Before the twentieth century, cabinetmakers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, and other tradesmen usually made their own special tools for particular jobs. They were patterned after tools they had used or seen while learning their trade. Planes, saws, wrenches, hammers, slide rules, and other tools seen at flea markets today were used by blacksmiths, farmers, homesteaders, doctors, and people working in foundries, mills, dairies, buggy shops, and other businesses.
The purpose of many old tools is sometimes a mystery because manufacturing methods have changed. This pair of paddles with sharp needle points was used to card wool in the nineteenth century. After untangling, the strands of wool were spun into thread.