Tools for Working Wood
Invest in your craft. Invest in yourself.

 Joel's Blog

Some Tips On Using Braces Pt. 2: The Quick Brace.  

08/10/2010

In part one of brace tips - click here, I explained how to make your brace work for big holes. Now we look at the other extreme. Unfortunately the solution for small bits isn't as easy to do. For holes from 1/4" through 2" in diameter a brace was the hand tool of choice (although Jennings augur bits were made as small as 3/16"). For smaller sizes under a 1/4" egg beater style hand drills were usually used. With a small brace bits - say 1/4" - 1/2" you don't really need a lot of power but running the handle round and round in the 10" diameter circle of a typical brace is slow. Our ancestors wanted to speed things up - especially since drilling 1/4 - 1/2" holes in furniture is a very common operation.

The solution was a "Quick" brace, which is simply a smaller sweep version of a regular brace, ratchet and all. The Stanley brace shown above at left has only a 3" throw for a total of a 6" sweep, and with it you can drill a lot faster.

Interestingly enough, while an English Ultimatum brace is underpowered for drilling large holes, it has a pretty fast stroke for drilling average sized holes found in traditional joinery. If you recall in part one I mentioned that the American braces drove the English off the market - by 1900 houses had plumbing, and early electrical wiring, all which needed pretty big holes drilled, and not too many drawbore joints where you just needed a small 1/4" hole. I wonder if there is a connection?

In the picture above the braces are ordered by sweep. Starting from the left is a 6" Stanley quick brace. Then comes an English Ultimatum brace with a 7" sweep, and a very lovely Scotch brace with a 9" sweep. Finally, the standard 10" American braces, which were mostly bought for house building not furniture.

If you come across a 6" quick brace, grab it!!!

Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques
Comments: 3
08/10/2010Dave Raeside 
Joel,
I quote from the Oxford American Dictionary: "Scotch. of Scotland or Scottish people or their form of English. (Modern Scots prefer to use the word Scots or Scottish, not Scotch, except when the word is applied to whisky, Scotch Broth, Scotch Pine, Scotch Tape, Scotch Terrier, and Scotch Woodcock)." Scotch is OK when the Scottish dialect is being cited.
Dave Raeside
08/10/2010joel http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com
They are called "Scotch Pattern" or "Scotch" braces in period catalogs. Since they have been out of production for a century or more, there has been no updating of the name, and it would be inappropriate to modernize the name now. Incidentally they were sold all over the UK, not just Scotland.
08/23/2010TheApprenticeandTheJourneyman http://TheApprenticeandTheJourneyman.com
Joel...

It's amazing to see how these tools evolved as the needs of carpenters/woodworkers changed. The application of the rachet to the brace must have been a significant breakthrough at the time. As it applied to housing in the 1900's with plumbing and electrical wiring, man hours would be saved, houses could be built faster, and it could have a positive impact on keeping costs down.
Great stuff! more please.
Comments are closed.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
Subscribe
 Joel's Blog
 Video Roundup
 Classes & Events
 Built-It Blog
 Work Magazine
Recent Blogs:
MoMA's Lost History of Woodworking and Craft Classes - 08/09/2017
The Hardware Store Saw - The Long and Short of It - 08/02/2017
Dovetailing - Removing Waste - 07/26/2017
10th Anniversary Post!!!! - 07/19/2017
A Mid-Century Modern Bookcase - 07/12/2017
Teaching Dovetailing Skill - 06/21/2017
Father's Day - The Gift of Learning - 06/14/2017
Woodworking with Kids (Special Father's Day Edition) & Other Ways to Celebrate Father's Day & Posters - 06/07/2017
St. Monday and the Sharing Economy - 05/31/2017
Plane Spotting for the Deeply Curious - 05/24/2017
A Sense of Community - 05/17/2017
Amana Here We Come! - 05/10/2017
OMG - 16th Century Boxwood Miniatures PT2 - and other news - 05/03/2017
OMG - 16th Century Boxwood Miniatures PT1 - and other news - 04/26/2017
Spooncarving and News - 03/29/2017
How to Use a Marking or Mortise Gauge (reprise) - 03/22/2017
How to Learn to Carve in the Modern Age - The Online Approach - 03/15/2017
Mitre Planes and the Finest of Mouths: Why? What Evidence? What to Look for When Shopping for Mitre and Shoulder Planes - 03/08/2017
Context! - 03/01/2017
Mitre Planes and an Observation about Maker's Marks - 02/22/2017
Older Entries...