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The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using

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Blog series by Brit updated 10-25-2011 04:00 AM 8 parts 124011 reads 306 comments total

Part 1: Part 1 - Restoring a Brace to 'Like New' Condition

08-15-2011 10:41 PM by Brit | 59 comments »

In a recent tool gloat, dakremer showed off three lovely braces he’d purchased and said “Now I just have to learn how to restore this kind of thing”. WayneC was first to congratulate him and then proceeded to drop me in it (only joking) by saying “Brit has lots of experience in restoring braces”. Later in the comments dakremer said he would love to restore at least one of them to like new condition. Always a sucker for punishment, I agreed to do a blog on restoring a hand brace and I’ve...

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Part 2: Part 2 – Cleaning and Restoring a Brace to ‘Like New’ Condition

08-24-2011 09:31 PM by Brit | 27 comments »

At the end of Part 1 I showed you a photo of the polished chuck. The outside was complete and the rust had been removed from the inside, but I still had to smooth the inside face to prevent it marking the jaws again. To do this, I cut a piece of dowel about 4” long, and marked approximately 1 1/6” in from one end using an awl. Then I drilled a 3mm hole using a hand drill. Well who’s got time to charge batteries these days? Using my dovetail saw, I cut a slot about 1/16” wide str...

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Part 3: Part 3 - Cleaning and Restoring a Brace to 'Like New' Condition

08-28-2011 12:18 AM by Brit | 17 comments »

At the end of Part 2, I left you with this photo showing how the ratchet end of the brace looked after de-rusting it and polishing it up. I still had the other end to do. So I went ahead and de-rusted the ‘Head’ end of the brace using the same process I covered in Parts 1 and 2. You don’t need to see that again. After the rust came off, I found confirmation that this was indeed a Skinner brace made in Sheffield, England. I was pretty sure it was, because I’ve got a 6” Skinner brace tha...

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Part 4: Cleaning and Restoring a Brace to ‘Like New’ Condition

09-02-2011 06:27 AM by Brit | 35 comments »

Well here we are at the finale of this brace restoration (DON’T YOU DARE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM YET!). At the end of Part 3 I wiped the Head and the Sweep handle over with methylated spirit to get rid of some of the grease and grime that had accumulated. Now its time to rub the wood down prior to re-finishing. I start with P120, then P180, P240, finishing with P320. I know some people would frown at this and say I’m destroying the patina that has built up over the years. Sometimes that’s a v...

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Part 5: Tuning a Brace.

09-06-2011 02:06 AM by Brit | 25 comments »

During the restoration of RUSTY in Parts 1 to 4, I showed how to fix a couple of common problems. The first was scoring on the outside of the jaws caused by a rough finish on the inside of the chuck. In Part 1, I filed the jaws smooth again. In Part 2, I showed how to smooth the inside diameter of the chuck. In Part 3, I showed how to fix excess play in the sweep handle. However there are a number of other problems that you might encounter on a secondhand brace. In this e...

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Part 6: Part 6 - What to Look for when Buying a Secondhand Brace and more

09-13-2011 08:53 AM by Brit | 39 comments »

I thought I’d mix it up a bit in this part of the blog and record a video where I: Discuss what to look for when you pick up a secondhand brace and consider buying it. Mention variations in design and size and why you would use one size over another. Address Racerglen’s question on restoring plated braces. Answer lysdexic’s question as to why the Yankee 2100 represents the pinnacle of brace development. YouTube only allows uploads up to 15 minutes in length (...

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Part 7: Part 7 - Sharpening an Auger Bit

10-03-2011 12:08 AM by Brit | 36 comments »

I know I said that sharpening an auger bit would be part 8 of this blog series, but I’ve taken the liberty of bringing it forward since the ‘Using a Hand Brace’ part isn’t finished yet. After spending precious time restoring a hand brace, you will soon realize that it isn’t much use when drilling a hole if the auger bit you are using isn’t sharp. A sharp auger bit is a pleasure to use and cuts very quickly. Auger bits have evolved through the years. Manufacturers ke...

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Part 8: Part 8 - Tips and Tricks on Using a Hand Brace

10-25-2011 04:00 AM by Brit | 68 comments »

Sorry it has taken me so long to post the final part to this blog series. Life just gets in the way sometimes. However, here it is and I hope you enjoy it. In this episode I wanted to look at using a hand brace and explore some of the so called hints and tips out there to see if they really are useful. I’ll also show you how to get in touch with your inner level. I’m assuming you’ve sharpened your auger bits like I showed you in the last episode. A sharp auger bit is paramount for drilling...

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