wooden brace

I’m kind of in-between things these days. the museum opens this weekend, so lots of cleaning & sharpening in my shop right now. Then I will get back to some projects. One thing I hope to work on soon are some tools; I have some plane-making to resume, and I want to make a brace & bit for my shop. I dug out some of the braces I made years ago for review.  Here’s two of the same general design, based on an oldie at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth.  I made mine out of maple; “pads” are hickory I think. Heads are ash, it looks like. These tools have seen regular use for about 10 years or more.

brace & bit/wimble/piercer


The head is made in two pieces; I think I made this up. The original when I saw it was in a case…I never handled it. So I turned a pin with a head, & that is fitted through a hole in the top end of the brace. Then the head itself is bored through as well, and the tenon end of the pin fits through that & is wedged.

head for brace


top view of brace's head


The bits are probably early 20th-century…and Mark Atchison fits them into pads I make. The pad spreads like a clothes pin, you squeeze the end of it to insert it into the brace. Mark grinds the tapered tangs into flat, tapered tangs. then bores holes for them, & burns them in…one got fitted with an iron ferrule, (first photo here) that might be after the fact; once it started to get beat up.

pad & bit


Here’s the old one I photographed; come to think of it, I had some measurements, so we must have had it out of the case years ago. then this photo was just maybe 5 years ago…that’s when I shot it through the case. So maybe I didn’t make up the way the head fits…

wimble & bit; probably 17th c; New England


16 thoughts on “wooden brace

    • There are tools scattered throughout most of the posts. there is a button on the side of the blog, where you can select catagories. It will filter the entries & show you anytime I tagged something as “tools and materials” so that would be the best way to find all the tools I have posted. there’s a year & a half’s worth…

    • The repros I have made of this brace follow the same dimensions as the original. that’s what I will do again. The more you increase the sweep, the greater the chance of the tool splitting itself apart. I will show some others with slightly greater sweep…

    • I’ll dig out the dimensions when I get a chance. there are nice scaled drawings of braces & other tools in the book about the Mary Rose. Title is “Before the Mast: Life & Death on the Mary Rose” (it’s something real close to that title…)

      • Thanks. I’ve been trying to locate the book you mentioned but with little luck. Did notice the ruler in one of the photos, that should help.

        • Wow. I didn’t mean to send folks on a wild goose chase, re: the Mary Rose book, Before the Mast: Life & Death Aboard the Mary Rose. I still think of it as a new book, but it was 2005, and now seems out of print, thus out of reach for mortal man. Cheapest I saw today on the web was $125 or so. I really like the book, and would probably pay that if I had to; but if someone wants it just for tools, then that’s pretty steep for one chapter of a book.

          I guess the lesson, once again, is when you come across these books that pertain to these narrow fields, get ’em when you can. once they’re out of print, they go pretty high.

  1. I love the brace Peter. Is that a shell bit you are using? Do you know what kind of bit is in the original brace? It looks almost like a point from that angle.


  2. hey, Peter I know that it has been a few years since you posted this, but can you give some more information about the dimensions of this brace. I would like to make one like or close to it. It looks like a good brace for installing roof clapboards thanks

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