50 Year Old Vise Restoration- Using Basic Tools

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Introduction: 50 Year Old Vise Restoration- Using Basic Tools

I've been wanting to buy a vise for a long time, But vises are very expensive.

Luckily, Yesterday, When I was helping my grandpa organize and arrange some tools in his toolboxes, We found a really old vise, It turns out that my great-grandpa used it to make all sorts of different plaster and clay sculptures!

After hearing that it's over 50 years old, I wasn't surprised to see that it rusted and was covered in dirt. I didn't want to leave it this way, Especially if I wanted to keep it in my room, This wouldn't look really good.

I decided to do a quick google search to see if I can find any tips on how to fix it, And I was pretty bummed to see that there were only a few tutorials, Which weren't that great...

Then I remembered Jimmy Diresta, I've seen him do many "tool restoration" videos, I knew that I didn't have the expensive tools that he has but it still would have been better than nothing, But even he didn't have any vise restoration videos! So I had to think of everything myself, And what you're seeing here is what I did.

I will let you know that my camera is a pretty pessimistic camera, The pictures don't show a very big difference in the before and after but trust me that there is a dramatic difference

Okay, Let's get to work!

Step 1: What You'll Need:

Tools & Materials (sorting them separately doesn't really work):

1. Utility Knife (Preferably one with an old blade)

2. 4-Grit Sand-Paper (Improvisation: Steel Wool Cleaner from the kitchen)

3. 1-2 Paper Towel Squares

4. WD-40 (Improvisation: Vegetable Oil from the kitchen)

5. Dust Mask (optional)

6. Leather Gloves (optional)

7. And Obviously, A Vise

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You might also want to Rust-Proof (coat) and Spray-Paint the vise, I might do this but I still haven't decided (I'll add a picture here if I'll do it)

Adding grease to the Main Screw is always a good idea, But mine still works very smooth, Even after 50 years!

Step 2: Scrape Off the "Aggressive" Dirt & Rust With a Utility Knife

I used a Utility Knife to scrape off most of the dirt, By applying some pressure while scraping, The knife should remove most of the dirt.

I did this for about half an hour, Turns out it's pretty fun!

Step 3: Spray WD-40, and Wipe It Off

I sprayed each part of the vise a couple times, And then wiped it off with a paper towel. I also found out that the WD-40 helps remove more dirt from the vise.

Nothing can make you happier than having to use more paper towels because so much rust is removed!

Step 4: Sand the Vise

I sanded the Vise with 4-Grit Sandpaper, Anything close to 4-Grit will work fine, But sanding blocks don't work, I tried them.

Sand until you reach the point that you think it is good enough, And then keep sanding, You can't really over-sand so "The more the better" :)

But seriously, Sand the vise until it is clean and shiny

Step 5: Done!

I will say it again, My camera is pessimistic, It looks so much better in real life!

Now you can do whatever you want with it: Paint, Grease, Install, And have fun!

I'm sure that I will over-over-over use it! So happy to finally have a vise

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    22 Comments

    I'm not certain, but it may be possible to take that vise apart to better restore it. Have you tried screwing the rear jaw(the moving one) all the way back? For some of the old vises I have seen with a moving rear jaw, it is possible to completely back the rear jaw off the screw - and then slide it off the base. If you can do this you should be able to access everything much easier.

    Something my father taught me -

    Use synthetic heavy axle grease for the screw and the lands where the jaw slides. The heavier grease will last far longer and protect the metal from rust. You also do not have to use as much grease. If you do this, try to avoid spraying WD-40 or any other lubrication fluids that are used for 'loosening' rusted or stuck screws - these also have a solvent in them that can break-down any grease used to protect the vise.

    Yes, I can take it apart. The problem with grease is that the dust sticks to it. I clean and replace it pretty often

    A real easy way to prep is to drop it in a vat of coke for 24 hours come back rinse in alcohol the fine sane prime and paint. oh and of course oil it up.

    I'm not sure that would be the best idea, Coke might ruin the mechanics or something inside.

    Even if I put it in Coke, I'd still have to: Scrape off dirt, Oil it, And sand it. I'd also had to wash it thoroughly after (the project also wouldn't have been free that way)

    there's quite some acid in coke... so it's more or less the acid bath mentioned before. Give it a good rinse with water afterwards.. you don't want sugar in the vice :)

    also.. grease the screwpart of the vice after cleaning it (you could use an old toothbrush for that) ... cause otherwise it might become rusty again.. and ut runs smoother :)

    I was wondering about the screw part, It was the only part of the whole Vise that didn't rust (See: Picture #1, Step #2).

    You might be able to see in the fist picture of the Instructable that there is some rust on the edge of the screw, But I think that the rust just dripped (or something like that) on to the screw, Because the inner part didn't rust. I'll grease it anyway...

    probably stainless steel

    sand blasting or an acid bath would be ideal, followed by prime and paint.

    I've never heard of any of those words, Looked them up, And they all sound like a good idea.

    For now it's good enough, But I think I will paint it soon, Do you have any tips for painting the vise? Should I use Spray Paint?

    Use automotive engine paint from an auto supply store. Plastikote is my preference. It's tough, grips bare metal, and is resistant to oil and most chemicals.