PanaVise Restoration #1: #380 Base and #303 Standard Head

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by twoblacklabs posted 02-20-2018 11:16 PM 3048 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of PanaVise Restoration series Part 2: #304 Low Profile Head »

A few months ago, I traveled to Ohio to pickup an Incra LS Positioner off of Craigslist (less than 100 miles). The nice fella took the time to give a tour of his extravagant basement shop. (Wish I had photos to share). A retired engineer, he took great pride in his shop. He also gave me a box of junked Panavises as he didn’t have time to do anything with them. Not one to say no, I took the box with no clue as to what I would do with them. In fact, until he showed me the box, I had never heard of such a contraption. You can buy them new but if something like this is handed to me for free, I would rather restore it to usable condition.

While not exclusive to woodworking this little gem is a great addition to any shop. Need to third hand to clamp and don’t want to use you woodbench vise? Or perhaps as in my case, don’t want to leave the shop, walk across the yard to the utility shed where my big vise lives. Then a PanaVise is the answer. Come to find out, there are various options with lots of interchanging attachments including bases, heads, soldering stations, circuit board holders for electronic work, dedicated base plates for wood carving, etc..

I received several bases and heads, (1) model 381 standard head, (2) model 304 low profile heads, and (2) model 381 vacuum bases. Picking through the various parts, I chose what I felt could easily be restored.

needs some love



Lots of rust and gunk. Most of the parts were corroded together but with some elbow grease and WD-40, I was able to break the parts down. Fortunately, my wife bought me a HF Sandblast Cabinet last fall so it was time to put it to use. It makes quick work of removing everything that shouldn’t be there including decades of faded paint and continually growing rust. It also removes any chroming that had been original but I can live with that.


After the sandblast, a primer coat of Rustoleum Universal Bonding Primer followed by Rustoleum Hammered Verde Green which was the closest color match to the originals. For just a few hours work and the price of primer/paint I now have a totally usable portable vise that will clamp down on any non-porous surface such as the granite top on my hybrid cabinet saw.


restored open vise

Eventually, I will get around to replacing the acorn nuts with new ones and perhaps even some chrome paint on the parts that were chromed to begin with. I may even spring for the vacuum base repair kit to replace the black rubber pad as this one looses it’s vacuum after about 15 minutes. Considering that the labels indicate these were from the 1960’s, I’m not complaining. For now, I’m just enjoying the pride that comes with restoring a useful tool that would otherwise be in the landfill or scrap yard.

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

6 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


18133 posts in 4168 days

#1 posted 02-21-2018 12:26 AM

Nice work. Im diggin the paint color!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2648 days

#2 posted 02-21-2018 12:50 AM

They are sweet. I have one with the lead base.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Don Broussard's profile (online now)

Don Broussard

4049 posts in 3413 days

#3 posted 02-21-2018 04:14 AM

Nice restoration! The hammered spray paint came out looking sharp.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 3162 days

#4 posted 02-21-2018 07:50 PM

Love seeing things like this brought back to life. Not only is the finish nice, it screams 60’s. My Dad’s basement was full of things with that green hammertone, from electric typewriters to multimeters, to toolboxes, etc.

-- Ted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4029 days

#5 posted 02-21-2018 09:10 PM

You did a wonderful job on restoring this vise. It will be a nice improvement to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View twoblacklabs's profile


263 posts in 3853 days

#6 posted 02-22-2018 06:31 AM

Thanks guys!

I enjoy doing these kinds of projects. Haven’t been in the shop much since Achilles surgical repair in October. Baby steps. AKA “clearing all of the crap off my tablesaw.”

Should have the pics of the low profile head up tomorrow.

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics