Workbench Vise From Reclaimed Scissor Jack




About: I am a work in progress, but I'm working on it. No rush.


1 reclaimed scissor jack The bigger the better. The longer and larger the threaded rod the better your vise will be. I got mine from the junkyard/auto salvage yard for $5

2 reclaimed oak false drawer fronts. My company was demolishing some old offices and I reclaimed whatever I could that I thought I might use one day in projects. Get and use whatever you have that meets your size needs though.

1 2x4

Various wood screws

Gorilla and wood glues

1 old 3/4" socket

1 really old Tommy Bar. I had one laying around. My Grandfather died 35 years ago. My father, brother and I eventually split up his tools. This Tommy Bar was his, as was the socket. It hasn't been used in that long. I am really glad to be giving it a second life. I'm even more glad to be using my grandfather's old tools.

In this instructable you will need to used a sawsall, a belt sander, a drill, a table saw and other power tools. Please wear eye protection and hearing protection. You are creative, motivated, productive people. We need you safe, healthy and moving.


Step 1: Free the Threaded Rod

Cut the threaded rod out of the scissor jack. Save one of the tapped cross bars that are on the threaded rod.

Step 2: Prep the Drawer Faces

Cut the profiled trim off the tops of the drawer faces. This flat top will be flush with the top of your workbench.

Pair up the drawer fronts. Locate the positions you want the dowel slide to through. Locate where you want the rod to go through. Drill through the top face far enough with your spade bit to locate one the bottom drawer face. Then drill through the bottom part way from both sides to leave clean holes with no splintering.

Make sure the holes on the front drawer face are as tight on the dowels as possible. I had to sand the dowels down just a hair in order to hammer them on. I bored out the holes that the dowels would slide through a bit so it was snug but it could slide.

Cut a slot in the end of your dowels to receive wedges and hold everything tight later. I cut the slot all the way to the sanded shoulder that the drawer face will be snug up against. This was about 2 inches.

Step 3: Build the Tapped Bar Retainer Block

The way I did this part works but it is not what you should do.

I matched up two 2x4 blocks that will hold the tapped bar. This is the tapped bar that was on the end of the threaded rod we cut off the scissor jack. Here is where I wasn't thinking. I matched the 2x4 blocks, located the space to hold the tapped bar and I dado cut half out of each 2x4.

What I should have done was dado cut the entire bar slot out of one block and been done with it. It would have saved me time and been much easier. Please learn from my mistake.

After cutting a slot to receive the tapped bar (the one you cut out of the scissor jasck), glue and screw the two 2x4s together on all sides to make a very solid block.

This block is going to be fixed to the under side of your workbench right behind the mounted vise face. The threaded rod must travel through it at the same distance below the work surface as your vise faces. I screwed and glued on the mounted face so the top was flush with the work surface. You'll see that in the next step. Then I held this block up to it's back side and scribed through the rod hole where the rod will travel through the block.

Step 4: Attach the Retainer Block and Bench Side Vise Jaw

I wasn't happy with the thickness of the scrap counter top that is my workbench so I glued and screwed an additional 2x4 under the counter top to support everything more and give it greater strength. You can see this in the first image. I was using one of the drawer faces to make sure the 2x4 was flush to the front of the counter top.

Then I cut a slot out of the support 2x4 to fit the tapped bar retainer block (image 2).

Next I glued the retainer block to the backside of the vise jaw so the threaded rod holes line up (image 3).

Last I glued and screwed the jaw face, the retainer block and the support 2x4 all together flush with the bench top. It is solid as a rock. If a tornado comes though all that will be left standing are the concrete walls of my basement and this vise.

Step 5: Attach Face and Handle

Slide the drawer face over the dowels to the sanded shoulders of the dowel.

Glue the hole and dowel slot

hammer dowel in close vise to to dry in that position

the exposed end of the threaded rod is a 3/4" hex head. I have a my grandfather's Tommy bar as mentioned or I have one of his old 3/4" sockets that I drive with my drill. I don't think I'll do that often. I don't want to crush anything in the vise or break the vise itself.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Wax holes and guide dowels. You may need to do this occasionally if things start binding. So far so good.

I also I applied spray urethane to the exposed unfinished surfaces of the vise to keep moisture and whatever I spill on it out.

If the throw on this (9") isn't long enough I may, one day, end up making some bench dogs and drilling some holes. But that is an instructable for another day.



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    36 Discussions


    2 years ago

    If you don't want to go the old jack route there are also a few places online that sell acme threaded rod and matching nuts..
    Nothing wrong with old jacks and it's always good to recycle if you can, but sometimes you need a specific size not always readily available in the junk yard.


    3 years ago

    This looks awesome. Thank you for sharing.


    Reply 3 years ago

    No. I never did. I don't think I built up enough thickness in the face plate to drill holes into the thin long grain. Maybe I can find a way to make it work.

    Or better yet, maybe you can on yours and post pictures to help me out.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Had an old jack laying around in the way . "Thanks" I just put it to good use .


    3 years ago on Introduction

    awsome work ,added to my build list thanks for sharing,godbless


    I'm in the process of designing and building a work bench for my garage. I'm putting one of these on it!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    nice idea! the threaded rod is what ive ever needed.

    ill upload a picture of the finished bench.

    1 reply
    Eh Lie Us!

    3 years ago on Introduction

    great work, ey. It's doubly neat that you were able to honor your grandfather's legacy. I always wondered a good way to repurpose those jacks. (a letter press?)

    Side story:

    The old house my wife and I bought had an old bench it the garage. The top of the bench had been thru a lot, paint, burns, unknown chemical spills. Judging from the quality of work around the house, the guy tried to fix things. Not always successful but still worth mentioning. I ended up ripping the bench out but still felt that I was throwing away history. I kept a piece of the top. Last year, I built a tool flip cart (kind of like this one but just for two tools ) I ended up using a piece of the old work bench in a critical view point. Properly sized but joined. Others might say, "Why did you put this old piece of wood here? It doesn't match with the rest of the wood?"

    Well, let me tell you a story...

    1 reply
    GarwulffEh Lie Us!

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I've admired the flip top tool table design as well. Very cool. Wish you'd have made an instructable on that build.

    The threaded rod was so affordable and so handy I've been thinking of getting a couple more and making a small apple press for cider (the threading may be too wide for that), a bottle cutter, a tortilla/pizza dough press or a router lift. These are all BIG maybes.

    I really like giving things a second life.


    3 years ago on Step 6

    One thing that isn't mentioned that I would do is to add a washer to the outer jaw to keep the wood from crushing where the leadscrew tightens against it. Great instructable.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Good point. The drive nut on the threaded rod does have 2 washers on it already. I could see putting a larger one on to span the pressure more evenly. Thanks!


    3 years ago

    Great idea and scissor jacks are plentiful in the scrap yards