Hi Guys & Gals,

Anybody willing to share their thoughts with me about what material is best for protecting wood and finishes when held securely under normal pressure? I have 1/8" thick leather on my vise jaws and have had no problems. I notice StewMac uses urethane on their tools.

I'm building an Erlewine style neck jig to try out and I'm curious what your experiences with various materials are.


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I use a glued sandwich with a 3 mm thick natural crude rubber yoga mat topped with a piece of bath towel on my neck cauls. The rubber is both soft and hard and the towel will not do anything chemical to the lacquer (as the crude rubber may).

A couple of slides wont hurt. I buy the nice oak neck supports from Rall Guitars. On the new one I reused the felt, on the old one it's a bath towel on top. I make the end edges smooth with a rasp before gluing.

I've always used leather because it can be glued solidly to wood backing.  Never any problems, never the slipping or ungluing of urethane or rubber.  Check this article on how to make the best protective jaws for the best guitar repair vise:

VERSA VISE diversity and use

Thanks Roger and Frank,

Frank, When I first started buying tools for guitar work I found this article, bought a Shop Fox vise and made these jaws. I have been very happy with it! I added a couple of small magnets at the apex of the curve so they snap right in and the front jaw follows the vise as I move it in and out.  I also added a hand wheel which I highly recommend. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the rest of us.  It's been a huge help to me for sure.


That vise and the improved jaws looks really good! Will replace my standard metal worker one with one of these. Now I get some of the versatility of the "parrot vise" by putting the small Stewmac "Nut and Saddle Vise" in the big one.

Garret Wade sells the same vise sold by Grizzly but with an extra arm, which I think came with one of the other iterations of the versa vise. I thought it was so cool I ordered the vise even though I already had one. I complained about the arm not being available as an accessory and was told to call customer service. After a bit of confusion, I was put in touch with the fulfillment manager (now that's a job title) who explained that the auxiliary arm is indeed available as an accessory. You will need to drill and tap the back of your vise for an extra thumbscrew, but they have a drill and tap set that should come with the arm. GW first sold the vises with the drill and tap left up to the customer, but got enough feedback to supply the vises already drilled.

I replaced the thumbscrews with adjustable lever handles (shown here) which gives better and easier leverage and saves my knuckles.


That's a nice accessory, Joshua.  I've never seen that before. Thanks for the heads up!

Jon , I am trying to modify my parrot vise to a hand wheel like yours but, I;m having trouble finding a wheel with the right inner diameter. How did you make yours fit?  Jeff

Hi Jeff,

I pulled the screw out of the vise, cut the handle off, and turned the large O.D. of the screw down for a press fit in the wheel.  Being that this vise is for lutherie only there's never much torque applied to the handwheel. I also used the set screw in the handwheel for some added security.

If you don't have access to a lathe, a small machine shop would probably do it pretty cheap.  Bought my handwheel from McMaster-Carr.

Hope that helps,


Thanks Jon , It makes me wish I had a mill sometimes . I'm also working on the accessory arm that is available from G/W...$ 25 plus $ 10 shipping .

I use cork and leather. The neck rests can be fixed to the bench with screw knobs and fit the same holes as the versa vice.

 For about 16 years, I will buy any  weight lifter's belt I can find. It is about three times as thick as norman leather, and still has quite a bit of give. So many tools in my shop have it on their faces.

It works a charm



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