New Jaws for 6" Wilton
© Frank Ford 2005; Photos by FF


A couple of years ago I was looking around for a new bench vise, and my Enco sale flyer landed with a pretty good deal on the six inch Wilton of my dreams, so I took the plunge. The first thing I did after mounting it on the bench was to make a pair of new jaws from some 1" x 2" cold rolled steel. The original jaws are hardened and serrated, and I suppose they grip like crazy. But I really don't want to scar up everything I clamp, so I figured some flat jaws would be more useful for my general work.


My new jaws are an inch longer and hang over each end 1/2", so now I have a seven inch vise:


And, I made the jaws 1/2" taller, extending and mortising them them below:

I ran a V-groove horizontally in the back jaw, and vertically in the front one to help in gripping small round items:

It has been a couple of years and the jaws have held up nicely although they do have their battle scars.

As the top gets boogered up, I can simply true it lightly with a big double cut file:

And when Mr. Bugatti's ghost comes around, I can switch my original new jaws back into the vise to remove the evidence of my poor machinist technique!

While I was at it, I also made a pair of brass jaw caps. I milled some 1/2" thick brass stock, and set in some small magnets to hold them in place. This is an updated photo from June of 2009 - I'd recently taken my soft steel jaws over to the mill for a bit of cleanup:


Update, June 2009:

While I had the jaws on the mill for a bit of cleanup, I counterbored the screw holes to 1/2" so I could mount some accessory jaws:


This is the most important set of soft jaws. I made them from some scrap phenolic coated birch ply:

The working faces have leather laminated with epoxy. Two 1/2" studs keep them from slipping around, and the tiny magnets hold them nicely against the steel jaws. If you've never used leather faced wood jaws - you might want to give 'em a try. They take pretty serious abuse and hold parts like crazy without marring anything:

I think they are way better than rubber faced soft jaws, which tend to let stuff slip or move.

In the years since I made the soft steel jaws for this vise, I've never actually reinstalled the hard serrated ones. So, I turned the heads some 3/8" socket screws to 1/2" so they would fit my soft steel jaws:


Now, if I need to grip something where the bite marks won't be a problem, I can simply stick the hard jaws in place for temporary duty:



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