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Boring Tools and their Makers

  The Making of a Ball Bearing Ratchet Bit Brace - Iron Age, 1899 1 of 5  



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.

The 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 shank.

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 head.

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 be eliminated.

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 drill.

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 it.

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 - Plantsville, Conn.

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.

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Bit Braces

Yankee Braces


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