50 Year Old Vise Restoration- Using Basic Tools

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About: -----------------------------------------------------------------17 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!-----------------------------------------------------------------Hi FTC! My I'bles con...

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!

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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 Discussions

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    Drake88

    2 years ago

    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.

    1 reply
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    Yonatan24Drake88

    Reply 2 years ago

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

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    CrisHooker30

    3 years ago

    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.

    4 replies
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    Yonatan24CrisHooker30

    Reply 3 years ago

    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)

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    binarybugYonatan24

    Reply 3 years ago

    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 :)

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    Yonatan24binarybug

    Reply 3 years ago

    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...

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    baecker03

    3 years ago

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

    2 replies
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    Yonatan24baecker03

    Reply 3 years ago

    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?

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    AR1911Yonatan24

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.

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    joreknight

    3 years ago

    It looks really good, I've had success cleaning this sort of things using electrolysis, usually I pressure wash things first to get rid of dirt and other stuff. If you can lightly heating the part with a torch and then giving it a wd40 coating will give it more protection than just the straight wd40.

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    BeachsideHank

    3 years ago

    I would suggest a wire brush and vinegar. This is a mild surface treatment that will not cause any destruction yet clarify the metal. I usually followup with boiled linseed oil to protect the bare metal, it's cheap and forms a "plastic" barrier that itself can be painted or left as is.

    5 replies
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    Yonatan24BeachsideHank

    Reply 3 years ago

    Is a wire brush that strong? Is it only strong enough to remove the dirt, Or to really scratch it? (Which is what I want)

    If I want to buy a (cheap) wire brush, Do you think this one would work?

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    BeachsideHankYonatan24

    Reply 3 years ago

    That type of brush would work, yes, but it is brass bristle, get a steel one for a bit more aggressive "tooth". Rotary wire brushes are cheap too, and come in a wide variety of types, crimped, braided, etc. do a little search for appropriate ones. Chuck them in a portable drill and you have a pretty decent tool for rust and scale removal. You have a decision to make about the vise: preserve and make useful, or do a full- blown makeover. When I simply preserve and put back into service, I usually just brush and oil as explained above, for an all- out restoration, that requires research into the original design/ look and I go from there- translation: much more money spent, but usually a nice collectable result.

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    Yonatan24BeachsideHank

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks, I can put rotary wire brushes on my Dremel, If you think it could work well

    I want to "put it back to service" as you said, Without spending a lot of money, And I believe finding the original design is nearly impossible because it's so old.

    Than you for you help!

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    BeachsideHankYonatan24

    Reply 3 years ago

    A Dremel is great for detail areas, but would be tiresome, I think, to do the whole thing with, but if time is the one spendable commodity you have in abundance, then yes, it can be done- this vise looks like a portable clamp- on type, so it may be smaller and easier than a full sized machinist or mechanics vise would be. If the brush seems ineffective after a while yet is still in good shape, recondition it by holding it against a coarse emery stone or sandpaper to resharpen it, you'd be surprised at the difference in action.

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    fs woodworking

    3 years ago

    I've got exactly the same vice. Nice titorial. Thanks