A Collection of Beautifully Worn Utilitarian Wood

Even though I have a love for painting, I also have just as much love for beautifully worn natural wood.  Whenever I am out searching the dumps or flea market, I seem to always be drawn to pieces that would have served a utilitarian purpose, especially on a farm.

There is a distinct beauty of old wood that has been worn over time that can not compare to anything we can recreate today.  It has a charm and character that can only be gotten from years of toil and use.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces from the collection.  Some of them I have a good idea what they were used for and some I haven’t a clue.  I would love to know if you have an ideas what they may have been used for!


The Ones I Know…


I am pretty sure this one is an old potato masher or large pestle.  I picked it up on this trip to Pennsylvania in a heavily populated Amish area.  It has been perfect to wrap twine and ribbon around the handle when I don’t want it to get tangled.vintage potato masher These bobbins or spools are pretty easy to find, but, I loved the size of these ones.  They fit in the palm of your hand so are just a great width for decorating.vintage wood spindles While shoe shining brushes aren’t something I would typically be drawn to, I love the look of these ones.  I can just imagine how hard they must have worked in a time when people took great care of their possessions instead of disposing of them constantly.  To think that they are about 100 years old is pretty amazing!very old shoe brushesNugget shoe shine brush


The ones I don’t know… 


I didn’t have any idea what this piece would have been used for when I picked it up at the dump “store” but found it interesting none the less.  Even though the wood is worn and smooth from use, the Robertson screws are newish.vintage wood with modern screws This little guy is beautifully worn and has the cutest top on it.  Someone told me that it might be used to mend fishing nets but I’m not sure.  There is a little slot in the top that could have held thin rope or twine so it makes sense that it might have been a needle.vintage utilitarian wood

old vintage woodThis piece is the biggest mystery of them all.  I lugged it home from the dump a couple of years ago because I thought it was beautiful but I really, really have no idea what it is.

I wondered, since there is a large hole in the top, that maybe it was screwed into the ground and then used to tether an animal.  The wood is quite beat up and you can tell it was heavily used for many years.  The top has even been chewed by some type of creature… maybe trying to break itself free?! 😉

What do you think?  Any ideas??old utilitarian wood

mystery utilitarian wood piece from a farm

My favourite one…


This is my favourite piece from my collection.  I picked it up at the Country Living Fair in NY a couple of years ago and was immediately drawn to it.  I am pretty sure it is a primitive berry box but I have never been able to find any like it in my searches.  It has some incredible age to it and so many repairs that I can’t even begin to try to date it but I know it is very old.

Can’t you just imagine spending your summer afternoons rambling through the woods in search of berries to fill it?  What a wonderful treat they would have been with the evening meal!antique berry bowl

very old handcrafted berry boxWith my passion for history, I just can’t imagine anything more interesting than the stories these pieces could tell.  I love having them scattered throughout my home.  They are a constant reminder of the hard work of those who came before us and a glimpse into what their lives were like.a variety of old wood pieces And… if you have any ideas on what they could be; please!! let me know.  I would love to learn anything I can about what they may have been used for.