I found a rusty old Ward and Payne face vice on ebay for £4 and thought it looked like it came from an era when tools were made properly. I don’t know anything about Ward and Payne or have any notion of when this vice came off the production line, so if anyone has any insight – I’d love to hear it.
In truth, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting when it arrived. Just surface rust and years of the wrong type of grease built up. The buttress threads had irrepairably worn in parts and the quick release mechanism was gone, but the quality of the iron castings and steel used are brilliant.
Dis-assembly took a while. The rear brace was pressed on very tightly to the two sliding arms, so it took a lot of WD40 to get through decades of crusty rust. The design is rather elegent for dis-assembly though… by reversing the thread enough, the carriage acts as a sort of bearing press, applying even negative pressure to the brace.
90% of the rust removal was done with a cheap set of wire wheels in my battery drill…
... But the iron casting for the sliding arms were of the textured type and my wire wheels wouldn’t get into the fissures of the patterned surface. After much head scratching, I found that bog standard t-cut and wire wool would clean the surface up nicely. I did the same for the steel buttress threads and steel handle to good effect.
A simple metal primer and automotive acrylic paint in British racing green was nice for the main parts. I built up 3-5 layers depending on how much abuse I thought the part would have to endure, but I fully expect it to chip and wear in time but that’s part of the charm of the device, right?
The lettering was done with standard red gloss humbrol modelling enamel. This was annoyingly runny but I think I got the hang of it after a while. Painting accurately was surprisingly easy, but I found I would come back after 5 minutes and find the insides of letters had been filled with dripped paint! I only dared do a couple of coats of the red.
Re-assembly was tricky as the `female` buttress thread is a sort of half pipe that’s pressed against the main lead screw with a very strong spring. I don’t have a spring clamp so I had to cobble together a plywood and f-clamp jig assembly that somehow worked, eventually!
For lubriaction, I used copper grease on the lead screw (it looks rusty – but it’s actually just the lube) and I thought I’d try ballistol on the sliding arms.
Now it runs buttery smooth…. soooooo smooth, much more than I expected – even new veritas vice’s don’t run as smooth as this!
I laminated some old oak scraps for sacrificial soft jaws. Putting a 4 degree incline in one was a challenge, but I’m glad I did. It doesn’t take any pressure at all for the work piece to be solid enough to lift up the whole bench. Some old brass screws cut to length complete the vanity.
It’s attached to my bench in a fairly crude way (I’m currently using an old work top as the lumber for my new top is old 6” x 6” pallet bearers that are still drying. It’ll look more in keeping this time next year!)
All in all, I’m really glad I did this project. I’m a young guy at the start of my woodworking life and I have a feeling this vice will look after me for many years, just as I have looked after it.
thanks for reading – any comments, good or bad are welcome.
-- Ben, England.