Shop-Made Rocker Jaw
One simple board, cut into the
shape of a seesaw, can make a huge
improvement to your vise. It allows
you to firmly hold tapered work and
long, upright boards off to the side of
For a tapered piece, such as the
leg shown here, place the rocker in
the middle of the vise. The rocker will
automatically rotate to match the leg’s
taper as you tighten the vise.
For a long board, move the rocker to the end of
the vise. As you tighten the vise, the front jaw will
twist a bit—an unavoidable condition known as
“racking.” Th e rocker compensates for racking and
applies even pressure across the front face of the
board. Without the rocker, you know what happens:
As the vise racks, it only pinches the left edge of the
board, and the board is free to rotate. Not good. The
rocker neatly solves this age-old problem.
To make the rocker, you’ll need a board that’s
about 1-3/4" thick, as wide as your vise is deep and a
little longer than your vise’s jaws. I made the curved
portion 2-3/4" dia., but there are no critical dimensions.
Just draw the shape on the board’s edge and cut
it out on a bandsaw.
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April/May 2012, issue #159.