Inexpensive Vise Restoration




Introduction: Inexpensive Vise Restoration

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics and Aerospace Engineer. I make things out of wood and electronics and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving).

There are many instructables and directions on how to restore a vise. This is a vise that I acquired for free and had been using for years in its original state. I got sick of how dirty it made my hands and how stiff it was to use. The purpose of this instructable is to restore the vise to as new as possible for a cheap as possible. I wasn't able to find any jaws for less than $100 and I wasn't going to spend that on a vise that I got for free.

If you have a vise that is working but just needs a cleanup, this is your project

Step 1: Tools and Materials


  • Vise to restore
  • Paint
  • Replacement Machine Screws
  • Painters Tape
  • Grease


Step 2: Disassemble Vise

Start by opening the vise completely until the slide comes off. Locate and remove all set screws and possible pins. The machine screws holding the jaws on my vise were damaged beyond repair and were unable to be removed using a screwdriver so screw extractors were necessary.

These are the screw extractors that I used and they were satisfactory. Follow the supplied directions for proper removal.

Step 3: Remove Grime

Soak all parts in a degreaser solution agitating periodically. Once the grease and grime has been removed using the degreaser, use a wire brush to remove anything remaining. I used a drill press attachment that allowed me to use both hands to hold the vise.

Step 4: Fix Defects

The slide on this vise was very dented and had a lot of uneven portions. I used a flap sander disk in my angle grinder to smooth out all the machined surfaces. If you have a welder (which I do not), fill in any dents and smooth flat.

Step 5: Paint

Cover all the mating surfaces with painters tape and apply 3-4 coats of paint.

Step 6: Attach Jaws

I was unable to locate any screws and new jaws (inexpensively) that had a small enough head to work for this application. Because of this, I had to purchase some hex key machine screws from the local hardware store then file them down to size on my lathe.

Step 7: Assemble

Assemble the vise following the steps you took at the beginning in reverse.

Step 8: Lubricate

Apply a healthy amount of grease in the drive nut and assemble the slide into the base. Open and close the vise multiple times to ensure that the screw is completely covered in grease. Apply or remove grease and necessary.

Step 9: Paint Lettering

Using a small paint brush, paint a highlighted color on the logo and lettering on the vise to make it stand out and easier to read. I masked off the surrounding area to prevent any accidental painting.

Step 10: Enjoy Your Vise

Now that your vise is complete, bolt it down to your workbench and get to making!

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    John Harwood
    John Harwood

    2 years ago

    It's just a small vice, so the jaws aren't really big... For new jaws try to find a discarded engineers' file... You will have to anneal it by getting it red hot and allowing it to cool slowly... Then cut the shapes you need out of the softened file, and drill the appropriate holes. You then need to harden the metal again, by heating and quenching, then tempering. There are instructables out there which will give you all the information you need to do this. The advantage with using a file is that you can leave the file teeth intact on the front faces of the jaws and they will serve the purpose of properly milled teeth.


    Reply 2 years ago

    That's a great idea! I never thought to re-purpose an old file. Next time I find an old file I'll need to save it for this.


    2 years ago

    Very nice! My husband is into the little bench vises. The older ones are so much nicer than the ones you buy now. Very handy when you need another hand. Maybe I'll surprise him and redo his with this great Instructable.


    2 years ago

    Thanx for sharing this. I have an old vise that was my Dad's just sitting in my garage waiting for me to have somewhere to build a permanent workbench. When and if I do, I will break out this instructable and give it a shot!

    Phil B
    Phil B

    2 years ago

    A friend gave me the nice older vise that had belonged to her deceased husband. It has loosened up with use, but was very difficult to operate from 20 years of non-use and gentle rusting. I did not bother with cosmetic restorations, but went for better function. I find I am making a trade-off between smooth operation of the screw and reducing annoying play in the drive nut. Further, the screw in the base that retains the drive nut mount loosens with use. Finally, I tightened the screw that holds the drive nut in the base as much as possible without the screw becoming difficult to operate due to imprecise alignment. Then I welded up a little bracket to keep that screw from loosening by itself. It is not perfect, but functions quite well.