Mystery part

I found a small piece of hardware on the shop floor yesterday that looks important. Trouble is, I have no idea what it could be.

Everyone who periodically moves things in the woodshop finds small parts and hardware they’ve dropped sometime in the past. Usually these are no more mysterious than random screws, washers, nails or other fasteners of little importance. I do this all this time.

But when I rolled my small clamp rack yesterday, underneath it I found a tiny piece of hardware I can’t explain. It’s nothing simple like a screw or nail, but a rather intricate brass gear with a large bore. Clearly, this is a working part of something mechanical, but I’m at a total loss as to what it is or what machine or tool it may have fallen out of.

AJBLOG-547 image

It doesn’t show wear, so I’m doubting it’s a working gear from a drill or something like that, and all my other equipment works fine. You’d think losing a gear (or whatever the heck this is) would affect how something works, or at least cause it to make some kind of obvious noise or vibration, but I’ve noticed nothing unusual. I also haven’t built any clocks or other mechanical projects with small metal parts, and although I’ve assembled a few new tools lately none of them would have used something like this.

So there’s the mystery: What the heck is this and where did it come from?

Now, if it came from a tool I haven’t used in a while I suppose I’ll discover the source when I eventually use that tool, but I’ve considered everything in my shop and can’t come up with a likely source for this little rascal.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep it in a small container and hope I don’t get any big surprises when firing up a tool that’s been on the shelf for a while.



  • Bruce Welty says:

    I don’t know WHAT it is, but you could use it as a press in bushing!

  • SawdustTX says:

    Looks to me not like an operational gear, but one of those inserts they put in plastic parts to create a stronger bearing surface for a rod or screw to pass through.

  • Chuck R says:

    Looks like part of a barrel hinge

  • Jeff says:

    Looks like a bushing that would have been pressed into something.

  • Ed says:

    I doubt that it is a gear, since the tooth symmetry is anything but optimal. My guess is that it is a press-in bushing – the “teeth” hold it in place.

  • rowdybluetarheeler says:

    it IS important; but, not valuable…

  • Tom says:

    Looks to be a brass insert for adjustable shelving pins…………..Keeps the wood from crushing from the weight of the pins plus it gives the hole a finished look.

  • Rich Myerly says:

    given it is brass, and the bore is such a large portion of the diameter, I’d say it is a decorative piece, not a part of a working mechanism. Maybe part of a pen barrel?

  • Carl Evans says:

    AN it looks like a pressed in type bushing to me.

  • Rich says:

    Put the part in a Zip Lock baggie. Then place the part where you will see it daily. Usually on the dresser where you put your wallet, etc. every evening.

    Ignore the female dogging about clutter from the SO.

    Then, one day there will be a “Oh that’s where it goes!” Tell your SO that you found the place for the part as you are removing the “clutter” from the house.

    All three of you will be rather happy. (You, SO and the machine that needs the part.)

  • Mark Jenkins says:

    It looks like it’s off a rack and pinion. You gotta let us know what it is!

  • Robert says:

    Gear?? or Thumb nut??

  • Mark Coleman says:

    I looks like a bushing meant to be pressed (or cast) into plastic (or some other softish material)
    From what I can see of the teeth, they don’t look like the proper gear form.

  • Larry says:

    Do you have any venetian blinds in your window of your shop? It looks like it could be the device that “locks” the cord to keep the blinds held up in place…

  • Dan Walters says:

    I hope you find out what this is because I found an identical part years ago and have not figured out what it’s from.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Larry — that’s it! The blinds on my shop window broke, pretty much fell apart in fact, about a month ago. I replaced them with new ones and tossed out the broken one… Then promptly put the whole thing out of my mind. That little piece must have landed on the floor and been there all along till I found it. I just went and looked at my blinds, and that’s the exact piece that holds the cord when you pull them up.

    * whew *. Now I can get some sleep at night.

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