15 Weird Objects Our Readers Found Lurking Behind Their Walls
From old newsprint to weapons to mummified animals, we asked our readers to show us treasures they found behind the walls of their homes. They didn't disappoint.
Fire Hydrant Opener
Well, sometimes you find treasures. In our March 2021 Family Handyman edition, we asked our readers to send in some of the treasures they found after opening up the walls of their home. We’ve received responses from all over the country, including one reader who discovered one of the exact random objects we included in the print edition.
Ina said she found this rusty tool on an old farmstead many years ago. After Googling it, she discovered it’s used to open fire hydrants. Ina says the manufacturer is still in business.
You might expect to find some kind of rodent or small petrified animal behind your walls, but Larry in Kansas said he discovered this rather disturbing mummified yellow canary.
Larry said he also discovered several vintage wooden cheese boxes on a ledge on the outside of a brick chimney. Inside each one was a vintage 7-Up bottle wrapped in cloth like a mummy.
The ‘Worst Handgun Ever Made’
Al in California said he hoped to find a box of coins when checking the soffit above the refrigerator cabinet. Instead, he discovered what a quick Google search told him was the “worst handgun ever made.” Al said he turned the RG10 revolver over to police.
Guns aren’t the only dangerous thing that could be lurking behind walls. If your house was built before 1970, it’s likely there are razor blades in your walls.
Celeste said she discovered this large cardboard Coca-Cola advertisement hidden behind one of the walls of her home. The ad doesn’t appear to have a visible date, but clothing styles of the couple by the fire suggests it goes way back.
If you’re a fan of retro ads, you should also check Family Handyman’s vintage Walmart ads from the 1970s.
Chuck discovered this painting of a fox wandering down a snowy trail in 1978 when he renovated his 1926 home. Chuck said the Department of European Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art examined the painting, on a 7-1/2-in. x 15-1/2-in. solid wooden board, and determined it came from the Oskar Kamprath Art Gallery in Chemnitz, Germany.
If you like art, consider a simple yet elegant DIY abstract wall art.
David in Indiana discovered two Chinese puzzle boxes full of treasure while doing a full house remodel of a mid-century home. He found the two small puzzle boxes in the stud pocket of the family’s utility room when he removed the drywall. A hidden side pocket contained currency from all over the world, dating from 1900-1950.
Cast Iron Train
DJ was remodeling his kitchen when he spotted something while removing some old duct and drywall. He reached in to find this odd discovery — an old cast iron train.
If you’d rather keep your trains on the outside of your walls, another Family Handyman reader built this bedtime train to help his three-year-old go to sleep.
Tom said an electrician found three old, individual shoes while adding lighting to a butler’s pantry in his 1890s home. [Hiding] shoes were a custom in the Victorian era to ward off evil spirits, Tom said.
While these old shoes are obviously too far gone, check out this two-minute trick to break in new shoes.
Unopened Whisky Bottle
Jerry said his brother discovered an unopened bottle of Holts’ “Mountain Cream” scotch whisky while renovating an old home.
Not a lot is known about the man in this picture, but JoAnn said they were renovating their 1935 home when they found it in the wall. Of course, she framed it. The picture hangs in their new kitchen.
1915 Sale Notice
Mark discovered an auction bill while renovating his early 1900s farmhouse in rural northwest Minnesota. The bill was between the joists separating the first floor living room from the second floor bedroom.
When you’re done ripping open your walls, here are some handy tips to prepare walls for painting.
190 Proof Grain Alcohol Bottle
Michael discovered this empty bottle in the wall of a ground floor apartment while fixing a water issue. At 190 proof, which is almost pure alcohol, hopefully this bottle was opened after the work day.
Do you know how to use a glass bottle cutter?
At 58 percent alcohol, or 116 proof, this bottle of alcohol is a little less potent than the one in the last slide. Penny said she discovered this medicine bottle, manufactured in Des Moines, Ia., inside a wall insulated with sheep wool. The directions include dosages for children as young as six to eight years old.
Phillip in Minnesota discovered old newsprint under the lath and plaster of his 1908 kitchen during a 2002 remodel. The newspaper is dated Dec. 27, 1908. As for the non-English text near the top, Phillip said he framed a collage of his discoveries behind the wall. It included a flyer, written in Swedish. It translates to, “Welcome to prayer time — 8:00 in the evening at the Tabernacle. Where will you spend your eternity?”
Did you know you can use newspaper to get streak-free glass while cleaning?
1890 Blacksmith Invoice
Unsurprisingly, $11.65 went a lot farther 131 years ago than it does today. William discovered a range of old items, including an invoice for blacksmith work in 1890 in Midland Park, N.J. Almost all of it went to replacing two wheels and repairs. The buyer also purchased a potato fork, a pitchfork-like tool to dig potatoes, for 25 cents.
While labor and materials are much more expensive today, there’s an easy tool to determine the best cost vs. value in a home improvement project.