2689: The tapered pin suggests it's to make circles, from 4.5 to 27.5"
in diameter. Somebody took a lot of trouble to cut 45 square holes
through a board about an inch thick. That suggests it was for a blade
and or wheel not just a scratching point.
How about glass cutting? Clock faces, for example, might have that size
range. The tapered pin probably went into a block of wood that the
craftsman stuck to the glass.
Could be, the owner said it came from Scandinavia, I would be interested to
hear its age but the owner didn't know.
They've all been correctly identified this week, along with the answers
there is a video of the hay wrapper in action posted here:
It seems to me that round holes would work very well for a pencil or a
scribe. Wouldn't it be a lot easier to bore round holes than to cut
square ones? That's why I ruled out a marking device.
A glass-cutting tip would probably have to be aligned perpendicular to
the radius, so round holes wouldn't do. A pane of glass doesn't fit
snugly in a frame; so the craftsman would have a little leeway. If the
cutting edge was centered on the square shaft, he could cut circles in
increments of about 1/2". If it was offset about 1/8", he could rotate
the square shank to produce glass disks in increments of about 1/4".
Glass disks may have been used for clocks, reflector lamps, and viewing.
When one broke, you'd need a craftsman who knew how to cut glass
circles. The device must have been made before metal screws were
readily available because clamping the cutting head would have been a
lot easier than cutting all those square holes.
The maximum size might be another clue to its age. Panes as big as 28"
must have been available, but hardware stores didn't sell screws.
Dating: The lack of a screw could be a clue. It wouldn't have been made
after the 1860s, when good screws became cheaply available. They were
available in the 1840s, but they may not have been available locally,
and some craftsmen didn't trust their quality.
If it was to cut glass disks, you'd want polished glass. In the 18th
Century, that was a luxury for the rich, and panes were small.
In 1834, a German process made larger sheets available. Demand grew
rapidly in the 1840s as steam power made polishing cheaper.
If it was for cutting glass, it may have been made in the middle of the
Stained glass windows! They have lots of arcs. They predated
manufactured screws by centuries. Cutting the pieces required a lot of
skilled labor. They would use a grozer to nibble pieces of glass up to
a scored line. How did they score glass?
In the 1860s, a couple of tools using diamonds to score glass were
patented. In 1871, a man patented a pocket knife with a revolving glass
cutter. He said glass was normally scored with a diamond, but few had
access to those instruments.
Before the 1860s, I don't know if it was possible to make an instrument
that cut with a diamond. Before diamond cutters, I wonder if they
scored glass by tapping with a tool similar to a flathead screwdriver
with a hard, sharp edge.
The mystery item looks right to keep such a tool lined up as a craftsman
tapped his way through an arc on glass in the days before diamond
cutters and revolving cutters.
Well, you make a good case for it being a glass cutter but it seems like it
will be difficult to prove one way or the other. Someone had it on display
at a tool collector's meeting, I don't know the person's name but I'll see
if I can contact him to find out if he has any further information. I
appreciate your interest in trying to figure out these tools, some weeks I
need all of the help that I can get.
Here is the reply from the owner when I asked for further information on the
"...the compass came with many other tools from Sweden and most likely is
from there. Each hole is of a slightly different size, is square and was
chiseled through the stock...(none of the holes were drilled). It most
likely was used for woodworking and would date to the later 1700s or the
early 1800s. the small 'mark' by the owner's initials would likely be a
Looks like for now there is no proof one way or the other, too bad we can't
find a reference on the web to nail this one down.
If it was made before the 19th Century, the symbol beside the initials
would designate EJS's guild. It looks like an X with a nail in one
The carpenters' guild symbol I found looks like a hatchet.
Here's the symbol for the glaziers' guild in London:
Looks to me that the initials and the X were carved by different people, and
I would say that the X was carved at a later date, but these are just
guesses. Not sure that I would say the carving in the lower X quadrant is a
nail, looks like an upward pointing cone, no idea what it is supposed to
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