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May 2, 2009 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this weird tool I found while metal detecting.

Here's a picture:
http://picasaweb.google.com/matthew.hoy/UnidentifiedTool#
I found it near the foundation of an old cabin on a river.
It's about 4 inches long and 1/4" thick.
posted by cosmicbandito to Grab Bag (42 answers total)
 
Looks like some flavor of a multi-wrench to me.
posted by Flunkie at 9:58 PM on May 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Looks like a latch.
posted by Miko at 10:00 PM on May 2, 2009


...In other words, I wouldn't assume it's a tool. It looks more like a fixture. Imagine the right-hand piece closed off with a hole in the middle, rather than corroded through as is.
posted by Miko at 10:02 PM on May 2, 2009


Yeah, it's basically several sizes of wrench in one flat tool.
posted by GuyZero at 10:02 PM on May 2, 2009


Yeah; looks like it would be used for driving various sizes of nuts, with a nail-pull in the centre.
posted by transient at 10:03 PM on May 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


My guess is latch too. It almost looks like part of a keyhole on a chest.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:04 PM on May 2, 2009


I seriously doubt it's a latch. Why would it have multiple oddly-placed and differently-sized hexagonal cutouts? Again, I say multi-wrench.
posted by Flunkie at 10:07 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I had one of these as a kid and that it was intended as an all-purpose bicycle tool. The slots fit the nuts holding your seat, pedals, etc., and I think it may have allowed you to adjust the spokes.
posted by carmicha at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2009


I suppose it could be a hex multitool. But if it's a hex wrench, it's not that old.
posted by Miko at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2009


It looks like some kind of custom wrench accessory piece that fits on a handle that allows for interchangeable bits. The teardrop shaped hole in the middle would be where the retaining bolt went through, and the notch on the right side would be where it locked into place on the handle.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:14 PM on May 2, 2009


It also could very well be just a standalone wrench. Cheap tools can corrode very quickly so it might not even be that old.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 PM on May 2, 2009


It's a multi wrench just like these

Pretty common from horse drawn carriage days i guess. here's a website.
posted by Paleoindian at 10:16 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Multi-wrench, definitely. (Pic, link)
posted by gemmy at 10:17 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a multi wrench just like these

It's not just like those - it's flat and stamped, not molded.
posted by Miko at 10:18 PM on May 2, 2009


if you look at the super close up shot, you'll see that several of the indentations are not shaped like a normal wrench opening. They have a weird indented shape that wouldn't work on most nuts. I forgot to mention the probable vintage of this thing. The cabin was probably built around 1870 and occupied until the 1940s.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:18 PM on May 2, 2009


At 1/4 " thick it isn't likely going to be latch & you can see how it is worn on the right side - just like a regular wrench. My guess: it is an old & possibly specialized one of these sorts of things.
posted by zenon at 10:19 PM on May 2, 2009


And even more to add to the pile.
posted by zenon at 10:21 PM on May 2, 2009


At 1/4 " thick it isn't likely going to be latch

Not a reason to discount the latch idea. I work around 18th and 19th century buildings and it's not unusual to find 1/4" stock on door hardware.

I'm not saying it's a latch for sure, just that you can't state "not latch" based on thickness alone.
posted by Miko at 10:24 PM on May 2, 2009


I do think it's a stamped tool though, and thus likely post-1910.
posted by Miko at 10:24 PM on May 2, 2009


several of the indentations are not shaped like a normal wrench opening. They have a weird indented shape that wouldn't work on most nuts

They do all have at least 2 facets that are hex. The remaining facets could be accommodations to the task at hand and protruding hardware on the machine or conveyance - or corrosions.
posted by Miko at 10:26 PM on May 2, 2009


if you look at the super close up shot, you'll see that several of the indentations are not shaped like a normal wrench opening. They have a weird indented shape that wouldn't work on most nuts.
Those look like slots that can handle two different size nuts apiece.

