Found in an abandoned shed in Fresno, California, 1975. Still haven't found anyone who can ID it. I think it is some kind of bench mounted tool but the purpose is unknown. Anyone have a clue? Thanks. More photos here: https://pbase.com/gb_photo/mystery_tool

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  • Those image links will be dead in an internet minute. They can be part of the question itself via an edit.
    – jdv
    Jul 21 at 15:16

Found in an abandoned shed in Fresno, California, 1975.

Well that's helpful so you know it's at least that old, but certain details point to it being old, possibly mid-19th century.

If this was installed on a woodworking bench it appears to be a type of bench stop. Regular toothed bench stops are to hold one end of a board in place as it's worked on, particularly when hand-planing. Given how small standard bench stops are1 and how large and robust this one is it suggests possible industrial use, needing to resist far greater forces than would be usual on a hand-tool bench.

The wingnut and bolt running in that short slot obviously allows it to adjust for height, as most bench stops do, to accommodate workpieces of various thicknesses. The teeth bite into the end of the workpiece and provides hold2.

The four holes in the 'baseplate' section would be to attach this to one side of a bench leg, with either bolts or lag screws. Given the likely age of this the bolts/screws that originally attached this would have had square heads!

1 They generally look something like the following, although many different designs have been offered over the century+ they've been commercially available:

Modern bench stop

NOS modern bench stops (most current ones follow this basic design, or appear to be identical).

Vintage bench stops

Vintage bench stops.

2 Yes this does mar the end grain, but board ends are virtually never seen in traditional furniture or finished carpentry, so the divots would generally be hidden inside joinery, if they remain. But later processes may remove that portion of the board anyway (sawing and/or shooting to final length).

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