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 masherThese 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 spindlesWhile shoe shining brushes aren’t something I would typically be drawn too, 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 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 screwsThis 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 though 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 glimpse into what their lives where like.a variety of old wood piecesAnd… 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.

I have 4 lovely thoughts, I'd love to hear yours

  1. You should email the pics to Vern Wheeler (webinfo@WheelersMaple.com). Almost weekly in the Lanark Era newspaper, they feature a photo of an antique item with an explanation of what it is & its use. 99% of the time, they belong to Vern Wheeler! Bet he’d know what your unknown pieces are! Awesome collection!

    1. Thanks so much for the info Beverly! I will do that for sure. I have been to Wheelers and love looking through their museum and seeing the animals 😉 I found the large twisty one at the McDonald’s corners dump so it very well could be something that belongs to Vern. So cool! Thanks again for the info. I will keep everyone posted if I find out what they were used for.

    1. Isn’t it soo cool! I have never found another one like it or I would snatch it up 😉 It is one of my favourite pieces with everything I have <3

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