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Thread: Leather vise jaws

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    218

    Leather vise jaws

    I have a SYP bench with a traditional shoulder vise (Klausz-style). I'd like to add leather to improve grip, and have a few questions:

    1) Should the skin side or the suede side face the workpiece, or does it matter?

    2) The hides I have are very thin (split?). Should I double them to provide a little more give in the face?

    3) Should I put leather on the fixed jaw as well, or omit it so that that surface of the jaw is perfectly coplanar with the rest of the front surface of the bench?

    4) Does it matter how the leather was tanned? I have no idea on the ones I inherited, and don't know how to recognize different tanning.

    5) What glue should I use? Contact cement? Bench is finished with pure tung oil (fully cured). Should I put a coat of shellac where I will be gluing, to make it easier when it comes time to replace the leather?

    6) What question am I not smart enough to ask, and what is the answer?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, Pa
    Posts
    2,266
    Alex
    I keep a piece of soft, worn-out purse leather, about 1' x 1', close at hand, and when I am clamping something I don't want marked, just put over the vise jaws and tighten. Good grip; no marks. As to gluing, yellow PVA would work fine.
    Alan Turner
    Philadelphia Furniture Workshop

  3. #3
    You want leather as thick as you can find it. Vegetable-tanned tooling leather on eBay in heavy weights is fine. Mount it using contact cement. Lasts 5-10 years unless you solder on that vise.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/965-3-Hide-Natur...QQcmdZViewItem



    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 07-06-2007 at 3:05 PM.
    “Perhaps then, you will say, ‘But where can one have a boat like that built today?’ And I will tell you that there are still some honest men who can sharpen a saw, plane, or adze...men (who) live and work in out of the way places, but that is lucky, for they can acquire materials for one third of city prices. Best, some of these gentlemen’s boatshops are in places where nothing but the occasional honk of a wild goose will distract them from their work.” -- L Francis Herreshoff

  4. #4
    A friend of mine had some old leather that was used on a seat of a chair, the chair was a tube frame.

    Anyway, the heavy leather works great for me

    Take care,
    Jim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    218
    Nice looking bench from what I can see of it! From the photo, it looks like you have glued the leather skin-side-out (judging from the slight sheen I see). Is that correct?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Yeilding View Post
    Nice looking bench from what I can see of it! From the photo, it looks like you have glued the leather skin-side-out (judging from the slight sheen I see). Is that correct?
    Thanks...I have had it now for a few years




    I glued the leather using yellow wood glue, you could use hide glue too. When I need to I'll just resurface it again with more of the same leather.

    Take care,
    Jim

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
    Posts
    143
    I lined both faces of my Record vise and tail vise with leather. It is at least 3/16 thick, mounted skin side out. I believe I put it on with contact cement, but have no idea of how it was tanned. This leather is at least 20 years old. It wears well and is kind to whatever I clamp in it. Get the thickest leather you can.

    Larry
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Etobicoke, Ontario
    Posts
    415
    Always nice to see that bench Jim. You did a great job!!!

    After using it for a few years, do you have any comments on the storage underneath? Does it get in the way of clamping? Would you make any changes? It's always interesting to hear user observations on specific bench designs.

    As to facing the jaws with leather? Alex, can you guess what I used for my leather supply?!?

    It just goes to show that hoarders eventually do find a use for all those things they stash away in basement nooks and crannies! I'm sure there are many of you that have an old weightlifting belt kicking around somewhere... The "W" is missing in the pick...

    I wasn't using mine much...as my waistline will attest to. I glued it on using Titebond II with the rough sides making contact with the wood. I don't find it slippery at all when gripping a piece of wood...and since I've installed it, I find I don't have to tighten the vise nearly as much as I previously would to get a solid purchase on just about anything...and the leather is 1/4" thick to boot!

    Cheers,
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Louis Bois
    "and so it goes..." Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Waterford, MI
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    4,673
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Smalser View Post
    You want leather as thick as you can find it. Vegetable-tanned tooling leather on eBay in heavy weights is fine. Mount it using contact cement. Lasts 5-10 years unless you solder on that vise.
    ...
    Bob
    I was kind of planning on finishing my jaws (purpleheart) with epoxy just because I'll be using that on the benchtop (vertical laminated BB ply with PH for the edging around the top). Would the contact cement work over top of the epoxy? Or should I mask off the jaw faces when I finish them and leave them dry for the contact cement & leather?
    Use the fence Luke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Waterford, MI
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    4,673
    Well I'm a few weeks away from even having my vise jaws ready for this but I managed to find a really THICK piece of vegetable tanned Buffalo leather on eBay

    Part Hide of Genuine Veg tanned North American Bison Leather. This hide measures approx 3.4 sq ft and guges at a heafty 18 oz. plus or 1/4" plus. This is a one of a kind product very thick and nice. Tiles in the picture are 12" X 12"..............
    BuffaloLeather.jpg

    but I have a question. I've noticed this even on thinner cowhide leather as well but maybe less pronounced on the thinner stuff. In the pic near the left you can see a wrinkle of sorts. Do you need to try and flatten this out first and if so how? Or will simply glueing it down while using a roller then pressing it in the vise flatten it?
    Use the fence Luke

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Virginia Beach Va
    Posts
    381

    Flatten it with the vise

    When I glued mine, I just put some waxed paper ( or those plastic grocery bags) in between the 2 peices and clamped them in the vise itself while the glue set up.

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