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I recently came across another handy solution to prevent jaw-racking when clamping a workpiece on the side of a vise. Most parallel vises tend to rack in such scenarios, but there are situations where clamping on the jaws’ right or left sides becomes necessary, especially when working with long pieces to bypass the central screw.

To address this predicament, there are a couple of options available. One approach is to assemble a makeshift shim stack using thin shims and a screw, customized to match the object’s thickness. Another option is to purchase a readymade shim stack, such as Lee Valley’s Vise Rack Stop or the Clarke Brothers Bench Vise Spacers.

Two of the commercially available shim stacks for preventing jaw-racking.

The Lee Valley is on the right, and the Clarke Brothers is on the left.

The Lee Valley’s Vise Rack Stop and Clarke Brothers Bench Vise Spacers products perform well in preventing jaw-racking. However, I found the Taiwanese-made Clarke Brothers spacers to be more compact and easier to work with. Clarke Brothers’ smaller size proved particularly helpful when I needed to secure a small wooden part, specifically a box latch, in my Pattern Maker’s Carving Vise. This vise, designed for intricate or small objects, inherently exhibits some jaw-racking to accommodate tapered workpieces. To successfully hold a small part on one side of the vise, I utilized a shim stack comprising the Clarke Brothers spacers.

When clamping on one side of the vise, the vise tends to rack.

Stack shims to match the thickness of the workpiece and tuck them in between the jaws on the opposite side of the workpiece.

Without a shim stack to prevent racking.

Using the stack of shims in the Pattern Maker’s Carving Vise.

I appreciated the lightweight and compact nature of the Clarke Brothers spacers, as they seamlessly fit into the opposite end of the jaws. This convenience made a significant difference in my workflow, allowing for secure clamping without compromising the stability of the vise.

The Clarke Brothers Vise Spacers provide an effective and user-friendly solution to prevent jaw-racking in all vises. Their compact design and reliable performance make them an invaluable tool for securely holding small parts. I am grateful for the convenience they offer in my woodworking projects.

And when the shims’ job is done, I can conveniently store them over the vise’s bars.

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