What's this tool? #2: Wooden Paddles

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Blog entry by swirt posted 06-08-2010 05:05 PM 8614 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


117091 posts in 3575 days

#1 posted 06-08-2010 05:10 PM

They might have been used as wedges in say coopering?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 06-08-2010 05:20 PM

They might be gluts.

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3113 days

#3 posted 06-08-2010 05:34 PM

I second motivators for apprentices …

niice toolbox thow


View swirt's profile


2737 posts in 2970 days

#4 posted 06-08-2010 05:39 PM

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 3293 days

#5 posted 06-08-2010 06:13 PM

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


1083 posts in 3244 days

#6 posted 06-08-2010 06:14 PM


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

716 posts in 3617 days

#7 posted 06-08-2010 06:15 PM

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

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2956 days

#8 posted 06-08-2010 06:32 PM

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


1391 posts in 3785 days

#9 posted 06-08-2010 06:44 PM

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


76 posts in 3028 days

#10 posted 06-08-2010 07:07 PM

Handles too short for mash paddles?


View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2953 days

#11 posted 06-08-2010 07:33 PM

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


2737 posts in 2970 days

#12 posted 06-08-2010 07:41 PM

@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


2737 posts in 2970 days

#13 posted 06-08-2010 07:47 PM

“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


439 posts in 3072 days

#14 posted 06-08-2010 08:57 PM

Fascinating! Thanks a lot for starting this thread swirt.

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3674 days

#15 posted 06-09-2010 04:30 AM

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

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

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