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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a antique workbench manufactured by the Grand Rapids Screw Company. I am trying to restore it. The face vice is broken and I in the process of fixing it. The bench was my dad's. He used it as a repair bench, not for woodworking. I'm trying to change that. I'm guessing that he got it free or very inexpensive because of the broken vise. I'm shocked that I have all the broken pieces. I'm using them to rebuild the vise. The top is where my dilemma starts. I need advice on how to handle it. It is relatively flat except near the dog holes. I don't think that it is feasible to plane it all the way down to eliminate the damage. Any thoughts?

Then hopefully I can figure out what to do with the top so I can use it for woodworking. I'll post pictures of the repair as I go along if people are interested.
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How did you establish the bench being made by the Grand Rapids Screw Company? I have an incredibly similar bench, especially when looking at the swirl shape of the end vise structure! Will have to post a picture of it...

You can certainly hit the top of that bench with a lightly set jack plane and see what you think after a few passes. Then a good jointer plane and whatever dents remain, mean nothing in use. My .02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There is a medallion in the center of the bench that says the company. I post more picture soon. I reluctant to plane the top because the damage and low spots are way too low to plane out. I want to make it back into a working woodworking bench so I might just sand it and see how it works from there.
 

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I am with Smitty on taking a plane to the top. Of course this only works if you have a plane and can get it razor sharp. You may want to do a good check for any nails that may have found a way in there first. Top may look kind of cool after that. No need to remove enough to get the dog holes pristine unless the top is very thick and you are willing to get a really good workout.
 

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Beware if you do start with sanding you pretty much eliminate the option of hand planing the top flat. The grit from the sand paper will drop into every nook and cranny. Unless you like planing sand. It’s not good.
My suggestion is to hand plane it. I think it’s a sin to sand a handtool bench.
Good Luck
 

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On a functionality point of view it might not be absolutely necessary to do anything to the top .
(Look at Bandit571 's workbench.)
I would not go aggressively at it.
I would first evaluate if there is any twist.
Bring down the high corners if needed;
Then just skim the surface of it, until the surface is acceptable to you (flatness/aspect), knowing that you will yourself make dents in it afterwards.
While doing wood work, you probably will not use so much the center of it (where it is most "damaged") but more the area above the left leg or the area near the end vise.
So it is probably not necessary to bring the center area level with the two work ends.

workbench flattening
 

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I would leave the top the way it is now. I love all the distress marks and patina, including the paint drippings (your dad's?)....As a restorer of hand tools, machinery and furniture, I learned this gold rule years ago: "Never do anything that can't be reversible". A 3M gray abrasive pad with wax will bring the bench to a nice condition.
why people is so obsessed with this flatness thing, when we live in a round planet? lol

This Lumberjocks member has the best tutorial I have seen so far about wooden screws:
 
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