Friday, October 17, 2014

How Our Museum Got Screwed

The other day I was over at the Fisher House giving a tour and noticed something wooden shoved behind the door collecting dust. I pulled it out and found it was an early 19th century double screw vise. Astounded and alarmed I inquired about its story. They told me it just showed up one day on the doorstep along with a couple of bucksaws. No one ever left a note or called to tell us why they gave it to the museum. (This kind of stuff happens more than you’d think.) Was it Fisher’s double screw a local resident had? I guess it’s possible but we will never know until the donor fills us in. This was dropped off quite a while ago so the likelihood we’ll ever find out is slim I think.

Regardless, the vise is cool. 18” between screws. I think they are 1” screws. There are hand wrought nails that were driven through the back jaw for mounting  to a workbench presumably. I don’t know what the museum is going to do with it but I think it’s a cool find.


  1. Hi Joshua, I suspect that this is a bookbinding clamp and not a wood work vice. I had one similar but not as nice and much later and with steel screws. I have used the screws to make a double screw vice on my bench that I use for dovetail work. Thanks for your blog I find it interesting. Bernard Naish

    1. Hmm. That's interesting, Bernard. What makes you suspect that? How is a bookbinder's clamp constructed differently than a double screw? I am unfamiliar with that trade and would like to know more. The reason I assumed this one was for woodworking (or at least has been used for woodworking for a long time) is that there are saw cuts on the front jaw and numerous paint splatters on it. It seems this served a holding purpose for sawing something. It may have been a bookbinding clamp at one point but changed roles later on. Also, the hubs are more massive than the delicate little one I've seen on bookbinder's clamps. This one even has holes for handles for extra pressure. I am sincerely curious as to your thoughts on those observations. Thanks!