Repairing, rehabbing, and restoring old tools often requires a bench vise. The one I have been using until now has been adequate, but I have been looking for a bigger, heavier tool. Several weeks ago I found the vise pictured above at an estate sale and bought it for a very reasonable sum. The eggbeater will be fodder for a future article.
The first step in any rehab or restoration is disassembly. The vise was completely disassembled and all parts were degreased and de-rusted. You can use your favorite methods for this process. I like Evapo Rust for small parts like screws brackets, and clamps. For larger parts I prefer electrolysis, but the major castings for this vise were very big and very heavy so I opted for sandblasting.
The pic above shows the vises main castings after sandblasting in my media blast cabinet. Now the flaws came to light. The replaceable jaw on the moveable jaw base had been broken and welded and welded into the casting. This made restoration far more work than the vise was worth as a collectible. So it was decided a rehab was in order. This would take the vise from “boat anchor” to useable tool.
After sandblasting the welds on the moveable jaw were ground smooth with an angle grinder. The jaw on the fixed jaw mount was also ground with the angle grinder to clean it up. The castings were then masked and spray painted a light gray. This color was chosen because that is what I had enough of.
After the paint set up I put the castings together to see how the jaws came together. As expected they were not a close fit as they should be. The jaws should come together tightly with no gaps anywhere along their length and top to bottom. Normally I would file the jaw fit, but because of the welding these jaws were a terrible fit. It would require removal of about 1/16″ of steel. This could be done with the angle grinder and various files, but I had a better way.
I had a Bridgeport mill available so that was the method of choice to machine the vises jaws to match. The pic above shows the setup used. To get the jaws to close tightly from side to side and top to bottom required the removal of 0.070″. That is a lot of steel to remove. When done the vise jaws closed tightly as they should. I chose to leave the jaws smooth. The serrations usually found on vise jaws are often found on your workpieces after being held tightly in the jaws. Smooth jaws work best for my work.
As can be seen in the as found photo at the beginning of this post the handle for the swivel lock was missing. There are numerous ways to solve this problem. You could use a piece of threaded rod with a nut on each end. You could die thread the ends of a steel rod available from a local hardware store and use nuts on each end. You could just use a plain piece of steel rod and try not to lose it. Since I own a vintage benchtop engine lathe I chose to closely replicate the original.
The ends of a 5″ long steel rod were turned to 1/4″ diameter. Then a pair of thick washers with a 1/4″ diameter hole and an outside diameter about 1/8″ bigger than the rod and about 1/32″ narrower than the length of the 1/4″ diameters on the ends of the rod were made. As can be seen in the upper pic above. These washers were put on the rod and the 1/32″ of rod sticking past the washer was peened over to hold the washers tightly to the rod. As seen in the bottom pic above.
With the swivel handle finished it was time to mount the vise to my bench. The photo above shows the rehabbed Parker solidly mounted and ready for work. All that remains is to fabricate a set of soft, non-marring jaws for use on more delicate work.
As always thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.