Repairing a Slippery Vise Mechanism
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Two years ago I wrote about the ordeal of finding replacement parts for the popular Jorgensen fast acting vices manufactured in the United States (but now discontinued). Unfortunately, after many years of smooth operation, the vise’s steel trapezoidal screw will eventually erode the threaded bronze insert and lose its grip on it. Until a few years ago, when Jorgensen was still making vises in the United States, we could have ordered a new bronze insert. But after the company changed ownership and moved vise production overseas, it became impossible to get these parts.
One of our readers, Lee Tuftee, had exactly the same problem with his father’s old grip. The solution he found is fast, easy and inexpensive. He wrote to me and shared his solution, which is essentially shimming the insert to push the worn threads closer to the screw. Here are Lee’s explanations and pictures:
“After trying numerous ideas, I reworked the problem and came up with a fairly easy, permanent and rather simple solution.
I realized that only part of the thread was worn and if I could move the threads inward to engage the threaded rod more, the vise should work.
Then, I cut a piece of sheet metal, approximately 14 gauge +/-, to fit the insert under the bronze piece. So I filed the bronze insert to allow it to sit at the same level as before. I also ground the threads to allow the trapezoidal threads of the screw to engage more. This was done with a Dremel wheel that fitted the threads almost perfectly (it was a gray colored wheel, a fairly common Dremel tip from my experience). There was a lot of material left after removing a small amount of insert. “
“Once reassembled, the vise worked perfectly and was able to withstand a human force tightening without any problems. I also advised my father to take AT LEAST 1/2 turn, if not more, to activate the quick release mechanism. I figured from the way the mechanism seems to work, a 1/2 turn would completely disengage the wires and save wear. It usually only went 1/4 turn and sometimes the wires could be heard screeching.
This saved a bit of a bite from the landfill and has been working well for over 5 years. I don’t know if the inserts are available again, but you may not need them for a long time.
I just wanted to pass it on to you in hopes of helping another carpenter make the good tools work. “
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