Help us solve, 'The Mystery Tool'
March 25, 2022 | 3:00 pm CDT

Mystery tool from Japan. Do you know what it was used for?

Do you recognize this tool?

This Japanese tool is part of the East Asian collection at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures at the University of Illinois (  

The 30.7 cm long (height) tool weighs 216 g, was used by east Asian laborers. and dates from 1900 to 1959. The tool can be seen from several angles by clicking here

“I would like to include [the] Japanese tool we have in our collection that is identified in our database as a carpentry tool,” said Kim Sanford, assistant director of education at the Spurlock Museum. “I have been trying to confirm that this is a carpentry tool and what it is used for, but I haven’t been able to find anything definitive?”’s editorial director, Will Sampson, took a swing at the question. “I am a fan of Japanese woodworking tools and a regular user of same, but I am not familiar with the specific tool [shown]. It appears to be some kind of hook knife, but it could be used just as easily for farrier work (preparing horses hooves for shoes) as for any carpentry or woodworking project.”

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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).