Hello, My name is Chris, and I’m….
Hold up! Not that kinda vice!! A fantastic 115 year old Sheldon Vise.
After hearing the Schwarz talk about his Sheldon Vise at a Northeastern Woodworking Show a few years back I decided to start trolling the interweb for this Schwartz approved devise. After all, if it was good enough for him, it might (just might) meet up to my standards. I didn’t have a whole lot of luck at first, so I set up an alert on ebay. Sure enough, my patience paid off and before long I was the proud owner of a rusty old piece of iron! Wahoo!
I am always interested in the history of the old tools I come across. After acquiring a tool such as this, I immediately hit the google machine to see what I can find, (especially when I have to wait for a delivery!). In the case of the Sheldon vise I did not find a ton of information, I did, however, find a lot of people asking for “what kind of vise is this???”
In any case, what I did discover was that:
E.H. Sheldon, began his career as a woodworking teacher and was always looking for ways to improve the learning experience for his students. That passion led him to invent a rapid-acting vise, which was quickly followed by benches and eventually a line of laboratory furniture and furnishings for the school market.
1898 E. H. Sheldon builds and sells a rapid-acting woodworking vise he invented while teaching manual training in Louisville, KY.
1900 – 1910 Sheldon begins building benches to accompany his vises when manual training and domestic science are added to the curriculum of many schools.
Initial production is handled by a Chicago woodworking shop, but the high-quality product soon results in more orders than the supplier can produce. Sheldon sets up his own factory in a Chicago loft.
1911 The company is moved to Muskegon, Michigan in response to an offer of larger manufacturing facilities.1
I must say I was on the fence about how to approach old tools. There are two schools of thought on old tools: collectors and users. Part of me wanted to be a collector, to restore the tool meticulously to its original state, but the practical side of me looked at all the rusty old tools I have sitting around and determined that I was in the user category. My decision was certainly influenced by Derek Olson’s restoration of his mitre box. A perfect balance of “restoring for use”. BTW, If you have not checked out Derek’s blog, you are missing out and should stop reading this and go over there! I had read enough about restoring tools and figured this was a perfect opportunity to give some techniques a try.
I decided electrolysis was the way to go.
While I didn’t find a ton of information on the vise I did constantly refer back to a blog post by Megan Fitzpatrick about the installation of her Sheldon vise. The base is angled and can be a bit tricky to install. Thank you Megan!
Grips great and can really hold a work piece. Not bad for a 115 year old tool!
Thanks for stopping by the shop.
Chris, enjoy your new baby.
Ha! Thanks Tom!
Nice restore job. Should last you 100 years.
Thanks Mike. I’ll let you know! 😉
Great job! I too just gave away a battery charger…doh!
I too have been quietly shopping for a vise just like that and maybe when I get one I’ll try the electrolysis route too. I haven’t used that process yet and I’m curious how I’ll like it. You did a real nice job with yours.
Thank you for the kind words above. I do appreciate them my friend.
Your vise is better looking than my vise…might have to get out the paint!
Nice work on the vise. The black acrylic paint looks great on it. I also found one after a lengthy search. Mine is intact, but perhaps in not as good condition. I’m curious. How long did the electrolysis take?
Thanks Jim. It’s been a while, but I believe it was over a couple hours. Apparently you cannot leave it in too long, once it’s done it’s work, it’s done, no harm after that. Funny I was using the vice yesterday and it was slipping a bit. While I do like it –It is not always the tightest gripping vice. I emailed Schwartz about it and he said something thing to the affect…. “yea, it does have the strongest grip”. Let me know how you make out!