Gristmill What’s It


From 2015 Issues


The Gristmill What’s It Column for December 2015
161-1  3-1/4″ long:


161-2   A Tectool Two-Cutter Plough Plane



161-3 This is a mold for making glass lenses.


161-4  This tool is a shoe maker’s burnisher.



The Gristmill What’s It Column for September 2015

160-1   This is possibly a pump log shaper that was used to shape the inside end of a log for coupling two of them together. Thanks to Dave Peoples for sending in this answer along with a photo of his similar tool which can be seen below.



Another version of this device:


160-2  A watch crystal removing and replacing tool, patent number 3,074,156



160-3 No answer yet for this device




160-4  This is a precision laboratory resistor or shunt, marked “.1 Ohm 15 Amps,” the nameplate reads “The Leeds and Northrup Co., Scientific Instruments, Philadelphia.”


The next 22 items were sent in by members who were looking to identify them.

160-5  These are lathe tools for use when turning wood:


160-6  The plates below were most likely attached to an old grain drill, if anyone can be more specific please let us know.


160-7  A sandcaster’s molding tool:


160-8  A pea sheller:



160-10 This is most likely a ball and ring science classroom apparatus that was used to demonstrate
thermo-expansion of metals. The ring appears to have been broken from its handle and stuck in place on the ball.


160-11 A comb for flax heckling:


160-12  This item is heavy and coated with rubber, someone suggested that this is probably a mold for making soap.


160-13  A tool for making seed starting plugs:




160-15  A billiards cue stick clamp:













160-20 A flat belt tightener for stretching wide flat belts in order to connect the ends together

Catalog cut showing a commercially made version


160-21 This is a cage for transporting honey bees.



160-22 Looks like some type of inclinometer:











160-26 This is a medical device called a Drum Dermatome, it was used by doctors for performing skin grafts.




The Gristmill What’s It Column for June 2015
159-1. A shoe maker’s corrugated burnisher:


159-2.  This is steel and shaped like a plumb bob but there is no way to attach a string. It weighs 1 pound 10.4 ounces, is 4-1/2″ long and the largest diameter is 1-3/4″.  One possible answer is that it could be a plumber’s turnpin for flaring one end of a pipe, then a second pipe could be inserted into the first and then soldered  to join them together.




159-3. A salt pulverizer, for breaking up the salt in a shaker, patent number 71,643:





145-3. This tool was published in the December 2011 Gristmill, finally got an answer for it, turns out that it’s a Goodell-Pratt Manufacturing Co. tool for cutting off round stock that is being turned in a lathe.





159-4. Possibly a wick trimmer, similar to patent number 24,804:





159-5. A drill point gauge:


159-6. The device on the left is part of an apple parer, the other item is a nut cracker, patent number 1,274,856:



159-7. A piston ring expander:




159-8. Someone is looking patent information on this screwdriver and would like to know if it was for a specific purpose:


159-9. A roofer’s double seamer for use on tin:





159-11. A wheel balancer:




159-13. A grafting froe:


159-14. A hoof pick:


159-15. A Norlund fishing gaff:




159-17. Possibly some type of grabber for retreiving something out of reach:

It has some nails in the short cross piece:


159-18. A shotgun shell reloading tool:


159-19. Possibly part of a curd breaker:


159-20. Taper threading taps and drill bits:


159-21. United States Government Issue Vietnam War era trip wire/snare:




159-23. This item is around 2″x3″, weighs about one pound, and has some pellets inside. It is most likely a weight that is adjustable by adding or removing the pellets.



The Gristmill What’s It Column for March 2015

158-1. A logger’s rigging hammer or grab maul, used to set and remove a grab hook from a log:
158-2. This is a Linstock that was utilized by the gun captain to ignite a cannon, it used a smoldering match rope that was soaked in potassium nitrate. It’s missing its long wood handle.
158-3. A fence anchor that was used to keep cattle from getting under a fence, patent number 837,992:

158-4. A wolf collar that was worn by a dog when guarding livestock:

These next nineteen include a couple of updates and some items that were sent to the What’s It Committee by people who were looking to identify them.


158-5. A screw plate for making screws for clocks and watches:
158-6. 3″ long:


158-8. A valve refacer for small engines:

158-10. An Asian betel nut cutter:

158-11. Someone is looking to identify the maker of a saw with this medallion:
158-12. A stud finder, or as patent number 2,584,263 describes it, a “frame member locating device”:

158-13. No answer yet
158-14. An Edison wax cylinder phonograph that is missing some parts:
158-15. No answer yet

158-16. An update from the December column, someone sent in patent number 396,780 that shows the wagon brake in use:
158-17. No answer yet
158-18. At the lower right is an ox bow pin, we need some help with the other three:
158-19. Another update, this time from the What’s It Program in Louisville a few years ago, this is paint striper, patent number 1,904,558:
158-20. This is an Aldrich clamp:

According to a clamp expert, the lower ball and socket parts probably allow the clamp to grip sashes that have a beveled edge. We are still trying to find out the exact purpose of the upper part.


158-21. Possibly an oar lock:
158-22. A pipe hanger:
158-23. Someone would like to find the maker of this ax that is only marked with the letter A: