One-day Rebuild: Garfield Pow-R-Arm Vise


While cleaning the garage I stumbled on an old vise I had planned to use decades ago.  It’s a vintage Garfield Pow-R-Arm hydraulic articulating vise.  The vise can be positioned to hold material at any angle, with a hydraulic cylinder locks the arm in place securely.  This is an interesting tool that is still produced today by Wilton.  This old vise was totally covered in rust and wouldn’t move, so I decided to tear it down and rebuild it.

The pieces came apart easily, to my surprise.  The vise bars were held in place with steel dowels that I pressed out with an arbor press.  The hydraulic cylinder worked well, so I left it alone.  A wire wheel removed most of the rust, and in the tightest places, a drill-mounted wire brush handled the rest.  I then used steel wool pads to scrub the surfaces clean.  Once the pieces were down to bare metal, I used lacquer thinner to ensure the surfaces had no remaining soap or oil film.

I selected Rust-Oleum Farm Implement paint mainly because I had a few cans on the shelf.  The original base was black, with the vertical swivel being red.  This time the vise would be totally black.  I masked the areas that were not to be painted, then painted 3 to 4 coats on each piece.

After drying overnight, the pieces went together quickly.  I lubricated the moving parts with a high-quality engine assembly lube, also because I had it on the shelf.  The vise closes smoothly, and the hydraulic arm holds it securely with a twist of the knob.  This vise will look good on the work bench, and should have many years of service left in it.


Leave a Reply