My vice is a vise

My YouTube feed got bombarded with vise restoration videos last fall. I’ve been using a Harbor Freight vise in the interim that worked fine enough but I felt it just didn’t have that panache that an old school heavy duty vise would bring to the shop. I was on the lookout for a vise to make my own.

I happened to be chatting with my Dad on the phone while he was visiting the Jacktown Engine show in Bangor, Pa and on a whim I asked him to be on the lookout for a vise for me. No longer than two minutes later he called me back to say he stumbled upon 3 chunky vices for sale. We agreed to get the largest – A Charles Parker No. 974.

I selected the vice in the middle a Charles Parker 974 from the Jacktown Engine show.
Charles Parker 974 restoration
The Charles Parker Vise No. 974 disassembled

The vise was solid, but cosmetically it needed a lot work. It was mostly covered with hard caked grease, rust, and remnants of paint. I disassembled the entire vise which wasn’t too hard to accomplish. I was happy I didn’t have to mess with any caustic paint remover and I buffed off the majority of the surface scale with a wire wheel on my bench grinder. I moved in and hit the nooks and crevasses with a cup wire wheel on my angle grinder.

The first coating of primer

I used a spray paint rattle can of grey primer and put on a final coat of blue enamel spray paint and hit it with a final coat of clear coat.

I used a white paint pen to trace the raised letters. This part of the restoration is most pleasurable!

The refurbished Chas. Parker Vise No. 974
Charles Parker 974 refurbished

Final thoughts

Before the refurbishment, this chunk of metal was just a vise that I owned, after the final painting and assembly it became “my vise”. The entire process turned out to be much easier than I had expected and anyone with a wire wheel, patience, and some elbow grease can refurbish a rusty old vise into a shop gem. My only complaint is the Charles Parker vise jaws are a very unique design and don’t readily lend themselves to easy customization or replacement. I was fortunate the jaws on this model are ina satisfactory state. Other than that the Charles Parker vise is a majestic relic of the American industrial era.

I’d like to try my hand at refurbishing a Reed vise next.