Last week I won an online auction for a workshop in Cincinnati. While I couldn’t figure out what all the tools were in the picture, I knew the plane in the back was a Stanley, and the vise on the bench was of good quality. So, I decided to take a chance and bid what I thought was fair and won the auction for a good price.
After my wife, Anita, and I struggled to get the workbench out of the home owners basement, we went back down to pick up all the rest of the tools in the shop. There was much more than the tools on the bench. There were plenty of garden tools, mechanics tools, numerous hand tools, and even some scrap wood that I just left because I had no need for.
My real interest after I brought everything home was the workbench and the vise. The Stanley plane that initially sparked my interest was a No 5C corrugated plane in great shape, but I’ve seen hundreds of those planes in my day. The gem turned out to be the workbench which is a Delta from Milwaukee, WI. The same Delta as the Delta Machinery Company. The sticker on it said Catalog No 344. I searched the internet and only found a link to Sears Roebuck. Apparently, it must have been something that one would order through Sears, but unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to find more information to date the bench. My only guess would be that it’s from the early 20th century.
The top of the bench was caked with dirt and paint, so I decided to take a belt sander to it and sand it clean. I then used my random orbital sander and sanded it smooth to 220 grit paper.
Satisfied with the way it looked, I applied a couple of coats of hemp oil on the bench. The oiled beech gave the top a rich warm color. The bottom shelf made from poplar turned so dark it almost looks like walnut.
This is a close up of the top where you can see better the tool marks left by the former owner. The bench has much more character now, that someone may want to use it as their kitchen island or even as a display table in a retail store. Heck, it still would make a very nice workbench.
I carefully took the vise off the bench and it is a Richards Wilcox quick release vise. It is in good shape and I was able to find the original handle in a box full of parts. More likely, it’s the original vise that came with the bench when it was bought from Sears.
I spent a few minutes and cleaned all the paint from the face and oiled the mechanisms so it would operate properly. I was even able to save the original screws that attached the vise to the bench. This vise is a beautiful piece of art and will be a workhorse in anyone’s workshop.
UPDATE 3/15/16: After only a couple of weeks, the workbench found a new home. I’m not sure what the new owner plans on using it for, but I’m glad I could save the bench.