17 Curious Things It’s Hard to Guess the Real Purpose Of

11 months ago

Has it ever happened to you that you decided to clean your house or were just walking down the street and found something, but you had no idea what it was or what it’s used for? The folks from our article were just in this situation. They wanted to figure out what they found, so they decided to ask people from around the world for help.

17. “What are these sticks for?”

Unknown author / Pikabu

Answer: This is a slicker (polishing device) for leather.

16. “Found this at an estate sale. The gear counts from 1 to 31 and spins if the pointed bolt rotates.”

Answer: It’s a tachometer. Hold the point against the end of a turning object for a minute, and the dial will tell you how many RPMs.

15. “Found this in an old phone booth at a Marriot in KC, it has an on-off switch. Thought it was an odd heater, but it says bell.”

Answer: It is (part of) an old fan, specifically made for phone booths.

14. “This thing I found at a thrift store: when you pull the handle something winds up inside.”

Answer: Camera shutter timer. Attach it to your camera, wind it up, run in front of the camera, make a face.

13. “What is this crank thing on the wall of an old house?”

Answer: Ice crusher.

12. “This tool used to be my grandpa’s, I have no clue.”

Answer: It’s a hand vise. Used in jewelry and watch repair. Not intended to be fast.

11. “Has 3 blades and what seems like a bottle opener underneath. Handle bends to lock it open. What is it for?”

Answer: It’s for cutting herbs.

10. “Found in my basement, very hard leather...”

Answer: It’s a sailmaker’s palm for pushing needles through heavy material. You can watch here how it’s used.

9. “This old container I found at my grandma’s house, it’s in the shape of a pineapple and opens up to show a tiny spoon.”

Answer: It’s a miniature salt cellar.

8. “My house had an old bar when I moved in and there are 2 of these on opposite ends, this one is near a bottle opener. Does it look like it might be some kind of weird old bottle opener? The horizontal metal piece moves up and down to lock it in place if you squeeze the 2 ends together.”

Answer: It just holds a bar towel by locking it in the clamp.

7. “Found this small swiss brass box from outside a few years ago. Still have no idea what’s it supposed to be.”

Answer: It is a portable ashtray.

6. “Lightweight, handled, texture, pointy cylindrical tin. I have no idea what’s it’s for.”

Answer: It’s a güira, which is a very common musical instrument in the Dominican Republic. It is used along with a metallic brush and you scratch from side to side along the surface. Used in salsa and vallenato. Watch here to find out how it is used.

5. “It looks like it’s designed to compress something maybe? Inside the square part, the number 190 is engraved.”

Answer: I think that is a candle wick trimmer.

4. “I just found this thing. I can make it so that the 2 metal parts stop touching.”

Answer: Egg topper/cutter. You can see it in action here.

3. “What are these perfect sets of beach holes?”

Answer: A pretty standard method of collecting data in ecology is to use a quadrat. It’s used to find out the number of clams. Experts count the number of clams in certain places to figure out the average number on the entire beach.

2. “I’m vacationing in England and I found this thing in the kitchen cabinet. It was in a Victorian style Airbnb.”

Answer: A juicer for citrus fruit. It is tall enough to stand over the cup, then you push the fruit on the rounded end and it drains directly into the cup.

1. “When you pull the ring on this, 4 little pins come out. What is it used for?”

Answer: It’s a rare anti-theft device for pocket watches from the end of the nineteenth century. When the watch gets pulled, the spikes extend, preventing the loss and notifying you as well.

Please note: This article was updated in March 2023 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit johnsinternetsales / Reddit


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Definitely a coffee grinder, C for coarse and F for fine grind. we had one in our house.

The Tall juicer is a relatively new item designed by Philip Stark.


I feel like people used to be even more inventive in the past.. A tiny spoon for salt..


My grandparents have something similar to the ice crusher but instead it is used to crunch coffee beans


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