Finally couldn't stand this vise handle.  Time to give it proper, knob-shaped ends.

  2020 March 1    Metal & Shop


You might have seen the jaw liner weld project and the original 1979 Taiwan vise upgrade.  In keeping with the rusty, hack-welded, yard-vise tradition, it's time to weld on it some more.

This time around, I decided the original handle-ends were just not working for me. 

Now let's see what we've got here.  (Metalworking can have some hazards;  please read the Disclaimer.)

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In This Article

The Old Handle

Prep and Pre-Heat

The New Weld


The Old Handle

Good tools are supposed to stay out of your way.  The old handle on this vise was not even what I'd call "hack welded".  It was just a single, ultra-small tack weld to each end of the threaded handle.  The welds were just enough to keep the handle from falling through.

Problem was, those weld nubs were just small enough that they could jam.  They were also not very comfortable on the hands, especially for a high-use tool like a yard vise.

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Prep and Pre-Heat

So I had this batch of 1/8" 7018AC that I'd set aside, because no matter what I tried to weld with these, there was a lot of porosity.  I like 7018AC the best out of any electrode, but this must have been a bad batch.

Let's use it to hack-weld some knob ends on the vise handle!

As usual, I preheated the electrode to drive any moisture out of the flux.  You can do that with 7018 and 7018AC, because the flux material can withstand high temperatures, unlike the cellulose coating of 6011's.

WARNING:  don't have the welding machine turned on or even plugged in when you have a propane canister in the area....... seriously.  And while you're doing this, make sure the welder's ground clamp is ground-isolated on its own wooden platform, somewhere safely away from the work area.  Don't have a propane canister in the area when you are welding!!! 

You might be better off using an electric toaster oven to heat the rods up.  (I have a better idea yet... just buy yourself one of these, problem solved.)

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The New Weld

In theory it's simple.  Grind away any plating or rust on the handle ends.  Make a series of short welds around each end of the handle, chipping the slag and wire-brushing as you go. 

Finally, grind the rough welds to their approximate shape, then finish with sanding.

Now here's the trick.  You're fighting against two tendencies here.  First, short start-and-stop welds tend to have the most porosity, especially if you're out of practice in striking an arc.  Two, the end of a steel rod has a tendency to overheat and melt off.  Know when to break off the arc and let it cool!

I used 1/8-inch 7018AC electrodes.  Best amperage seemed to be 105 amps. 

Now on the surface, these welds don't look so great... and this was the better of the two ends:

...but don't worry, that's what angle grinders are for...

Pretty amazing: in fact, much better than expected. 

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Just so you know, it takes a lot of grinding.  The more gnarly your welds, the more grinding required. 

After rough-shaping the ends with an angle grinder, I tried an 80-grit power sander.  Shown here, one of the handle ends after 150 grit sandpaper:

After this, I sanded with 220, then 400, then 600 grit.  The results are nothing fancy;  there's still some grind marks, but once again... this is a yard vise.  And actually, this result is way better than I expected it would be.

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Yes, it is possible to make stuff out of pure 7018AC welds.  Sometimes, it's even the most convenient method.

The short, overlapping welds start out pretty awful looking, and there's going to be some porosity... but it works.

If you just want to save time, you don't need to mess around with stuff like this;  get yourself a proper vise through this link or this one.  But if you already have a yard vise, the method I've shown here could be viable way to make handle ends for it.


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