Introduction: 10 MORE Bench Vise Tips, Tricks, & Hacks (Part 2)

Picture of 10 MORE Bench Vise Tips, Tricks, & Hacks (Part 2)

After searching for a bench vise for years, restoring a small one, and even after building a few vises, I FINALLY found and bought myself a big bench vise.

Does the excitement of owning a new, proper vise* + crazy popularity of my Instructable, Top 10 Vise Hacks (100,000 views in 20 days!) = another compilation of tips, tricks, modifications, ideas, and hacks for your bench vise?

Let's get started!

-

The video below is a compilation of my favorite tips from both the first Instructable in this series which I have linked to above, and this I'ble. It includes tips and tricks that I haven't Included in this I'ble, and VISE-versa.

Please watch the video once you retain yourself and stop laughing from my awful puns :)

(Watch the YouTube video: LINK FOR MOBILE VIEWERS!)

Step 1: Bearing Removal? Hammer Stuff Through the Space Between the Jaws!

Picture of Bearing Removal? Hammer Stuff Through the Space Between the Jaws!

So you want to remove a bearing from a rod, but don't own a bearing puller tool, or it simply just doesn't fit.

Open your vise jaws, and place the bearing over the jaws like I show in the second picture, and close it slowly until you reach the point where the rod can barely slide from side to side in the vise jaws. This is very important, since if you don't make sure that the inner race (inner part of the bearing) is what absorbs the pressure from the blow of the hammer, the bearing can break, making it useless if you actually want to keep the bearing like me. Then, to push the rod out of the bearing, I like to use a center punch and a hammer, and hammer slowly and carefully.

You can actually see me do this a few times in my video on how to salvage free bearings from stepper motors. I think I came up with this idea while filming that video, but I now realize you can use this trick for much more than removing bearings from shafts of motors. Taking apart speaker magnets to separate the ceramic magnet from the steel discs that can be used as a washer in other projects, putting gears on motors, and more!

Step 2: Denail Wood Faster!

Picture of Denail Wood Faster!

Unless we're talking about a massive 72ft 2X4* that you need to lift on your own, I've found that a vise works way better than any type of locking pliers for remove nails and staples from wood, and especially in harder woods. It can hold onto a tiny headless brad nail with way more force, and you have more leverage for pulling it out. I don't have a perfect example of this since I've already de-nailed all of my lumber, so I had to put a nail myself in some scrap wood.

I placed the board upside down, on the vise, and tightened up the jaws so they held the top of the nail, in this case, the head of the nail. Then, I pushed down on the other end of the board, making the edge of the vise jaw the leverage point, yanking the nail right out of the piece of wood! I

*Free 3 month premium membership to Instructables for the first one to comment below about which "72ft 2X4" I'm referring to ;)

Step 3: How to Make Magnetic Wooden Soft Jaws

Soft jaws are a great addition to any bench vise, and especially if you're like me and work mostly with materials that are softer than the vise jaws. I like these way more than my previous homemade vise jaws.

A thin piece of scrap wood, magnets, a popsicle stick, and some glue is pretty much what you need for this. These will NOT move around on you, unless you decide not to use them, which in my case, I store them on the anvil (striking part) or my vise when they aren't needed :)

Watch the quick 1-minute video on how to make magnetic wooden soft jaws by clicking here

Step 4: Crack Open Nuts (Even Macadamias!)

Picture of Crack Open Nuts (Even Macadamias!)

Some nuts such as walnuts are easy to break open without any tools, however, some others, like Macadamia nuts are pretty much impossible to break open without any tools. I don't think you can even break them with a hammer!

A vise, in a nutshell, is way faster and has more control than locking pliers. Pun intended, end of step!

Step 5: A Simple Way to Mount a Bench Vise Onto Your Workbench

I still have not received the waterproof tarp thing that I bought to cover my workbench when it rains, since it isn't protected very well form the elements. I wanted to able to remove it in a minute, without fussing around with holding the bottom nut while twisting to remove the bolt... I wanted to make it drill powered!

I decided that I wanted to make threads in the workbench itself, and for that, I I had to make my own wood tap. Watch the quick 1:20 minute video on how to make a wood tap from a bolt by clicking here!

I originally intended on using the exact same type of 3/8" bolt for the tapping and for the securing to the workbench, since I wanted to tap the holes with a drill, and then wanted to use the same socket wrench. I later found out I didn't the right adapter to use it in my drill, so after drilling all four holes, I had to do it all by hand (I show this in the video). Oh well, it should arrive soon from eBay, just in time to do some strength tests, because these are way stronger than I expected :)

This bolt has not been hardened, and after tapping around ten holes*, I still can't feel that it's getting duller. If you have any information on how to harden a bolt like this, if it's even possible, I'm looking forward to reading your comment!

