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A New Life for an Old Bench #2: A snap shot of history

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Blog entry by ToddJB posted 03-10-2014 at 10:47 AM 1248 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A beginning, of sorts Part 2 of A New Life for an Old Bench series Part 3: Garters and Glue - a Tail Vise's best friends »

This entry will serve as the documentation for the condition of the workbench as I received it.

Here she is in the shop – with obligatory plane on top.

Rear:

Condition – the bad:

There are few things that will need to be addressed quickly, before she can be put to use.

One of the glue lines has separated:

Here’s why – The top and the bottom separate. The only thing that holds the top to the bottom is weight and two positioning dowels. Through talking with the owner he found the bench in a house he bought in Cincinnati, OH (very humid) and moved it to Longmont, CO (very dry).

This pic shows through the top where the dowel is about 1/8” off from the alignment hole.

This may have been by design (which I’ll get to later), but I think that the climate change and that pressure were the culprit for the split.

Another issue is that the the vices need some attention. The front and tail need new handles – no biggie, but the tail is missed what I’m going to call a retaining ring. This ring keeps the screw and the vise together. Currently if you turn it, the screw comes out, but the jaw doesn’t.

Missing one:

Front vise with ring in place:

The the cap on the tail vise is also separating. Somewhere along the way someone threw some nails in there, but it’s popping up agian:

And lastly of what needs immediate attention – there is one pretty rotted area in the tool well – it’s squishy to the touch:

My plan for this is to just fill it with thin CA glue to firm it up and keep it’s patina. Someone stop me if I’m way off base with this.

Condition – the good:

The vast majority of wood is in great condition under a lot of grit and grime.

The wood screws are in great condition and operate far better than I anticipated.

It smells awesome.

And I would bet that it’s fairly unique/rare. Which leads to the history.

History:

I like old equipment. One of my favorite qualities about God (I promise I won’t get preachy) is his desire for redemption. He wants to takes something old, broken, and unwanted and make it into something new, highly functional, and very desirable. That resonates with me. And the concept, at least, I know resonates with many of you. I love refurbishing a $3 dollar hand plane, or an unwanted 70s schwinn crusier. In doing this though, I rarely get to hear what the history is behind these items. This one, isn’t much different.

I asked the seller if he knew the history. As I stated before, he found the bench in a house he bought in Cincinnati, OH, and moved it from house to house with him using it only as a general purpose bench. But when I got it home I noticed a couple of things. On the bottom of this bench written with pencil in huge cursive letters was Combination Billiard Mtf Co. Madison, Ind.

It’s a little difficult to read in the picture below:

My google-fu did not really bring anything up about the companies history, but I did find a few ad’s for their pool/dining tables from 1902-1904:

and someone selling a miniture display model:

I originally considered this bench was just used in their shop, but then I noticed this:

and this:

These appear to be order tags. Unfortunately there is very little that can be read off of these tags, but I can make out Cincinnati, OH on both of them. Confirming where the PO had found the bench. This leads me to believe that this was most likely a production made bench. Most likely dating somewhere in the first decade of the 20th century.

I think that’s neat.

Okay – Done typing for the day.

If you want to geek out on more pics I took a slew of them here:

http://s1325.photobucket.com/user/toddjb1/library/Workbench?sort=3&page=1

Part 3 – I will be picking ya’ll collective brains as I really don’t want to mess this up.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built



11 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

4082 posts in 1088 days


#1 posted 03-10-2014 at 12:24 PM

Todd, the rings are called garters, nowadays they are either maple or brass.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10707 posts in 1643 days


#2 posted 03-10-2014 at 12:28 PM

I love unearthing the lost forgotten history of relics like this. You’ve done some good sleuth work bud. With the help of the interwebz hopefully we will get to find out more about the bench.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2016 posts in 767 days


#3 posted 03-10-2014 at 12:34 PM

Kev, good to know. I’ll look into it. I was wondering if I might be able to retro fit a black pipe anchor like this:

Not sure if I’d be able to find one big enough though

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10707 posts in 1643 days


#4 posted 03-10-2014 at 12:48 PM

Could that sales tag read (Roselawn)? A quick googling pegs that as a neighborhood in Cincinnati.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View ToddJB's profile (online now)

ToddJB

2016 posts in 767 days


#5 posted 03-10-2014 at 01:05 PM

Stef, good eye. Sure looks like it to me.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

4082 posts in 1088 days


#6 posted 03-10-2014 at 04:48 PM

Tod, I think that flange would wear the screw down too quickly. Check the diameter, LAKE ERIE sells maple garters as well as brass.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View clieb91's profile

clieb91

3271 posts in 2572 days


#7 posted 03-10-2014 at 05:50 PM

What an awesome find. Congrats man!

CtL

-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- PortablePastimes.com (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View cpine's profile

cpine

73 posts in 493 days


#8 posted 03-11-2014 at 08:12 AM

I love this! What a great bench! This is so much fun to see what you are doing here!

-- Chris Pine

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

1091 posts in 292 days


#9 posted 03-14-2014 at 05:45 AM

Todd being able to find any kind of provenance on this table is so cool!!! Can’t wait to see it in action!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View BigRedKnothead's profile

BigRedKnothead

4796 posts in 619 days


#10 posted 03-15-2014 at 06:44 PM

It does my heart well that this bench wound up in your hands.

+1 on the beauty of redemption.

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

4082 posts in 1088 days


#11 posted 03-15-2014 at 06:52 PM

Todd, I work on the same bench where I take furniture classes.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

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