be somewhat grippy but not too much, which would prevent adjusting the work piece position when the vise is partially loosened.

I’ve tried various liners such as thin rubbery material and cork but there is no equal to leather – real leather. Cowhide lace leather works very well. This is tough, firm leather, almost 1/8″ thick (thick enough to make laces). Here is one source.

lace leather

lace leather

I applied it with Nexabond 2500M CA glue, rough side out. A little experimenting showed that the rough side grips better than the smooth side, though surprisingly there is not much difference. The rough surface does not seem to make impressions even in soft species like poplar.

The tail vise now has a monster grip. Yet backing off the pressure on the vise makes it easy to reposition the work piece, such as when adjusting the angle when sawing tenons.

tail vise

Category: Tools and Shop
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4 Responses

  1. 1
    Tico Vogt 

    I forget the name of the common type of sheet goods dark brown with a waxy face and a stamped face. I used it to line my vice jaw faces, stamped face out and it works great. No slippage and easy to tighten against.

  2. thanx for the link to the leather

  3. 3

    Thanks for this great little post. I ready to build a bench. You answered and confirmed by research perfectly.

    I found a nice piece ( 3 x 4 ft ) on ebay.

    You are in my list


  4. 4


    Masonite (hardboard). In some families, I think they call it meatloaf.

    Thanks for the tip.