A New Life for an Old Bench #6: Scrape, Scrub, and Oil

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Blog entry by ToddJB posted 138 days ago 1055 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Relaminating the top and a few other odds and ends Part 6 of A New Life for an Old Bench series Part 7: Deadmen and missing dogs »

Now that the bench has most of the structural issues taken care of it’s on to the lipstick. There are plenty of things I could/should do first (deadman, bench dogs, etc) but honestly I couldn’t wait any longer to get some shine on this old girl.

The issue that you’re presented with in working on old items like this is how far do you go? There are a 100 years worth of dings, dents, and dirt on this bench, to remove it all, in my opinion, would be a terrible shame, but to leave it all, would effect its performance. The goal is to find the happy medium.

The top of the bench is the area that concerns me the most. There was a lot a grit, grime, glue, and goo… and paint. But more concerning than the crap that has amassed on the bench top was the top itself. The laminated boards were not perfectly flat. There were slight ridges and valleys between each glue line. So I made my main objective just to get rid of these.

If I were making a new bench my goal would be to make it perfectly flat and flush all the way across, but I was afraid doing so here would require too much material to be removed for my liking. And if I want later on, I can always remove more material, but it’s a pretty big challenge put material back.

Weapon of choice? A Stanley 80 scraper.

There are probably better/faster tools, for this job, but I’m just learning about hand tools, and didn’t want to screw this up by going to town on it with something more aggressive.

After about 25 minutes of effort here is where I ended up.

This resulted in the table feeling relatively smooth. No ridges. Pleased.

Next up, she needs a good warshin’

Weapons of choice? Water, Rag, GoJo, and worn out ScotchBrite pad.

The whole bench got a good scrubbing. A light spray of water, a quick wipe with the rag, GoJo applied to the pad, scrub, and then wipe down again with damp rag. How effect is it? Pretty effective.

After a lot of elbow grease here is were we ended up.

The black spot in the tool well is the rotted area that got an ample dose of CA glue.

Two areas that didn’t get scrubbed were the partial labels that I found the stretchers. I taped these off, and gave them a shot of clear coat spray paint, to preserve what was left of them.

I let everything dry completely over night, the next morning I did a quick wipe down with denatured alcohol (I am not sure this step was needed, but whatevs). That night she got the BLO treatment. This first application was heavily applied, and that old wood just drank it up. I’ll follow at least the first step of the BLO recommended application – Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and then once a year. So I have 6 more applications to go.

Here is what she looked like when she came into the shop.

Here is what she looks like after the first application.

I’m pleased.

Next blog I’ll be address the lack of deadman.

Thanks for reading.

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

13 comments so far

View TerryDowning's profile (online now)


1003 posts in 742 days

#1 posted 138 days ago

Prettied that old girl right up. Lookin Good Todd! Strong Stuff.

-- - Terry

View JayT's profile (online now)


2171 posts in 836 days

#2 posted 138 days ago

Looks used, yet ready to go to work for another 50 years or more. Nice job, Todd.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


10623 posts in 1631 days

#3 posted 138 days ago

That bench fits your style to a T buddy. Its really coming along now. I really enjoy this project of yours.

-- "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 JoeinGa's profile


3157 posts in 632 days

#4 posted 138 days ago

Wow. Before -n- after … BIG difference!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Slyy's profile


1091 posts in 280 days

#5 posted 138 days ago

Gonna be great to see all the new tricks for an old dog on this bench Todd! Seriously strong work so far.

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

View Tim's profile


1238 posts in 586 days

#6 posted 138 days ago

Knew it was going to look sweet when you oiled her up, but dang, that’s nice.

View shampeon's profile


1346 posts in 808 days

#7 posted 138 days ago

This is so great. You’re making great progress, and doubly so for having a newborn in the house plus a toddler.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View ToddJB's profile


1924 posts in 755 days

#8 posted 138 days ago

ThanksAll. I’m stoked on it.

Ian, its funny because I currently have a ton more time. I’m on paternity leave. So I get the toddlers nap time, about 3 hours, and then a few hours at night that I don’t typically get because I get up so early for work. I’m taking full advantage while I can, I have a feeling it’ll be short lived.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


9761 posts in 1243 days

#9 posted 138 days ago

The only thing I’d add to the comments above is, that bench is lucky to have you.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View john2005's profile


918 posts in 803 days

#10 posted 138 days ago

^1 you’re doin er good buddy

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View stefang's profile


12869 posts in 1959 days

#11 posted 138 days ago

Definitely coming back to life. A fine old bench and I think you did the right thing with your minimalist approach to refurbishing it. It has a lot of character and it would be a shame to take that away. Well done!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View AnthonyReed's profile


4543 posts in 1065 days

#12 posted 137 days ago


-- ~Tony

View Mauricio's profile


6798 posts in 1777 days

#13 posted 136 days ago


-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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