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Spofford style bit brace-some questions, pros and cons?

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Forum topic by Kenny posted 03-04-2012 04:34 PM 5767 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kenny

260 posts in 1909 days


03-04-2012 04:34 PM

Having recently purchased a set of auger bits, I am now in need of a quality bit brace and would like to hear some opinions on Spofford style braces.

I am not overly familiar with these braces, or braces in general, so I feel asking for some info would be a good idea. Although I do like the simplicity of the Spofford style brace, and feel it would be very durable with such a simple mechanism, I really don’t know if my thoughts are even accurate, as I’ve not used a brace before (save for when I was very young, and I don’t have much memory of it)

What I am looking for is any general info, or pros and cons about these braces. Would I be better off with a more common “ratcheting style” brace with a chuck, or one that simply uses a chuck?

Really, any suggestions from those more familiar with braces, and bits even, would be appreciated.

Thanks

-- Kenny


9 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4449 posts in 3421 days


#1 posted 03-04-2012 04:50 PM

The Spofford is cool, but the tried and true Stanley ratchet brace will be a lot easier to use over the long haul.
Just my opinion. I’d love to have a nifty Spofford, but I probably wouldn’t use it much.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1909 days


#2 posted 03-04-2012 04:58 PM

Bill,

Why do you say a Stanley would be easier?

I’m sorry for my ignorance on the subject, but bit braces and auger bits are a whole new world to me.

-- Kenny

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Kenny

260 posts in 1909 days


#3 posted 03-08-2012 07:49 AM

Any other thoughts on this?

-- Kenny

View Brit's profile

Brit

6711 posts in 2303 days


#4 posted 03-08-2012 08:46 AM

Hi Kenny. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using a Spofford brace if you can find a good one that isn’t to badly rusted and the clamping mechanism works well and does not come loose when drilling. I have a lot of ratcheting braces for no other reason than they are more common. I have different sweep sizes so I can use the appropriate size for the task at hand. The sweep is the diameter of the circle that the sweep handle moves through when you are drilling. The larger the sweep handle, the more torque you have at your disposal for drilling larger holes. Braces were generally made in 6”, 8”, 10”, 12” and sometimes 14” sweep sizes. The 6” and 8” sweep sizes are great for drilling small holes and driving screws. The most common size of brace is the 10” sweep which is a good all-rounder. If you are going to be drilling a lot of big holes over 3/4” in diameter, then I’d recommend you get a 12” sweep brace.

If you are new to braces, you might like to check out a blog series I did called the Humble Hand Brace. The first four parts were about restoring an old hand brace and there are posts on sharpening auger bits, what to look for when buying a brace and hints and tips on using one.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1909 days


#5 posted 03-08-2012 09:01 AM

Thanks a ton Brit! Now that there is a must read!

-- Kenny

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4151 posts in 2412 days


#6 posted 03-08-2012 12:28 PM

Brit is our resident brace expert (not to mention the hand saw restoration king). I have both the Spofford style and the ratchet style, and definitely like the feel and the simplicity of the Spofford. My Spoffords aren’t the prettiest, but they work well and you never have the problems of the chucks getting out of wack. Chances are you’ll find some ratchets for pretty cheap at a garage sale or antique store, but you’ll have to hunt around for a Spofford.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View lwllms's profile

lwllms

555 posts in 2742 days


#7 posted 03-08-2012 02:16 PM

Kenny,

Where the Spofford really shines is working with smaller bits or things that require more control like counter sinking or driving screws. But “Spofford” is just the chuck, you want the rest of the brace to be as well suited to this work as the chuck. Look for a Fray brace or one from Stanley after they acquired the John S Fray company. I prefer the 7” brace for my work but there’s not a lot of difference between the 7” and 8”. Needless to say, I don’t drill big holes with these.

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1909 days


#8 posted 03-08-2012 04:44 PM

lwllms,

I had only ever seen John S. Fray Co. braces with the Spofford type chuck, I had not known of them being made by anyone else. Nor was I aware Stanley had acquired them (Damn shame in my eyes, Stanley makes little of use today, exception being to non-tool items).

Thanks for the tips, much appreciated.

Brit, thank you for the link and the swing recommendations.
I was honestly ignorant to the differences in swing until just a few days ago, and while I understand the physics behind the longer/shorter swing, I was unaware of what swing would work best with what size bit. It’s pretty obvious that a 6” swing will be murder on the arms with a 1” auger bit, but other than that, I would have been pretty much guessing.

I do have a pretty nice 2-speed Goodell-Pratt no.246 hand-crank drill on it’s way to me right now, so I’ll likely just use that for most smaller drilling tasks with regular twist bits.

As a side note, if anyone knows much about the hand-crank drills, how well did I do to pick up the above mentioned unit for $12? It can be seen here in it’s original Ebay post.
I’ve been wanting one for some time after my grandfather’s disappeared from his shop (my uncle and cousins like to “borrow” stuff). And when I saw this 2-speed, I couldn’t resist.

Thanks very much for all the advise, it’s very much appreciated.

-- Kenny

View Brit's profile

Brit

6711 posts in 2303 days


#9 posted 03-08-2012 07:19 PM

I’d say you did well Kenny. That’s a nice two speed breast drill.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

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