==>Yeti coozie Didn't know about those -- looks good... Actually, the best $15 spent last week was a cup holder for the lawnmower ==>steam iron Tend to use the steam iron method on finished pieces -- a bit more control... While the piece is still in the shop, I use the boiling water method -- it seems to work better on the type of dents I manage to impart... I've tried the water/alcohol/fire method, but it doesn't seem to work well for me... For the really deep dents, I use the soldering iron & water method. When I need to limit collateral damage, I use PEG.
I would definitely use the maple.You will want something hard. If your maple is not thick enough to do as wdwerker suggests you can always laminate 2 or more pieces together. Its a vice so that kind of thing wouldn't matter. Over time these jaws will get a bit chewed up. And that will happen quicker using poplar. Good luck!