Several months ago I saw an ad for a moving/estate sale on Craigslist and while it was short on pictures, it had a good description that said something like “many vises” and the nice thing was it was only about 15 minutes from my house. The ad said the owner was a retired woodworker and machinist who had passed away, and his widow was moving to a warmer climate. It sounded promising, so I headed there first thing on Saturday morning. As soon as I got there I knew they weren’t joking, and the shop was full of really high end tools and equipment including a little Wilton 350 with a bonus. It turns out the owner was a member of a local woodworking club, and the members were there helping run the sale, price items, etc.
The first thing that caught my eye was a beautiful cast iron stand with a brass tag on the front that had the Wilton 350S mounted to it. It didn’t have a price on it, so I expected it was going to be really expensive. Then I noticed a huge welding table that had no less than a dozen bench vises on it, under it, and lying next to it on the concrete. At that point I knew the owner was a man of good taste who knew his vises! I pulled a Reed 105 out from under the welding table, set it next to the stand with the Wilton on it, and asked the guy pricing things how much for the pile. I won’t even tell you the price because it was like a third of what I was expecting!
This is one of those times when I bought a vise, but was actually more interested in something else that came with it…the stand. The vise was in really nice shape, and I knew it would be an easy restoration. I also knew that I could sell the vise for enough to make the stand, and the Reed 105 essentially free.
Let’s get back to that amazing stand. It was heavy cast iron and the brass tag said “Peninsular Machinery Co, Machine Tools, Detroit, Michigan” in script that looks to be turn-of-the-century. It turns out the Peninsular Machinery Company was founded in Detroit in 1854, and stayed in business until around 2003. They moved locally once or twice, and had a few subsidiaries, but there really isn’t a whole lot of documentation that I’ve found in researching it. Regardless, it’s a great piece of Detroit history, and a great piece of American manufacturing history, so I have no plans of letting it go. The problem is, I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for at this point. I could put a grinder on it, which is likely what it had on it when in use, I could mount a vise on it and secure it to the floor with expanding concrete anchors, or I might set it up to use as a display stand when I want to take pictures of my vises. I think the last one is most likely, but one way or the other, I’m sure I’ve got a stand for something!
The Wilton 350S was an easy restoration that turned out really nice and eventually went to a local gentleman I met on a forum who was looking for his first quality vise. The Reed 105 had some damage to the slide (a crack) so I welded the crack closed and mounted it on one of my work benches where it’s been put to use many times. I have to say, I feel really good about the whole deal. I have a great stand, a great welding vise and someone else has their first quality bench vise. That’s win, win, win!
In some ways, I should have called this “Got a stand for nothing” but that sounded a little negative, so I kept it positive.