Wrenchin’ Wednesday: DIY slide-hammer/puller

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Phillip Thomas

Slide hammers don’t see much use, but when they come out of the toolbox, it’s usually for an important mission. They’re great for pulling dents, popping out stuck axles, or popping a bearing off its hub. In today’s case, a CV axle stub was stuck in a differential of a neighbor’s Nissan Maxima, and no amount of prying seemed to get it to pop off the spring-clip without risking damage to the case of the diff. A quick glance around at what tools we had and, $5 later, we had taken a generic vise-grip and turned it into the ultimate long-distance slide hammer. The adjustor in a vise-grip is just a fancy bolt, in essence, so why not exploit its universal threads to bring some impactful functionality to its locking jaws? You’ll need a large 1/2-inch socket (CV axle sockets are perfect) and a few hardware store pieces to start.

First, roll to your local hardware store with the vise-grip adjustor in-hand, and use either a bolt identification chart or try threading different nuts onto the adjuster until you can match the threads.

bolt gauge
Phillip Thomas

Once you find the correct thread pitch, run over to the all-thread section and purchase a stick along with a matching nut and a washer or two that are at least 3/16th of an inch thick. It will act as the hammering surface for our socket hammer, so thicker is better. Buy a longer length of all-thread than you think you’ll need; it’s always easier to take more off than to put it back on, as they say.

The idea here is that we’ll replace the adjuster bolt with the all-thread and use our CV axle socket as the hammer itself. In our case, we’re reaching deep into the caverns of a front-drive sedan, so the whole length of the all-thread was kept. A hose clamp ensured that there would be no accidental releases of the vise-grip’s locking jaws, but this may not be necessary for everyone. Just screw down the all-thread like the original adjustor, slide on the socket, washers, and the nut to the tail of the all-thread, and get ready to party.

CV trans axle
Phillip Thomas

Clack-clack-clack-POP— the impact of the socket slide along the all-thread and slamming into the pack of washers made it quick work to overcome the spring clip that keeps the CV axle keyed into the differential. There are tons of uses here, though, and the vise-grips aren’t sacrificed in making our quick-and-dirty slide hammer—using a welding rod, you could easily grab and pull dents like a stud-puller, and then throw the all-thread and hardware into the drawer for next time.

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