Here’s a piece of curious woodworking equipment spotted by Corey Wilcox of Richfield, Wisc.
spotted this vise in an antique shop in Silverton, Colo., in June and
took some photos and made a sketch. This week he sent me an e-mail to ask if I
knew what the vise was used for. I’m a bit baffled.
The vise jaws
are about 3″ thick, 12″ wide and 28″ long. The whole thing stands about
24″ high on its four turned legs. I think it’s likely a piece of
woodworking equipment because the top is scored by many fine kerfs,
likely from a backsaw.
These kerfs suggest to me the user faced
the front of the vise to use it. Yet, this looks a bit like the
veneer-sawing bench shown in André Roubo’s 18th-century woodworking
books. That bench was about the same height (just above the knee when
measured from the floor), but it is more substantial than this Colorado
vise, and Roubo’s veneer vise was used differently. The two operators
stood at either end of the twin-screw vise.
My best guess (and
it’s not a good one) is that this vise was used on top of a bench or
other work surface and was designed to bring the work up close to the
operator’s face for some sort of fine operation.
Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.
— Christopher Schwarz
Workbench Geekery Below
• Read the story “Rules for Workbenches” free on our web site.
• I’ve written two books on ancient and simple workbenches. The first one is titled “Workbenches,” and the new one is titled “The Workbench Design Book.” Both are available from our store and from Lee Valley Tools.
• If you like reading about benches, definitely check out workbenchdesign.net.
• Read my review of the Veritas Inset Vise here for free.
• Read my review of the Veritas Sliding Tail Vise here for free.