Gristmill What’s It


From 2017 Issues

The Gristmill What’s It Column for December 2017

169-1 This is a carpet stretcher, patent number 28,858:



169-2 This is a Can Soldering Machine, it’s for holding a can while soldering on one of the end pieces, patent number 156,402


169-3 No answer yet


169-4 Have not yet found the specific purpose of this scoop




The Gristmill What’s It Column for September 2017

168-1 This is a harness riveter. When a leather harness broke when on the road or out in the field the quickest and easiest method to fix it was to rivet the leather together. The rivets were made of copper including small flat washers. After using a leather punch to make the holes, the pressure from the jaws of this tool would flatten the soft copper rivet making a strong tight splice, letting you get back to work.


168-2 This is a wire fence stretcher that is missing its long handle.


168-3 A leaf spring spreader/oiler.


168-4 This is most likely part of a hay hoist, for lifting, moving, and releasing large bales of hay.


The Gristmill What’s It Column for June 2017

167-1 This is a Printer’s Furniture, the purpose is the same as a quoin, for locking a letterpress form into a chase. Patent number 1,307,140

167-2   A gunsmith’s barrel bedding tool, used to shave the wood in a barrel channel of a rifle. A video of one in use can be seen here.


167-3 The patent for this fence tool is titled “Wrench”, it was made for use on wire fences and was patented on March 7, 1922, number 1,408,622. The patent says it is “for twisting together wire cables in woven wire fences, and drawing cables around the end and corner posts…”

167-4 A floor board gauge, used for marking the boards so they could be cut to various but standard widths using all of the board width possible from each slab.



The Gristmill What’s It Column for March 2017

166-1 This is a locomotive inspector’s hammer, it was used for measuring many different things including:
-Maximum height of a driving wheel flange (1-1/2″)
-Grab iron clearance (2″)
-Flat and shell spots on wheels (2-1/2″)
-End handhold clearance (4″)
-The large end of this hammer head is 1″ diameter, it was used to confirm the maximum engine and trailing truck lateral
-The overall length is 5-1/8″, this was used to check the maximum coupler contour

166-2 These are printing pens, patent number 510,966.


166-3 It is highly likely that these bits were used in the installation of furniture casters in a furniture factory.  They are bore/counterbore bits that bored tapered holes for the insertion of caster shanks and countersunk recesses for the bearing bolsters.  This ID is based on the shape of the bits as being similar to known caster bits.



166-4 This tool was probably used for measuring dowels or rods for making duplicate cuts.