Here I share some of the terms I’ve learned about throughout my years of research.

Adz, adze
Sharp-edged wood-cutting tool with an arching blade set at right angles to the handle and curving inward. Logs and beams were shaped with the adze.
A tool for boring holes in wood, having a long pointed shank with a cutting edge and a screw point and a handle fixed with right angles to the top of the shank.
One hand tool/pointed instrument for making small holes in wood or leather.
Bowl-shaped container that was used to hold pudding, stew, and other semi-liquid foods.
Beehive Oven
Baking in the beehive oven was a once a week all-day affair in colonial America. The cook arose early to start the fire. The earlier it was started, the more chance there was to finish by sunset. A very hot fire is started in the oven, which takes two to three hours to heat, sometimes even four hours in the winter. Then the coals are raked out and the oven floor cleaned with a wet swab. Breads are baked first when the beehive oven is hottest, then cinnamon buns, cakes, and pies. As the oven cools, muffins and “biscuits” may be baked, then puddings and custards. After a day’s baking there is still sufficient heat to dry apples and other fruits and vegetables and herbs. A pot of beans may be placed in the back of the oven to cook slowly overnight.
An instrument with an air chamber and flexible sides, for drawing in air and expelling it under strong pressure used for blowing fires.
Bell Metal
A kind of bronze, usually about 1/4 copper and 1/4 tin.
Box Iron
Iron with hollow core in which a hot iron “slug” was placed.
Marked with streaks
Woolen yarn or fabric made of it in tape form for binding.
A glossy woolen stuff of Flanders, twilled and checkered in the warp, so that the checks are seen on one side only.
Camlet, camblet
A Name originally for a costly Oriental fabric; of fine camel’s hair; subsequently for substitutes.
Implement for raising nap on cloth, essentially an iron instrument with teeth. A similar instrument used to part, comb out and set in order fibers of wool and hemp.
Chafing dish
A vessel to hold burning fuel, for heating anything placed upon it.
Grain husks
Chaff Bed
A mattress stuffed with grain husks.
One horse luxury vehicle used in America from about 1700 through the Civil War. Any light carriage for pleasure driving. Also known as a “shay.”
Any property, movable or immovable, except real estate.
Clothes press
Closet for storage, movable upright closet.
Black like soot, coal-black
The iron blade fixed in front of the share in a plough which cuts the soil vertically.
Coverlet for a bed
A frame attached to a scythe to catch the cut grain
A low footstool
Leather strap fastened to the saddle and passed under the horse’s tail to keep the saddle from moving forward.
A rich silk fabric woven with elaborate design patterns
A glazed white paste earthenware
A white linen fabric woven of patterns showing up by opposite reflections from its surface and consisting of lines crossing diamond-wise, with the spaces filled up by parallel lines, leaves, dots, etc.
Drawing knife
A knife with a handle at each end used for shaving over a surface with a drawing motion
Coarse woven fabric, all of wool or half wool, half silk or linen, formerly used as dress material
Duroy or Duffle
Coarse woolen cloth
Dishes post and the like made of a coarse grade of baked clay, porous clay
A vessel with a handle, spout and often hinged lid used to serve liquids
Universal tool for threshing. Used to separate the grain or seed from the plant stalk (straw)
Flock Bed
A mattress stuffed with refuse of wool or cotton, consisting of coarse tufts
Fowling Piece
A light gun for shooting birds.
Coarse cloth made of cotton and flax twilled cotton cloth; corduroy; velveteen
A small auger turned with one hand that makes a round hole in wood
A framework of parallel metal bars used from broiling flesh (meat) or fish over a fire
Hatchel, hackle, heckle
A comb with long metal teeth for cleansing raw flax or hemp. Flax straw pulled through the iron teeth to separate fibers
Agricultural implement with teeth drawn over plowed land to break clods of earth
A liquid measure, 63 gallons; a large cask or barrel
Unbleached linen fabric from Holland
The use of the skills necessary to running an 18th century household
A stout linen fabric with weft threads thrown alternately up so as to form a rough surface; used for towels
a man who cultivated land that he rented
The occupation of business of farming
Term found in tax assessment records referring to a person who lived in someone else’s house and was a craftsmen or laborer rather than a farmer. May refer to indentured or apprenticed persons
A general named for all articles made or iron
a man who hired out his services to an employer by the day
A coarse woolen cloth of light weight, either smooth or ribbed
Kneeding Trough (Dough Tray)
A wooden trough or tub in which to knead bread
A lathes is a machine which holds a piece of wood or metal between two centers and turns it so the work can be shaped by hand-held “turning chisels.” Foot operated or hand cranked
A coarse cloth of woven linen and wool or cotton and wool threads
A large hammer or mallet
To liberate from slavery
A home with its adjoining buildings and adjacent land
A spiced mead (a liquor made of honey and water); sometimes medicated
A small portion or share.
a kind of cotton cloth, originally made at Naking from a yellow variety of cotton, but now from ordinary cotton died yellow.
A small mug or cup
An inn or tavern
Tool resembling a long-handled spade, used to take loaves out of the oven
A measure of distance equal to 5 1/2 years
Alloy composed of tin and small amounts of other metals – lead, copper, bismuth or zinc. From 1725 to 1825 pewter was the most widely used metal in America
Instrument or tool having two handles and a pair of jaws working on a pivot used for holding objects or unfastening.
A large cask with its contents, containing the volume of four barrels, or 126 gallons
A small cooking pot or earthenware
A small dish for porridge, broth or other similar foods, usually having one handle
A rent payable by a freeholder or copyholder to his lord that released him from liability to perform services
A finishing tool with rotating cutting edge for enlarging or tapering a hole
One who redeems himself or purchases his release from debt or obligation to the master of a ship by his services; or one whose services are sold to pay the expenses of his passage to America
That part of the estate which remains after the determination of the particular estate and falls into the possession of the original grantor or representative
A coarse sieve used for separating chaff from corn, sand from gravel, ashes from cinders
Comb for cleaning flax, broom corn, etc.
Implement used for mowing and reaping, consisting of a long curved blade fixed at an angle to a long bent handle
A basket in which seed is carried in the process of sowing by hand
An implement with a curved or crescent-shaped blade mounted on a short handle, used for cutting tall grass, grains, etc.
Signet Ring
How did you seal a letter in the 18th century? Envelopes didn’t have glue you could lick. Instead, people used wax to seal their important documents. Merchants sold sticks of sealing wax in two colors—red and black. Colonists usually used red dealing wax. They used black sealing wax only when they were in mourning, or grieving over someone’s death
A balance for weighing that consists of a beam, a weight sliding on a graduated scale, and hooks to hold the thing being weighed.
A mixture of animal fat refined for use in candles
One-handled covered drinking vessel with either dome-shaped or flat lid
Liquid measure; 42 gallons; 1/2 of a pipe
Coarse fiber of flax, hemp or jute
A wooden plate used at the table
Three legged stand to hold pots of food over the coals, on the hearth and at the table
Wax Seal
18th century colonists used small thin wafers made of flour mixed with gum or gelatin for sealing their everyday letters. They folded a letter, moistened a wafer, and pressed the wafer onto the letter to send it. A wax seal on a document guaranteed the truth of what it said
A boring tool, such as a gimlet or auger
Wool Comb
Toothed instrument used in carding wool by hand
Freedholder, farmer, small land owner, a man who cultivated his own land