Reply by David Kirtley

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Posted on Advise on buying an old bit brace

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3024 days

#1 posted 04-14-2011 09:36 PM

Other than the aesthetics of plastic pad and handle, most modern braces are as good as old ones. The 2 and 4 jaw chuck for square tanged bits. I suggest a 4 jaw if you plan on using just one with both square tanged bits and round shanked bits. The three jawed ones are good if you are using round and hex shanked bits but I rarely use it that way. I use an eggbeater drill for round shanked bits in small holes. Bigger holes up to an inch, I go for the auger. Bigger than that, I just bring out the power tools although they have some adjustable augers that will cut larger holes. I just don’t have one any more. They don’t really cut very cleanly anyway.

New ones I have seen from the range of $20-$100. I have one that I think I paid $15 for new but that was 20 years ago. I have never had a problem with it. I can’t say it is worth big $$ to get a fancy one. It’s a pretty low tech item.

The one real killer is getting a good set of bits for it. You can poke around and pick up one here and there and build up a set. I got lucky and picked up a boxed set of Irwins on the cheap. If you look, most are stamped on the tang with numbers from 2 to 16 which is the size in 16ths of an inch.

Also take a look at at the adaptors for socket wrenches and hex bits like these from Lee Valley:

Garret Wade has a brace with the socket drive as the main head and a chuck that snaps onto it.

I use my brace with the hex driver head all the time. A lot easier than messing with a cordless drill. Just have to be careful because these things generate a huge amount of torque.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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