Face Vice Restoration

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Blog entry by Benvolio posted 02-15-2015 11:09 PM 1635 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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.

10 comments so far

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 2852 days

#1 posted 02-15-2015 11:29 PM

May it serve your Grandkids too.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 1780 days

#2 posted 02-15-2015 11:32 PM

Nice save Ben—it would’ve been a pity for this to just rot away and return to its base elements.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17875 posts in 1987 days

#3 posted 02-16-2015 12:20 AM

Excellent restore.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Tim's profile


3030 posts in 1381 days

#4 posted 02-16-2015 12:44 AM

Wow, you did a really nice job on that.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2986 posts in 1671 days

#5 posted 02-16-2015 02:12 AM

Great job on the vise restore, Benvolio! I like that you did the special treatment on the cast lettering. As for Ward and Payne, it looks like the company was founded in 1803 in Sheffield and operated until 1961. Few details were available, but I found this link on the Internet.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View CL810's profile


3404 posts in 2408 days

#6 posted 02-16-2015 02:29 AM

Simply beautiful Ben – great job.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View John G.'s profile

John G.

13 posts in 626 days

#7 posted 02-16-2015 03:14 PM

Great find and very nice work, Ben!

-- The next brick house on the left. Montgomery AL

View handsawgeek's profile


591 posts in 815 days

#8 posted 02-16-2015 04:17 PM

Nice restore. That vise should serve you well for a lifetime and beyond. It also has that really nice, traditional old-school look.

-- Ed

View Grumpymike's profile


1892 posts in 1735 days

#9 posted 02-16-2015 08:02 PM

Having just finished restoring an old Wilton face vise I truly understand what you went through on this project.
You did a wonderful job on this old school tool … I think your vise is much older than mine, I really like the red lettering … adds pizazz.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View BigYin's profile


338 posts in 1836 days

#10 posted 04-24-2016 06:55 AM

I just found an old Ward & Payne anvil brand vice and discovered the following :-

Ward & Payne was founded in Sheffield by one David Ward, edge-tool manufacturer in 1803. The company had the name David Ward. David Ward’s son Edward joined the company around 1837 and the company name was changed to David Ward & Sons or David Ward & Co. Perhaps both names were used in

Henry Payne appears as an edge tool maker in 1837 and joins the company prior to 1845. Perhaps he joined in 1837 and caused the name change to David Ward & Co. In 1843 Henry Payne registered the well-known Ward & Payne trade mark of the crossed hammers above an anvil with W to the left and P to the right. Henry Payne became junior partner in 1845 and died in 1850 and ownership of the company reverted back to the Ward family. After 1845 the firm built a large business in edge tools concentrating on carving tools,
chisels and gouges.

Another David Ward (1835 – 1889), possibly the son of Edward Ward, took over the company in 1855 and was apparently an aggressive young executive with the company before that. He grew the company’s fortunes in both the sheep shearing scissor and carving tool businesses. The company grew, expanded
their factory to a full city block and published a 501 page catalog in 1911.
They were apparently still in business up to around 1970.

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

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