*Yes, four for the workbench, but I had to experiment and make a few tests to see which sized drill bit works best - and I hereby present to you that the 8.5mm drill bit is the winner for both softwoods (Pine) and hardwoods (Beech).

Step 6: Eliminate the Annoying Clanking Sound!

Picture of Eliminate the Annoying Clanking Sound!

If you've ever tried to work quietly to not disturb others, you might know how awkward it is to try to turn the handle of a vise really quickly, so the rod stays in place and doesn't produce a pretty loud clanking sound when it falls.

Not anymore!

I originally thought of putting O-rings on the handle, but then found out I don't have any, so I decided to use some silicone spacers that I think I salvaged from a car stereo system. I think they were used to stop the PCB from rattling around from the vibrations of the car, but I'm not entirely sure. Problem solved, and I wish I thought of this earlier!

Step 7: Separate HDD Bases From Their Non-magnetic Backs

Picture of Separate HDD Bases From Their Non-magnetic Backs

If you've ever taken apart a hard drive, you'll know they usually contain a few extremely strong neodymium magnets, which are really useful for all sorts of projects. This excellent idea* helps you to remove the backer piece from the magnet without harming its magnetic properties with heat, or breaking it, like I've done multiple times in the past.

On a side note, though, if you don't need to remove the backer piece, I wouldn't remove it. The magnet itself is pretty brittle, meaning that if it falls on a hard floor or attracts quickly to a thick piece of metal, it can break or even shatter which can be dangerous. With that said, if you need to make the magnet thinner, don't worry about it too much :)

*I actually saw this great idea for the first time here on Instructables, in the Instructable Custom Wood & Aluminum Magnets From a Hard Drive almost 2 years ago. I knew remembering Ben's name would come in handy eventually!

Step 8: How to Mount a Bolt or Threaded Rod in a Vise Without Destroying the Threads

This is sort of a different one. A little over a year ago, I published the Instructable How to Remove a Stuck Nut (without Stripping Threading), and had a few people, such as CDT1 complain that all I show is how to clamp a bolt or threaded rod in a vise, and a few others requesting a video. If so, that means that it should be in this Instructable!

I came across a few threaded rods that I wanted to keep for future projects, but some of them had hex-nuts that were stuck, and I wasn't able to un-screw them. I could have held easily removed it by holding onto the threaded rod with from one side with locking pliers, and and the nut with a wrench, but that would damage the threads, making that part of the threaded rod unusable.

I screwed on two hex-nuts on the other side of the threaded rod, and tightened them together with pliers, doing what is normally called a "jam nut". This needs to be tight, but there is no need to overtighten. I then clamped both of the hex-nuts in my vise Like I show in picture 2 (might be #3 for some mobile device users), held the nut tightly with locking pliers, and twisted it off. In the video, I actually held onto the nut with my vise, and used locking pliers to hold and twist the jammed nuts - but it doesn't really matter.

I then removed the jam nuts with pliers, and... Tadaa!

I did, later, after opening my Youtube channel, make a video on how to remove a stuck nut (without stripping threading), and you can click here to watch it.

Step 9: Release Locking Pliers That Are Stuck

Picture of Release Locking Pliers That Are Stuck

If you've ever had to tighten your locking pliers (commonly known as vice grips) pretty much to death for a specific task, or if someone left them closed for too long, you might not be able to open them.

What do you do?

It's actually really simple!

You might've noticed that there is a part that is connected loosely to the moving handle of the locking pliers. It's called the release lever, and if you press on it hard enough with a vise, the pliers will spring back open. Do be careful though, because they will spring back extremely quickly and can break a finger. Been there, done that!

I̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶t̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶v̶i̶d̶e̶o̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶"̶<̶"̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶"̶>̶"̶ ̶k̶e̶y̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶o̶ ̶b̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶t̶h̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶w̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶r̶a̶m̶e̶s̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶p̶p̶e̶n̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶f̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶a̶m̶e̶r̶a̶ ̶(̶2̶4̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶3̶0̶ ̶F̶P̶S̶,̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶s̶u̶r̶e̶)̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶c̶a̶t̶c̶h̶ ̶i̶t̶!̶ I ended up not including it in the video, but I have kept the footage and will probably make a video of this soon. It might end up on my second channel though.

