What's this tool? #2: Wooden Paddles

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by swirt posted 1513 days ago 4868 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Marking Hatchet? Part 2 of What's this tool? series Part 3: Circle Cutter »

My Great Uncle was a carpenter back in the 1930’s. I recently had the chance to go through his old toolbox and marvel at some of the old tools. Most of them I could figure out, but these two have me scratching my head.
They are wooden paddles. One with a straight wedge design (the lighter colored one) and the other has a slight curve to it. The handles have a lot of patina so they saw a lot of use, but there is no heavy wear or damage to the paddles themselves that would indicate lots of pounding or abrasion.

The tri-square blade in the photo is 6” long
odd paddles found in a carpenter's toolbox

Anyone recognize them for what they might be?

Here is the rest of the look inside the old toolbox for anyone that has a fascination with old woodworking tools.

-- Galootish log blog,

15 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


112001 posts in 2181 days

#1 posted 1513 days ago

They might have been used as wedges in say coopering?

-- Custom furniture

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 1559 days

#2 posted 1513 days ago

They might be gluts.

Or, the could have been used to “motivate” his apprentice.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1719 days

#3 posted 1513 days ago

I second motivators for apprentices …

niice toolbox thow


View swirt's profile


1935 posts in 1576 days

#4 posted 1513 days ago

a1Jim, Coopering wedges … I did a search and couldn’t find anything related to what they might look like so I’ll have to do some more digging. To my knowledge and judging by the other tools in the box, he was more of a finish carpenter in the housing trade rather than a barrel maker …but maybe he was trying to branch out.

uffitze, I thought about them being used as gluts, but there is no sign that the ends of the handles were ever hit with a mallet. I thought they might be wedges used to keep lumber from binding while ripping it, but they are too thick for that. I also joked with my brother that they were used to keep people from getting to close to the tools in the box or to motivate somebody into doing something. It brought us both a good laugh. My great uncle had no children so they were not intended for keeping his kids in line.

While checking out Jim’s idea of coopering wedges, I did come across lead dressing tools
which seem to be used for bending or forming lead or copper roofing materials (called chase wedges, bossing sticks, setting in sticks, dressers and bending sticks) The modern versions of these all seem to be less than a foot in length though. I would also expect that if these tools were used to form metal roofing materials that the tips would be discolored heavily where they rubbed against the metal to change its shape.

-- Galootish log blog,

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 1899 days

#5 posted 1513 days ago

Could these have been honing boards ?
I know some strops are made from hard balsa
to simply remove the burr off the sharpened chisel.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View KayBee's profile


999 posts in 1850 days

#6 posted 1513 days ago


Maybe jammed in to hold something in place until a nail is driven in. Sorta like clamps, just wedges.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

712 posts in 2222 days

#7 posted 1513 days ago

I’ve seem similar tools used to shape molten glass. Are there any scortch marks on them?

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Nomad62's profile


691 posts in 1562 days

#8 posted 1513 days ago

Maybe something along the lines of a “stuffer”? Like for stuffing the edges of a linen along the inside of a padded box,or…coffin? Thanx for the photos, I love looking at old stuff.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View ratchet's profile


1283 posts in 2391 days

#9 posted 1513 days ago

Did you uncle make his own beer as was common at one time back when. If so these look like mash paddles.

View BrianA's profile


64 posts in 1633 days

#10 posted 1513 days ago

Handles too short for mash paddles?


View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 1559 days

#11 posted 1513 days ago

True, gluts would have wear marks from being whacked, and a finish carpenter from the ‘30s probably wouldn’t have a use for them.

The only other idea that I can come up with is that he used them to shim up doors when he was hanging them.

View swirt's profile


1935 posts in 1576 days

#12 posted 1513 days ago

@dustbunny – I suppose it is possible they could be honing boards. Though there was a strop in the toolbox so I am not sure he would need two honing boards. Especially since these took up a fair amount of space in his toolbox. I’ll have to look deeper into those.

@Kaybee – that was something I was thinking about. Temp wedges or something like that.

@Don Newton – No scorch marks. Interesting idea though.

@Nomad62 – I like that explanation as it would make sense why there wouldn’t be a lot of wear on the business end of the paddles. Every carpentry related use I can think of would lead to more wear/damage on the paddles

@ratchet & BrianA – Mash paddles… That’s great. He could have been into making beer or whatever, not really sure. But my guess is that he wouldn’t waste valuable toolbox space to carry around two mash paddles. He was a tradesman lugging this toolbox from job to job. I would think the only things in there would be essentials. Of course that didn’t stop me from sniffing them to see if I could smell the hoppes … nope, no odd smells. Just that musty smell that old wooden tools acquire.

-- Galootish log blog,

View swirt's profile


1935 posts in 1576 days

#13 posted 1513 days ago

“The only other idea that I can come up with is that he used them to shim up doors when he was hanging them.”

uffitze that’s brilliant! I think you hit on it exactly. I bet the flat one was used to set one edge of the door to height and then the curved one was used to make small adjustments up and down by placing a foot on it. That makes a lot of sense to me. I’m hoping someone else with old carpentry knowledge can confirm that….or tell us we are completely wrong ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View bobkberg's profile


350 posts in 1677 days

#14 posted 1513 days ago

Fascinating! Thanks a lot for starting this thread swirt.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


14618 posts in 2280 days

#15 posted 1513 days ago

I have seen paddles like those used for keeping kids in line.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase