Latest updates: May 11, 2013, posted the June What's It column, the answer for number 12 (towards the bottom of the page), and also posted some tools that were sent in March 3, 2013, posted answers for 147-1, 149-2, 149-3, and number 1 (the first photo after the Gristmill columns)
151-1This is a well tile placing apparatus, 11" diameter when expanded, 10" diameter when collapsed. Wells were lined with tile which were placed on the outside of this device and lowered down, when in place, pulling on the rope collapsed the device and it was pulled up, leaving the tile behind.
151-2 This tool is for cleaning the narrow flame slot in the old ceramic burner tips in gas chandeliers.
151-3 An automotive valve spring compressor, patent number 1,614,218:
The next eleven items were sent in to the What's It Committee over the past few months:
151-4 A carpet stretcher:
151-5 A trephine, it's an antique skull cutting tool that was used to reduce pressure in the skulls of people with head injuries.
151-6 Another valve spring compressor, patent number 1,333,966:
151-7 Looks like a woodworker's carving tool:
151-8 Probably socket chisel handles:
151-9 Fireplace tongs:
151-10 No answer yet for this device, the upper part is an eyepiece with a lens:
151-12 Either some type of calipers or a pair of ice tongs:
151-13 Most likely a clapboard slick, also called a clapboard chisel, used for splitting out clapboards:
151-14 Probably a slag hammer:
The Gristmill What's It Column for March 2013
150-1. This is an instrument for taking water samples from varying depths in a body of water. A line from an anchor passes up through the "quick thread" fitting on the lower left and up through the lever mechanism. A test tube is placed in the tube (that looks like a gun barrel) facing down. The unit is lowered to the desired depth, air in the tube keeps water out. A small weight is then sent down the line hitting the lever, unlocking the tube holder. It flips down allowing the test tube to fill with the sample water. It's then pulled up with the sample intact.
150-2. A barrel maker's hoop lifter, lever hook, or hoop dog, it was used for stretching or levering a hoop over the top of the staves:
150-3. Still need an answer for this item, the base is 3" long:
150-4. Some people have suggested that this is a reloading tool:
These next items were all sent in to the What's It committee by members who were looking to identifiy them.
150-5. Short starters for use when loading a musket:
150-6. A Hein Werner Bumper Lift Hydraulic Jack, it's missing the part that fits under the car bumper, these were also used on farms when using batch grain dryers, the jacks were used to remove and then later replace the wheels when the dryers were moved from one field to another.
150-7. A Greenlee circle cutter for use on sheet metal by electricians and machinists:
150-8. An EX-2000 pliers tool for servicing termite control stations:
150-9. A Crowell band swage shaper:
150-10. A Utica #16 battery terminal lifter:
150-11. Several people have stated that this is a distributor wrench, both ends are 5/8", text on it says "Thorsen 302":
150-12. Another possible reloading tool:
150-13. These are Joar wrenches for use on conduit:
150-14. This tool was used to shape and dress band saw grinding wheels, a modern version can be seen here, it can be seen in use on this page.
150-15. An arm strength tester:
The Gristmill What's It Column for December 2012
149-2. This is a wine bottle cleaner
149-3. A watchmaker's tool:
149-4. From the 2005 Decatur meeting:
The Gristmill What's It Column for September 2012
148-2 5" long:
148-3 10" long:
The Gristmill What's It Column for June 2012
147-1 This is most likely a flax breaker.
147-1c This is a similar tool that was sent to me a few years ago.
147-3 10" long:
147-4 8-1/2" long, the metal part does not move at all
Update: A couple of people have said that this is a handle for a recliner.
When we get answers for any of these tools, they will be posted here.
This page will be updated with more items whenever new photos are sent in.
The Gristmill What's It Column for March 2012
Around 11-1/2" long, text on the side of it says "Chain-ger", obviously it's some type of chain tool but we haven't been able to find out how it was used.
Someone had brought this to the meeting in Bowling Green, the top part is about 5" long, it can pivot and the lower piece is a weight.
5-3/4" long, text on it reads "patent pending":
This was part of the What's It program at the Chattanooga 2007 meeting, it's 12" long:
The Gristmill What's It Column for December 2011
145-1 6” long, from the Wisconsin What’s It presentation:
Text on the handle says "Lutz File and Tool Co. Cinti, O" but that probably refers to the handle only and not the part with the gears.
