Vise jaws

My best vise has loose jaws, which are too hard for some work, and let heavy items slip.
I'm thinking of making (1) soft jaws (aluminum, maybe copper)
(2) step jaws (so I can hold something and hammer down on it) (3) curved-face jaws (to hold pipe) (4) milled jaws (to hold). (5) V-block jaws (a V that stays put on the fixed jaw, but leave the moving jaw flat)
So, are there any tricks? The jaws are held by 1/4-20 cheesehead Phillips screws; I'm likely to go with flathead socket screws for the refit, 'cuz an allen wrench fits better than a shorty Phillips screwdriver, and a flathead counterbore can force the jaws down into their seat.
If there's too much clearance, can I bend an ell in shim stock and put that between the body and the jaws (seems like that SHOULD work)?
Is there an aftermarket for vise jaw inserts I can shop in?
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whit3rd wrote:

I have made a bunch of different jaws. I used a mill to true up the factory jaw seat. I use socket head screws for the stated reason as well. I made one wide set as well. The longer surface grips a larger surface. Allows wide objects more support. On those I milled them with a slight curve so that the curve compensates for the flex of the longer jaws.
Watch out for the hammering on the vice. Some of them really don't like that.
--
Steve W.

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My large bench vice, 100 pounds or so was sold to my dad as scrap. It was perfect but had one jaw welded upon and messy.
He milled a Al-T6 grade aluminum bar, used the original screws and now it sits outside my shop (under a large 15x30' cover in front. THe one soft jaw (more or less) protects crunching something.
Martin
On 9/5/2012 11:30 AM, Steve W. wrote:

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You don't HAVE to replace the inserts. I've made sheet copper covers from scrap flashing for more-or-less non-marring holding. I have also bought urethane covers with magnets. A whole lot faster than getting hex keys out and swapping jaws. If you need the full opening of the vise, though, they'd be handy. One old-timey shop tip book I've got somewhere suggests using masonite slabs with leather glued on for delicate holding, the bottoms are "U"ed out to clear the vise screw. Lead sheet works for a jaw cover as well, more scrap. But if you need a project, have at it. One thing I'll probably do one of these days is to make a set of sheetmetal bender jaws, they stand proud about an inch or so and have 45 degree bevels on the edges. For doing small sheetmetal projects where the big bender is too big.
Scan the specialty hobby tool places for the magnetic vise jaws, I think Brownell's has some stuff like that as well.
Stan
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rOn Fri, 7 Sep 2012 09:42:42 -0700 (PDT), Stanley Schaefer

Years ago I got mad at vise jaws marring something and in spare moments made a set of solid flat jaws from scrap 4140, hardened them to RC 60 and then ground them perfectly flat and smooth on the face. It is amazing how much you can hold with flat, ground finished, vise jaws without leaving a mark.
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