Better Than Monopoly

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hurry! Hurry! Gather round and listen in. There is a new and better game in town. It's one the whole family can play. It's more interesting that last week's 'Guess What's For Dinner?" and it's more rewarding that the old standby "How Does My Finger Smell?"

So everyone put down your copy of Sudoku Digest Weekly, gather your friends and family around the warm glow of an LCD monitor, and let's get ready to play a round of . . .


This week's contestant is a reader of the blog, Kenneth D. and he writes:

Hi there Oldwolf,

I'm trying to do some artifact research on this tool but I can't seem to figure out what it is? It seems to be some sort of prying tool but do you know what it might have specifically be used for? Bottle opener? paint can opener? horse-shoeing tool? Relative dating with other associated tools (small and large hand planers, level and pulley) place the item around the same time as the occupation of the homes original architect: 1890 to 1920. Any and all help would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time,


There was a picture as well:
When I first heard from Ken I was interested, but clueless. If I got my hands on this I think my first instinct would be to us it to pry the top off a good bottle of beer. Somehow I didn't think I was right. So I told replied that there were lots of smarter people than me when it comes to old and antique tools. I gave him Patrick Leach's and Josh Clark's email addresses and hoped that when he was blessed with the right answer from the Rust Gods, he'd drop me a line and share the knowledge.

Ken sent emails to Patrick and Josh, and to my shock and horror, they were as mystified as I was. It was like there had been a great disturbance in the force.

Patrick Leach's response was:


I haven't a clue what that's used for.

It almost looks like an inverse nail puller for
shingles, and if I had a gun against my head, that
would be my guess.


I had offered to bring the matter to my readers if he could find no other info, Ken hit me back adding this little bit.

I've brought the picture to the attention of my facebook friends and one of them suggested it may be a specialty tool used with a machine. The owner was known to do woodworking and have a foot powered lathe. Could it be a wood gouging tool for this purpose? If it is, I can't seem to find any others quite like this. It just looks really odd. 

The treadle lathe gives me another idea beyond beer. Could it be a sizing tool for use with the lathe? I have seen guys use open end mechanics wrenches with one side ground to an edge so they can turn down stock to a precise measurement. Like modifying a 1/2" wrench to turn out a 1/2" diameter result. Could it be a specialized wrench for the treadle lathe? It does make me think of the wrenches that came with my table saw to use in changing the blade.

Other than that I'm out of ideas.

But I do know that I am blessed with some of the smartest readers in the world, and yes that is blatant pandering and no I didn't think I could sneak that fact past your massive collective intellect. So I turn this over to you. Can you help? Can you answer the challenge?

Can you . . . NAME THAT TOOL??????

Ratione et Passionis


  1. I don't actually know - and have not much old tool knowledge. But from looking at it, yes, bottle opener is first thought. After that, and after your reasonable guesses about being a gauge or some sort of lathing tool, it looks like it could be used to grab wire or cable while inside something, though this would make a lot more sense if it were much longer. Still, maybe used to finagle lines or cables inside a machine? Set something onto a pulley?

  2. I am going to be in the shingle ripper group with Patrick. The only other thing that comes to mind is a daisy grubber/weeding tool.

    Lathe tool is right out. That was made to grab something and not let go.

  3. You are right about the lathe tool idea David. My bad, I really should have thought of that. Thanks.

    I did play with the garden tool idea as well.

    I don't know that I have ever seen anything in the shingle ripper category... it is tough to doubt Patrick.

  4. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like the little hooks/teeth curve and it almost appears that one curls over and one under... I'm wondering if it was some sort of tool for pushing in and pulling out something hot like an oven rack (or possibly used with a forge?) - the notch being used to push the rack in and the opposite curved hooks to latch onto the rack on both the top and bottom sides to pull it out so it didn't slip off? Not a clue. Just a thought! :) Joyce

  5. PS: Those hooks could also possibly be used to lift a pot or spider off the heat. J


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