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Thread: Antique Workbench Update

  1. #1

    Antique Workbench Update

    I finally got some more time to work on my old workbench. It's finally starting to look like a user again. Now to convince my wife that I can keep it.




    Here is a more detailed write up on the bench.
    http://www.simoli.net/pages%20woodwo.../workbench.htm
    Jim

  2. #2
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    Jim, it looks like you nearly have the work surface ready to go. Nice job! A little oil and it will still have a nice "patina", too.
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

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  3. #3
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    Nice work on the cleanup. With those two benches at different heights, it looks as though you'll be able to dedicate a bench to planing and another to close in work. As odd as it would be, those little holes in the benchtop look like the slag burns from a cutting torch or weld spatter.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Young
    I finally got some more time to work on my old workbench. It's finally starting to look like a user again. Now to convince my wife that I can keep it. ]
    Jim,

    Nice web site. Like the birch bookshelves - I think painting it was a good call.

    How old is the workbench? Any info about history? If only workbenches could talk.

    Larry, UP Michigander.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Jim, that really looks good. I very much enjoyed reading about the restoration at the link.

    Also, congratulations on obtaining the Diefenbach bench. The "bench" gods are obviously rewarding you for the great restoration you are doing on the other bench.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    Jim, that's a nice project. I'd love to find one of those old benches for restoration. Your's looks like it's going to be a dandy. Good catch on the Diffenbach (sp?) also.
    Hank

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Jim is is possible that someone did some welding or heavy duty grinding on the bench & those are small burn marks on the surface?

    The end vice... is it used by clamping between the jaw board sticking out toward the back of the bench & the end of the bench? The reason I asked this question is because of what looks like a wide gap between the jaw board & the end of the bench & the narrow gap at the left end of the movable dog area, it appears that when the dog part of the vice is completely close that there would be a wide gap between the jaw board & the end of the bench. Also if this area is used to clamp material what about the bolt heads sticking out?

    I also believe it it use by clamping between the dogs in the holes & the fixed dog holes with dogs installed on the bench.
    Last edited by Bart Leetch; 01-06-2006 at 10:39 AM.
    I usually find it much easier to be wrong once in while than to try to be perfect.

    My web page has a pop up. It is a free site, just close the pop up on the right side of the screen

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry James
    Jim,

    How old is the workbench? Any info about history? If only workbenches could talk.
    Larry, UP Michigander.
    My guess, and I'm no professional antiquer, is between 50-100 years old. I'm trying to contact the previous owners spouse to see if I can get some history (the husband has passed away).
    Jim

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Bart Leetch
    The end vice... is it used by clamping between the jaw board sticking out toward the back of the bench & the end of the bench?
    The back part of the tail vise is not used for clamping. It is there to support the runner which keeps the vise from racking. The newer tail vises don't need this feature since the design has been update with a metal slider design like vises "a" and "c" in this pic.

    Jim

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the answer Jim. So are those little burns or holes made in the top by other means.
    I usually find it much easier to be wrong once in while than to try to be perfect.

    My web page has a pop up. It is a free site, just close the pop up on the right side of the screen

  11. #11
    They look like ice pic dimples. The thing that gets me is that they are consistant, not just dense in certain areas. At least they don't affect the function of the top.
    Jim

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Central-West, N.J.
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    Hello, I am brand new here, and it is a pleasure to now be a member of these forums with such fine knowledgable people! I was drawn here by an interest in antique workbenches, and when I googled that....this thread came up! The only problem is that I can't seem to download Mr. Young's pictures!

    I recently purchased a relatively small antique bench myself which is something I have always wanted to do. I am exclusively a woodcarver. Most of us do not need large benches. I won't go into detail here because this isn't my thread, and I don't want to step on toes. Perhaps, I will tell more about it elsewhere when I find the right section to do it in.

    In my search, I was saddened to find out that a lot of antique workbenches haven't been given the respect they deserve in antique circles, or that there doesn't seem to be much out there on their restoration. The emphasis is on....new, new, new. Antique dealers are marketing them as "kitchen islands" because they claim that few people want them for their original purpose! I am happy to see that there are folks here who respect these old workhorses!

  13. #13
    Hi Elmo,

    I also am a fan of old (aka antique) workbenches. They are a very personal item that allows you a glimps of what the original builder was thinking, and there's some inspiration in looking at the various marks, misses and what-nots on the bench. I like to imagine how each was used by looking at the various clues. I own a 40's/50's commercial bench with steel base (self-leveling legs) and maple butcher-block top. It was probably used in a machine shop - the top had hundreds of drill-holes and many oils and various chemical burns. I flipped the top after cleaning it up the best I could then sanded it smooth. I still need to work off the crown but for now it's at least a user. Next I'm putting an old Wilton woodworking vice on the right front (I have another bench for hand tools - this is an auxillary along one wall). I have a couple of images on my blog - here's one:


    I know it's not a traditional woodworking bench - I may take some photos of the bench I made back in the 80's - it's smaller and pretty beat up, but probably closer to what you're referencing. I'd like to find something very old and restore (to a point) for everyday use, but haven't come across something like that yet.

    -- John
    "No matter where you go, there you are" -- Buckaroo Banzai



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Eaton View Post
    Hi Elmo,

    I also am a fan of old (aka antique) workbenches. They are a very personal item that allows you a glimps of what the original builder was thinking, and there's some inspiration in looking at the various marks, misses and what-nots on the bench. I like to imagine how each was used by looking at the various clues. I own a 40's/50's commercial bench with steel base (self-leveling legs) and maple butcher-block top. It was probably used in a machine shop - the top had hundreds of drill-holes and many oils and various chemical burns. I flipped the top after cleaning it up the best I could then sanded it smooth. I still need to work off the crown but for now it's at least a user. Next I'm putting an old Wilton woodworking vice on the right front (I have another bench for hand tools - this is an auxillary along one wall). I have a couple of images on my blog - here's one:


    I know it's not a traditional woodworking bench - I may take some photos of the bench I made back in the 80's - it's smaller and pretty beat up, but probably closer to what you're referencing. I'd like to find something very old and restore (to a point) for everyday use, but haven't come across something like that yet.

    -- John

    John, just looking at the picture I know that style of bench. They are sold as/to restaurants, and can be found from restaurant supply houses both new and used. One more place to look if you ever need another one.

  15. #15
    I paid around $10 for that one at an estate sale - it was really rough - painted an institutional green that was flaking off everywhere. I wanted to get it going so I didn't spend much time re-doing - sandblasted the metal, primed and put two coats of dark machinery gray (rustoleum), then scraped, filled and sanded the top. I wasn't too worried about color matching but I probably should have used sawdust/mix for the holes - it would have looked better - but this one is def a user and not a show item. The base legs actually lean to one side a bit - since it didn't have any twist I just left the lean.

    -- John
    "No matter where you go, there you are" -- Buckaroo Banzai



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