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Auger Bit Braces: second hand prices

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Andy Kev.

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I just spotted this on the American Jim Bode Tools website:

https://www.jimbodetools.com/collection ... race-91951

$150 for an 8" sweep brace (albeit one of the best models). I got a 10" one a few years ago from the same dealer for well under half that price.

It is of course a matter of supply and demand. The supply, while large, is finite as no braces seem to be made these days to the old degree of solidity and quality. However, the fact that people are clearly prepared to pay the prices led me to think that it might become worthwhile for a modern manufacturer to produce a brace to the old standards with perhaps even finer tolerances.

I can't imagine them becoming mass market tools again but I could see a niche manufacturer e.g. Clifton, Lee-Neilsen or Veritas making one which would not be cheap but which would find a market amongst hand tool users.

Any views?
 

Andy Kev.

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colinc":1o883gdv said:
You mean like this? https://www.workshopheaven.com/deluxe-h ... drill.html and https://www.workshopheaven.com/ultimate ... 3-jaw.html

I bought a Stanley brace in perfect condition along with a set of twelve bits in a canvas roll for £25 recently. I already had a brace and bits, but I couldn’t resist.
I've seen that model advertised on various websites but have never had it in my hand. Somebody who had experience of one said to me that he thought the quality was OK but not up to the solidity of the old ones. (The main thing of course is whether or not it does the job.) Are those the ones that are made in France?
 

Droogs

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Unbelievable that price, I have an 8, 10 & a 12" and combined they didn't cost me more than £30


Just realised, that is a £1 a swing inch :p as it should be
 

Cheshirechappie

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Part of the problem is availability of bits. There are plenty of second hand ones of all types, but putting together a useful range of sizes (note - not a "set") can involve buying several job lots and editing out the duplicates and scrappers (and what do you do with those?).

I think someone started making square taper shank Jennings pattern bits after Clico folded (though only in a limited range of sizes), but centre bits, screwdriver bits, countersink bits and the even rarer spoon bits are not available new so far as I know. I suspect that puts some people off, which is a shame - a couple of braces of different sweeps and a few bits of different types makes for a very useful addition to any hand tool kit, or even to a hybrid hand and power set-up. Not everyday tools, but often the only real answer to many problems unless you have a pillar drill and a range of (often expensive) power bits to hand.

I think we're in a sort of transition period, during which supplies of good vintage tools will start to tail off, and small manufacturers will start to fill the gaps with new offerings. The plane, saw and chisel makers are already established along with makers of specialist and marking tools, but there are still a few gaps. Hand drilling tools being one such gap. New Ultimatum braces, anyone?
 

AJB Temple

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^ Nailed it. Bits are rare, a pain to sharpen, and if you get modern Indian ones they are made of poor quality metal.
 

Andy Kev.

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Cheshirechappie":10psiif8 said:
Part of the problem is availability of bits. There are plenty of second hand ones of all types, but putting together a useful range of sizes (note - not a "set") can involve buying several job lots and editing out the duplicates and scrappers (and what do you do with those?).

I think someone started making square taper shank Jennings pattern bits after Clico folded (though only in a limited range of sizes), but centre bits, screwdriver bits, countersink bits and the even rarer spoon bits are not available new so far as I know. I suspect that puts some people off, which is a shame - a couple of braces of different sweeps and a few bits of different types makes for a very useful addition to any hand tool kit, or even to a hybrid hand and power set-up. Not everyday tools, but often the only real answer to many problems unless you have a pillar drill and a range of (often expensive) power bits to hand.

I think we're in a sort of transition period, during which supplies of good vintage tools will start to tail off, and small manufacturers will start to fill the gaps with new offerings. The plane, saw and chisel makers are already established along with makers of specialist and marking tools, but there are still a few gaps. Hand drilling tools being one such gap. New Ultimatum braces, anyone?
It looks like you may have not heard of these bits made by Fisch:

https://www.fine-tools.com/auger-bit-co ... shaft.html

I have bought a couple (as Clico ones are ever harder to find) and the quality of manufacture is outstanding. It would be great if they made some centre bits as well but I suspect that there is little demand for them.
 

