Lee Valley & Veritas Woodworking
Newsletter
Lee Valley 35 Years  
  Volume 7, Issue 5 - May 2013    
 
What Is It?
What Is It?
 
For every 100 items we find that could be featured in this column, there is always one that leaves members of the round-table discussion group in abject disbelief. Even so, quips such as "I told you so", "I knew it all along" and "How can you not know what it's used for" are heard from the usual suspects. When a good one shows up, it's like winning the lottery. Such was the case with this little gem. In our technological age, fads come and go. In fact, whole industries disappear because of new inventions. This item is perhaps a fatality of the ever-changing times that some call progress.

When the implement was presented at the discussion group, the range of answers was most interesting. Cigarette holder, pencil holder, pipe tamper, some type of weapon or accessory for a weapon (cleaning tool), the list went on. It was only the chance discovery of the patent due to the appearance of a second example that clarified the tool's purpose. Actually, there is no discussion group or round table, there is only one mad tool nut wandering around head office for two or three days accosting unsuspecting victims, showing them an item and asking "What do you think this is?" I do get a lot of strange responses, most not repeatable and some definitely not printable.
 
What Is It?   What Is It?
 
James J. Rogers of Lincoln, Nebraska, invented an improved punch and lacing awl for leather. So good was this invention that he patented it (#743,335 dated November 3, 1903). He claimed that by using the sliding taper, one could punch holes of varying sizes with great ease. Presumably, this was made for harnesses and other items made of thicker leather that often needed adjustment. The demand must have waned with the success of the automobile, as was the case with the whip maker's trade. That's likely the reason the tool resurfaced in such fine condition some 110 years later.

D.S. Orr

D.S. Orr has been a collector, user and student of woodworking and metalworking tools and practices for more than 40 years. Recently retired, he has devoted even more time to these endeavors.
 
 
 
 
     
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