In Tricks of the Trade

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Venetian blinds purchased from a home center come in a variety of standard sizes. They are cut to the correct width by the retailer, but to adjust the height you remove a number of the slats at home.

If you’re like me, you hold on to these extra slats because “someday you will find a use for them.” For me that day finally came; I used the extra slats to make spacers to keep my vise from racking.

Unless you are able to clamp a piece in the center of your vise, the jaws will rack, or skew, as you tighten them. This makes it difficult to firmly grip the workpiece in the vise and can damage the work or your vise.

You can always use a board of similar thickness to prevent racking, however, unless you have three hands it’s difficult to hold the workpiece and the board in place while tightening the vise. Invariably, the board or your workpiece (or both) slips loose and falls to the floor.

Commercial vise-rack stops are available, but making one out of extra Venetian blind slats is pretty easy. Cut a number of 2″-wide x 1⁄8″ thick-slats into 5″ lengths. Round the edges using your band saw (it is best to tape them together and cut them all at once). Then, at one end, drill a 9⁄16″ hole through the slats.

Using a 2″ hole cutter, cut two discs and drill a 1⁄2″ hole in each. Insert a 1⁄2″ dowel through the hole in the slats and glue one of the discs to each end of the dowel.

To prevent the vise from racking, insert as many of the segments of the slats as needed to match the thickness of the workpiece being held in the vise. The discs prevent the vise-rack stop from falling through the jaws and onto the floor when you tighten or loosen the vise. -Peter Marcucci

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