Tools and techniques of the Eberle Family

Implement Technique


Anvil Metal is heated, and then struck with a hammer. Used by blacksmith: striking heated iron on this surface

Formed many of the implements the early farmer needed.

Bees Swarm of bees Prior to the middle of the 1800's, most bee hives in North America and Europe were simple shelters for the bees.  Skeps, log gums and box hives were common types of hives in this period. Skeps were made from grass straw, and often had sticks inside to provide support for the honey combs.

Bucket, spouts Maple sugaring


Spout is placed in hole in tree, bucket collects the sap

Churn   Cream was "churned" or mixed for a long period of time (from a half hour to forever) until it separated into butter and buttermilk. The butter was scooped off, washed and pressed into a mold. Charles speaks of the square churn his sons made and said, "It serves well".

Cradle Cradling oats A cradle scythe (also called a hand cradle) cut the hay and also dropped the hay in piles.
Fanning Mill   Fanning-mills or winnowing-machines clean coffee, grain, etc., from chaff, dirt, and other light impurities. The apparatus shown here is designed for hand-use. Multiplying gear is placed between the crank-handle and bar shown. The sieves are vibrated by means of a crank disk-rod and bell-crank. The grain is fed in at tile top, and passes through the sieves, the uppermost of which is coarse, while the lower ones are of varying degrees of fineness, the object being to distribute the fanning duty, by arresting the motion of the grain, so that the coarser impurities pass out between the upper and the finer ones between the lower sieves.

flail   A flail was used to separate the seeds from the rest of the plant. You beat the stalks until all the grain had fallen off.

Flax Linen Linen cloth was made from the flax plant. The stems of the flax plant were soaked and separated into strands which were spun into thread. The threads were dyed and then made into linen cloth on a loom.  
Flax wheel Spin flax Smaller that wheel for wool


Forge   This is where the smith heated the metal that he would work in the anvil.

Grafting grafted Taking a section of sprout and inserting it into the stock of an inferior fruit tree; if held firmly in place, the sap will flow between the two and the wood forming cells that may join them together.


Grinding Grinding wheel Used to sharpen tools, note turning handle. Some were run by foot power.

Harrow   Harrows are used to disintegrate and pulverize the ground after plowing. Several forms of these implements are presented herewith.

Harvesting   When a crop was ready to harvest the farmer used a sickle, scythe or cradle scythe to cut the crop. Then the stalks were bundled into sheaves. The bunch of sheaves was leaned against each other so the sheaves stood up. The standing bundles were called stooks. The stooks were left to dry in the field. Later, the sheaves were hauled to the barn.  
Hay Hay Stake Hay was tossed on the teeth of the stake to help it dry. If the hay was not properly dried, it would mold and the quality suffered greatly.

Hay Winrows or windrows Hay is tossed in rows to air dry. The piles are turned frequently to help even drying. The work was done with a hay rake - similar to the one shown here this would be carved by the farmed during the winter months.




Maple syrup Collecting


Farmers tapped the maple trees, boring holes into the sapwood layer (about 3 inches in), putting in a wooden or metal spout and hanging a bucket to collect the sap.

Maple Syrup Boiling sap Sap from the maple tree was boiled over an open fire to reduce it to maple syrup. It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of finished maple syrup.

Plough   The plough was primarily designed to prepare the ground for cultivation by turning it over, thus burying the weeds and loosening the earth.

Potatoes Potatoes Potatoes were dug in the fall and stored in the root cellar, away from light. Some "new" potatoes were used during the summer and dug as needed. In the fall, however the entire family helped in the harvesting as frost can be disastrous to the potatoes, rendering them unfit for people.

Sausage machine Liver puddings sausage containing ground liver

liver sausage, liverwurst



  Grain or hay was cut with a scythe (a long blade on a stick) or a sickle (a curved blade on a stick) and left to dry in the sun.

Sheep Wether (sheep) n : male sheep especially a castrated one  
Sleigh   Vehicle with metal strips set into a curved wooden runner; pulled by horse or horses. Used in areas with snow covered roads. Roads were not plowed; they were rolled of, sometimes, "kettled". When you "kettled a road", you put children in a large caldron or kettle and dragged that behind a team to pack down the roadway for transportation.

Spinning wheel Spinning  

Splitting knife For staves  

Stone boat   Collected rocks from plowed field so field could be planted

Swingle tree Swingle flax noun  a crossbar in a horse's harness to which the ends of the traces are attached

a flat-bladed wooden instrument used for beating and scraping flax or hemp to remove coarse matter from it

Threshing threshing After the grain had ripened sufficiently in the shocks, it was ready to be threshed so that the farmer could sell it. Threshing is separating the grain from the stalks.  In early days this was accomplished by men hitting it with a flail.  After the wheat was separated, it would be tossed into the air to separate it from the chaff known as winnowing.  Sometimes the grain was spread on the floor and threshed by animal pulled heavy sleds drawn over the grains.  After the grain is separated from the straw it would be again winnowed.  This process could take up to two months.   

Carding Mill

  Before wool can be spun into yarn for knitting or weaving into cloth, it first must be brushed, or carded. This tedious task was at first carried on in the home. By the late 1780s carding machines began to be built in the United States, carding as much wool in minutes as a hand-carder could do in as many hours. By 1811 the federal government estimated that on average every town had at least one carding mill where farm families could bring their wool and pay to have it carded.  

Felting and Fulling


  Fulling is the process of fluffing up an already woven or knitted piece of woolen cloth. It's to be distinguished from felting, which takes raw fleece and puts it through the same process without having any initial structure. Felting usually yields a fabric that's a lot stiffer than fulling, since it needs more felting to be able to hang together at all. Fulling can be applied lightly, and simply fluff up a fabric so it ends up softer and thicker (so warmer for the same weight) but still very pliable.  
Wool Wool Shearing
A sharp knife (or large scissors) was used to cut the wool from the sheep.

The wool was washed to clean away the dirt and the oil from the sheep's skin.

The wool was pulled apart to pick out grass, straw, and burrs that were stuck to the fleece.

The wool was brushed to untangle it and get out the knots.

The strands of wool were spun into yarn. A spinning wheel would twist the fibers around a spool to make the yarn.

Cloth was made by weaving the yarn together on a loom.




Wool Shear sheep


The fleece or wool is cut from the sheep using shears. An experienced cutter can remove the wool in one piece!

Yoke   This joined two oxen together so they could work in tandem to plow a field, drag timber, pull a hay wagon etc.

    Stone Mills Museum; Northern New York Agricultural Historical Society at Stone Mills, NY

    From the Collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Watertown, NY

 Fort Drum Cultural Resources Project, Fort Drum, NY

        Lynn Thornton