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 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

Split Nut Screwdriver  

11/05/2007

In the 19th century a standard set of 36 brace bits included a forked turnscrew bit - which was used for tightening split saw nuts. It was an important bit to the carpenter because with changes in weather it was (and is) not unusual for a handle to loosen. So having a standard bit to tighten it up made for good sense and much more satisfying sawing.

When we decided to make a dovetail saw with split nuts we knew that we also had to offer a driver for the screws, mostly not for routine maintenance (due to some design tricks we don't expect the nuts on our fully made saws to loosen.) but for the kits. However we didn't like the idea of a costly separate tool. So in keeping with the tradition that the saw nut driver is just one more bit in a set of bits we decided to make the driver part of a modern sets of tools that just about everyone has - a 1/4" hex driver. So here it is. One real bright side is that by just having a driver, we save a lot of money of handles and things so it will be cheap enough so it can be a low cost accessory not a major tool purchase (under 10 bucks). Since it makes sense to store it with all your other 1/4" drivers there is even a chance that you will be able to find it when needed. It will of course fit our saw nuts, I don't know about other makers but I suppose you can always thin the tip if it doesn't fit.
PS - The catalog picture is from an original 1908 Tyzak catalogue in my collection.
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Comments: 2
11/13/2007Chuck Nickerson 
So what other bits are we currently missing that were in that 36 bit brace set?
11/13/2007joel http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com
from Marples 1909 catalog:

9 shell bits 1/16" - 7/16"
sash bits 3/16", 1/4"
14 center bits 1/2" - 1 1/2"
Jennings auger bit 1/2"
flat, rose, Snail countersinks
dirll bit 1/4"
plain and forked (split nut) turnscrew bits
Taper bit
Square Rimer
half round Rimer.

Maples lists kits from 12 - 60 bits. the 36 bit kit is the smallest that has the turnscrews. the 1889 Sheffield trade list shows the same bits only it's rinder insteat of rimer. I don't know enough to understand the details I would call the bit a reamer.
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