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Antique Bed Wrenches
Forged | Cast Iron | Fireman's | Our Bed Wrench

Forged Bed Wrench or Key

antique bed wrenchesForged bed wrenches were the first type of wrench used in America. The three wrenches shown here came from upstate New York. They are made from a single piece of iron bar. The iron bar is forged around a square mandrell and welded together to make the socket end. This form appears to be the standard prior to the introduction of cast iron bed wrenches. The socket is tapered and can be used on a 3/8" and 7/16" bolt head that is countersunk below the surface of the wood. The tapered slot can be used on a bolt head projecting above the surface. The fork shaped end is used to loosen slotted cap screw type bolts.

 

 

 

Cast Bed Wrench or Key

antique cast iron bed wrenchesCast iron bed wrenches could be mass produced and were made in a number of patterns. The two "T" shaped wrenches are thought to be bed wrenches but could have been made as a wrench for some machine and pressed into service as a bed wrench. One has a square socket, a hook and a screw driver blade, the other has a handle shaped like a tack hammer. The three way wrench in the center has "Israel Sack" molded into it and was likely made in the 1930's. This similar to our bronze bed wrench.

 

 

 

 

Fireman's Bed Wrench or Key

antique fireman's bed wrenchesTwo important "tools" utilized by early American firemen were the bed key and salvage bags. With firefighting apparatus able to supply only a small stream of water, a fire that began to gain any headway was soon out of control. Arriving firemen quite often opted for immediate salvage efforts in the building on fire and neighborhood volunteers used buckets and hand pumped "engines"s to protect surrounding buildings. The bed key was a small metal tool that allowed the men to quickly disassemble the wooden frame of a bed, quite often the most valuable item owned by a family, and remove it to safety. Other household goods of any value were snatched up, placed in salvage bags and carried to safety. credit York County, VA Department of Fire and Life Safety

Shown here are a forged wrench and a cast iron wrench. Each would fit multiple size bolt heads and cap screw type bolts.

References:
Portsmouth, NH Fire Deptartment, 1761, March 17, The United Fire Society instituted. Each man brought 2 leather buckets, bed wrench, and a large cloth bag (4 bushel), (and long handled mops). Their primary purpose of the Fire Society was not to quell general fires, but provide a mutual aid to protect personal property recovered from a fire in a home or business.

History of the Chicago Fire Department September of 1841, the "Chicago Bag and Fire Guard Company" better known as "The Forty Thieves" was formed. This company fought fires with canvas bags, cords and wrenches protecting life and property for five years.

A Complete History of the Boston Fire Department, 1889

 


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The Country Bed Shop
Alan W. Pease
328 Richardson Road
Cabinetmaker
Ashby, MA 01431
(978) 386 - 7550