Throughout its history, TATHS has always provided a service to identify puzzling old tools. Queries can come from anyone - museum curators, collectors, or someone clearing out a relative's shed. Whatever the source, TATHS members like the challenge of identifying and explaining mystery objects! These "Whatsits" have been published in our quarterly newsletter - and still will be - but this section of the website will feature a selection of them, generally with bigger pictures than we can print in the newsletter. If you have any answers, or just guesses that might be helpful, you can add them in the comments. To submit a query, take some photos and email them with your question to our Queries Editor, Brian Read, at


I wonder if you can help with a query about old woodworking tools. My son has asked me to try to put a date to two all-steel chisels found on an old estate. I have taken the liberty of attaching a photograph. I have searched high and low on the Web, but have been unable to find anything similar.

John Bates hopes that TATHS may be able to help the Traditional Tools Group  in Sydney with an unusual micrometer.

Anthony Baker is hoping that TATHS might be able to help with his research regarding a carved section of chimney-piece or mantelpiece found in the Committee Room fireplace at the Foundling Museum. This was designed by William Hogarth during the early 1740s; the carver is unknown.

Robert Coles would like to find an illustration of an ancient measuring rod used in medieval architecture. 

Robert Street  wonders whether this is a  plane once used in the Chippendale workshop?


Two mystery items acquired by Nick White  in a brocante in the Dordogne in June.

 This  "coat-hanger like" balance and the iron pointed tool are from the collection of Ted Wells.

Newsletter editor Richard has these odd pliers...

I'd like to know what this is...

Dan Howison and his neighbours want to identify this thing...

Hugh Thompson wants to know why this chisel is curved and slotted.

Mike Kimpton wants to identify this trade mark.

Stan Shepherd wants to identify this unusual brace.

Tim Matthews wants to know what this is.

Walt Puryear wonders if this was a millstone.

This is a real oddity.