Mystery Tool

Several years ago I picked up this little tool at an antique store. It works great for tracing shapes accurately. I had quite a few questions today about it, and I don’t know what it is called or if it can still be purchased. If anyone can identify this thing or where one could be bought please comment.

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— Will Myers

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21 Responses to Mystery Tool

  1. I don’t know either answer, but it is a cool idea. You could make one quite easily by drilling a hole in a block of wood. Plane it down until the pencil tip is flush with the front edge and then plane a chamfer. Maybe use a set screw of some description to hold the pencil in place. I think I’ll make one.

  2. antinonymous says:

    Everybody knows this is an antique Pitch Vogel Quadrat-Puzzle.

  3. ptross says:

    For many years, a few gunsmiths I know have used a similar tool made of wood to trace gunstock profiles. I have no idea if it has a formal name.

  4. steveschafer says:

    I’ve seen it called a “profile tracer,” but a quick Google search shows that there are lots of unrelated things also called profile tracers, so I don’t know if that helps much.

  5. fpstane says:

    Google search yielded the following: http://www.google.com/patents/US317309
    Originally used to measure the human foot. No name…..but one small step for woodworking….
    Frank

  6. dsgoen says:

    My best guess for a source is Crucible Tools, in about 18 months.

  7. ctdahle says:

    Might it possibly be called a “Frogger”?

    As a cub, the grouchy old guy I worked under in the 1980’s (“Fred”) had a similar tool he used for laying out floor boards and linoleum. He called it a “frogger”, but he didn’t show me how he used it because he said they weren’t made anymore and damned if he was going to let some collitch kid wreck his.

    Instead, Fred taught me the “joe frogger” technique, which uses a scrap of wood, a “frog” -I was told to use a scrap of window stop mold- that hopped around a door jamb, for example, to lay out a tight fitting floor board by marking a template on a scrap of rosin paper.

    Carpentry put me through college, so I read everything I could on the subject. I remember reading about “joe frogger” not long after Fred taught it to me. I had always mentally credited either Larry Haun or Bob Syvanen but just now I googled the technique (“joe frogger layout technique”) and that lead to an October 1992 article in Fine Woodworking by Jim Tolpin. October of ’92 is at least 6 years after I was working for Fred…by then I was self employed “Have finish nailer, will travel”. So my story falls apart…or at least my memory does.

    Anyway, Mr. Tolpin’s “frog” is quite different from the tool shown above, but when I saw the illustration, I immediately thought of Fred and his “frogger”.

    So, uh, yeah, I think they call that thing a “frogger”.

  8. Now I dont really need to buy anything workshop wise , But I would buy one of those , as I have been cobbling together similar things over the years . its amazing that now that I have seen another , I can see the short comings to the ones I have attempted to make .

  9. charlie says:

    From this day henceforth, it shall be known as the Myers tracer. Godspeed to you and your little contraption.

  10. Hank Cohen says:

    I wonder if it comes from the world of shipbuilding. It would be just the thing you need for tracing lofting lines from a batten to a pattern.

  11. josef1henri says:

    I have never seen one like the one you pictured, but it might be a spiling tool for taking patterns in boat building. Very cool.

  12. Trevor Walsh says:

    Hi Will,

    Can you put up some more images, and rough measurements? I’d be interested in making some of these.

  13. marko54954 says:

    See Fine Woodworking issue 18 for Carlyle Lynch article on making and using one of these.

  14. legmakernc says:

    I am an orthotist and make orthopedic braces . We use this tool to trace contours of legs ,arms and backs for custom metal braces . Yes, like in the movie Forest Gump;)

    • toolnut says:

      To Will’s (and I’m sure others) query, do you have a source or are you also working from an antique?

  15. toolnut says:

    To Will’s (and I’m sure others) query, do you have a source or are you also working from an antique?

  16. Richard O. Byrne says:

    dBob Roger replies: Hi, your mystery tool is for tracing the outline of a human foot. It is US patent #317309, issued May 5, 1885. Nice tool. Wish I could find one – I collect shoe-related tools. Bob

    On Tue, May 23, 2017 at 8:29 PM, Lost Art Press wrote:

    > Will Myers posted: “Several years ago I picked up this little tool at an > antique store. It works great for tracing shapes accurately. I had quite a > few questions today about it, and I don’t know what it is called or if it > can still be purchased. If anyone can identify this t” >

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