Brace yourself

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11 Oct 2014
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In a very rare departure for me, I have just bought a hand tool at a sunday market.
Its a Brace.
In reasonable and useable condition, but I fancy doing SOME refurb to it. Not a full renovation mind.
I'll get a pic later, but its a 2 jaw, reversible ratchet 13cm swing with real wood.
So far I cant see a makers name.
Now the questions
Where would I expect to find the make?
Does that centre wood come off? If not, did they actually bend the thing with it on?

Whats the best way to improve the look of the metal?

I have no plans to use it, just wanted it. Cheap enough at 15 euro (£12.88)

He had a box of old wooden planes of all lengths, including one that was fully painted what I at first thought was white, but am now convinced would be RAF blue.
Well done! Welcome to the hand tool greasy slope...

Name - generally stamped on the round bar, where you'll possibly see the size. That will probably be 8 or 10 inches, measuring diameter, so yours is a 10. Many braces are unmarked but there might be something hiding under rust or dirt.

Improving, to my mind, just means removing any loose dirt or rust so the tool doesn't make your hands or workpiece dirty. I'd use wire wool or scotchbrite equivalent with a little wax. I put some pics in the hand tool restoration sticky.

The middle handle doesn't come off. They really were bent with it in place. Video evidence exists! If it's stiff, dribble some WD40 down, then some oil.
Andy, my hand tool days are done, and I've never gotten the restoration bug. I just want it to look ready to use next to my stanley eggbeater without donning gloves and glasses. :roll:

Youre right; I just found some lettering and used a brass bristle brush to reveal STANLEY on one arm. MADE IN ENG on the other side.
On the other arm is No.909 - 10IN.

I'm pleased its what it is rather than a fake junker. I am confused though, I thought the 10" referred to the throw, obviously I now find its the entire diameter of the arc. which makes me even happier.My dad had one, but it got lost, and I havent used a brace and bit since 1966 :shock: :shock:

Its been well used but not abused. How difficult is it to get the ratchet apart? the teeth have some wear that can be tidied up with a file. If its a three day job it can stay as it is. 8)
He had another brace, but the teeth crossed over themselves as the chuck was tightened and it was not as whole as this one.
Re ratchet dismantling - let's hope someone experienced such as Boring Geoff will post soon, I'm sure he'll have done a few.

But I can offer the video evidence of bending after fitting the handles. It's from Millers Falls, in 1943. You may need to pause or slow down the video to see what is going on - this was mass production at pace.
I dont know why, but I assumed it was hot bent : (hammer) But being hand operated theres no need to harden a 1/2" rod.

I certainly dont have goncalo alves or cocobolo wood on mine :roll:
I did a small whoopsey. fiddling to get the chest pad off i launched the bearings across the workshop floor and even outside. I found 8. It looks like a couple are missing but theyre back in and greased and all fit for purpose.
I've just spent an hour trying to get back to bare wood, for me to clear coat or stain, but the black paint is so far ingrained its another coat of black. The wood is very hard, I dont think its beech (I use a lot of beech) its more pale .Its light, but amazingly resistant to sandpaper.
But as its nothing rare, I shall just recoat with black.
Here comes the usual question;
whats the age range on this one?
Quick answer - as it was made in England, after 1934 and probably after WW2. I could check in catalogues later but a picture or two would help.
Interesting how difficult the stamped branding and other markings are to spot sometimes isn't it? This can even be the case where you know where to look if the brace is in rough enough cosmetic shape; I've had multiple braces where I couldn't see a thing 'in the brown' but the stampings were quite clear once the rust was off.

sunnybob":2d75207x said:
I am confused though, I thought the 10" referred to the throw, obviously I now find its the entire diameter of the arc.
Yes it's the diameter, referred to as the sweep.

sunnybob":2d75207x said:
How difficult is it to get the ratchet apart?
A bit tricky through to impossible. You're experienced enough with machinery that I'm sure you can see how to go about it without needing any guidance, other than to watch out for the spring between the two pawls. It's just that the pins can be absolutely unbudgeable sometimes, so it's a try-it-and-see proposition.

sunnybob":2d75207x said:
the teeth have some wear that can be tidied up with a file. .
Be warned, some (later?) braces had hardened jaws and not the softer jaws that were typical of older models. The one or two I've come across are perhaps not as hard as a chisel but hard enough that you risk compromising your files working on it. Obviously you can wrap some wet 'n' dry around the file if needed, or use diamond files instead.
thats saved me some work. it all does what its supposed to do and i honestly dont have any jobs for it the moment, so it can stay as it is.
i'm happy with what I paid, so its a win win.
There's nothing meaningful that I can add to this conversation, apart from, the idea of bending the frame with the handle in position was patented by Harry Bartholomew in the US in 1861 (US Pat' 32347). Thanks for the video, Andy, I always marvel that the operators of that type of machinery have still got all their fingers.
We've had a conversation recently about the Stanley No 909 MADE IN ENG, I'm still looking for one of this model for my collection, so if any of you find one I'd appreciate a call.
Hmmmm Bob let me think, (clunk, whirr) you paid 15 Euro equals about $Au25.00 + 10% markup for you + postage $Au30.00? That comes to $Au57.50.
Cost to me to replace 4 x 1/8" balls that escaped out your door.
Would you take 5 Euros?
And I'd love to see a photo or two.
I didnt realise you lived at the bottom of the world. :shock:
UK could have been on the cards.
I never sell anything at a loss, not even with parts missing :roll:

For what it cost me, I'm happy to let it sit here in the sun.
Who knows, I might even use it one day, as I have a couple of spade bits that I have also never used. 8)
As requested. I dont know if this is normal or not, but the crank at the chest pad end is not 90 degrees to the handle. But looking down the brace the chest pad is in line with the chuck.




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Bob, some of us have to live at the bottom of the world, otherwise it would rotate erratically.
Does this photo of a Stanley 909 illustrate your comment about the crank not being 90 degrees to the handle? This configuration of angles on the crank is more common than for all bends to be 90 deg'. Does the head on yours resemble this one?


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Yes. At first glance it looks like its been bent out of shape, but looking from round pad to chuck it is in line.

I went to australia once, Sydney, cairns, ayers rock. Once was enough :shock: :lol:
I almost wish that were true.
I went with my family, to be with other family.
I had to come back on my own a week before the rest as my boss would not let me have 4 weeks holiday. I got on the quantas plane at sydney for hong kong.
Sat in a window seat minding my own business.
When the plane levelled out and the seat belt sign went out, EVERYBODY on the plane stood up and opened the overhead lockers, took out cans of beer and started drinking . W.T.F? :shock: :shock:
Once that supply was gone they raided the plane's stocks.
By half way through that TEN HOUR flight the pilot was announcing they had run out of everything including water, and could not even flush the toilets so please dont use them. :? :? :? :shock:

Apparently, I was the ONLY person on that plane who was NOT a member of the australian rugby team supporters club.

One of the several reasons I wont be going back. (hammer) (hammer)
A horror trip alright, but the fans were celebrating BEFORE the rugby matches.............well on our recent performance probably a good idea, not much to celebrate after.
I remember a trip on Air NZ to NZ a few years a go and the Wallabies were playing the Lions in England and the pilot managed to get the game on the radio so that those that wanted to could listen to it. The sound quality was pretty dodgy but didn't matter as whenever the Lions scored a try 80% of the passengers would erupt. It was a tedious flight.