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Old-school hand tools always make us smile, and not just because they have a lot of history behind them — they do — or because they’re fun to use — they are — but because often they can help you out when modern technology leaves you a bit stumped. Take for example this hand drill or “brace”, as they’re sometimes known. Though old, it’ll still come in handy when you need to drill a prefect hole slowly.

The hand drill has been around since before electricity and can still hold its own. It’s simple — position the bit, hold it steady, and turn the crank. Woodcrafters have been doing it for years and probably won’t stop anytime soon. The hand drill offers the advantage of letting you go as slow as you’d like, which can be difficult with modern power drills.

The good news: You can find these pretty easily on the Net. A hand drill like this one runs around $30 and, if taken care of properly, will outlast you.

Iron Hand Drill [Garrett Wade]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


9 Responses to Drilling The Old-Fashioned Way — Slowly

  1. Peter says:

    That is a hand drill.

    A brace is a crank-like handle with a knob on one end, a handle on the cranky part, and a clamp to hold bits on the end opposite the knob.

    Garrett wade sells both – at premium prices, like almost everything else they sell.

    I’m using a brace from a relatives estate. The age of the brace is unknown, but it is at least 80 years old, I’ve only had it for about 10 years.

  2. Gary says:

    Peter is right. I’ll also add that if you want a brace or a drill, buy vintage. The ones made now or even 20 years go don’t come close to the quality and robustness you’ll find in tools of this type made prior to WWII.

    Provided you aren’t looking for collector grade tools, they can be found for cheap – $10 on the bay including shipping if you look.

  3. Literalist Irony says:

    “Though old, it’ll still come in handy when you need to drill a prefect hole slowly.”

    See, I told you. Noone is prefect. 😉

  4. BadBob says:

    I’ve had a hand drill for many years. If I only need one hole or want to drill a couple of holes to hang something this is my tool of choice. I don’t have to charge it or plug it in and it will not wake the neighbors baby or scare the cat witless.

    I also own an old Stanley brace that will bore big holes better than any of my electric drills. Except for my big drill press. I got it at a yard sale with a bunch of other old tools for $5.

  5. crosstie says:

    “Though old, it’ll still come in handy when you need to drill a prefect hole slowly.”

    or quietly, like when the kids are asleep but the closet organizer still needs to be installed tonight.

  6. Fred says:

    This was also known as an “eggbeater style drill”. Mine is a Millers Falls #5A(they used to compete with Stanley) and came with a set of 2-flute bits that were stored in the handle (you unscrewed the end knob.)
    There were also style that were called breast drills because they were a bit heftier and they had a curved bracing pad at the end that you place against your shoulder or breast to apply pressure to the bit.

    Braces came in all manner of styles and different sweeps. The more modern ones started using ball bearings in the pressure pad and had a forward/reverse ratcheting mechanism. These were primarily used with auger bits (Stanley Russell Jennings style were good ones – but Irwin, Greenlee, Millers Falls and others made them. There were also screwdriver (and reamer) bits available. With the right screwdriver bit, these are still my first choice ( I still own a Stanley 911 – 8 inch sweep model and a Stanley 923 10 inch sweep model) for backing out stubborn wood screws – as they provide great torque and plenty of pressure to prevent the bit form jumping out of the screw slot. Braces have 2 jaw chucks that connect (tightened around) to a tapered square tang on the bit. Braces also came in a variety for boring in corners or between studs with the crank set at 45 degrees to the chuck and the drive shaft running through a gearbox. My corner brace was made by Millers Falls – their No. 502.

  7. mike says:

    I have a hand powered nail gun…

  8. Brau says:

    Good one, Mike. 🙂

  9. Teacher says:

    Sears also sells a hand drill and breast drill now. It is in the 08-09 tool catalog.

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