Introduction: Workbench Vise From Reclaimed Scissor Jack

Picture of Workbench Vise From Reclaimed Scissor Jack


1 reclaimed scissor jack The bigger the better. The longer and larger the threaded rod the better your vise will be. I got mine from the junkyard/auto salvage yard for $5

2 reclaimed oak false drawer fronts. My company was demolishing some old offices and I reclaimed whatever I could that I thought I might use one day in projects. Get and use whatever you have that meets your size needs though.

1 2x4

Various wood screws

Gorilla and wood glues

1 old 3/4" socket

1 really old Tommy Bar. I had one laying around. My Grandfather died 35 years ago. My father, brother and I eventually split up his tools. This Tommy Bar was his, as was the socket. It hasn't been used in that long. I am really glad to be giving it a second life. I'm even more glad to be using my grandfather's old tools.

In this instructable you will need to used a sawsall, a belt sander, a drill, a table saw and other power tools. Please wear eye protection and hearing protection. You are creative, motivated, productive people. We need you safe, healthy and moving.

Step 1: Free the Threaded Rod

Picture of Free the Threaded Rod

Cut the threaded rod out of the scissor jack. Save one of the tapped cross bars that are on the threaded rod.

Step 2: Prep the Drawer Faces

Picture of Prep the Drawer Faces

Cut the profiled trim off the tops of the drawer faces. This flat top will be flush with the top of your workbench.

Pair up the drawer fronts. Locate the positions you want the dowel slide to through. Locate where you want the rod to go through. Drill through the top face far enough with your spade bit to locate one the bottom drawer face. Then drill through the bottom part way from both sides to leave clean holes with no splintering.

Make sure the holes on the front drawer face are as tight on the dowels as possible. I had to sand the dowels down just a hair in order to hammer them on. I bored out the holes that the dowels would slide through a bit so it was snug but it could slide.

Cut a slot in the end of your dowels to receive wedges and hold everything tight later. I cut the slot all the way to the sanded shoulder that the drawer face will be snug up against. This was about 2 inches.

Step 3: Build the Tapped Bar Retainer Block

Picture of Build the Tapped Bar Retainer Block

The way I did this part works but it is not what you should do.

I matched up two 2x4 blocks that will hold the tapped bar. This is the tapped bar that was on the end of the threaded rod we cut off the scissor jack. Here is where I wasn't thinking. I matched the 2x4 blocks, located the space to hold the tapped bar and I dado cut half out of each 2x4.

What I should have done was dado cut the entire bar slot out of one block and been done with it. It would have saved me time and been much easier. Please learn from my mistake.

After cutting a slot to receive the tapped bar (the one you cut out of the scissor jasck), glue and screw the two 2x4s together on all sides to make a very solid block.

This block is going to be fixed to the under side of your workbench right behind the mounted vise face. The threaded rod must travel through it at the same distance below the work surface as your vise faces. I screwed and glued on the mounted face so the top was flush with the work surface. You'll see that in the next step. Then I held this block up to it's back side and scribed through the rod hole where the rod will travel through the block.

Step 4: Attach the Retainer Block and Bench Side Vise Jaw

Picture of Attach the Retainer Block and Bench Side Vise Jaw

I wasn't happy with the thickness of the scrap counter top that is my workbench so I glued and screwed an additional 2x4 under the counter top to support everything more and give it greater strength. You can see this in the first image. I was using one of the drawer faces to make sure the 2x4 was flush to the front of the counter top.

Then I cut a slot out of the support 2x4 to fit the tapped bar retainer block (image 2).

Next I glued the retainer block to the backside of the vise jaw so the threaded rod holes line up (image 3).

Last I glued and screwed the jaw face, the retainer block and the support 2x4 all together flush with the bench top. It is solid as a rock. If a tornado comes though all that will be left standing are the concrete walls of my basement and this vise.

Step 5: Attach Face and Handle

Picture of Attach Face and Handle

Slide the drawer face over the dowels to the sanded shoulders of the dowel.

Glue the hole and dowel slot

hammer dowel in close vise to to dry in that position

the exposed end of the threaded rod is a 3/4" hex head. I have a my grandfather's Tommy bar as mentioned or I have one of his old 3/4" sockets that I drive with my drill. I don't think I'll do that often. I don't want to crush anything in the vise or break the vise itself.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Wax holes and guide dowels. You may need to do this occasionally if things start binding. So far so good.

I also I applied spray urethane to the exposed unfinished surfaces of the vise to keep moisture and whatever I spill on it out.

If the throw on this (9") isn't long enough I may, one day, end up making some bench dogs and drilling some holes. But that is an instructable for another day.


allpurposeme (author)2017-02-06

If you don't want to go the old jack route there are also a few places online that sell acme threaded rod and matching nuts..
Nothing wrong with old jacks and it's always good to recycle if you can, but sometimes you need a specific size not always readily available in the junk yard.

Prodah (author)2016-04-11

This looks awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-04

Hi, I've added your project to the "Make Your Own Bench-Vise!" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

WillM42 (author)2016-01-19

DId you ever put in any dog holes?

Garwulff (author)WillM422016-01-19

No. I never did. I don't think I built up enough thickness in the face plate to drill holes into the thin long grain. Maybe I can find a way to make it work.

