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Occasionally we get pictures of tools and we just don’t know what they are. We love that — and love to check out what folks have dug out of their stash and try to ID it. In this case, reader Glen sent in a picture of this bit of steel. To us, it looks like an adjustable fence or guide. My first thought was that it was part of a shoe for a saw, but the pin and tube on one end is really throwing me.

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The markings on the left side read “R2871 DET 2″ if that helps at all, but it didn’t reveal anything helpful in our search.¬†What say you Toolmongers? Can anyone help Glen out and tell him (and us) what this is? If so, let us know in comments. You can’t do any worse than we are at the moment.

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25 Responses to Reader Question: Mystery Tool Identification

  1. Dan says:

    Haven’t a clue on this one.


    Here’s another mystery tool i picked up a while ago. The one end is hinged for some reason unknown to me..

  2. Bob Mickert says:

    No clue. As Yul Brenner said in Anna and the King of Siam,
    “Is a puzzlement!”

  3. Jason says:

    Can we get full resolution images of both sides?? Specifically the identifier marks and the mechanism in the middle of the tool.

  4. Damien says:

    A centering-setting jig. The two reinforced extremities engage against internal sides where the square block is engaged in a settable part and fixed with the pin (I expected a hole). After that the thumbscrew is used for fine setting. It seems to be used left side up.
    The whole thing is collapsible after removing the thumbscrew and the sliding block.
    That or something completely different.

  5. Paul MC cANN says:

    Did you try assking Lea Valley/Veritas. They have a tool museum

  6. John says:

    Try posting on reddit’s WhatIsThisThing?

  7. browndog77 says:

    It appears to me to be an alignment jig of some sort, probably for a very specific piece of machinery. Googling the first string of #s brings up multiple links to a certain model of HO scale train engine. The length of the tool would make that a possibility. Just the presence of those digits tells us it in not homemade.

  8. DoItRite says:


    You can find some crazy stuff falling off satellites in orbit!

  9. Billy says:

    Yeah, multiple angles, etc. would be helpful. It sure is interesting looking.

  10. Mike47 says:

    I think the numbers and letters refer to a military unit that the tool was used by, and indicate possession for inventory purposes. The first part of the number is probably the primary unit, and DET 2 probably means “Detachment 2″ of the primary unit.

  11. Dr. Bob says:

    I don’t know and have no idea if others here are right or not.

    Try this fellow: rhvp65@gmail.com

    He has a blog


    where he shows pictures/descriptions of unusual tools and posts what they are on Fridays.

  12. ambush27 says:

    The pin on the end may in fact be a scribe for marking, my guess would be some kind of layout tool.

  13. mike says:

    I am pretty sure this would be a tool for a piece of military equipment. Looks like it is made from Alum and the Det 2 would be the unit the tool belonged to, R2871 is the special tool number that would be called for in the technical manual for the piece of equipment. What it is for, I don’t have a clue. Looks like it is for setting up or rigging a piece of equipment.

  14. Harry McCormick, Jr. says:

    This looks like a “stick” for a Ludlow line casting machine. the steel molds are held by pressure exerted on the block and the knurled knob. The attached pin secures the apparatus over the mouthpiece of the Ludlow and hot lead is injected into the mold making a line of letterpress type. Look on the back and you’ll see marking and measurements for “points” and “picas”.

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