Posts Tagged ‘tool’

More plane truth

June 25, 2016

Back in 2011 we looked at a plane for shaping wood. It seemed time to look at another. It has come from the Gye workshops, but was not owned by a Gye as we shall see.

Here is the plane.

A plane at Market Lavington Museum

A plane at Market Lavington Museum

There are many people (our curator is one) who love the simple elegance of these old hand tools. This particular plane has been designed to create an attractively shaped moulding as we can see from underneath.

This is a moulding plane for producing a specific shape

This is a moulding plane for producing a specific shape

We can see the oddly curved blade end poking through here, matching the wooden base of the plane and giving an idea of the moulding shape that can be created with this plane.

We can’t date this but it could be late Victorian or maybe early twentieth century.

Like many a carpentry tool, the owner’s name has been stamped in to it. On this plane both ends carry this mark.

The plane once belonged to J Sainsbury

The plane once belonged to J Sainsbury

Here we have the very familiar name of J Sainsbury and we also see what we guess is a maker’s mark – T&W.

Sad to say, we have not identified just which of the many J Sainsburys this one was.


A name stamp

March 30, 2016

At first sight this is rather an unprepossessing item.

Is this a chisel?

Is this a chisel?

It looks like some kind of chisel. Clearly the near end has been repeatedly hit with a hammer and has spread out as a result. When we look from the other end it is clear that it is not a chisel, or at least that if it was it has been much misused.

Has it been misused?

Has it been misused?

It almost looks like some kind of teeth at the business end. It is only when we prop it up and zoom in that we begin to make sense of it.

Aha! It's a name stamp

Aha! It’s a name stamp

The end is composed of backwards letters. It is designed to mark and name items – usually tools – by stamping the name into the handle. We can digitally reverse the letters to make it more readable.

It belonged to T E J Gye. That's Tom Gye to us

It belonged to T E J Gye. That’s Tom Gye to us

This says T E J GYE. It was Tom Gye’s stamp that he named his tools with.

This plane was marked with other names but clearly Tom took ownership of it.

This plane was marked with other names but clearly Tom took ownership of it.

And here we see a very old plane – just a bit of it – which had passed through other owners before Tom marked it with his stamp.

We imagine Tom had this stamp right through his long working life. It is still capable of making its mark.

It still does the job well - just one clout with a hammer!

It still does the job well – just one clout with a hammer!

This is just a log for the fire – used to show what the old stamp can still produce.

Awl you need

March 16, 2015

Sorry about the pun which is not ours originally. But we are looking at an awl today.

Awls are simple tools, designed to punch or pierce holes through materials. Our awl was used by a cobbler.


This awl is about 12 centimetres (5 inches) long. It has a comfortable wooden handle and a sturdy spike, ideal for boring a hole through leather when shoe making or repairing. This awl was just for hole making, some awls have an eye near the pointed end so that a thread can be pushed through the hole when sewing leather pieces together.

This awl was found, along with other tools in Easterton and is thought to date from the early years of the twentieth century.

Awls are of course, dangerous. Perhaps the most famous awl accident was the one when Louis Braille managed to stab his eye with an awl. This blinded one eye immediately and the infection created blinded his other eye. Ironically, Louis later used an awl (blunted) to create his raised dot alphabet which enables blind people to read by touch.

Earthing up the spuds

April 3, 2014

Potatoes grow the tubers underground but they are shallow rooted and the new potatoes can be very near or even poking out above the surface. If that happens the new tuber turns green and is not good to eat. From the grower and consumer point of view it is important to keep those new and developing spuds in the dark.

The simple way of doing this is to drag earth from the gaps between the rows of plants and pile it up higher close by them. It’s a process called earthing up.

If you are a domestic gardener you probably earth up with something like a draw hoe. It may be a bit small for the job but with only a garden’s worth to do it just isn’t worth investing in a specialist tool.

However, if you are a market gardener, working on a field   scale then you need a proper tool for the job. These days, no doubt, you’d   have something tractor hauled. Back in the 19th century, potato   earthing would have been done by hand with a tool like this.

This long handled tool could be dragged between the rows   and its shape and angle moved earth to the edge, making sure those growing   tubers were well covered.


19th century potato earther

The length of the handle helped to make sure that the   metal blade did not dig deep into the ground and the slightly enlarged bob on   the end of the handle helped to make sure the earther didn’t slide from the user’s hands.

It was hard work. By the time this tool had been dragged   over an acre of land then the user would have walked some five miles or more,   all the time dragging earth.

No wonder frequent stops were needed and drinks taken.

After use the tool would have been carefully cleaned, the   blade would have been oiled and so, too would the handle, although the oil   used was linseed in that case.

You can see this late 19th century tool in the trades room at Market Lavington Museum.

A Multi Tool

December 10, 2013

These days we are used to ‘multi tools’. You know the kind of thing; there’s a handle and all sorts of items you can fasten into it so that different jobs can be done – sawing, cutting, drilling, or driving screws for example.

It may seem like a modern idea, but at Market Lavington Museum we have one from 150 years ago.

Here is the tool with an elegant (and very comfortable) wooden handle holding a countersink bit.

