I haven’t posted about it before, but I have a Wilton 6″ vise mounted to my bench. When I say 6″, I mean the width of the vise jaws are this length. From tip to tail, the vise is a little under 22″ and weighs right around 100 lbs. Here’s a picture of it resting on the bench. Note the cool swiveling rear jaw. Once the two pins are removed (a conical vertical one and a horizontal roll pin) the read jaw can swivel from side to side to allow clamping of non-parallel items. Notice that the previous owner decided to weld a front jaw into it instead of replacing it. Grrr.. One day I’ll have to take care of this. I use it in the condition I purchased it from Craigslist though.
Today’s post focuses on the back jaw. This jaw is in good condition but is a little loose. Since we’re working on the fixed (back) jaw, I can remove the dynamic (front) jaw to have room to work. On the Wilton, you just unscrew the front jaw until it stops moving and then pull it out. Always, always, support the front jaw from underneath when doing this. You don’t want to have it fall out and break. Here’s a picture of the dynamic jaw with a quarter for size reference. No, thats’ not rust on it. I use antizieze as a lubricant.
Normally, I’d just tighten the screws down but they are stuck solid. On one of them, the head is messed up and a screwdriver doesn’t securely fit. Here’s a picture of the screws in place. They’re slotted which is expected from the age of the vise. It was made in the 1940s. When slotted screws don’t turn, the screwdriver will slip out and damage the head of the screw. So, if you keep trying the same thing you can permanently deform the screw to where it cannot be removed without drilling it out.
Luckily, my screws are not so far gone that a screwdriver tip won’t work. One of the screws had something in the slot though that wouldn’t let the screwdriver go into the slot. To clean it up I used a cutoff wheel on a Dremel to remove the material. Below is a set up picture showing what I did. I’d never photograph a Dremel cutoff wheel like this because they like to explode which could damage my camera lens.
Once the screw slot was cleaned up I made sure that the screwdriver tip would fit as it normally does. Next, I brought out the perfect tool for removing stubborn screws: The Hand Impact. These tools are great and cheap too. This one is from Harbor Freight that I bought on sale one day a while back to have around. To use the Hand Impact you put the interchangeable tip in the screw and then hit the end of the tool with a hammer. The hammer blow does two things. First, it forces the tip into the screw. Second, and most important, it rotates the tip. This one can be set to rotate in either direction though I’d think using it to tighten could be problematic. The screws easily turned when using the Hand Impact. Once they were lose, I could use a regular screwdriver to remove the screws.
While I had the jaw off I cleaned the surface and chased the threads with a thread restorer. This removes and gunk that might be in the screw holes and cleans up any malformed thread. Unlike a regular tap it doesn’t cut any new threads. This is because it is slightly undersized compared to a normal tap.
I decided to replace the screws with another type to make removal easier in the future. If I had wanted to keep these screws then I’d have also cleaned up their threads using a die from the thread restorer kit. Here’s a picture of doing that. Yes, I use a vise to clean up a vise. That’s why you need so many vises…because you might want to work on 3 or 4 at the same time. Yeah, that’s it.
Another reason I wanted to get new screws was because one of them was pretty messed up. It had a section that wasn’t threaded. I guess someone cut down a longer screw to use in a pinch. I think this was why the jaw wasn’t sitting flush against the rest of the vise. To replace the screws, I headed down to Ace with the vise jaw in hand. I wanted to make sure that the screw heads wouldn’t stick out from the jaw. I chose some Socket Head screws which use an allen wrench to tighten them. With the use of the appropriate sized wrench these screws will not strip.
After that, all that was left to be done was to reinstall the jaw with the new screws.