This class of Woodworking tool was a very early, if not initial, addition to the William Marples company.  Gimlets first appear [in printed format] in the 1846 Trade sheet and were then called…GIMBLETS….  But this name had changed by 1861 to the more usual name of GIMLETS.

Here is the 1844 list :

Then the 1861 list: [No price increase!]

The 1873 entry follows:

Then the 1888 entries:

And here are the 1897 pages:

And then the 1909 listings:

The 1921 listings, as with all tools, was truncated after the war:

The 1928 listings show a return to production:

The 1938 listings may be very close to those of 1928:

1959 Catalogue shows the expected reduction in styles:

And the 1965 Catalogue shows an even more drastic reduction in styles available:

The last catalogue to show a Gimlet [#1762] is the mini catalogue of 1971. The exact same catalogue of 1972 shows that this tool was no longer manufactured:

Below is a table showing the availability of Gimlets starting with the 1909 Catalogue. This Catalogue was the last one to generally have  new Item numbers assigned.  Before that there were too many changes to realistically track the items [see the pages of catalogues above].
In this table;   G= Gimlets
Box = Boxwood
not 21 = not found in the 1921 Catalogue.

Special Note:  Item #s 1806;1807 and 1808 Bellhangers’ Gimlets  were all numbered in 1928, but after that the 5/16″ and 3/8″ sizes were not item numbered in the catalogues, all being shown as #1806 and they were  discontinued around 1/65.


Below Left is #1752 Shell Gimlet with Square Tang.
Below Right is #1790 Brewer’s London Pattern Shell Gimlet.

Below are #1791 Brewer’s London Pattern Twist Gimlets.

Below is #1793  Cooper’s or Wine Frets Boixwood head.

Below are #1762 Square Tang Twist Gimlets. Probably the most common found today.

Below is #1806 Bell Hangers’ Long Shell Gimlet 12″.

Below is #1782 Spout, Gutter or Cabinet Twist Gimlet. 9″
#1782.1/2 was the 12″ version.







This handy tool, number M170,  was introduced around 1977 and enabled the easy insertion of panel pins into hardboard or plywood.  The first variety had a black handle with a yellow top and shows that there were 2 different sizes:

The 1978/9 catalogue shows this:

Here are excerpts from the May 1988 Catalogue which shows only M170 as being available..

Around 1990 the polypropylene handle was changed to all Blue and this style continued through Jan 2006 when Irwin Marples had it numbered as TM170.   I am unsure as to whether this product was continued when Irwin moved all production to China.



Timber Gouge

                                       TIMBER TESTING GOUGE                                                                                   

From my catalogues I deduce that this special gouge [which looks similar to a cheese tester!] was first seen around 1908 and was identified as Item #7118. [This same number endured with this tool until the very end of its’ production which was c. 1963.]

I have yet to find out how it was used, but maybe it was to produce a Timber sample that could be looked at under a Microscope for identification purposes?
The same print was used in all the catalogues, except that in the 1909 Catalogue there was no included picture of the item which was described as having a Rosewood Handle and a Bent blade and Leather Sheath, all for 2/6d.[as shown above].
By 1928 the price has risen to 3/6d and this price is also seen in 1938, with Rosewood Handles still being supplied.

We then jump to 1959 which is from the below picture. You will note that the handles are now of Hardwood [Beech]

The pictures below may depict a later [post war] example of this tool since the blade seems to be sharpened completely differently to the pre-war example shown above AND there seems to be very litte, if any, curvature to the blade.

An earlier example with Rosewood Handles and a distinct blade curvature is shown here:

The last entry indicating that this tool was still available is in the April 1962 Price List and shows a price of 17/6d.




This device, which is to aid in the starting of wood screws, appears first in the 1988 Catalogue:

It can also be found in the October 1990 Catalogue, but with no picture.
I cannot find any further listings, so it would appear that this tool is a little rare to find since it had but a 2 years lifespan and the majority of those sold
were probably abused!



