Graphical Construction Glossary >> Woodwork. >> Hand Tools >> Hand Brace

Hand Brace
A hand tool used for drilling holes.
Ratchet Mechanism
A device used to convert a full circular motion of a tool or machine, into smaller arcs of motion to give more power and or convenience. Consists of a ratchet wheel and pawl.
Ratchet Brace
A brace that includes a ratchet for ease of use in tight spaces, and also to use just the most powerful or easiest arc of turn.

an old brace

The carpenter's brace would have to be one of the greatest inventions ever. It is almost certainly the first use of a crankshaft, with the human arm being the crank arm.

Above is an old carpenter's hand made brace out of timber, with only a couple of metal fittings on it. This type of tool goes back to biblical times. A very simple chuck grips the shell type bit, and the handle at the end rotates.

Alongside it is the end of another old brace showing an improved handle, allowing a lot more downward pressure to the tool.

primative method of securing the bit

Here is a close up of the other brace. It is possible to see that the main frame of it is wrought iron, and this time the method gripping the tools bit is a simple square taper.

modern brace

A great advance in brace design came with the invention of the ratchet mechanism. Not only did it allow for working in confined spaces, but it allowed for the use of a series of short powerful strokes. You can notice that the radius of the swing, is greater in the more modern example, giving greater leverage that the ratchet allows.

Other refinements are a loose sleeve at the side handle and the top handle now rotates on ball bearings to cut down friction loss.

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"What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?
Adam Smith 1723-1790

"When we build, let us think that we build for ever."John Ruskin 1819-1900

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