See, for example, this multi-wrench, with "two-in-one jaw slots". Or this one, which has the same idea but in as internal holes rather than boundary cutouts.
posted by Flunkie at 10:29 PM on May 2, 2009


I think carmicha has it. This looks like an earlier version of the Raleigh bicycle spanner (a.k.a. wrench) that I had as a child.
posted by Susurration at 10:30 PM on May 2, 2009


To be more clear, look at the angle formed by the larger portion of any of the slots that aren't plain hex. That angle sure looks to me like it's part of a regular hexagon.
posted by Flunkie at 10:31 PM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth vis-a-vis Susurration's link, I had a Raleigh too.
posted by carmicha at 10:34 PM on May 2, 2009


The older the nut or bolt, the more likely it is to be square rather than hexagonal.
posted by jamjam at 11:09 PM on May 2, 2009


Multi-tool, probably for a bike (machine multi-tools tended to be of sturdy, molded material, not stamped), with a slot in the middle to hang it on a nail.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 PM on May 2, 2009


> They have a weird indented shape that wouldn't work on most nuts.

I see the weird bumps that make it seem like it wouldn't work as a wrench, especially in the larger one. How sure are you that this isn't rust buildup (as opposed to part of the original tool)? I can't really tell from the picture.
posted by cj_ at 11:37 PM on May 2, 2009


It's a Raleigh bike spanner. I had tons of them when I was a kid. They are for working on the old style 3-speed bikes.
posted by fshgrl at 12:13 AM on May 3, 2009


I vote for wrench. The double-slots each fit a different size; look at the angles, and they clearly form hexagons--especially acounting for wear and corrosion.
posted by Netzapper at 12:19 AM on May 3, 2009


Here's a bunch of old Australian spanners, none of which exactly match your tool, but you can see the similarities, with hex and square openings.
posted by b33j at 1:00 AM on May 3, 2009


The 'weird bumps' are just to cover more sizes; a larger hexagon can be wedged in part of the way with only partial contact, or a smaller one can make a better fit and be held on four sides.

(I'm genuinely surprised that there's so much debate about whether it's a multi-wrench, I'd have thought many/most people would've encountered similar items; as well as bike tools, similar things are sometimes bundled with flat-pack furniture).
posted by malevolent at 1:09 AM on May 3, 2009


It's not a latch. Christ, why would you think that?

it's flat and stamped

It's wrench of the type used in bicycle shops - flat for getting into narrow spaces. Like a cone wrench.

In fact, I have several of these which feature different cut-outs for different sized bolts and nuts.

Wish I had one as cool and versatile as yours. Wouldn't surprise me if the Wright Brothers were wrenching with that thing.
posted by wfrgms at 1:40 AM on May 3, 2009


I'm pretty sure it's old bike tool.
posted by mattoxic at 1:58 AM on May 3, 2009


Nth-ing bike tool. I have a very similar cone wrench.
posted by silentbicycle at 5:27 AM on May 3, 2009


How big is it? Being stamped makes it unlikely it's a wrench... Looks more like a camping tool- can opener, bottle opener, cutter, etc.
posted by gjc at 6:39 AM on May 3, 2009


You wrench is number 131 on this photo.

The legend says:

131. Unmarked flat steel wrench (Coleman)

posted by Sova at 6:53 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Looks like a Coleman 605-950 wrench for use with a Coleman lantern. You can order another used one for only $8.
posted by grouse at 7:01 AM on May 3, 2009


well, it looks like it could be either a bike wrench, or the coleman generator wrench that grouse found. Thanks everybody!
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:14 AM on May 3, 2009


It looks like it is definitely a coleman wrench.

here is a link to a picture that I found on that page with the Colman wrenches.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:34 AM on May 3, 2009


I agree that it looks like a Raleigh bike-wrench. I have one of these that came with a 1980's bike, and it looks almost identical.
(Although in theory they are quite useful, you needed to wrap them in something soft to use, as you could hurt yourself while trying to hold it, and turning.)
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:08 AM on May 3, 2009


It's a Coleman Stove Wrench

Here is a page from an OLD coleman catalog showing the exact wrench.
posted by Paleoindian at 8:09 AM on May 3, 2009


It's not a latch. Christ, why would you think that?

Christ, because for ten years I have worked around metasmiths and old house and barn hardware and archaeological sites and have seen many kinds of latches that bear at least some resemblance to this one, especially degraded ones that have been buried a long time, but thanks for the eager slapdown.
posted by Miko at 11:58 AM on May 3, 2009


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