Bit braces, or Braces.....or whatchmacallits

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Forum topic by Von posted 08-30-2012 12:30 PM 2610 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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238 posts in 2175 days

08-30-2012 12:30 PM

My earliest memories of doin something with wood go back to when I was not much taller than the hand braces my dad let me “play” with while he puttered around the basement making stuff for mom. Dad would be using his electric drill… but I had this neat gizmo that didn’t need power to work. As the years went by, the tools my dad had disappeared, including that awesome bit brace.

Now I have my own shop. And I have been aching to find a brace & bit for some of my projects. Yea, an electric drill can punch a hole. But there’s something about a hand tool that… well… you know. Sometime nothing else quit fits the bill. I ahve actually been looking for a brace for almost a decade. The knock-off stuff these days…. I just can’t justify their prices. And they look cheap. I wanted the real deal. The kind I had my mitts on as a kid.

So last weekend I come to a flee market. An older gentleman is peddling off his old tools on this large 22’ flatbed trailer. And scattered amongs the tools: BRACES!!!! omg 4 of em, and they all work, AND they have matched bits!! The guy lets me have them at a buck each. 0.0 I would later make 3 or 4 more trips to his trailer for other treasures… but I was stoked. I finally had my braces & bits. squeeeeee!

Turns out these things are… how do you say it? ....antiques? ...heirlooms? (well they will be for my kids, for sure)

first shot is a Miller Falls 1710 from 1935 if this had the M/S stamp it would be as new as 1981, but the M/S is missing, hence the earlier date. even if it was the ‘81 vers. I wouldn’t care. It’s gettin put to work anyway!

Next shot is a Mohawk from about the same timeframe

Third shot is a Lakeside, again from the 30’s. can’t seem to find any real info on this company or brace beyond a vague reference.

The last 2 shots are something special: a Vaughan & Bushnell from as early as 1882, to as new as 1921. In 1922 Vaughan bought out Bushnell and the logo and company changed names, location, and tool lineup. Vaughan dropped production of a fair number of tools, this brace was one such product. Research on the logo indicates that this could very well be a pre 1915 model. Some think that the screws in the jaws date it to 1900-1914. Some folks say that pins were used in the heads from the late 1800’s to about 1905. However, some models as old as the late 1880s have been found with screws, not pins. (a couple of museums claim they have such tools in their collections) At any rate, this is the oldest tool, item, whatever—that I own now.

  • all of these are ratchet-type drills. just like the ratchet on a socket wrench. You can lock the spinner in a left, right, or full crank. the ratchet selectors on all 4 are in working condition and do not slip when engaged. Imagine if these things could talk? Just something quite humbling to use these, knowing they have served their duty for so long.

2 replies so far

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2645 days

#1 posted 08-30-2012 03:57 PM

I believe Lakeside was a store brand for Montgomery Ward. I bought a Lakeside saw last year that has beautiful etching on the sawplate.

I don’t believe the etching actually says Montgomery Ward, but it lists four of the six cities that were Montgomery Ward’s main distribution centers in the 1930s (in addition to Chicago, which was company headquarters).

Not proof that it is Montgomery Ward’s brand, but it tends to confirm what I’ve heard elsewhere.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View Von's profile


238 posts in 2175 days

#2 posted 08-30-2012 06:11 PM

cool, if they did indeed supply M.W. that would likely explain why the info is hard to find. I need to find myself a decent bufing wheel/compound and dress off the grime and rust…. I think the brace has a model number on it somewhere…and I need to clean it up a smidge before I put it to work anyway. I know… some folks are gaga over “collectible patinas” but when I see rust on a tool I just cringe.

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