Restoring a workbench is a lot of work, but it’s not very difficult. If you do yourself a favor and find a bench with the vises in tact, it will save you time. The cosmetic work on a carpenters bench restoration is a matter of cleanup, leveling, and finishing the piece to make it look new again.
I cover the entire process for restoring a workbench in another article, where I took my fathers old bench and made it look new again. My father had a carpenters bench from my grandfather, and offered it to me.
I made it known that I did not have time to work on it, and every time my dad asked me, I told him that it was still sitting on the floor of the garage. Little did he know, I was working on it for a couple hours a day in secret.
The bench came to me covered in oil, grime, paint, and many decades of wear. I had to pull or set dozens and dozens of nails. Most of these were my own doing from when I was a kid. The boards were also coming apart, so they had to be glued again.
I used a lot of grease cutter, acetone, and elbow grease to remove the gunk. Then, I had to sand it level with a belt sander. That tool a while, but it was worth it. I then filled the voids in the surface, and sanded it level again. Finally, a coating of Danish Oil made it all look nice and even. The look on my dad’s face when I asked him to come over to “help me lift the bench top off the floor” was priceless. He thought I was about to start working on it, and in reality I was already finished.
In the end, this was a labor of love. It is really nice to have a bench in my shop that my father, and his father before him both worked on. I enjoy the history in it all, and hope that one day my son will enjoy working in the shop, and become the fourth owner of this bench.
For more about woodworking, take a look at my other work:
DIY Growth Chart Ruler (A gigantic ruler for marking a child’s height)
17 Worst Ways to Ruin Your Woodworking Project (A list of things to avoid)
Making Wooden Rings (How to make wooden finger rings)
If you have any questions about restoring a workbench, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
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- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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