Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #7: Restoring a Skinner 6” Brace

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Blog entry by Brad posted 01-30-2012 05:33 AM 4444 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Rehabbing an English Brace—Before and after eye candy for a 10” Skinner hand drill Part 7 of Vintage Tool Rehab Projects series Part 8: "Rehabistoring" of a Goodell Pratt Eggbeater Drill »

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 rough
First things first. Andy, whose techniques I followed for this restoration, names his subjects. Here’s what I had to work with:

…and a closer look:

A name….hmmm. There’s already a Rusty…and a Dusty…ah, let’s go with Musty.

Rust removal
Musty clearly needs a makeover. And she’s decided to go with my “The Works” package, down to polished, mirrored metal. As a tool stylist, my magic begins by peeling away unsightly rust (blessed be for Evaporust). Here are some detail shots of before/after rust removal.

There. That’s a good start for Musty’s new look. Yikes. Look at what I had to work with on the chuck:

The makeover
The jaws were in decent shape, with hardly any acne scars. The chuck however, shows deep scarring. Too many late-night drinking parties in Musty’s past. But it’s amazing what a little filing and sanding can do to wash those memories away. Well, it wasn’t a “little” but it did have the desired effect.

After sanding the chuck through 150, 220,320, 400, 600 grits, I walked it over to the bench grinder to give it a good polish with white rouge. That’s the tool equivalent to tooth whitening.

Now that Musty is outfitted with a winning smile, let’s see what I can do for her wobbly handle. I don’t have to tell you how important a nice sway here, or a jiggle there, is to sex appeal.

Musty had a small, 1/16” gap between the retaining rings and her center handle. That was just enough to create some play in use. I cut that distance in half and now the handle sashays in rotary fashion in a very pleasing way. Pleasing to the eye. Pleasing to the hand.

For this step, I used the jig Andy suggests to hammer a tighter fit. But the 4” x 4” wood I used, probably Douglas fir, wasn’t up to the task. The top portion kept breaking apart on me. Finally, I used a straight piece of wood as sort of a “chisel” and pounded one side of the retaining ring, then the other, to sneak up on the desired 1/32” gap. That worked ok, but I hesitate to suggest that method to you. Perhaps making the jig out of hardwood (as Andy did) able to withstand hard taps would be a better solution.

Let’s move on to Musty’s weather-beaten and pitted body.

The only thing I did differently during this restoration than on Dusty was to avoid the use of rounded and aggressive files. This reduced the amount of sanding, and time, I spent on this step.

I got some cheap sandpaper for Christmas. It kept breaking on me as I used thin strips to “belt-sand” the surfaces. So I broke down and spent the extra money on good sandpaper. Big improvement.

Note that there were some areas—the top of the chuck housing area, the ratchet assembly and underside of the top handle seating—that were very difficult to work. Hence, while I gave sanding some of these areas the college try, I kept my work here to a minimum. I would rather have an imperfect surface than one that was highly polished with looser tolerances (talking about the ratchet surfaces) that negatively affected the tool’s performance.

The reveal
[cue music…curtain moves as Musty finds her way out from behind it…]

And here’s Musty! [applause, crowd oohs and aahs]

…[camera zooms in for a closer look]

On a date
Now that Musty had a new look, it was time for her to get back into the game. On her first date, she chucked up a small auger bit and drilled a hole. On her second date, she accessorized with a quick-change ¼” drive changer to drive a screw.

A new home
Feeling better about herself than she has in years, Musty moved to a new home.

One of her neighbors is a 10” Skinner brace named Ken. Musty thinks he’s “tasty” in a Marlborough-Man sort of way. I think they make a cute couple.

What’s in store for Musty?
Musty’s 6” sweep makes for a fast-moving rotation. That’s ideal for drilling small holes, oh, say less than 3/8”, and perfect for driving screws. So her quick-change drive-bit accessory will be ever by her side.

As for Ken, well, Musty is taking things slow.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

9 comments so far

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2794 days

#1 posted 01-30-2012 05:51 AM

Ooops. Forgot to include the “after” detail shots.

...and Musty’s quick-change bit accessory:

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 2747 days

#2 posted 01-30-2012 06:58 AM

Me likey. I had a “wow moment” at the 600 grit chuck shot.

View ronniebo's profile


128 posts in 2719 days

#3 posted 01-30-2012 07:01 AM


View Brit's profile


7396 posts in 2897 days

#4 posted 01-30-2012 10:04 AM

Simply stupendous! I feel like a parent on graduation day. I never thought you’d get that chuck to look as good as you did, but I guess files and sandpaper are the anti-aging cream of the tool restoration make-up bag.

Between the two of us, we’re fast running out of ’?usties’. Well maybe there’s still a ’crusty’ out there somewhere. I just hope you get to it before I do. LOL.

Brad, you have more than met the challenge I set you. Now I just have to meet yours. Yikes!

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Don W's profile

Don W

18791 posts in 2622 days

#5 posted 01-30-2012 09:32 PM

nice. I love these before and after shots.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2794 days

#6 posted 02-01-2012 11:16 PM

Andy, I was amazed how the draw filling + sanding + polishing with white rouge on a buffing wheel made the metal pop. This is my last brace restore though I’m hunting for a decent 12” brace to add to my 6”, 8” and 10” pieces.

I picked up a “jewelers” (read small as in about 10” long) Goodell Pratt eggbeater that I’m currently rehabistoring (that’s part rehab, part restoration). Stay tuned.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Brit's profile


7396 posts in 2897 days

#7 posted 02-02-2012 02:57 AM

Brad it is definitely worth getting a 12” sweep brace. It makes so much difference when you’re drilling anything over 3/4”.

Is your jewellers saw like this one Brad? I bought this some time ago, but I haven’t found any of the dimpled drill bits for it yet. To be honest, I forgot all about it. It is a sweet little drill though so I’ll be watching to see what you do with yours.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2794 days

#8 posted 02-05-2012 05:50 PM

That is one sweet vintage eggbeater. It has a 19th century look to it. My Goodell Pratt appears to be from the 1920s/1930s I think. I’m having trouble finding much on the Internet about Goodell Pratt.

The new paint on the main gear crank is drying. I put on a coat on one side, let it dry over night, then apply a light coat on the other side and let it dry over night—to prevent drips. I’ve put three coats to cover everything and want it to dry fast before reassembling it. Denver got pasted by snow so my shop’s been pretty cold the last few days. Thus slowing the drying process. I suppose I could bring it inside, but you know how the SWMBOs of the world take to the smell of drying paint in the homestead :)

That five-foot pile of snow is the result of my shoveling the driveway.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Brit's profile


7396 posts in 2897 days

#9 posted 02-05-2012 06:53 PM

We were meant to get snow last night, but so far we’ve escaped it. That’s a nice pile of the white stuff you built there Brad.

My wife has finally put a stop to saw handles hanging from the kitchen cabinet to dry. She says it gives her a headache, so my finishes are also taking twice as long to dry. Such is life.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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