Or better yet, maybe you can on yours and post pictures to help me out.

WillM42 (author)Garwulff2016-02-03

imma give it a shot!

vicbran11263 (author)2015-09-17

Had an old jack laying around in the way . "Thanks" I just put it to good use .

monster30 (author)2015-07-21

awsome work ,added to my build list thanks for sharing,godbless

duhduhjohnson (author)2015-07-07

I'm in the process of designing and building a work bench for my garage. I'm putting one of these on it!

sosclosetsandfurniture (author)2015-07-04

Nicely done. I've got one of those old jacks sitting around. Gonna have to try that!

omr0915 (author)2015-07-03

Very good project, very well explained.

HueZo (author)2015-06-30

nice idea! the threaded rod is what ive ever needed.

ill upload a picture of the finished bench.

Garwulff (author)HueZo2015-07-02

Can't wait. Enjoy.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2015-06-30

great work, ey. It's doubly neat that you were able to honor your grandfather's legacy. I always wondered a good way to repurpose those jacks. (a letter press?)

Side story:

The old house my wife and I bought had an old bench it the garage. The top of the bench had been thru a lot, paint, burns, unknown chemical spills. Judging from the quality of work around the house, the guy tried to fix things. Not always successful but still worth mentioning. I ended up ripping the bench out but still felt that I was throwing away history. I kept a piece of the top. Last year, I built a tool flip cart (kind of like this one but just for two tools ) I ended up using a piece of the old work bench in a critical view point. Properly sized but joined. Others might say, "Why did you put this old piece of wood here? It doesn't match with the rest of the wood?"

Well, let me tell you a story...

Garwulff (author)Eh Lie Us!2015-07-02

I've admired the flip top tool table design as well. Very cool. Wish you'd have made an instructable on that build.

The threaded rod was so affordable and so handy I've been thinking of getting a couple more and making a small apple press for cider (the threading may be too wide for that), a bottle cutter, a tortilla/pizza dough press or a router lift. These are all BIG maybes.

I really like giving things a second life.

HarrisonEmbrey (author)2015-06-30

Really excellent job, and very inspirational too! Thanks

Garwulff (author)HarrisonEmbrey2015-07-02

Thanks so much!

haroldj1 (author)2015-06-30

One thing that isn't mentioned that I would do is to add a washer to the outer jaw to keep the wood from crushing where the leadscrew tightens against it. Great instructable.

Garwulff (author)haroldj12015-07-02

Good point. The drive nut on the threaded rod does have 2 washers on it already. I could see putting a larger one on to span the pressure more evenly. Thanks!

dglsrprt (author)2015-06-30

Great idea and scissor jacks are plentiful in the scrap yards

vincent7520 (author)2015-06-30

bravo !

I save the idea for a future project that is very well done.

Arnold Ziphle (author)2015-06-30

Nice work. Thank you for sharing it and your hind-site on the build. I purchased a similar jack about a month ago with building a vise in mind. If I ever get mine finished, maybe I'll put it up here too. I've learned from you, thank you.

bolgsy (author)2015-06-30

I'm in. Got an old jack that needs soaked in vinegar n oiled up that should be perfect for this. Thanks fer this.

kbbaktha (author)2015-06-30

I like this. Great idea with some salvaged components of a scissors jack. Thanks for sharing.

barrlou (author)2015-06-30

Whyteboar (author)2015-06-30

I like it, great upcycle for an actually useful tool. I will have to make one.

Garwulff (author)2015-06-29

Thanks for all the compliments and help. I'm really glad there are other people with interest in this sort of thing.

Straklin (author)2015-06-28

I like this!. Ill be adding one to my bench eventually. Thanks!

Big Show1 (author)2015-06-28

I will be adding one to my workbench soon. Thanks for sharing.

devotedtomywife (author)2015-06-27

Garwulff, interesting re-use of grandfathers gear. Thanks for sharing your experience and concepts.

cobourgdave (author)2015-06-27

Great thinking, excellent reuse project and nicely carried out. I am now hunting for a scrapped scissor jack. Congratulations and thanks.

pfred2 (author)2015-06-27

I salvaged an old wooden vise out of my grandfather's cellar. All of the wood was completely dry rotted, so I had to replace it, but I did manage to get the nut, screw, and the basic design from what I'd found. The design is what I want to share here. Instead of round dowels through holes this vise uses square sections. Anyhow some pictures are worth thousands of words so here are a few pictures of my vise

As this person has found out dowels through holes tend to bind up. That is why they're waxing those dowels all of the time. If you're making a vise out of wood what I am sharing here is probably a better design.

What you can't see is how the squares are held into the movable jaw. I used a blind dovetail, but the original wood was plain exposed dovetails. Either works. I just wanted to cut a fancier joint.

adenda2 (author)2015-06-26

been needing one of these for years. Thanks!

derek white (author)2015-06-26

Bloody beaut job cobber.

It's nice to knock around with people who can think and share their ideas and creations.

BeachsideHank (author)2015-06-26

Good project, I've got two scissors jacks I picked up roadside, this'd make a great use of them, thanks.

ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-06-26

Awesome project!! Thanks for sharing

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a work in progress, but I'm working on it. No rush.
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