Drill Press Vice




I decided I needed a simple drill press vice. So I designed a simple vice. It would have been easier to use stock metal but I decided to use all scrap metal for this project. I was recently given a 5 gallon bucket of railroad spikes, and I had saved a broken scissor jack a while back for just such a project.

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Step 1:


I spent some time looking at pictures of vices before doing a bunch of sketches trying to figure out an easy way to make a vice without a mill, or lathe. I decided on the attached sketch before selecting my materials.

Materials: "Scrap metal build"

  • Railroad spikes
  • Scissor jack
  • 2 bolts
  • scrap metal

Tools: this is a list of the tools I used for this build it could be done with more or less depending on what you have available, and your creativity.

  • Vice
  • hack saw
  • welder
  • grinder
  • file
  • drill
  • tap

Step 2: Cut the Heads Off of the Railroad Spikes

I spent a lot of time with a hacksaw cutting heads off of railroad spikes. I used 23 spikes in total. It took about 1.5 minutes of continual cutting with a hacksaw to cut through one end of a spike. In retrospect it would have been easier, and my vice would have been more square and parallel if I would have bought some correct sized stock.

Step 3: Weld; Grind; Weld; Grind

First I prepared for welding by beveling the corners. Weld them together. I know I am not the best welder,but This was a good practice project. I only have an arc welder. First I welded 2 that were 3 spikes long; 4 that were 2 long and 4 blocks 2 spikes wide. I ground all my welds flat then I welded the the the long strips together into blocks of 3 and welded the jaws into blocks of 4. then I ground again. The threaded rod in this picture was just to help me visualize it at this point.

Step 4: Cut Pieces to Length and Weld

I cut the pieces to length and welded the fixed jaw to the ways and added a spacer out of my scrap bin to the other end.

Step 5: Add the Screw

The joint on this old scissor jack had bent sideways and was unsafe to use making it a perfect candidate to donate its threaded rod. The threads are acme, so the nut was also salvaged The rod was too long and had too much non threaded shank. using a grinder and then files I ground the end to have a tenon and shoulder to push on the moveable jaw I had an idea to make a clip to retract the jaw so I also added a slot just above the tenon. Next I cut the rod to the correct length, and welded a nut on the end. After that I welded the nut from the jack to the spacer and the ways.

Step 6: Add the Moveable Jaw

I drilled a hole slightly bigger than the tenon on the screw in the correct location. I drilled and tapped a hole about an inch from this one to bolt the retaining clip to. I was unable to make the retaining clip retract the moveable jaw on my vice. I blame my poor tolerances and flatness issues. I added a spacer made out of railroad spike to the bottom of the moveable jaw. after welding and grinding this I drilled and tapped 2 holes into it. I also made a bottom plate to bolt on. I started by tightening these bolts too tight, and the jaw didn't slide freely. After loosening them the moveable jaw slid freely on the ways.

Step 7: Finished Product and Final Thoughts

I have been using this vice on my drill press as is. It is not square enough for precision work, but work can be positioned in it fairly accurately and it clamps well. I should make a set of jaws for it, but so far have used it as is. If I were to make another one I would buy metal stock that was more suited to the application. I am planning to make a speed wrench in the future to make this vice easier to use. I just oiled it down, and it is already starting to get a good patina. It looks ruff, but I like it that way. It dose not affect the operation, and adding more time polishing this project did not make sense.

Step 8: Afterword

I have been using my homemade vice testing it for about a month now. It works good. I was recently at an household auction and bought the pictured vice. I did find something that my homemade vice did better. Due to the amount of slop in my adjustable jaw it is able to hold out of square items better. I am glad I was able to get a good deal on the second vice, now I will have to find a project that I need to vices to complete.

Reclaimed Contest 2017

Participated in the
Reclaimed Contest 2017

Metal Contest 2017

Participated in the
Metal Contest 2017

Make It Move Contest 2017

Participated in the
Make It Move Contest 2017



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    6 Discussions


    1 year ago

    You sure put a lot of work into your homemade drill vise. I've bought so many for a dollar a piece over the years. For whatever reasons they tend to go cheap. None seem terribly accurate to me either. The movable jaw tends to rise up in them, which makes work not lay flat. You can fix that a little by putting round bar between the movable jaw and work. I use a cut off piece of torsion bar that I have. It is about an inch in diameter?

    I probably have more than this kicking around



    1 year ago

    I love that you used railroad spikes instead of stock! Of course it would have been easier but where is the fun in that? You got a vote from me


    1 year ago

    You used what assets that were on hand, and you learned a few things, that is called education, something that doesn't happen when you buy an existing product to fill a need. ☺


    1 year ago

    I'm glad for Harbor Freight and their cheap prices. Taking into account time it's probably just as cheap. But for SHTF scenario it's a great project.