Make an Auxiliary Vise Jaw to Hold Awkward Pieces

How often have you tried to clamp a tapered, oval, or round workpiece in your vise and wished that one of the vise’s jaws would conform to the shape of the part you are clamping?

It happened to me quite often and at one point (five years ago to be exact), after using a Wilton vise with a pivoting jaw for the first time, I came up with a solution. I sketched out a few ideas and set up to build a prototype for what I call an auxiliary triangle vise jaw.

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sc00ea3b26My idea (which I am almost sure had been thought of and devised by others before me) was published in American Woodworking magazine a few years ago (Issue #159, April/May 2012).

Recently, I needed to clamp a rather odd shape object in my vise. It was the head of logging peavey (a hook tool used to role or turn over logs) that I was restoring (I will blog about it in the future). Because I couldn’t find my old auxiliary triangle vise jaw, I decided to make a new one.

Here’s how you do this:

  1. Choose a nice blank of hard wood (I used pine, but you should make it from harder wood).
  2. Using a cutting gauge, establish a serrated line along the middle of the jaw’s face.
  3. Using a chisel, a V-gouge, or better yet a shoulder plane, start grooving the middle trench (the trench will help you nest rounded objects while clamping). To make the trench, place the shoulder plane’s corner in the serrated line while keeping it tilted toward one side. Now begin pushing the plane to shave away one wall of the V-shaped trench. After a few plane strokes, alternate the angle of the plane and begin grooving the adjacent wall. Repeat this process until the right trench depth is established.
  4. Now draw the jaw’s design on its side. Saw out the triangle and shape it with a plane, a chisel and files. One of the fun parts of making the jaw is rounding over the triangle apex. I did this with a wide chisel followed by a rasp.

Your auxiliary triangle vise jaw is now ready to use.

Below are pictures of my old jaw and the new jaw as it holds the peavey head.

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DSCN1317 DSCN1319 DSCN1320 DSCN1321 DSCN1322— Yoav Liberman

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