Joiner’s Dogs

A small subject indeed, but pertinent to this Woodwork Site

Below you will find photos of “Joiners’ Dogs or Joint Cramps

The first reference I can find is in the 1897 Catalogue, but they may have been in production before then. They are listed there as #835A, but that number changed to #1897 by 1909. They are listed as being ‘Stamped’, but ‘Strong Forged'[ Item #1898] were also available at a higher price. The ‘Stamped’ variety [shown] were available into the 1959 Catalogue but only the ‘Forged’ were available in 1965 onwards. They were available 1.1/2″3.1/2″, but this varied a little over time. Shown here are some 2.1/2″, and they are 5/32″ thick. They did however tend to be prone to bending with hard use, whereas the ‘Forged’ variety were certainly stronger. In the 1959 Catalogue they are named “Joiner’ Dogs”




Veneer Hammer

Still under construction  March 2023

 Veneer Hammer

Called a ‘Veneer Flattener‘ throughout MARPLES history, the first reference to this is found in 1897, when it is described as Item # 1115London-pattern Veneering Hammer‘. There are no illustrations, but I hazard that this was an Iron head for a shaft to be fitted.

The Wooden Veneer Flattener appears in 1909 as Item # 3907 [and this item number endured until the very end of production and with exactly the same illustration!] where it can be found listed under ‘Upholsterers’ Tools'[?] , and this tool was produced until February 1962 [listed at 6/6d each.]   The photos below show a great example and the catalogue reference is from 1928.



Bench Hook

A page that is still under construction.  March 2023


These wooden tools were designed to help saw at the bench with a Tenon Saw and also to avoid damage to the bench when chiselling etc. and were first seen in the MARPLES catalogue of 1909 as Item# 4737 sized at 6″ x 10″ x 5/8″ thick. It can be seen that the cross pieces traverse the whole width of the base piece and therefore these Hooks were not, at this time, destined for use in sawing.

 A  listing in the index of the 1921 Catalogue shows up, but that is all there was, no page number given or further description.  I surmise that, as with many other tools , these were de-listed around 1915 due to the upheaval of WWI. 

The Hook in the 1928 Cat. [above] is now Numbered 7737.

The listing in 1938 is essentially as above except priced at 1/9 each and showing another Item number change to 4697.

In 1959 the same picture is shown [below], but I well remember my woodwork classes in 1957 and having a Bench Hook with shortened cross pieces for sawing. So the 1959 and 1965 images were probably outdated.

Even in the 1965 Cat. the modification is not yet shown! :

The 1971 Catalogue shows the Hook #4697 as being made of Hardwood, but no doubt it was Beechwood, as before.  It seems to have no dowels in the cross pieces and at this time it would appear that the Hook was only designed for Right-handed people. See below.

In the August 1973 Cat.  no Dowels are again shown. Item # M4697 below:

July 1979 still shows a size of 6″ x 10″ at a price of £4.70.
In 1983 the listing was changed to show a smaller sized Bench Hook
5″ x 8″ and re-numbered to MR4697 [MARPLES RIDGWAY].

In the latter part of 1988 the number was changed to MW5

And if we are to believe this picture, the Hook can now be used by Left and Right handed sawyers.
The July 1979 information shows this very confusing statement and I find it hard to believe that the cross pieces were nailed and glued!

By May 1991 I find that the number has reverted again to MR4697 and the Hook is again made of Beech [and probably always was]. The size was probably retained at 5″ x 8″.  This was when the Company was named Wm. Marples & Sons Ltd.
The pictures below show a late MR4697 and it can be seen that the Guide Blocks were placed in the centre of each edge and that they were glued and nailed.

There is no mention of a Bench Hook in 1993 literature.




This is another page under construction.  March 2023












The unit above was a merchandising helper to store and promote  ‘punches’ in a retail establishment, as shown in the 1959 Catalogue.


Tool Pads…see under AWLS







Awls and Tool Pads

This section has been the most time consuming that I have ever done on this site.  This because MARPLES chose, in the 1800s to not only change item numbers a few times but also to change the description of the tool. [Pricker Pads were synonymous with Hand Pads!]
The shear volume of slight variations in the introduction and then deleting of certain lines has led to total confusion today . Such that it is virtually impossible to write any form of table that is understandable.   So therefore, I will merely insert the various pages below on a year by year format until we get to an time [1928?] when the volume of products and the cataloguing thereof has decreased to an understandable level!  After that I have constructed a table for you to follow.

