Vintage trammels mystery! (help me please).

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Forum topic by mafe posted 04-05-2011 12:18 AM 4013 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11643 posts in 3052 days

04-05-2011 12:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tremmels tremmel question

Hi LJ’s.

Help is needed, or perhaps just that some one tell my I think too much…

I bought this wonderful old set of trammels:

With micro adjustment, lead point, extra fine point, ink point and the standard long points.

In the beautiful old box was also some big flat things with a point attached, and these are my headeche…
Here they are! In inches.

Here they are! In millimeters.

My own guess was that they could be used as a kind of foot to hold the trammels so they could stand upside down, this would be especially usefull when used with ink… But this is only my wild guess.

They look like giant draw pins, one is not especially well made, but the two seems to be made of the same material and with the same details as the tremmels.
Please help me if you know.

Best thoughts,MaFe

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

21 replies so far

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3304 days

#1 posted 04-05-2011 12:24 AM

those are dowel centers mads
make a hole for a dowel
in a piece of wood
(side face end)
and insert the dowek center
point out in it
place the coresponding wood to be doweled
in its final position
and tap or push into the point
drill second dowel hole here
and now the parts line up
repeat for other holes

nice old tramel
a new bar
and you are styling

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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222 posts in 3052 days

#2 posted 04-05-2011 12:36 AM

sorry, but i dont think those are dowel points, they are too big, and I dont see the normal shoulder to seat in the hole. I believe they are offset wheels. usually they have a hole for a pencil, but these could be scribing ones. take a look at lee-valley's version.

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18244 posts in 3639 days

#3 posted 04-05-2011 12:37 AM

That is what I thought they were when I saw them too. Since that wooden bar is in Imperial measure, better sent the whole thing to me. I use Imperial mostly, but Metric is no big deal ;-))

-- 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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117060 posts in 3540 days

#4 posted 04-05-2011 12:59 AM

Niece trammel set I have one very similar. as for the round objects I hate to differ but I can’t see how the would be used for dowel markers or for offset wheels .Off set wheels have holes in the middle to put your pencil point in. My guess is there are used to measure from point to point with out making a mark or to make a dent for the the trammel to set in. Or maybe they are markers for your golf ball on the green LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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2131 posts in 3707 days

#5 posted 04-05-2011 01:53 AM

Is there a hole in the top of the trammel, opposite the point. These could be hold downs or handles, so you can spin the board easier. One can be placed over the center point and spin the trammel.

View Harry_Ch's profile


63 posts in 2639 days

#6 posted 04-05-2011 03:00 AM

Good looking find there, MaFe. Any information on who or what they are? There would not be another one where you got that from? Those disk look to be center pivot points for when you can not or don’t want to set a point in your material. Forgot which point you would use instead of the normal one, but just place it point up and draw away. Enjoy them.

-- Deeds not Words.

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5664 posts in 3730 days

#7 posted 04-05-2011 05:31 AM

I go with Harry_Ch

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3856 days

#8 posted 04-05-2011 05:37 AM

sweet score

there worth a fair penny

not trying to tell you how to use them…...........sell em, and buy something you will use or maybe build a shadow box and display them like antique fishing lures.

being a collector of fine old unique tools.

Thats what I would do…..? : )

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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884 posts in 2731 days

#9 posted 04-05-2011 08:05 AM

Very nice set. Does that piece in bottom middle of the 1st photo have a small hole in the end that would fit over the point on the disk? If it does then I would agree with center pivot.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

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2373 posts in 2796 days

#10 posted 04-05-2011 11:23 AM

I also believe they are what you first thought they were, if that makes any sense ;p

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3052 days

#11 posted 04-05-2011 02:34 PM

Hi hi.
Thank you for the imputs, that was wonderful.
I don’t think it’s for dowels they are way too big, and they have not the normal shape to prevent them from falling into the hole.
After listening to all the interesting ideas, I have a new theory.

The size of them is a little bigger than the stick size for the trammels, so I imagine you set the pins at the end This will protect the trammels so they dont rest with the body on the surface.

Also it protects the stick.

And then it is easy to move it arround on the surface even if it’s a quite long tremmel stick.

Here are a better picture of the box.
(And a little router plane I’m working on these days).

What do you say to this idea?

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3071 days

#12 posted 04-05-2011 04:58 PM

They look like old “slide guides” to me. Items to be pushed in to the bottom of a chair to keep wood floors safe. The felt might be just all ripped up and removed. I know I have a bad habit of taking small pieces of hardware and throwing them in a box with other tool items so they don’t get lost. The owner might have found a creative use for them but I believe they are not part of the original trammel set.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

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Steven Davis

118 posts in 2877 days

#13 posted 04-05-2011 06:46 PM

Mads -

Per your last picture, could they be used to draw lines parallel to a rule or pair of rules (like pin holes in a T-square)?

Always interesting.


-- Steven Davis - see me at

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3297 days

#14 posted 04-05-2011 10:59 PM

Hi Mads. What a great find! I always look forward to seeing what you will find in Paris, and I’m never disappointed. I wonder if those disks aren’t some kind of marker that when placed in the appropriate hole(s) gives some sort of minimum or maximum adjustment of the trammel sliders?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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11643 posts in 3052 days

#15 posted 04-06-2011 10:46 AM

I send a letter to the man who sold these, he is English by the way.

Dear mads,

Hi Mads, Glad you like your trammels! The pins are antique draughtsmans drawing pins for holding plans to the board, they were in with the trammels so I left them in!


So now we know. It makes me smile and think about what concusions we might have made one some of the found from the ancien days.

Thank you all,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

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