The tag measures 4-3/4" x 2-3/8":
145-2 This item is sealed closed,the only opening is the small hole which measures just less than 1/2", the pieces of canvas are riveted to the tubes and could not be easily replaced.
I've shown these photos to a lot of people, the best guess that I've heard for it is that it's for catching a swarm of bees or other insects, with the tubes being filled with some type of attractant. The second best guess is that it's someone's prototype for an invention, purpose unknown. Hopefully someone here will provide us with a verifiable answer.
145-3. Around 6-1/2" long, also from the Wisconsin meeting:
Previous Item Identified
From Dec. 2009, this is a bottle stopper remover, patent number 597,874, the left end had a rubber bushing and could be used as a stopper:
More unidentified items:
1. These are wimbles for winding straw rope which was used as a binder for corn or wheat, to line thatched roofs, and as a packing material for various goods, similar devices can be seen here.
2. Someone would like to get this tool box identified, it's covered in canvas and has a shoulder strap:
These tools were in it:
There are three marks in the hammer, the bird symbol seen below, the number "1 1/2", and the word Russia:
3. Approximately 36" long, the part at the top right is V shaped and has a clamp, next to it is a measuring piece that is slightly curved:
5. The owner of this plane would like to find out when it was made, it's approx. 2.75" wide and 7.75" long. The makers name is, "Underhill, Clinch & Co". Below that name appears the words "New York". The metal blades are marked "W. Butcher", "1", then a makers mark, followed by "Warranted, Cast Steel". The blades might not be original to the plane. Any info on the company and/or plane is appreciated.
6. Answer: This is not a hammer but is a clamp for joining two posts end to end when making scaffolding, patent number 1,710,842
Expan. S. C. Co. Yonkers, N.Y. Pat. Apr 30, 1929:
7. The owner of this tool says that the attached bar can move inside the curve of the tines and then springs back to its original location.
Several people have suggested that this tool is for use in a garden, while someone else thought it might be a clam digger.
8. An unidentified tool from the Erie, Pa. 2008 meeting, turns out that it's for holding a window sash, patent number 40,819.
9. From the Bowling Green 2011 meeting, someone was looking for the exact purpose of this clamp:
The next two items are from the Louisville 2010 meeting.
10. Around 5" long:
11. Some kind of crimper:
12. This is part of a doorbell, patent number 212,676:
Pat. Feb. 25th, 1879
The next two are from the Indianapolis 2009 meeting
13. Another clamp, with a spring at the top left:
14. A handle for pushing or pulling something:
The next two are from the Decatur 2008 meeting
Below the screw is a U shape that could hold a dowel or rod:
17. Answer: a hot water heater stand
Text on it reads 12-1/2, 12-5/8, and 12-3/4, the numbers indicate what diameter heater that it can hold
18. Answer: Probably a crossbow lever that is missing its hook, similar to the one here:
19. Answer: These are wedge drivers for use when rewinding electric motors. Fiber or wooden wedges are used to hold the windings in the slots. The wedges are inserted into the box portion of the tool, and the insert is tapped with a hammer to drive the wedge. It keeps the wedges from bending or breaking.
20. 10-1/2" long, another unidentified tool, it was found in someone's great grandfather's medical kit, who practiced medicine up until 1910:
21. 9" long, the round part can slide along the shaft:
22. The patent for this wrench is number 870,781, it was made by the the Craftsman Tool Co. in Conneaut, Ohio:
23. A leather stretcher for use on shoes:
24. Abroom pounder or broom hammer, it was used to compress the broom corn and tighten the wire as the corn was fastened to the handle.
25. A wrench for turning the nut on the inner end of a tooth in the cylinder of a threshing machine:
Seen in use below:
26. A Goodell-Pratt Bench Drill:
27. A clapboard gauge
If you missed the Baraboo, Wisconsin M-WTCA meeting, all of the tools from the What's It presentation have been posted here: Baraboo What's Its.
Another What's It site, which is updated every Thursday, can be seen at this link: What is it? A second member's What's It site can be seen here.
Please send your items, answers, and comments to the What's It Committee at this email address:
We do not offer valuations, this contact is for research purposes only.