An 1860s multi tool at Market Lavington Museum

An 1860s multi tool at Market Lavington Museum

A quick turn of the ‘butterfly’ releases that bit.


The handle opens.

image006 And inside it there are several tools.


Here, for example, is a saw blade.


This wonderful tool belonged to the Shore family and really does date from around 1860. One of the Shore family worked as a jobbing carpenter, but this became part of the collection of household tools belonging to Bert Shore. Bert was the man who married Flo Burbidge who was born in our museum building back in 1908.


A little vice

June 30, 2013

No doubt we all have little vices. We certainly have one at Market Lavington Museum. And here it is.

A small bench vice which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

A small bench vice which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

Sadly we know little about it. The vice is about 4 inches from top to bottom Vices of this size are often thought of as being for jewellers or watch makers. Ours belonged to Mr and Mrs Shore who lived in Market Lavington Market Place. Perhaps they just had it for any task that needed a reasonably firm grip on something. It was given to the museum in 1989 when Flo Shore left the old home.

As an aside from the vice, Flo had been born in 1908 in a little cottage just off the churchyard. That is now our museum building.

We know little about the vice. We cannot tell you an age or a manufacturer. It may well have been blacksmith made and therefore quite probably within the local area. Perhaps a tools expert out there in blog land could tell us more.

The vice has clear faults. The handle for tightening the bench clamp is missing and a piece has been broken off that rear table (and what was that for?).

Any information on this would be gratefully received.

Getting off your wick

March 17, 2013

Candles! These days they are seen as a romantic light or a horrible fire hazard. In 21st century Britain they are used for effect or for emergency. Most of us, for everyday usage, prefer our electric lights which are bright and come on at the touch of a switch. And we have candles with self-burning wicks.

In earlier times, when candles were essential illumination, wicks did not burn properly. They got longer and longer and they smoked. Cutting off excess wick was just one of those things that had to be done. Households had wick trimmers to get off that spare length of wick.

We have a pair in Market Lavington Museum.

19th century wick trimmers at Market Lavington Museum

19th century wick trimmers at Market Lavington Museum

These are not so different from ordinary scissors except that one blade is enlarged and had a ledge to hold the trimmed off piece of wick. The wick was hot and smouldering. You didn’t want it falling into your rag hearth rug and setting fire to it.

These snuffers have no maker’s name but are believed to date from the early 19th century. They offered an elegantly simple solution to a problem from that era.

A Pastry Cutter

February 25, 2013

Making pastry may be a bit of a vanishing skill, for many folks find it easier to buy it ready made. However, whether home or factory made, it will probably need cutting to shape. You need a pastry cutter, perhaps like the one shown here.

A brass pastry cutter and crimper, dating from around 1900. It can be found at Market Lavington Museum

A brass pastry cutter and crimper, dating from around 1900. It can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This is a two in one tool. The wheel end is a cutter which allows the user to create any shape they want to. The other end is a pie crimper. That comes into use when you need to join a pie base to the crust which goes over the top.

This cutter might be said to be utilitarian in design. It is made of brass and we think it probably dates from around 1900. It was used by a White Street, Market Lavington family.

A Spoke Shave

February 20, 2013

Some of the tools used in times past strike us, these days, as just a tad dangerous for the user. Such a tool was the spoke shave. These were sometimes known as a draw knife. We have such a tool at Market Lavington Museum.

This spokeshave, dating from about 1850, can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This spokeshave, dating from about 1850, can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This one dates from about 1850 but still feels to have a sharp cutting edge. It was given to the museum by Bert Shore. He and his wife spent much of their married life living in The Market Place in Market Lavington. His wife was Flo Burbidge, born and raised in our museum building.

But back to that spoke shave.

The user sat astride a small clamp device and pulled the knife towards him. It seems to us that a small slip with such a sharp device could prove very awkward. We have used a picture from to show how the device can be used.


This chap was actually making props for a play. The spoke shave or draw knife was used to shape all sorts of smooth, rounded items.

Of course, spoke shaves are still in use today, but they tend to have blades which are protected and could only cause shallow cuts if things go wrong.

A pen knife/button hook

September 28, 2012

These days we are used to quick fix Velcro or zips as ideal and convenient ways to fasten clothing and shoes. But the humble button still reigns supreme for some items. In times past, clothing, particularly lady’s clothing, was done up very tightly to ensure people had the shape required by fashion. Buttons could be very hard to do up in these circumstances, so enter the button hook.

A button hook was, essentially, a steel hook on a handle. You put the hook through a button hole, used it to grab the shaft of the button and then pulled the button through the hole. They were essential items and very common.

We are also accustomed to the boy scouts pocket knife with a tool for everything, including the one for getting stones out of horse hooves. Ladies would not have wanted anything so bulky, but a pretty, delicate knife with a button hook attachment – now that could be useful. The pen knife could be used for its purpose, keeping a quill pen in good order, and the hook was there as well.

We have such an item at Market Lavington Museum.

Early twentieth century penknife/button hook at Market Lavington Museum

This item is made of steel with the sides of the handle made of bone which is riveted to the steel.  It all folds up to be a small neat item, easily carried. When folded it is about 5cm long. We believe this dates from the early years of the twentieth century. It was given to the museum by a White Street (Market Lavington) lady.