For as long as I have worked with wood–some 45 years–metal hasn't gotten any softer and wood hasn't gotten any harder. To soften the "bite" of the metal jaw faces of my vise, I cover them with vinyl drafting board cover material. This stuff makes a good cushion, is easy to cut and apply with contact cement, and stands up to constant abuse. Also, because it's thin, you don't lose as much jaw capacity as you do with wood-faced jaws.—Chester Blake, Walla Walla, Wash.