Restoring a depression-era Miterbox for a 21st-century workshop: Part 1-Acquisition


During a rust-hunting expedition last summer, I picked up six saws and a miterbox. I didn’t really “need” it because I already had two sitting on shelves at home. Still, this one had all the earmarks of an industrial-age tool—definitely the early part of the 20th century.

It spoke to me.

I could hear the whispers of craftsmen, shadows of an age long since passed, calling to me. I could feel them working grueling 14-hour days to eke out an existence in depression-era America. I was in a trance. The only thing I liked more than the history oozing from its patinaed steel was the $7.00 price tag. “You’re coming with me,” I muttered.

Once I had it home, I took a closer look.

P2-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-As Found backP1-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-As Found front

P3-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-As Found top

 

P4-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-as found bottom

P5-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-as found detail collage

A brand new 20th-century manufacturer…to me at least.

When I first inspected the box, I couldn’t discern its pedigree. But after some initial rust removal, a maker’s mark emerged.

P6-Goodell Manufacturing Co Miter Box-as found detail-TWO collage

Goodell Manufacturing Co. Hmm. I’ve heard of Goodell-Pratt, but what’s this other company?

From what little I could glean from online sources, Goodell Manufacturing Co. was established in 1902 by Henry Goodell along with his son-in-law, Perley Fay. The humble affair manufactured miter boxes and drill chucks in a quaint one-building factory.

P17-Goodell Manufacturing Co Factory

After Goodell’s death in 1923, William Pratt, the president of Goodell-Pratt, assumed the presidency of Goodell Manufacturing Co. Seven years later, the company passed into history with its acquisition by Goodell-Pratt in 1930.

Dating my miterbox
The front saw guide has an inscription “PATD. FEB. 9, 1904.” That tells me this specimen rolled out off the assembly line at least two years after the company was formed.

However, the 1904 patent illustrates sliding bar grooves that have flat bottoms.

P18-Goodell Manufacturing Co Factory Miter box-Flat-bottomed slides

P19-Goodell Manufacturing Co Factory Miter box-Flat-bottomed slide patent

My miterbox, by contrast, features a V-shaped sliding bar groove.

P21-Goodell Manufacturing Co Factory Miter box-V-bottomed slide picture

P20-Goodell Manufacturing Co Factory Miter box-V-bottomed slide patent

That’s consistent with Patent, 1,517,706 originally filed, January 27, 1923. So I would date my box to between 1922-1930.

Having determined its age, I turned my attention to making it a good user. So given the rusty, grungy condition of it, I decided to restore it.

And that is the topic of the next post.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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4 Responses to Restoring a depression-era Miterbox for a 21st-century workshop: Part 1-Acquisition

  1. Marilyn says:

    Awesome! What fun! Looking forward to the next post.

  2. Eef van Iersel says:

    Hello Brad,
    Yours was the only site I found that, 4 and 1/2 hours later, got me through restoring the exact same model miter box. Your photos were very helpful, as I had dis-assembled the thing two years ago and wasn’t quite sure were it all went (back) together.
    Thank you.
    Eef

  3. mga911 says:

    Where exactly is the makers mark? I can’t tell from your picture. I just picked up this same (looking) miterbox with a disston saw for $40.

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