Step 10: A Simple Way to Rust Proof a Bench Vise Tomporarily

Picture of A Simple Way to Rust Proof a Bench Vise Tomporarily

Quick test - are you me!?

  1. You received an unpainted vise that's in a fairly good condition.
  2. You restored it, but left it unpainted since you thought it was unnecessary, because it's not worth the hassle and cost of primer and paint, etc.
  3. Once a year you need to work on a metalworking project ( my homemade folding knife from a file!), where you use water as a coolant, and are afraid of having your vise rust.

Here's a simple tip! Coat the parts of a vise that you know are going to get wet with a thin coat of vaseline (easier to apply and/or remove than candlewax), and then wipe it off with some toilet paper (it's not as coarse as a paper towel). A very thin coat should be left on the metal, and since it's very thin, sawdust shouldn't stick to it.

I haven't tried car wax though.

If you liked this idea, you might want to check out Mikeasaurus' Instructable for even more Unusual Uses for Vaseline!

Step 11: DONE! | More Thoughts | Compilation Video!

Watch these tips and tricks in action, on Youtube!

Some more thoughts:

  • My new vise is a YOST 4", but I think it's OEM or whatever that means, since I saw the same vise by other companies and colors. I bought it on Amazon for <$50 and like it so far - it hasn't snapped in half like so many others :)
  • I already have a few ideas for part THREE of this series, so if you have any special tips, please leave them in the comments below!


-

Are you following me on Instructables? Join 1000+ members that don't miss my future Instructables by clicking the button! (located at the top of my member page)

On YouTube, I upload quick videos of my projects in action, and much more - Subscribe so you don't miss out!

I read ALL comments, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, and any other ideas in the comments below! - Thanks!

-

You might like:

Unusual Uses for Broken & Dull Drill Bits

Comments

IAmADragonite (author)2017-12-12

Those are some clever ideas! Just with Number 5, be super careful as those threads can easily rip out of the wood. Adding a nut would make it much safer. A wing nut and washer would still allow it to be removed easily,

Yonatan24 (author)IAmADragonite2017-12-13

Thanks! These threads are surprisingly strong, actually. I tried to strip out the threads by driving the bolt into the wood, and ended up stopping not because the threads stripped, but because the bolt kept going, boring a hole for the head of the bolt!

I'm planning on testing this soon.

JoeJ6 (author)2017-12-08

Regarding your question about using a bolt to create threads in wood: First, though it is possible to add carbon to mild steel so that you can temper it, it is a lot more effort than it is worth. Instead, go to a good hardware store or an auto parts store and get a Grade 8 bolt. They are a bit more expensive than mild steel but are harder than a bankers heart. You won't be able to cut the groove with a file because the steel is too hard, but you can get inexpensive diamond cutting wheels that will fit in a drill or a drill press and you can cut the groove with that. Be patient and don't let the bolt build up too much heat as it will draw the temper. That said, unless you are doing a lot of thread cutting, if and when your mild steel bolt gets dull, it would be as cheap and easy to just buy another mild steel bolt and cut a groove in it. Good instructable, thank you

Yonatan24 (author)JoeJ62017-12-08

Thank you!

It isn't even close to being dull yet :)

HarryL28 (author)2017-12-08

If you're "hard on vises" i.e., hammer on them a lot, buy a cheapo Harbor Freight "heavy duty" vise. The castings are not pretty and are covered with Bondo-like material to make them smooth on the outside (errant hammer blows will reveal this), but they ARE strong and will handle much abuse. They also weigh about 25 pounds and require a STURDY. well-anchored bench (for pounding purposes).

Yonatan24 (author)HarryL282017-12-08

I've heard pretty bad stuff about HF vises, and they aren't available where I live anyway. I treat my tools as best as I can and hope to never ever need to buy another vise :)

ColdCountryBoy (author)2017-12-07

Hi, I've used a vice plenty of times to press a bearing back on too.

Yonatan24 (author)ColdCountryBoy2017-12-08

Same thing! :)

HarryL28 (author)2017-12-08

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Yonatan24 (author)HarryL282017-12-08

What I meant was that I saw a vise that looked exactly like this one but was sold as a different brand.

jdmorse (author)2017-12-02

I've done horrible things to vices over the year. Most of them don't get documented because my focus is on the project, not what I just used the vice for. Well done!

casino_trains (author)jdmorse2017-12-05

Mine have become boat anchors and have may to sell. Need to save up and buy the hard core vices. Good idea thought. Might have saved me but I am still hard on them. Doing part Blacksmithing and Welding takes a toll on mine.

