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Title:hatchel; hetchel
Date Made:1750-1840
Type:Tool - Textile Working
Materials:wood, base metal: iron
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield (possibly)
Measurements:Overall: 5 1/4 in x 15 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in; 13.3 cm x 40 cm x 13.3 cm
Accession Number:  HD 64.075
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Hatchels, also known as hetchels, were used to comb 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 aligned the flax fibers, separating out the shorter (tow) ones from the longer fibers desired for spinning into yarn for weaving linen. As many as five hatchels of increasingly finely spaced teeth could be used to refine the flax before spinning. A pair of holes allowed the hatchel to be anchored to a flat surface for use. This example was found in the attic of the Wells-Thorn house in 1964. it has 58 teeth/nails; one is missing and two are broken.

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