The ordinary bit brace of
the carpenter consisted principally of a rod bent so as
to form a crank ...
provided with a rest at one end and a socket at the
other end for the reception of the tool, and it might be
a handle on the crank.
In these early tools little or no attempt was made
toward refining the implement. It was a rough device
intended for rough work, and both in its manufacture and
in its employment nothing was expected in the way of
accuracy or finish. If it would hold the tools and
possessed sufficient strength for the work in hand, no
more was expected of it.
If the rest end chanced to be in align with the tool end
so much the better, but it these two parts were not in
alignment it did not attract notice. If the tools held
in the brace wobbled more or less it might create
dissatisfaction on the part of its owner in certain
work, but that same owner did not expect any better tool
in early days.
sockets were generally square holes into which the bit
shank fitted more or less closely. In the first forms
the bit was held in the socket by means of a spring
detent which entered a groove cut in the side of the bit
In all of the first forms the tool was exceedingly rough
in design and finish, and it was not until comparatively
late years that any attempt was made at improving the
design, increasing the efficiency of the implement and
producing it in a workmanlike way, with all of the
benefits to be derived from modern shop practice and the
employment of tools especially adapted to the work.
The bit brace as we know it to-day is a tool which will
compare favorably with any and all others. While in its
general design - that is, the crank form - it has
followed the original type, so many changes have been
made through out that it is now capable of doing severe
duty and of doing it accurately.
The rest has been improved in design and method of
construction, the handle has advanced along the same
lines, while the chuck as a whole has changed in
material and workmanship.
A double ratchet has been provided, which permits the
operation of the drill in either direction. The brace
has even caught the ball bearing fever and we now find
them commonly equipped with a ball bearing under the
head or rest, which provides for the easy operation of
the brace, no matter what weight may be brought on the
Again, and more essential, the ball bearing has found
place in the chuck, and in some forms of braces it has
been there placed in order that the friction due to the
turning of the chuck both in grasping and loosening may
This feature is a most valuable one, and one that will
be appreciated by any user of an ordinary brace who has
attempted to grip firmly a round rod such as a twist
By the introduction of a ball bearing full power is
applied directly to the gripping jaws even as by the use
of the ball bearing in the head the full power of the
arm is utilized in turning the crank in either
direction, friction being done away with.
While as stated the brace even of to-day is composed
only of a bent rod and a tool carrying chuck, we doubt
if anyone not familiar with the business and intimately
acquainted with its various processes has any
appreciation whatever of the amount of work expended in
its manufacture or of the patience and skill which have
been exhibited in the design of special tools for making
Through the kind courtesy of the Peck, Stow & Wilcox
Company of 27 Murray Street, New York, a representative
of The Iron Age was permitted to visit one of their
extensive works at Plantsville, Conn, and to there
examine the most interesting methods connected with the
manufacture of the brace.
Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co. Factory -
It will be noticed as we proceed with the description
that all of the methods and most of the appliances are
noticeable for their simplicity. The aim has been
throughout to produce the work of every part rapidly and
with the utmost accuracy. Existing trade conditions and
competition have made necessary the former, while the
inflexible rule of interchangeability of parts has
accounted for the latter.
Some of the work seemingly of great difficulty has been
overcome by most ingenious devices. All of the parts are
made by the thousand, sent in bulk to the assembling
room, where the tools are put together, two or three
minutes being sufficient for the experts in this
department to bring all the parts together and finish
the tool ready for shipping.