My school’s woodshop is equipped with 14 professional woodworking vises that are being used all the time by students of different age groups. Many of our vises were made by Pony – Jorgensen, and Milwaukee tools. Each vise came originally with a wooden handle that was installed through its cast iron T- handle fitting. If you own such a vise and use it intensively you will notice that as time goes by the wooden handle will endure substantial compression from the round opening of the cast iron T-handle. Over time, and especially if a student attempted to close it with excessive force, the handle can break off. Obviously, we can try to turn a new handle or buy a dowel and install it with caps that we turn or make, but there is an easier solution.
I recently ordered four “3/4” wide x 10” Malleable Long Cast Iron Pipes” (I believe that the pipes are actually made of steel) a bag of ten 3/4 inch Malleable Cast Iron Pipe Cap, and a package of 1” (interior diameter) O-rings. After cleaning the pipes and the caps from the factory’s protective oil I installed two of them to replace the two wooden handles that broke recently. The pipe and caps packet with the two dampening O-ring are much stronger than the wooden handle and will last much longer.
Although longer pipes that match the original length of the wooden handle (12”) are available on sites such as Amazon and in your local hardware store, I decided to order the shorter 10” handle. My reason for this was, a shorter handle will limit the torque that the vise screw will have to withstand. Over the years I have noticed that some students, out of playfulness or just because they want to show off their strength, try to over tighten the vise, which is detrimental for the vise and its mechanism. So in order to limit the potential harm to the vise it would be beneficial to reduce the handle’s moment by reducing its length.
I admit that a steel pipe looks bad compared to a wooden handle, it feels cold to the touch and “cold at heart” but If you want a quick and strong replacement, long-lasting and inexpensive for a worn or broken handle, then this is the way to go.