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