Mystery hand tools

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Henniep

Established Member
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15 Feb 2019
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Location
South Africa
Hi, morning all.
I was recently give a work chest full of strange tools. I've googled and asked around, but can't ID the tools or there purpose/use. They are for some trade and reasonable old. Mainly wooden tools. My unqualified guess is that they are for sheet lead, or very old panel beating tools?
Can anyone shed some light here? See attached photos of a selection of the tools.
 

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They appear to be tools used by plumbers and other forms of lead working for forming and working lead pipe or sheet.
Depending on the type of work being done, they came in a range of sizes and shapes.

If you Google those terms and select 'images' you will see lots of similar items.

good luck.
 
Yes, very similar to the tools my grandfather (an old school plumber) had. He said that when he started his apprenticeship in 1928 his first task was to make those tools and they lasted until he retired around 2000. One of his sons has the tools now but they are a bit awkward to use - grandfather was left-handed so his tools are kinked the wrong way for most people.
 
If anyone knows someone working on old lead work etc. my bet would be Adam W

I was thinking they might be to do with upholstery no idea why I thought that
 
Not so much on normal houses but it still happens on church roofs, old manor houses and suchlike.
Aren't that many historic (old) churches/manors/houses in sunny South Africa, but will put the word out anyway. Be nice if some one can use the tools for the proper trade.
 
If they really aren't of any use, then often useful sizes of usually Boxwood, which is what the good ones were made from, can be cut out to repair/make other tools.

Bod
 
If anyone knows someone working on old lead work etc. my bet would be Adam W

I was thinking they might be to do with upholstery no idea why I thought that
Funny, how did you guess ?

They are in order from top pic 1

Lead bossing mallets with cane handles.
lead dolly for making pipe
three lead dressers
and
a lead chaser for moving the lead about when dressing to avoid splits and wrinkles.
 
I shouldn't think that lead work is still an active trade?
Very much so and a real art, especially on roof work. I did a bit of lead work when I slated my roof, but fairly basic stuff. I just made my own dresser.
I also had a skilled guy put a lead pipe through a valley in another part of the roof, he formed a tube in lead, soldered along the length, then flared the top and a corresponding flare in the valley, then soldered the pipe in place. It was a work of art!! beautiful job, also the lead flashing on the chimneys.
 
You were given lead tools.
A dresser.
A bending stick
A bossing stick.
A chase wedge for setting in corners.
A bossing mallet.
A small mandrel.
All used by plumbers and now leadworkers to install sheet lead and pipes.
 
Funny, how did you guess ?

They are in order from top pic 1

Lead bossing mallets with cane handles.
lead dolly for making pipe
three lead dressers
and
a lead chaser for moving the lead about when dressing to avoid splits and wrinkles.
You're mostly correct. I would call that a Mandrel and its used for straightening extruded lead pipe. A Dolly is sometimes a tool made from solder and a drain rod to assist bossing corners etc.
A chase wedge is for setting in corners and driving in roll ends.
 
Other things necessary are a Lead rope to surround the joint when pouring the melted lead, and a lead pouring pot and burner to melt the lead. and also "oakum" (which is the packing gasket material) and a oakum chisel (which is a flat ended slightly curved and has a dog leg in the length) to drive the oakum into the joint. The lead is then poured over the oakum to lock (fix) the joint making it water tight.

The newer method was to use oakum (driven into the joint) using an oakum chisel. Then using "wool lead" (similar to steel wool) was driven into the joint without using melted lead. This saved time... but not as fool proof.
 
You're mostly correct. I would call that a Mandrel and its used for straightening extruded lead pipe. A Dolly is sometimes a tool made from solder and a drain rod to assist bossing corners etc.
A chase wedge is for setting in corners and driving in roll ends.
We used a chaser to chase/move the lead into corners to stop it stretching and splitting.
 
You were given lead tools.
A dresser.
A bending stick
A bossing stick.
A chase wedge for setting in corners.
A bossing mallet.
A small mandrel.
All used by plumbers and now leadworkers to install sheet lead and pipes.
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback and IDing the tools - really appreciated. Amazing how much knowledge on the subject is still around!
 
I have a buddy that has the second from the bottom. His is made of rosewood. I suspect more for durability over one-upmanship but who knows, maybe there were more affluent plumbers and roofers. Or should that be effluent? 🤔

The hammers resemble some used in auto body work. Would these be the evolution of the ones in the OP's pictures?
https://hammersource.com/garland-bo...ree-sizes-of-our-hard-yellow-bossing-mallets/
Pete
 
The second tool from the bottom is a dresser and this is generally used to flatten the sheet lead. It can also be used to 'set in' along upstands and 'rolls'.
Dressers have been made from yellow plastic for the last 40 years. They last longer than boxwood and do not mark the lead so much.
 
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