AndyT

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On the positive side, there are still decent 'new old stock' bits around, and the supply of good old ones hasn't dried up yet.

I bought a nice set of Russell Jennings bits on eBay a few months ago. 14 bits, 3/16" to 1", in the original three compartment box. Not quite complete but it was when I swapped in a few of the small sizes. Mostly unused. £40 delivered, which didn't seem outrageous to me, even if it brings my average price paid per bit up somewhat higher than before.
 

AndyT

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Interesting to see those Fisch bits - I guess the prices reflect the difficulty of making them.

As your opening post made clear Andy, there's a real challenge for any current manufacturer to compete with good old tools.

I guess the transition needs old supplies to have dried up plus strong demand from new, impatient hobbyists who aren't reluctant to spend serious cash on equipment.
 

Andy Kev.

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AndyT":2q90b84l said:
Interesting to see those Fisch bits - I guess the prices reflect the difficulty of making them.

As your opening post made clear Andy, there's a real challenge for any current manufacturer to compete with good old tools.

I guess the transition needs old supplies to have dried up plus strong demand from new, impatient hobbyists who aren't reluctant to spend serious cash on equipment.
I think that if someone were to make a modern one, it would have to offer some improvements on the classics while having their solidity and build quality e.g. I reckon it should come with a three and two jaw chuck and it should have a chuck key so that you can properly tighten it up. (Was there not a British brace that used to have a chuck key or was that on an eggbeater?)

Talking of eggbeater hand drills, Bridge City Toolworks did a hand drill (at an outrageous price) but apparently they addressed the meshing of the gear teeth so that its performance was optimal. If e.g. Veritas could do one of those - with chuck key! - and at Veritas as opposed to Bridge City prices, I would probably be up for one.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Andy Kev.":1ywdohkf said:
Cheshirechappie":1ywdohkf said:
Part of the problem is availability of bits. There are plenty of second hand ones of all types, but putting together a useful range of sizes (note - not a "set") can involve buying several job lots and editing out the duplicates and scrappers (and what do you do with those?).

I think someone started making square taper shank Jennings pattern bits after Clico folded (though only in a limited range of sizes), but centre bits, screwdriver bits, countersink bits and the even rarer spoon bits are not available new so far as I know. I suspect that puts some people off, which is a shame - a couple of braces of different sweeps and a few bits of different types makes for a very useful addition to any hand tool kit, or even to a hybrid hand and power set-up. Not everyday tools, but often the only real answer to many problems unless you have a pillar drill and a range of (often expensive) power bits to hand.

I think we're in a sort of transition period, during which supplies of good vintage tools will start to tail off, and small manufacturers will start to fill the gaps with new offerings. The plane, saw and chisel makers are already established along with makers of specialist and marking tools, but there are still a few gaps. Hand drilling tools being one such gap. New Ultimatum braces, anyone?
It looks like you may have not heard of these bits made by Fisch:

https://www.fine-tools.com/auger-bit-co ... shaft.html

I have bought a couple (as Clico ones are ever harder to find) and the quality of manufacture is outstanding. It would be great if they made some centre bits as well but I suspect that there is little demand for them.
The Fisch bits were the ones I was thinking of when I said somebody started making them after Clico folded - just couldn't think of the name! I suspect they may have been made at the behest of Joel Moskovic from Tools for Working Wood in the USA - he seems to have instigated a few new versions of older tools, including Ray Iles' mortice chisels.

https://toolsforworkingwood.com/store/item/MS-JB.XX

The problem with the Fisch bits (apart from price) is availability - nobody in the UK stocks them, as far as I'm aware, and not many people worldwide. Maybe that'll change, but as Andy pointed out, there are still a lot of vintage bits about. On the other hand, a good thing about the Fisch bits is that they have a fine leadscrew, which is something hard to track down among vintage bits; most seem to have coarse pitch screws. Not a problem on smaller sizes, but above about 1/2" in hardwoods, the finer pitch screw really is a big help.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Andy Kev.":3f565854 said:
AndyT":3f565854 said:
Interesting to see those Fisch bits - I guess the prices reflect the difficulty of making them.

