Internal corners in tight spaces are hard to negotiate even if the brace mechanism does have a ratchet for forward, lock off or reverse actions. But it is all too easy just to reach for the drill-driver and that means the total abandonment of another tool that still has truly practical options for us to work wood with.
My worry is that 99% of woodworkers do not know that the brace and bit are well proven methods of work and that they were not necessarily replaced by something better or even more advanced. This is especially important where total control is essential and an overactive trigger finger might cost the work in progress.
They needed sharpening every few days, so I not only gained those skills but understood the essentially of such actions. Trades rarely comprise the fine work demanded by artisans in craft in the same way.
Somehow they slow down my world to a workable rate within an acceptable pace best suited to my humanity. A high speed auger bit does that well, but in other situations, in furniture making, I’m never really in a hurry.
One thing I enjoy most about the conventional swing brace with its forward/reverse ratchet ability and its auger bits, and it’s a part that people seldom see or at least consider, is that with each hand turned revolution the bit achieves a controlled and measured depth of cut. This snail pulls the bit ever deeper into the wood, so we have the perfect controlled feed rate according to our human speed.
It's the sledgehammer and not scenario where the bit blasts through the wood uncontrollably ripping away in the hands of the macho-man. In this case, from the point hitting the wood, it takes 6 revolutions before the outer wings cut the rim of the hole.
I make one revolution and the whole rim of the hole develops the circular equivalent of a knife wall circumference. Once this rim-cut is done, subsequent revolutions engage the Baker cutters between the outer spurs and the conical threaded point to bore the 3/4 hole.
This starts once I’ve cut the rim so the rest to excavate through to the other side. Larger holes were the province of the brace, at right side of the photo, and auger bit.
But, it could also take other tooling, including twist drills with square taper tangs, countersinks, and screwdriver bits. Gear teeth around the large wheel mesh with a pinion attached to the chuck.
Author: Wayne Cox What bit braces to look for North Brothers Yankee braces, including the 2100, 2100A, 2101, and 2101A series.
North Brothers are better Quality than Stanley. North Brothers was acquired by Stanley in 1946 and their line of tools was incorporated into Stanley’s offerings.
Peck, Stow, and Wilcox (also P. S. & W and PESTO) braces with the Sampson chuck and jaws. & W. These are similar to the Millers falls Lion brace.
10” Yankee 2101 and a Goodall Pratt 2510 Chucks The brace also gives me more precision when boring to a certain depth because it’s easy to take things slow.
Plus, and I know I’m going to take some grief for this statement, I think it’s about the same amount of work to bore a Ã? ¾” hole with a brace as it is with a cordless drill. I’ve used a lot of braces in my lifetime, it was the only tool my father and I had for boring boltholes in joists when we were building our houses on our farm.
And I have a few favorite brands that have good chucks and a smooth ratcheting action. Here’s the best news: The very best braces ever made can still be found for about $10 at flea markets, tool swaps and (if you shop with care) on eBay.
The ratcheting allows you to work up against walls and to use your arms in tight spaces or more efficiently (some motions with a brace are more tiring than others). The North Bros. brace, however, is as smooth as silk and is quiet, like the ticking of a fine mechanical wristwatch.
I’ve fixed up all the braces (they didn’t need much, usually just a cleaning) and have sent them out to other woodworkers or tool aficionados as gifts. If you want to read more about braces and the manufacturers, I recommend Sanford Moss’s excellent site: SYD NAS SHOOT.
Sanford also sells a lot of braces, so if you’re looking for one, he’s a good man to know. On one end the faces of the tool have file teeth, but the edges are toothless.
These sections without teeth are called “safe edges” and allow you to file in localized areas. You can get auger bit files from a wide variety of sources for less than $10.
Put the auger point down against some scrap and gently file the lip. Mimic the existing edge geometry; secondary bevels won’t help you here.
The spurs score the rim of the hole and allow the cutting lip to lever the waste up cleanly. Again, mimic the existing edge geometry and gently file the entire surface of the interior of the spur.
If the lead screw of the auger bit gets clogged you can clean it out with dental floss. Once you’ve sharpened up your first auger, try making a hole with your brace in some scrap.
A sharp auger will beaver through wood at a remarkable rate. Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop.