Having finished the rehab of the 10” Skinner brace, and practicing my restoration techniques on an 8” brace, it was time to move on to restoring my “new” 6” Skinner beauty. Rather than bore you with repetitive details that you can read elsewhere, “then I removed rust by….”, I’ll focus on the before/after eye candy. I’ll also note any gotchas, or obstacles that were out of the norm. Starting with a diamond in the roughFirst things first. Andy, whose techniques I followed for this restora...
Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #6: Rehabbing an English Brace—Before and after eye candy for a 10” Skinner hand drill
Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. Soon after finishing my restoration of “Dusty” an 8” Stanley brace on Andy’s superb “Humble Hand Brace” series came early to my doorstep. My buddy Andy was kind enough to hook me up with two Skinner braces (10” and 6”). He was tireless in his pursuit, even stopping at a Dutch rest stop to bid on Ebay UK for me while driving home from a consulting gig. The 10” Skinner arrived in decent shape so I chose to rehab it rather than restore it. I named ...
Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #5: Brace yourself: the nuanced differences between restoration and rehabbing
Andy, a prolific contributor to Lumberjocks.com, posted a comprehensive blog series about hand braces. He started his superb tutorial by restoring a hand drill. And his subject was an 8” Skinner brace that he dubbed “Rusty”. A few things immediately piqued my interest: —To my eye, the chuck is beautiful, sporting the lines and curves of a 1960s racecar —I liked the fact that Andy chose to restore the tool versus simply rehabbing it for use. Restoration requires addi...
The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using #8: Part 8 - Tips and Tricks on Using a Hand Brace
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...
The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using #7: Part 7 - Sharpening an Auger Bit
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...
The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using #6: Part 6 - What to Look for when Buying a Secondhand Brace and more
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 (...
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...
The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using #4: Cleaning and Restoring a Brace to ‘Like New’ Condition
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...
The Humble Hand Brace - A Beginner's Guide to Restoring, Buying and Using #2: Part 2 – Cleaning and Restoring a Brace to ‘Like New’ Condition
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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