• Mr. Stafford

1956 Wilton Woodworker’s Bench Vise

During the second world war, a man from Czechoslovakia fled all the way to Chicago to start his own business. His name was Hugh W. Vogl. It is said that, sometime during 1941, while standing on a street corner and surveying the area, a man walked up to him and began speaking with him. After sharing some amicable conversation, the man asked Mr. Vogl for the name of his company. Mr. Vogl looked around and spotted a nearby street sign that read, “Wilton,” and he told the man that the name of his company was called, “The Wilton Tool Manufacturing Company.”

This vise was covered in rust and sand when I received it; obviously suffering from decades of neglect and was inoperable.

Below is a photograph of the only process for which I occasionally employ the services of electricity; electrolytic rust removal. Any rusty metal item, made from conductive material, can be submerged in a bath of water and washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda), connected to an automotive battery charger and the rust is removed almost entirely without effort. Please do not attempt this if you are unfamiliar with the process; electrical damage and personal injury can easily occur.

Up until the 1960’s the dates that were stamped on the vises were actually five years after the manufacturing date. That is a curious thing, now, is it not? The explanation of this oddity is that Wilton issued a five year warranty. If your vise had a 57 stamp on it and the current year was 1958, the technicians knew that the warranty had expired. Sometime during the 1960’s they changed their dating system due to the fact that if someone purchased a vise in 1958 that had a stamp on it that read 60, then they would only be getting the last two years out of a five year warranty. The vise in these photos was made before this change, in July of 1956.

Rust free and oiled, this will now operate as well as when it was brand new.

No sandblast cabinet is needed for such work; only water, washing soda, a bit of electricity and some elbow grease for scrubbing off the film and polishing the cast iron. This wonderful piece of history looks just as it did the day that it was made sixty years ago, is just as solid and can easily last another hundred years and more.

As Christians, we are called to find and retain a grasp on that which is holy and to separate ourselves from the evil things of the world. With the assistance of our Almighty Father, we are to strive to maintain a vise-like grip on the things of God.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Mr. Stafford

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