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help me restore this great old bench

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Forum topic by JoeRPhilly posted 05-22-2013 08:33 PM 2048 views 1 time favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JoeRPhilly

97 posts in 808 days


05-22-2013 08:33 PM

I was lucky enough to find this old workbench for free on Craigslist. I know, I suck! Made by Christiansen, Chicago. Don’t know the timeframe but it looks like they stopped making benches around 1940.

Unfortunately, this has at least a couple old coats of paint on it. The front vise is in bad shape and the tail vise is missing. The owner had been using it in his shed just as a bench, then left it out in the rain at least one night before I rescued it. He said he was going to cut it up but thought it would be too much of a pain, thankfully!It’s been almost 2 weeks in my basement and I still haven’t been able to turn the front vise.

So, I’d like to take off the old paint and work on restoring this to it’s original glory. I bought some Citristrip but haven’t used it yet. Should I use the citristrip? Hand plane? Leave it alone? I know it could be worth some money to some people so I’m not sure what if restoring it is best. Should I worry about lead paint if I do strip the paint?

thanks ahead of time for any input!


35 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7561 posts in 2304 days


#1 posted 05-22-2013 08:39 PM

I would scrape the paint off with a card scraper. There’s
probably oil in the wood underneath inhibiting paint
adhesion.

Missing the tail vise obviously.

Interior designers like these benches for shabby
“farm” kitchens in grand houses and loft decor.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10847 posts in 1662 days


#2 posted 05-22-2013 08:51 PM

Ohh hell yea. You’ve gotta bring that bench back to its glory. Id agree with Loren on using the card scraper to remove the paint. It should come off pretty easily … I hope. I vote for a blog on this one.

As far as lead paint is concerned, there’s certainly a possibility of it. You could get one of those little paint tester kits at the big box store. In any case if it is lead make sure you wash your hands, clean up the chips, and keep it away from the kids and animals. A respirator wouldn’t hurt either. I wouldn’t vote for sanding it if indeed it is lead. You don’t wanna make too much dust and inhale it or send it all over creation.

I hope that you would use it once its all cleaned up but its yours and you can do whatever ya want with it ;)

-- "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 richardwootton's profile

richardwootton

1254 posts in 611 days


#3 posted 05-22-2013 09:05 PM

That’s awesome! I would love to find something like that…

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9918 posts in 1274 days


#4 posted 05-22-2013 09:10 PM

Joe, I agree this must be saved and a scraper is your first line of attack. Is it lead paint? Maybe. Are you gonna eat what you strip off? Hope not.

You’ve really got a nice piece there. Looks very similar to one I have, actually, but it has no name on it that can be found. I started with some planing, then got smart and did the hand scraper for a way better result.

I can take some pics of the tail vise of mine if you’re interested in rebuilding the one that was on your bench, just say the word. I’ll ‘watch’ this post to see which way(s) you decide to proceed. Good luck!

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

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15798 posts in 1522 days


#5 posted 05-22-2013 09:20 PM

You can get acme screws and nuts from McMaster Carr. You can also get cold rolled or even ground shafting there as well. Good luck.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6819 posts in 1807 days


#6 posted 05-22-2013 09:38 PM

Free! Yes you suck. Would love to see the restoration. I’m sure the vise will turn once it dries out. Does that end cap have a threaded hole for the missing end vise?

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

View JoeRPhilly's profile

JoeRPhilly

97 posts in 808 days


#7 posted 05-22-2013 11:08 PM

Thanks everyone, card scraper it is. Yes, I definitely feel lucky on this one!

Chrisstef, you are right, I should use it once I get it back in shape. I guess you can’t have too many benches either right? I’m in the midst of building my own, and it’s nearly done, but I certainly couldn’t pass this up when I saw it for free. I’m sure I’ll do the “right” thing here and use it for its original purpose. I figured it would be perfect for a blog, I’ll try to do that as I go.

Smitty, I would love to see some pics of your tail vise. I did find some pics of what looks like the original setup, but it would help to have some additional photos/options. I know it will be a challenge for me, but I would like to rebuild the tail vise.

Helluva, thanks but I think I will go with all wooden screws

Mauricio, the end cap has half of what was a threaded hole. Unfortunately it is broken.

View BTimmons's profile

BTimmons

2127 posts in 1141 days


#8 posted 05-22-2013 11:57 PM

If you’re up for an even bigger challenge, perhaps convert the missing front corner portion into a wagon vise.

-- Brian Timmons - http://www.BigTWoodworks.com

View OnlyJustME's profile

OnlyJustME

1562 posts in 1033 days


#9 posted 05-23-2013 12:13 AM

Bravo for deciding to restore it. And if it does happen to be too many workbenches you could always pay it forward to a needy woodworker. wink wink ;) nudge nudge. LOL
Let’s see some more photos. Definitely Blog worthy.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6819 posts in 1807 days


#10 posted 05-23-2013 12:48 AM

Hmm, so is there enough end cap/nut left to attach a new wooden nut? The other option would be to cut off the end cap and bolt on a replacement. Or you could cut off the remaining nub and use some modern end vise hardware?

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

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10847 posts in 1662 days


#11 posted 05-23-2013 06:16 PM

Man the SOB that cut the front corner of that bench …. if I ever got my hands on him …. lol

You’ve got quite the audience now Joe!

-- "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 Don W's profile

Don W

15030 posts in 1223 days


#12 posted 05-23-2013 07:05 PM

I’ll follow along. Gonna love to see the old girl get back in shape.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Willeh's profile

Willeh

228 posts in 995 days


#13 posted 05-23-2013 11:52 PM

This was a pretty sweet find! Hope to see your progress!

-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "

View BBF's profile

BBF

141 posts in 495 days


#14 posted 05-24-2013 12:46 AM

Sweet find. Do it proud.

-- I've never been disappointed buying quality but I have been disappointed buying good enough.

View JoeRPhilly's profile

JoeRPhilly

97 posts in 808 days


#15 posted 05-24-2013 05:39 PM

Adding some pics.

I have started scraping. Thanks for all the input!
I do have quite the audience now, I’ll have to work hard, should be fun

showing 1 through 15 of 35 replies

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