Wednesday, July 13, 2016

SearchResearch Challenge (7/13/16): Tools!

The world is full of fascinating tools... 

... and I love to find out what they are and what they're used for.  So, for this week, here are a few Challenges about some really odd, interesting, and unusual tools.  

1.  A tool that's been used by stained glass workers since medieval times is a  fid.  What IS a fid?  And how would you use it? 

2.  What's this tool?  What would you use it for?  For scale, it's about 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide.

3.  What is a languid depressor, and how do you use it?  (And why is does it have such a strange name?)  

4.  When, why, and where would you use a kelp iron?  Can you find a picture of one? 

These searches aren't hard (except for one of them...), but it's a lot of fun.

Next week we'll have something a bit more challenging, so this week is just to have a good time.  Enjoy.

Search on!


  1. #1:
    fid examples, plastic or wood
    a how to with a plastic fid (called a lead came opener here)
    Splined Bottom Bracket Socket – bike tool
    Lowering a Languid
    "Between the foot and the resonator, the side of the pipe containing the mouth is flat. A plate of metal or wood called a languid, fixed horizontally here, blocks the airway, except for a small slot called the windway alongside the mouth. This allows air to flow as a sheet of wind directed towards the pipe's mouth. Flat pieces of metal or wood called ears may be attached to the sides of the mouth for tuning purposes, and a horizontal dowel called a roller or beard may be affixed at the pipe to ensure prompt pipe speech."
    flue pipe, aka labial pipe
    struggled… came up with iron (chef) kelp
    drying, but no sign of an iron

  2. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    Challenge is fun and not easy for me. Lots of learning again.

    For Q1

    [define fid] and [fid tool] this last in images too.

    Find wikipedia article about fids. Then tried [fid stain glasses]

    The Fid Or All Nova Tool

    [all nova tool]

    [fid stained glass] in books

    Beyond Basic Stained Glass Making: Techniques and Tools to Expand Your Abilities
    edited by Sandy Allison, Michael Johnston

    Stained Glass for the First Time By Art Glass Originals (Studio)

    1. A tool that's been used by stained glass workers since medieval times is a fid. What IS a fid? And how would you use it?

    A: Primarly used as a burnishing tool when working with copper foil

    For Q2

    Search by image adding tools


    [freewheel bike]

    How To Remove A Bicycle Freewheel

    [what is freewheel] and [bicycle freewheel]

    Freewheel wikipedia

    2. What's this tool? What would you use it for?
    A: A tool for removing freewheel on bikes

    For Q3

    [languid depressor] Link mentions is a voicing tool

    [ voicing tools], [languid depressor voicings]

    [languid music instruments] in images

    [organs voicing tools]

    3. What is a languid depressor, and how do you use it? (And why is does it have such a strange name?)
    A. Voicing tools such as languid depressors, languid rods, and languid raisers are used to position the languid so that the wind sheet is just touching the outside of the upper lip.

    Reading found that one book also called it "cow foot"

    Need to search more and also find more about the name.

    For Q4

    ["kelp iron" tool], ["kelp iron"]

    General View of the Agriculture in the County of Inverness; with ...By James Robertson

    [kelp kiln]

    Kelp irons, longhandled hooks for turning and breaking up the weed, were still in use in the 20th century (see Isobel Grant, ‘Highland Folk Ways’), and one such was found during excavation on the Shiant Isles, off Lewis.

    Searched for Highland museum.

    Highland Folk Museum No Kelp Iron, yet

    4. When, why, and where would you use a kelp iron? Can you find a picture of one?
    A. Instrument for working with ashes of kelp in kiln. In the 18th Century in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They were still in use in the 20th Century

    1. nice find on the kelp irons, Ramón
      "In the late 17th century it was discovered that soda and potash, important chemicals in the soap and glass industry, could be extracted from burning seaweed.
      "The men would then beat the weed into a mass using 'kelp irons' (long-handled iron mallets or hooks)."
      kelp workers
      possible image:
      kelp irons? 2nd image in post

      kelp making
      kelp industry
      kelp burning
      seaweed industry history
      in books
      the new angle

    2. Thanks for the links, Remmij! I need to read them, just by checking the url, you have some of the new ones I found. Not sure if they are the same or just the same page. In any case here is what I found. Hopefully is different

      [kelp process make soap 1800]

      The importance of seaweed across the ages

      [kelp kiln instruments]

      Kelp Burning In The Glens of Antrim by Douglas Harper

      [kelp iron rakes] in All and in Images

      The Vraic fork
      for loading seaweed onto a cart

    3. With previous PDF tried 2 new things:

      1. Find the author and try to ask her for the photo
      2. Try to find the other one in Shiant Isles excavation

      Searched [ University of St Andrews] because photo in pdf is from them. But not Kelp Iron

