Introduction: Columbian 7-RD Wood Vise Restoration

I recently picked up this Columbian 7-RD quick release wood vise for $30 at a local antique store. The restoration of the vise is straightforward, but involves two steps that require some finesse (the quick release thread lock mechanism and mounting the vise under a bench). This make and model of vise is extremely well made and worth the restoration time and effort if you can find one.

Step 1: Disassembly

After sliding out the wooden handle from the main screw (it was held in place with tape), I removed the cotter pin on the end (back side) of the screw handle using needle nose pliers. The cotter pin holds the metal retainment/alignment plate (a flat plate with 3 holes in it) in place. The plate keeps the main screw and guide rods in place. After removing the cotter pin, the retainment plate slides off, allowing further disassembly. Note, the cotter pin broke when I removed it, but they are readily available at any hardware store.

Once the retainment plate is off, the front and back jaws can be separated by pulling them apart or backing the main screw out completely. Once the front and back jaws are separated, the quick release thread lock mechanism will be free. Once removed from the back jaw, the two halves of the quick release thread lock mechanism can be disconnected from each other.

No further vise disassembly is required.

Step 2: Brush Off Buildup and Remove Paint

Brush off as much dirt and sawdust buildup as you can, being careful not to damage the bronze half of the quick release thread lock mechanism. Look for any cracks or damage to the front and back of the jaws which might pose a problem.

After cleaning a few of the main vise parts with with a wire brush and my angle grinder, I decided to take all the parts (minus the quick release thread lock mechanism) to a local shop that does paint removal via media blasting. The parts came back completely stripped and only required some steel wool work on the threads and alignment rods to smooth them up.

Step 3: Mask Surfaces and Paint

Before painting, thoroughly wipe off the parts with acetone or rubbing alcohol. Wear protective gloves. Using painters tape, cover the main screw threads, alignment rods and extendable bench dog post on the front jaw. Because I chose to use magnetic jaw face plates, I decided to paint the jaw faces, but this is optional. Follow the directions on the can, but when in doubt, multiple light coats are best. When the paint is completely cured, remove the tape.

One 12 oz. can of Rustoleum Verde Green Hammered Spray Paint was enough for multiple coats. I only painted the outer side (as shown) of the steel half of the quick release thread lock mechanism. I did not paint the bronze half of the quick release thread lock mechanism. I also sanded the old original wooden handle and gave it several clear coats for protection.

Step 4: Reassemble and Check Functionality

Assembly is essentially disassembly in reverse. Reassemble the two halves of the quick release thread lock mechanism, and place in the back jaw as shown. With the vise upside down, slide the front jaw into the back jaw, making sure the quick release mechanism is engaging correctly (it will only function properly when the vise is right side up). Slide the alignment plate onto the main screw and alignment rods, and then install the new cotter pin.

The vise is now reassembled. Turn the vise right side up and lift up the front jaw and work all moving parts to ensure proper function: a few counter-clock rotations will disengage the thread lock mechanism (via gravity) and the front jaw can be pulled out and pushed in without turning the handle - a few clockwise turns engage the thread lock mechanism allowing for tightening like any other vise.

Step 5: Mount Under Bench, Install Handle and Lubricate Threads

Since my work bench was 1.5" thick, versus the standard 2" thick, I had to use a piece of 0.5" thick plywood to make up the difference. I secured the vise under the workbench using two 3/8" bolts that were 2.5" long, using washers between the bolt heads and vise anchor points.

You will need another person to assist with the next few steps. Before drilling any holes, ensure that the vise fits flush with the front and top of the bench (with the "filler" plywood in place if your bench is less than 2"). I had to move the plywood back from the edge of the bench and also router a slight curve to the plywood to allow for a slight curve to fit the front jaw machining.

I lightly sanded and then stained the front of the plywood to make it blend in better with the bench. Then I marked the drill holes on the plywood and tacked the plywood in place on the underside of the bench to ensure proper placement

After drilling pilot holes for the LAG bolts, I drove them (with washers) into place, securing the vise to the underside of the bench. Then I drove two #12 x 2" long wood screws through the mounting holes at the top of the back jaw face, into the edge of the bench. The vise is now secured on the bench.

I drilled 1/4" holes through the ends of the wooden handle, installed it in the vise, and then glued 1/4" oak dowels in the holes to keep it from sliding out of the vise.

I decided to use Frog Lube Paste to lubricate the vise. White lithium grease is a more common option. I lightly coated any vise surface that rubs against any other vise surface: the main screw threads, guide rods and the area around the cotter pin.

Step 6: Make Magnetic Jaw Face Plates/Caps

To protect the vise jaw faces, I made two plywood face caps/protectors that are held in place with magnets.

After cutting two pieces of plywood the size of the jaw faces, I countersunk four holes approximately 1/8" deep in each piece of wood. Then I glued neodymium (rare earth) magnets in place, ensuring that they were slightly below the surface of the wood. Note: if the magnets are placed too deeply into the wood, they will not have the force needed to stick to the vise face. Allow proper time for the glue to completely dry.

The magnets are more than strong enough to hold the plywood in place, but can be removed by simply pulling them off.

Enjoy your new wood vise.