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.
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.
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!
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.