      [sue hothersall] [sue hothersall twitter] [sue hothersall "kelp iron"]

      Glasgow Archaeological Society

      [kelp iron Shiant Isles excavation]

      A large iron spike hollowed at one end for a shaft may be connected with the kelp industry

      Links to this Kelp hook

  3. Fid: I have a dandy scar on my left hand between thumb and finger caused by an errant FID. Sadly, for this, it doesn't count, for I got it during a wire-rope splicing morning. For that, it's Long very thin steel poker thing for separating the wire stranding--and hand tendons--back to the the project at hand... later jon

  4. Can't confirm it is the 'kelp iron', but there are photos of an interesting tool used for kelp collection at this Irish historical page - and this Norwegian one on Taresanking -

    There's a better look at the Norwegian tools here - They appear similar to the Irish ones.

    1. These are really great! Thanks, Kathe.

      Can you amplify a bit on HOW you found this? What terms did you search on? What resources did you use?

    2. When "kelp iron" and "kelping iron" didn't produce much I began looking at the purpose of the tool and found that the task was interesting enough to early photographers that some of them had documented it. Seeking photos that showed a good view of the tools got me to the Norwegian term.

  5. An account of the use of kelping irons can be found at -

  6. better resolution:
    kelp or potatoes?
    "SRSM Articles - Hitlerism in the Highlands www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org1371 × 1006Search by image Skye crofters at work planting potatoes in the 1880s "
    have seen the image linked to potash/kelp production & potato cultivation… seems to fit the description of a kelp iron… maybe it was a multi-purpose tool?
    again, potatoes here…
    Scottish/Irish images
    supposedly there is a figure of a kelp iron in the book (that uses the above image as its cover photo) on page 211… but I haven't been able to see it :\
    p211 - kelp iron

    Cas Chrom/foot plough…
    various styles of foot plough

    1. I've had the same problem--I found the book ("Highland Folk Ways") and apparently the picture is in there on page 211, but I can't find the book itself! Has anyone else found it?

  7. Loy, Cas Chrom… guess a spade isn't always a spade… the trouble with naming things — in time and across regions…
    a Loy(Irish spade)
    has peat spade examples
    kelp tool may not be here, but no shortage of odd, intriguing tools/implements

    wiki spade
    figure of speech
    "The burning continued while any tangles remained, or until the kiln was full, generally taking from twelve to twenty-four hours of cautious and careful work, for it was possible to spoil it by burning the kelp more than was required. A final stir with the long poles was given to ensure all was well and truly reduced to ash. It was then left for a day or so to cool. In Cushendun as the mass of kelp slowly hardened it was tracked with a spade into squares and while it was still hot, cold salt water was thrown on it."
    from: the process…

  8. keywords stained glass fid
    Lists various uses of the fid

    keywords tool 2.5 cm
    Bike Tool Wheel Lock Nut Remover

    keywords type of depressor languid

    based on above site modified keywords
    type of depressor languid "pipe organ"

    pdf page 6 - picture of languid depressor

    keywords long handled hook beat kelp "kelp irons"

  9. Dan, hope the kelp iron is the "hard" one: "These searches aren't hard (except for one of them...), but it's a lot of fun."
    more detail about kelp processing… now the "irons" appear to be iron mallets (or hooks) with long handles…
    The informant, Duncan MacDonald ◊ thanks to Rosemary for this link ◊
    perhaps like this…with longer handle?
    " The informant then details the process by which the kelp was prepared when they would beat the weed into a mass using ‘kelp irons’ (long-handled iron mallets or hooks). This process was then repeated for all the other kilns. After one, two or even three days the kelp was then beaten up using a mallet and put into heaps. Then the kelp heaps were covered with turf to protect it against moisture and left to cool overnight. Over time more and more kelp was manufactured until a vessel came to take away the kelp."
    another account

    off to have some simple seaweed soup with Maggi…
    recipe toward bottom

    btw, found nothing at these spots… thought they might be promising
    National Museums Scotland
    Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
    even though this book source suggested an example might reside in a museum…
    under 'Provincial'

    the Scottish variety…

    kelp processing these days
    oarweed videos

    1. Yep... Kelp Iron is *definitely* the more difficult search!

    2. yep sir,…wouldn't have guessed Oarplant would have led to James Joyce and further vocabulary/search lessons… and on it goes… the sesame oil works well with the seaweed, proportion is key…
      also added a dash of Frank's RedHot… "I put that s*** on everything"… maybe Jon knows her?
      "The expletive is always censored with a bleep, and Ethel's mouth is covered with a censoring "splat". The Ethel character is played by Jean Hamilton, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia"


      Ulysses Concordance - 'maries'

      "The flood is following me. I can watch it flow past from here. Get back then by the Poolbeg road to the strand there. He climbed over the sedge and eely oarweeds and sat on a stool of rock, resting his ashplant in a grike.

