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.