Lesser Known Tools - Howel, Thumb Saver, and Spoon Shovel
By: The Working Man
The Howel is a tool that has been in use for many centuries.
It is used in coopering, or barrel making, although it can
serve other purposes. Basically, the Howel is a plane that
allows the cutting of concave or inside rounded surfaces.
A Howel was and is used by coopers (barrel/cask makers) to
smooth the inside of a wooden barrel or cask, and to cut the
groove inside the rim so that the top can be fitted tightly
to make the barrel leak-proof. A Howel can also cut a new
groove into an old cask so that the lid can be seated tight
The Howel has a wooden stock with a sharp carpenter's blade
embedded in it. Many Howels have blades set into the handle
so that the depth of the cut can be adjusted to the job.
Thumb Saver Hammer Tool
The Thumb Saver was designed by carpenters and helps protect
your fingers when you are hammering nails or driving screws,
large staples, or any other fastener that needs to be held
as it is fastened.
The Thumb Saver has a sturdy aluminum shaft that is six to
seven and a half inches (fifteen to nineteen centimeters)
long (large or mini size), covered by an ergonomically
designed handle similar to a hand screwdriver handle. The
working end has a strong magnet built in so that you can
pick up a nail or other fastener with the magnet, set it
into the holding notch, and control the fastener as you
hammer or screw it in. Once you have used it you will see
how it got its name.
Spoon Shovels are designed to scoop out mud or water from a
hole you are digging. The shovel bowl is shaped like a spoon
or ladle to scoop up soft fill without losing it back into
the hole, and the handles have footage marks so you will
know the depth of the hole.
Spoon Shovels come in several lengths: from seven feet to
twelve feet (two meters to three and one half meters) long.
And in two shapes, a rounded or spoon shape for light or
sandy soils or a heavy-duty shovel shape with a front
cutting edge for harder or clay-filled soils.
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