As your opening post made clear Andy, there's a real challenge for any current manufacturer to compete with good old tools.

I guess the transition needs old supplies to have dried up plus strong demand from new, impatient hobbyists who aren't reluctant to spend serious cash on equipment.
I think that if someone were to make a modern one, it would have to offer some improvements on the classics while having their solidity and build quality e.g. I reckon it should come with a three and two jaw chuck and it should have a chuck key so that you can properly tighten it up. (Was there not a British brace that used to have a chuck key or was that on an eggbeater?)

Talking of eggbeater hand drills, Bridge City Toolworks did a hand drill (at an outrageous price) but apparently they addressed the meshing of the gear teeth so that its performance was optimal. If e.g. Veritas could do one of those - with chuck key! - and at Veritas as opposed to Bridge City prices, I would probably be up for one.
For eggbeaters, I know of two makers who supplied drills with keyed chucks - Footprint and Marples. I agree about the keyed chucks - I've used both keyed and keyless hand-drills, and won't willingly touch a keyless for anything larger than about 3/32" holes! The grip of a keyed chuck is FAR superior!
 

D_W

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They don't go for that on average over here. Chris Schwarz and some other enthusiasts (who are more enthusiast than woodworker) gushed about them for a while "these are the best ever made!!!!" and they do go for more than other braces here on average, but a fraction of that on the ground. Perhaps a third or half.

Usable bit braces with surface rust complete and working may be something more like $10 here - can't remember the name of the brace with a samson chuck (sorry, not a collector), but braces like that are at just as good.

Bode is hit or miss, but he has a huge buyer list and seems to sell everything -I think there are lots of less savvy collectors who figure he prices things fair and they see something they want and buy it.

He's generally about double the going rate on vintage bit sets, too, but someone buys them.

He's got such a good buyer list that when I sell stuff on ebay, he's often the only person who buys the stuff and then he puts it on his website for another 35% and sells it right away. Good for him. I could be sour about that, but he's the only buyer, so can't be that sour!!
 

D_W

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I just checked ebay here and in the last 3 months, it looks like a more typical US price for a brace like that would be $65 or so. There are a few high priced sales, but they appear to be odd sizes or perfect shape (which that one is far from).

More typical off name ratcheting braces or less desirable names are $5-$20. The north brothers brace is probably pretty high up on the US tool list of bought by white collar blog readers and never used after finding out that it makes you tired to use one.
 

D_W

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(lump bedrock planes in with yankee braces - after hearing bloggers who don't know that well how to use planes go on and on with their masterful features, better stability, etc, most people are pretty surprised to hear that stanley charged about 10% more for them and they didn't sell that well at that -it took an amateur market to really make people believe in the marketing claims).
 

thetyreman

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workshop heaven are selling some decent sets some of them pretty much NOS russel jennings but they aren't cheap, e.g:

https://www.workshopheaven.com/ag051.html

I'm probably going to buy a set soon and I'll never need another set of them again, it's one of those 'once in a lifetime' purchases.
 

bobblezard

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I've managed to find decent bits by cobbling together odd ones here and there and working to restore and sharpen them.
I've found the brace really useful recently when driving large screws to join joists or sleepers using a hex bit adaptor that I got off eBay for a few quid. Much more controlled and satisfying than an impact driver. Really good for loosening old screws too. Very quick undoing bolts.
Find myself looking for other uses
 

D_W

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A very good clean nearly unused set of jennings or irwin bits over here will sell for about 75 pounds equivalent.

I think I paid about 2/3rds of that, but it may have taken a couple of weeks to wait for a right-priced set (something that looks like a long term ebay average) for each of those.

Someone wanting a pure clean bright box with no tears on the paper or marks on the box and no sign of use at all on the bits will pay closer to $200 equivalent in the states, though. Such sets are rare.

The one thing that's always true now that it's free to list on ebay is that you can go out at any given time and pay more than the historical sales price. If there are 10 items listed, 20 will have sold in the last several months, and most of the 10 items still listed were there before the ones actually intended to sell ever got listed.

(can't say much about $100 US becomes after shipping plus tax to the UK, though. It's probably closer to $200 at that point then, anyway).
 
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