Dang good hacks!

Yonatan24 (author)casino_trains2017-12-07

Thank you!

Yonatan24 (author)jdmorse2017-12-03

:)

What type of horrible stuff?

jdmorse (author)Yonatan242017-12-03

You can bend metal by clamping and then hammering. Form rod stock into circles. I use my mill vice as a press to form metal parts. Many things can be done with vices. If I was starting over from scratch, a sturdy bench with a good vice are among the first things I'd get.

Yonatan24 (author)jdmorse2017-12-03

That reminds me that I tried to make a metal flat bar bending jig with my vise a few months ago, but failed. I can't even remember what it was for...

Definitely one of my favorite tools!

sgbotsford (author)2017-12-06

Downside of vaseline: Attracts crud. If your shop is primarily a wood shop, the vice ends up coated with a layer of vaseline and fine sawdust. A small amount of carnuba wax dissolved in hot turpentine works well. Put in a spray bottle. Flammable. 2-5% wax. Idea is to leave only a thin film on the metal. Let sit for half an hour (depending on temp -- colder = longer) and buff off the excess. Works for tablesaw tops and saw blades too.

Tool companies sell a spray can of some wax in a carrier that does the same thing, and doesn't clog the nozzle.

Yonatan24 (author)sgbotsford2017-12-07

True. Wipe it off, so it leaves only a very fine coat is left. If you're in an indoor shop and your tools keep rusting, perhaps investing in a dehumidifier is a better option. This vise barely ever sees dust, and is left outside.

Steelsmith1 (author)2017-12-06

You can case harden a bolt like the tap is made out of if you first remove the plating. You can do that in muriatic (diluted hydrochloric acid) acid or vinegar. Vinegar takes longer but is much nicer to work with. After the plating is gone passivate the acid by rinsing in clean water, then putting baking soda in the water. To harden the bolt you have to heat it to a birght red, and melt sugar on it. leave hot for a while , wire brush with a hand, not power wire brushand melt and carbonize the sugar on it at a red heat P(this is red in dull light, not sunlight. Do this 3 times, then cool in cold water from the bright red heat. This will put a shallow very hard case hardening on the bolt's threads. Unless the plating is gone this will not work.

Yonatan24 (author)Steelsmith12017-12-07

Sugar!? Never heard of that. I've heard of case hardening, sounds like it should smell very nicely!

Msartist (author)2017-12-05

Good how to.
Reference the tap. Many bolts sold at big box stores are very soft steel and odds of hardening it is not good. However a Grade 8 bolt is hard and they can tap wood- aluminum. When cutting the flute/s don’t let it get hot
Many auto part stores have them. I live in a rural area and Tractor Supply has a full size range 1/4-1 inch.

Yonatan24 (author)Msartist 2017-12-05

Thanks, I just tried checking it with a few different files. It slides right off, which means it should be pretty hard, right? It must be a low carbon steel bolt since when I was grinding those slots/grooves, it got extremely hot and I can't find any parts where the steel turned blueish/brown. I should've checked how hot it was with an IR thermometer. I'm not used to working with steel that's this thick, though.

Here is a video that's currently unlisted, but should be made public a few weeks from now - the metal plate that I used is 2.5mm thick, and when cutting it with a Dremel, it didn't even get that hot. It feels about as hard with the file test, but it's hard to compare. Not sure if this has something to do with all of this though.

I used an old bolt from my grandpa's collection, so it's not some of these new Chinese bolts that I've heard are literally aluminum!

A handy qualitative test for how much carbon is in a bit of steel is the grinder spark test. The sparks from grinding mild steel are visually different from the sparks given off by tool steel. There are heaps of videos demonstrating this. Here' is just one:
It's easier to just get known samples of steel, though, and just do the test yourself since video can't really capture all the detail you can easily see for yourself. !שלום, חבר

Yup, forgot about that. I've seen videos of that being done before.

שלום!

Yes all above is correct. But bolts are made to exacting specs. Bolts have marking on the head. None. Soft. 3 lines grade 3. 5 lines. Grade 5. 6/8 lines grade 8 ( example heavy equipment fasteners. Track bolts etc

Yonatan24 (author)Msartist 2017-12-07

I can't see a mark on these, and many others.

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242017-12-05

Correction:

It says SBY on the bolt, which means

SHANGHAI BEN YUAN METAL PRODUCTS CO.

unless it's a coincidence :)

GaryR5 (author)2017-12-05

Good going young man.

