The big problem was the included vise. It was too flimsy and stood way too far away from the blade. If you're never cutting a piece less than 12" long it might work, but it's utterly useless cutting anything short.
The first thing I did was move the vise toward the saw by 1.5". That's as close as I could get it without the saw hitting the vise. At this distance the saw cuts slightly into the vise base, but that's fine. The vise's quick release lever needed to be slightly shortened so it wouldn't interfere with the saw. The bolt also interfered with the saw so I switched it out for a socket head cap screw on which I turned the head down to a smaller diameter.
Then I cut sections of 2" wide 1/8" steel plate to extend the vise jaws all the way to the edge of the saw blade. In addition, the fixed saw got an extra 1/8" plate bolted to its back to help stiffen it more. The plates and jaws were welded together at their edges. A brace was also added between the fixed jaw and the base.
|1/8" steel reinforcing plates welded into place.|
|Brace welded in place.|
Since the moving jaw on the bandsaw vise is on a pivot, if what you're clamping doesn't extend beyond the pivot, the whole jaw will rotate and won't clamp. To fix this I drilled a 1/2" hole in the fixed jaw on the end of the vise opposite the saw, and welded a 5/16" nut to the outside of it. I then took a piece of 5/16 threaded rod, red Loctited two nuts onto the end, turned the other end flat and chamfered it, and then threaded it through nut. Now I can quickly thread the rod through to space the moving jaw correctly.
|Threaded rod in place, screwed all the way out.|
|Threaded rod adjusted in to space the moving jaw.|
It's still not perfect, but it's very usable now.