A vise is a handy third hand for many workshop projects. This vise, attached to your trailer hitch, can go wherever the job takes you.
This portable vise slips onto your truck's trailer hitch.
Photo courtesy JOHN WOODZICK
How many times have you been working on a project outside and found yourself wishing you had an extra hand? I was working on a stock well pump and had to make several trips to my shop to cut and thread pipe. But as I used the tailgate of my pickup as a workbench, it occurred to me that a solid vise, mounted on the truck’s trailer hitch, would be a big help. (I have seen trucks for linemen and plumbers that have these welded to the bed, but I didn’t want to weld on a permanent vise.)
I called on the assistance of a friend in a welding at our local technical school. (Vo-tech schools are often looking for projects for their students, be it in welding, HVAC, auto repair or horticulture. Technical schools also can be a good resource and provide a way to recycle old appliances, scrap metal or vehicles.)
After reviewing my idea and scrounging in the school’s scrap pile, we came up with a piece of 48-inch-long, 2-inch-square tubing — long enough to extend past the tailgate. We welded a 1-foot-square piece of quarter-inch plate to one end of the tubing. To this plate, I mounted an inexpensive combination vise using three bolts.
Even though the straight extension is a little low, it is compact and easy to store in the bed of my truck or in the shop. An L-shaped version would bring the vise up to a better working height, but that would take up more space, and I’m planning to use it only when working away from the shop.