Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Tools of the Trade

I went around Liverpool Cathedral on Monday and whilst the whole experience was a bit disappointing – as it is every time I visit – I did enjoy the displays of tools.

Scattered around the Cathedral are a number of display cases showing the tools that were used in some of the stone masonry and carpentry work.

The tools in this case were used by John Rowbottom, stonemason, on this site from 1932 to 1981 and were given to the Cathedral by his widow.

One or two of the tools are masterpieces in themselves – like this Sharples Frame Brace.

Many of the tools were familiar to me since their like was once to be found in Dad’s shed. Some, like the plumber’s hand brace, dividers, shave hook and mallet headed chisels have even found their way into my shed and are used occasionally.

I used to love watching Dad use his paraffin blowlamp and I can still remember vividly the wonderful smell of the glue pot on the stove.

Less familiar were the names Mandrel, Trammel, Bossing Stick, Pitcher, Turn Pins, Lead Dummy, Shift Stock, Jumper, Drags and Bolster. Whatever their purposes it was delightful to see them in the building where they had been used.


  1. My grandparents barn was filled with all these now strange looking tools! They do have a certain beauty to them, to look at for sure! :)

  2. My grandfather's workshop was filled with old tools, and I loved looking at them. I adored their used qualities - the tiny chips in the wood, the worn grips, the aged metals. I could sense the history - I can only imagine how much more depth and character tools would have in your country.

  3. I inherited most of the tool I own, but from various grandfathers. My dad was a banker, and his tools he got as hand-me-downs from his brother who couldn't believe he didn't own a drill. (I have that electric drill!) I also have some hand braces. But your post also reminded me of the singular smell of the glue pot. I took a class in hand bookbinding some years ago, and I own my own electric glue pot. Sweet smell. Sweet memories. Thanks for the reminder.


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