When I was a kid, my mom had an old set of the Book of Knowledge for children. I loved that encyclopedia. Instead of being the big boring books of facts that I had to use for reports, these books were full of stories, crafts and lots of interesting things. I loved the crafts. Ottomans made from old coffee cans and all sorts of handy things.
Now I collect vintage craft books. Still love them. The crafts and ideas are frequently filled with measurements you need to take, and usually are made from reclaimed things. Crafts in the past were frequently made with stuff you might have around rather than stuff you had to make a special trip to a craft store for.
So.. now there is Google Books. Full of lots of old magazines. You can also specify a time frame. So after running across some cute wire bookends in an old issue of Popular Science, I did a search on wire coat hangers, specifying the time frame 1910-1950.
This clever flowerpot holder comes from the September 1934 issue of Popular Science.There are also projects for a telephone book holder, newspaper rack and a sock stretcher.
The August 1945 issue of Boy's Life says that blanket pins are very handy to have, but hard to find for sale anymore. If they were hard to find in 1945, I imagine they are nearly impossible to find now. The pin, made of hard wire, would be gorgeous accented with beads and used as a shawl pin now.
Also instructions for a double toaster or hand grill, an egg whip and a couple other cooking outdoors sorts of tools.
These are the bookends that sparked the search. You can find them, along with a very nifty clothes dryer in the December 1939 issue of Popular Science.
An extra that's not from the time range I specified.
This cute mobile comes from the March 1963 issue of Boy's Life.