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W P Tarbell of Milford NH

Milford Town History identifies Wendell F Tarbell. However, it provides no details beyond his participation in the Town Band in 1890.

This design is sui generis: not the usual all wooden hand screw, but not the usual wood jaws and metal screws. Inasmuchas it has metal wing nuts, I have classified it with the composite clamps. There may be enough other oddities to define a special category.

Description of Clamps

Brown's National Antique Tool Auction, Catalog 9, lot 146, provides a description.

a cabinet maker's or wood carver's clamp, with double screws, one jaw fixed at end of screws, one jaw movable, with novel arrangement of nuts on screws.

Also riding on screws is wood piece of unknown purpose (to be held in vise?).

I have a copy of the patent for this clamp. However, the examples I have seen do not follow the patent closely.

This clamp was made in a range of sizes. All mine are the same size, but I have been lucky enough to borrow other examples. Thanks to Kimberly MacLoud for the loan of the 4 inch beauty pictured.


Whole Tarbell, loaned by Kimberly MacLoud Usually, the mark is on the end of the movable jaw. There is no room for it on this small example. However, the date of the patent is incised on the slope of the fixed jaw. That, and the distinctive shape, are enough to identify this as a Tarbell.


W F Tarbell/Milford NH/ July 17, 1888


The jaws have a distinctive profile, with a scooped out end to accommodate the nut on the terminal spindle.

One jaw is fixed, the other rides the spindles.


The spindles lack handles, but instead have nuts. The terminal spindle has a wood nut, and a metal wing nut, as described in the patent.

The spindles are parallel, not opposed, as in most other clamps on this web site.


  1. Milford Town History,
  2. Instruments of Change, New Hampshire hand tools and their makers, 1800-1900
    Published for the NH Historical Society by Phoenix Publishing, Canaan NH
    This catalog of the exhibition held in the NH Historical Society 20 Dec 1984 - 30 May 1985 was researched and written by James L and Donna-Belle Garvin

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