      A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack. Before him the gunwale of a boat, sunk in sand. Un coche ensablé, Louis Veuillot called Gautier's prose. These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here. And there, the stoneheaps of dead builders, a warren of weasel rats. Hide gold there. Try it. You have some. Sands and stones. Heavy of the past. Sir Lout's toys. Mind you don't get one bang on the ear. I'm the bloody well gigant rolls all them bloody well boulders, bones for my steppingstones. Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloods odz an Iridzman.

      A point, live dog, grew into sight running across the sweep of sand. Lord, is he going to attack me? Respect his liberty. You will not be master of others or their slave. I have my stick. Sit tight. From farther away, walking shoreward across from the crested tide, figures, two. The two maries. They have tucked it safe among the bulrushes. Peekaboo. I see you. No, the dog. He is running back to them. Who?"

    3. Tried to find information in Spanish and also on the Museum. No answer yet. But find this:

      [quema kelp irlanda 1800 jabon]

      In this pdf (spanish), Kelp iron is only called Rastrillos


  10. fid: tells us: The Fid has to be The Most Ridiculous Name for The Most Ridiculous looking implement.

    Luckily, it is also The Most Useful Tool as well.

    It has many varied uses:

    - it opens the lead channels up before leading
    - and pushes them down after soldering
    - the ‘beak’ as I call it, cleans off excess black cement
    - the flat end can be used to push the heart of the lead snugly up against the edge of the artglass during leading AND flatten kinked flanges out.

    All that for just a few cents. A fid is a must for your tool kit.
    confirmed by

    kelp iron: Lots of interesting reading. The best description of kelp burning, in which irons were used, is The Northern Isles: Orkney and Shetland By Alexander Fenton pp65 ...after the kelp is burned it leaves a hot gelatinous mess of many colours. It is stirred and mixed whilst still fluid the allowed to cool for several weeks. The hardened material is then broken into manageable weights with irons.

    Chemical News of April 27, 1877 page 174 points out that the process described above is astoningly wasteful and so the author tried to help them produce a much better product, "I took away their kelp irons to prevent this poling..." but the islanders will not change to a simple process that doubles the value of the product.

    Can't make page 211 show image either

    Freewheel remover: found by image search says its for the removal and installation of rear cogs on derailleur type bicycles ..

    Languid depressor: shows up in organ pipe discussions...Wikipedia says in part: Between the foot and the resonator, the side of the pipe containing the mouth is flat. A plate of metal or wood called a languid, fixed horizontally here, blocks the airway, except for a small slot called the windway alongside the mouth. This allows air to flow as a sheet of wind directed towards the pipe's mouth.

    Oxford English Dictionary says the origin from long ago of a similar word meant 'tongue shaped'
    The depressor is used to adjuct / fine tune the pipe.

    This was all great stuff........jonTU

  11. Close as I can come - Query ["irish OR scottish" manufacturer of "kelp iron"]
    Result -

    Difficulty I found was that in many places I saw the term not only kelp iron but that because the kelp after the burn was as hard as limestone they used also hammers & crowbars. Terminology may need some massaging to improve results.

  12. Kelp iron image: Found it. [kelp burning iron] in Books. Found General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides, Or Western Isles by James MacDonald. 1811 page 801:

    ...the manufacturers stir about the burning embers briskly with wooden poles pointed with iron to the length of three feet, the poles themselves being altogether nine or ten feet long, and of this shape [shows a horizontal line about 3cm long with a little bent bit, a crook, at one end. Looks like a golf club with a tiny head] the crook being the extremity of the iron end, and pretty thick, for the purpose of stirring the ashes with effect.

  13. … even on the return train from Royal Troon I was frustrated by not finding a color image of the elusive and stealthy Kelp Iron - ⌐
    so had to imagine my own – solid ash pole/handle ~ 280cm in length… this particular style best suited for extra starch application… únlar, potash & soda aside
    I always preferred no starch in my kilt… 8-)
    ironing oarweed
    (wonder if oarweed ever inhibited the Vikings during their cultural exchanges?)
    kelp burning season, perhaps the residual smoke made me daffy —
    June (some say as early as April) - August
    Kelp burning on Papa Westray, Orkney
    James Fea