I love ebay. Searching for tools, accessories and supplies for woodworking can be quite rewarding. Many times I’ve come across great deals on things that I could use. I needed a bench vise and didn’t want one much larger than a 3-1/2″ wide jaw vise. This Fuller 4″ vise looked like it would fit the bill. The seller posted great pictures of it and it looked like it wasn’t used much at all and he was even throwing in mounting bolts, nuts and washers. Price was reasonable and with free shipping I purchased it. It came quickly and at first appearance looked like it was packaged securely. Excitedly I opened the box only to my disappointment found the base to the vise was broken in three pieces. Boy was I sick over the situation, just left it in the box in a closet for days. One good outcome of it all is I contacted the seller and described the broken vise. After all it was useless with a broken base. He returned all my money within an hour. That’s why I like ebay, most sellers are honest about their auction business, otherwise they won’t last long on ebay.
I did some research on whether a cast iron tool like this vise could be repaired. Most people mentioned that cast iron can’t successfully be welded or brazed… they eventually break again. A vise has to take some punishment at times. Anyway I searched some more and found that there were others that had good luck using epoxy. The epoxy I had certainly wouldn’t repair a vise but someone suggested JB Weld epoxy. Searching further, I found it. Rated highly, I got some.
JB Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy is great stuff if used properly. I ground the paint off the broken areas which also gave a rough surface for the epoxy to “weld” to the surface. I also added metal strips bent to follow the shape of the base for reinforcement. Did it work? You bet. I have had the vice now for about four months and use it almost on a daily basis… bending/flattening metal, pounding on it in all directions and holding objects for shaping. So far it has held up nicely.
Despite the broken base the Fuller vise (made in Japan) looked like it was in good shape with little use. I cut and drilled wood pieces as soft jaws for holding wood.
This picture shows the steel jaws used to hold metal objects, held by rare earth magnets on the side of the vise so they are easy to find if I need them.
Here you can see where the JB Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy has been applied to the base of the Fuller vise. Also notice the embedded metal bars added to the epoxy on the side. I fashioned metal bars along each of the three broken areas.
While the JB Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy costs more than what I consider the other epoxies I have used, the product is much different in it’s use. It has even been used to repair cracked engine blocks successfully. I definitely would recommend it for most metal to metal repairs (with reinforcement), also for:
- PVC Plastic
A few other things I’d like to mention. When first mixed it is too soft to be applied vertically as it will run. It sets slowly and after about a couple of hours it can be pushed into shape. Just moisten whatever you use to mold it as it will stick otherwise. Once it is fully set (overnight) it can be sanded, drilled or filed. If you sand it be prepared to deal with very fine dust. There is a lot left over in the tubes and I am sure it will come in handy with another repair job.