Q: I picked up this handsome tool at a garage sale. Can you tell me what it's used for? —Randy Foco, Hale, Mich.
A: What you have is a fine example of a loop-handled spokeshave, a tool originally used to round over the wood spokes on a wagon and carriage wheels. Nowadays, they're mostly used for shaping furniture legs and canoe paddles, but they can also be employed to make or refurbish simple balusters, newels, and porch columns. By the way, this one was made in Birmingham, England, by Edward Preston & Sons, a respected 19th-century toolmaker.