I have many vices in my 2 shop's (3 if you include the basement!) If your shop is 40 feet wide X 80 feet long you need multiple work station's. They range from 2 inch to 10 inch vices. In over 50 year's of shop work I have never broke A Vice because an old timer told me that A vice is not an anvil and shouldn't be treated as one.

Yonatan24 (author)GaryR52017-12-07

Thank you, I have two, my small one that is kept inside, and the new blue one that its kept outside.

I find that a 4" size is just the right one, since if a piece of wood or anything else is bigger than 4", it is easier for me to work with it when it's clamped to my workbench. The price keeps changing and I don't understand why the 6.5" one costs almost half as much as the 6" one on Amazon, but it was also cheaper (10-$15 less?) and lighter!

mtairymd (author)2017-12-05

Nice tips! I saw this idea on instructables a while back (can't remember where) but the person mounted a belt sander upside down in the vice. I tried it and found it works great.

Yonatan24 (author)mtairymd2017-12-07

Yup, I've seen that before too. The closest one I have to that was step #5 in part 1 where I mounted a sharpening stone in my vise.

AlfieE2 (author)2017-12-05

Good ideas for novices but I take exception to hammering down on the jaws when they are loose. Without pressure on them the jaw plates will push down and heavy hammering can break off the cast iron lip that they sit on. I have seen this happen even on big (6") high quality Record vices. A better way is to slide the shaft into a piece of pipe, longer than the shaft, that will support the inner bearing race.

Yonatan24 (author)AlfieE22017-12-07

Hmmm... Wow! So this is good for light-ish duty work, if you don't have a pipe, and the chances of having the perfectly sized one if probably pretty low...

You can also drill a hole the size of the diameter of the shaft into a piece of aluminum or something like that, and hammer onto the shaft. I think I've done something similar to that with wood a while ago, but it should be obvious wood will compress after a few hits with a hammer.

spice_guy (author)2017-12-05

As you know, a drift punch is flat. A center punch being pointed can deform the end of the shaft whereas the drift punch is less likely to.

Yonatan24 (author)spice_guy2017-12-07

This punch tool thing has a 2mm flat bottom. I think it's from a relative of mine that used to work in a machine shop many years ago.

MattiV (author)2017-12-05

and all bearing have better press in to vise than hammer.

Yonatan24 (author)MattiV2017-12-07

What do you mean? I'm not sure I understand what you're meaning :)

MattiV (author)2017-12-05

make vise tread bacside rod and stepper motor you have motoriced vise if need and hand saft side can use normal.

Yonatan24 (author)MattiV2017-12-05

I'm not sure I understand exactly what you mean. Do you mean that I should connect a stepper motor to the end of the vise screw?

BillieW4 (author)2017-12-05

Instead of a center punch you should use a drift punch to drive shafts from bearings/gears.

Yonatan24 (author)BillieW42017-12-05

Why? Why is it better than anything else?

shaberli (author)Yonatan242017-12-05

Yonatan24,... because you do less damage to the end of the shaft and MORE important... less chance of damaging the shaft and EXANDING the end of the shaft with a center punch... Never use a center punch as a drift pin/punch

Yonatan24 (author)shaberli2017-12-05

So it's better to use a rod that's smaller by 2mm or so. I didn't think of that, will keep it in mind.

Popeye59 (author)Yonatan242017-12-05

A center punch has a pointed end and could damage the end of the shaft. A drift punch has a flat end and spreads out the impact to a wider surface are and is less likely to damage the end of the shaft.

Jake_Makes (author)2017-12-02

Those magnetic soft jaws my friend, those are stupid brilliant. Great idea!

MattiV (author)Jake_Makes2017-12-05

yes have good, you need many different soft jaws to vise, round tube, normal,vertical tube, hosintal,little pcb have good if jaws have groove or slot, i make 3D printer many different soft jaw whit magnet.

Yonatan24 (author)Jake_Makes2017-12-03

Thank you! Glad to hear you like them!

trike road poet (author)2017-12-03

If there is one truly vital tool in any shop, it is the oft overlooked vise! Great tips, and all of them going into my shop skills as I'll use every one!

Thank you! :)

About This Instructable

53,473views

181favorites

License:

Bio: 15 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!
More by Yonatan24:How to Enlarge a Washer (No Drill Press Needed!)How to Sharpen a Japanese Saw10 MORE Bench Vise Tips, Tricks, & Hacks (Part 2)
Add instructable to: