We’re always looking for ways to improve the grip of the vises on our workbenches. During the last decade I’ve discussed how to use suede or adhesive-backed cork to improve a vise’s gripping power. Benchcrafted recommends “Crubber” (which I haven’t tried yet) and many woodworkers simply use adhesive-backed sandpaper.
Last year, Jennie Alexander sent me a piece of 3M Safety-Walk 370 adhesive-backed tread to try on my vises and handscrews. And I’m embarrassed to admit it that I am just now getting around to playing with it.
The 370 tape is beefy stuff – the surface is a coarse grey polymer that gently grips your workpieces but won’t mar them (at least in my experience so far). The stuff is a bit expensive, but if you search around you’ll find companies that will sell you just a couple feet of the stuff instead of a 60’ roll.
In searching around, I found some other 3M Safety-Walk tapes at my home center including the 7636NA, which is a grittier abrasive that feels like heavy rubberized sandpaper. You can also buy this in 60’ rolls or the home center will sell you 15’ feet of the 4”-wide stuff for about $21.
I picked up a roll of the 7636 tape this week and have been experimenting with both to see which one I prefer.
Here are my initial experiences.
Both tapes are heavy-duty with a strong adhesive and can be easily cut with scissors. They lay flat and stick hard.
In comparing their holding power, both tapes increased the grip of my handscrews. But they are different. The rubbery 370 tape didn’t add as much grip, but it didn’t mar the work. When the work did slip, it was unscathed.
The black 7636 held the work better but when the piece eventually did slip (after putting all of my 185 lbs. on the workpiece), the tape left ugly scratches on the work – like what you’d get from #60-grit paper or coarser.
So I think I prefer the grey 370 stuff for woodworking.
— Christopher Schwarz
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