We can start with the listings shown in the 1846 sheet:

We can then proceed to the listings shown in the rare 1861 Catalogue:

Then to 1873:

1888 is next:

Above is a perfect example of number AND description change.

1897 is next:


1921 Awls, reduced in nature after the War:

Then we go to the increased 1928 Catalogue:


After the War the next real catalogue was 1959:

The next real catalogue issued was in 1965, after  C&H Hampton had taken over the company and many items were now dropped from production:

In 1972 we see even more items lost:

Below is a table constructed from 1928 onwards of the Awls that Marples produced until no longer produced.

I had to use shortcuts for words to be able to construct this chart and here are the shortcuts:

Bch  =  Beech
Box  =  Boxwood
Brad = Bradawl
Imp  =  Improved
Ll      =  Last listed
Rnm =  Re-numbered
Wd  =  withdrawn
Wgnt =  Wing Nut

Next I will show some examples of these Awls and Pads:

The Tri Grip Bradawl [No. 1828] was introduced in September 1968 and there were 3 different coloured handles to denote length of bradawl.  Small was Blue [1.3/8″]; Medium was Red [1.5/8″] and Large Yellow [1.7/8″].

Here is a photo of these 3 Tri-Grip bradwals, but please note that the literature does not mention that the diameter of the bradawl shaft  increases in size as the length increases.

Below are 2 Mint #1826 Ash handled Bradawls. They were not ‘pinned’, this  variety being numbered with a ‘P‘ after the number. This was the very basic and first Bradawl to be produced by MARPLES and they were made in many different sizes [#1-6 representing 1″ – 2″ lengths] They started out not being numbered in 1862 [or before] and we numbered as #602 in 1873. They remained Beech handled through 1888 when they were #840 but this changed to Ash handled and re-numbered #1826 in 1909. In 1928 they were in either Beech or Ash but switched to all Ash after 1965.  Lasted listed in 1977.

Below are 3 different ages of Peg Top Awl.
#1834.1/2 until 1972 then re-numbered #1834A [hardwood handled]
The Left one is Boxwood c.1960
The Middle one is c.1965 Boxwood
The one on the Right is Ash and so marked c.1980
‘Peg Top Awls’ are very similar to ‘Trimmers’ Awls but the latter have stronger blades.

Below here are 3 different ages of Birdcage Awl.
This Square bladed awl started life in 1909 as #1838 ‘Round Beech handled’
and was last listed in 1/2008 [Marples]
The examples below show :
On the left a c.1960’s example
Middle is c late 1980/90’s
Right is c.late 1960’s


Below is a’Marking Knife with Awl’  #1877

And at last we have a selection of Tool Pads [called Pricker Pads up to 1897 Cat!!]. The 3 ‘Wingnut’ tightened on the left are [ 1888 Cat.] #805;  In 1909 the number changed to #1870 and they did not last through the war.
The middle Wingnut Rosewood handled pad #1873 with 8 tools appears in 1909-1938
The Thumbscrew operated tool pad second right only is seen in 1888 as #807
The extreme right pad #1864 is only seen in 1938 Cat.






Above is ‘Best Improved Hollow Boxwood Pricker Pad’ with Wing Nut #805 in the 1897 Cat. and it came with 8,10,12,15 or 18 tools. By 1909 it had been renamed as a ‘Tool Pad’ and Item #1870   It appears in the 1928 and 1938 Cats. and was probably de-listed around 1940.


Item# M1838 is correctly described as a’BirdcageAwl’ and it always had a triangular cross section.   First introduced c.1900 as Item #1825.1/2 until c.1928 and then from 1938< until at least 1974 as Item #1838. Listed as Round Beech until c.1960 then as Round Ash Handled. They had assorted
sizes Nos. 1-6







Below is an Awl that I can find nowhere in the catalogues!