How to Fix a Vice that won’t Tighten or Swivel


A quick writeup today on a broken Wilton vice that a buddy gave me. Apparently it was headed for the scrap pile because it was broken. Turns out it was just a 5 minute fix. Read more to find out what it was and how you can fix yours.

A co-worker of mine has a little plaque on her desk that says ‘everything is figure-out-able’ and I believe it. With a little bit of gumption and willingness to take stuff apart, most things can be fixed.

As I said earlier, a buddy threw me this vice that was headed for the scrap bin at his work because it was not working. Apparently the company had already ordered a new one and didn’t even try to fix this one. It was really sloppy in the base and also wouldn’t tighten the jaws, therefore pretty useless as far as vices go…

How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Wilton 656 vice that wouldn’t tighten

This has been sitting on my bench for a couple of months and I finally decided to take a look at it in case I needed to order any parts. Turns out the issue was REALLY simple.

How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Upon turning the vice over it was very obvious that the center bolt had backed out.

Over time after turning the vice back and forth on the vice the center bolt can loosen up and eventually fall out. A loose center bolt can also cause slop and wobble in both the swivel and jaw tightening since it is pretty much the main internal part of the vice.

How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
The bolt came out when I pulled on it…
How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
After I took the base off by removing the center bolt and the lockdown bolt (the bolt that locks down and keeps the vice from swiveling). I looked around to see what the center bolt attached to and found the adjuster here had been screwed all the way until it had almost fallen out the back.
How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Here is a closeup of the adjuster. You can see the threaded hole where the center bolt tightens down to.

How to put the vice back together

How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Wind the adjuster back in until you can see the threaded hole through the center hole in the base.
How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
MAKE SURE you put the spacer back in for the bolt. If you don’t the base will be tight to the vice and you won’t be able to swivel it.
How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Put some red locktite on the bolt and tighten it down! Since there is a spacer in there you don’t really have to worry about getting it too tight, just don’t go crazy on it.
How to repair a vice that is sloppy and won't tighten
Bingo Bango, I just got myself a working ~$200 vice for free!

I realize this was a super simple post but some issues aren’t obvious until you get in and figure it out.

Sorry to get philosophical, but the point is that most things are figure-out-able, you just gotta slow down and take the time to look into it instead of blaming or complaining which helps nothing. Everything breaks or needs repair eventually no matter what brand it is or how much it cost.

Now YOU, go outside and fix something!

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