Wooden hatchel with iron spikes. Hatchels, also known as hetchels, were used well into the 19th century for combing flax fibers in preparation for spinning and weaving, The name comes from a late 15th-century English word (hackle) meaning to prick or pierce. The long iron teeth would align the flax fibers and separate out the shorter ones, keeping the longer ones for linen weaving.Hatchels were used to straighten and grade the fibers in the processing of flax fibers for spinning into linen threads. Mrs. Melly A. Hatch, Detroit, Mich., gift to PVMA, listed in the Domestic Room as "108. Hatchel."