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

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Blog entry by ToddJB posted 04-04-2014 09:36 PM 3070 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


1154 posts in 3615 days

#1 posted 04-04-2014 09:44 PM

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

-- - Terry

View JayT's profile


6460 posts in 3708 days

#2 posted 04-04-2014 10:02 PM

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

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

View chrisstef's profile


18140 posts in 4504 days

#3 posted 04-04-2014 10:43 PM

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

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3504 days

#4 posted 04-04-2014 10:46 PM

Wow. Before -n- after … BIG difference!

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

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 3153 days

#5 posted 04-04-2014 11:03 PM

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


3859 posts in 3459 days

#6 posted 04-04-2014 11:26 PM

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

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3681 days

#7 posted 04-05-2014 12:54 AM

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


8886 posts in 3628 days

#8 posted 04-05-2014 01:09 AM

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


17836 posts in 4116 days

#9 posted 04-05-2014 03:36 AM

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


1768 posts in 3675 days

#10 posted 04-05-2014 03:56 AM

^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


17040 posts in 4831 days

#11 posted 04-05-2014 09:00 AM

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


10196 posts in 3937 days

#12 posted 04-06-2014 12:08 AM


-- ~Tony

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4649 days

#13 posted 04-07-2014 02:15 AM


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

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