If You Don’t Want To Buy A Cow…

by | Feb 7, 2013 | 14 comments

When I posted about suede a couple of weeks ago  a great suggestion was made by Paul Chapman. I’d written about just how effective suede can be for adding grip to any vice though I’ve never really come across anywhere that sells it in small quantities – we always have to buy a full hide! Paul’s idea was to use a piece of chamois leather and since this is so easily available I thought I’d have to give it a try. I found some in our local hardware store for just a few pounds and this really is a sleepy old town; if they sell it here I expect you could find it almost anywhere!
A chamois cloth (designed for cleaning windows, cars etc) is real leather with a nice suede texture that’s perfect for griping. The downside is it’s very thin so will probably wear a little faster but I’ve put it to the test this morning and wanted to confirm that it is excellent for lining a vice jaw!

So a big thanks to Paul for finally providing me with an answer to one of our frequently asked questions – where to buy a small quantity of suede?

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken

    Nice job 😉

  2. Paul Chapman

    Pleased to hear that worked OK.

  3. bob putman

    thank you paul for giving us the product idea, in most towns, an auto store would have it, and here in the us, im sure wal mart would have it…maybe you said this already, but what type of glue is good to use for this.

  4. Stephen Halliday

    Hi Richard, what glue do you use to apply the suede?
    Thanks, Stephen.

  5. Paul

    Hey fellas, hide glue, of course!

    Now we’ll await Richard’s non-jocular response.

    I picked up a nice piece of tanned skin from eBay (in Australia). Cheap, too. You could try your respective countries’ eBay sites.

    Regards for Oz,


  6. Ken

    Stephen, To quote Richard,contact adhesive is best for this

  7. Richard

    Yep, thanks Ken, I always use contact adhesive these days as it’s strong and a hell of a lot easier than having pva dripping all over. Pva does stick ok though but on thin stuff like this I’d worry about it soaking through. Double sided carpet tape’s another good one and of course there’s always hide glue 😉
    That’s a good suggestion Paul, good old fleaBay can be good for anything slightly obscure like this.

  8. Martin

    I bought a welders apron off amazon for a few pounds. It is thicker than chamois but probably less ethical than buying from your local shop. I used it to line the jaws of my tall ‘joiners bench’ with a long 42 x 4″ jaw. There was enough in one apron for 2 jaws. Main thing is it grips very nicely.

    • Richard

      Another good one, I love all of these creative ways for people to get their hands on suede. A few pounds for an apron sounds like bloody good value!

  9. Ken

    Thanks Martin, great tip 😉

  10. Bernard Naish

    I can usually buy all sorts of leather in small quantities on eBay. Try

    Doing an eBay search for suede leather and selecting UK only and buy now and leather craft filters returned 66 small quantities of suede leather.

    Chamois leather is more robust than we might think and as it is thinner may not give the slight give from thicker material.

    • Richard

      Thanks for the examples, they should making the search nice and quick!

      • Guillermo

        The easy way to get this done is to use the back (unfinished side) of a piece of leather. The smooth surface is roughen up a bit with sand paper before applying glue and gluing it to the vise jaw.

  11. Darrel Olsen

    If you need a small amount of leather, you should contact a local automotive upholstery shop. Most shops would be glad to sell or even you for free a small amount. As a shop owner I should know.


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