In this post I will be finishing my coverage of bits for braces found in the Tison Tool Barn, including a bit gauge, a screwdriver bit, countersinks, and washer cutters.
First, I want to show a device that is not a bit, but which attaches to an auger bit. It is an adjustable bit gauge. It locks onto an auger bit, and stops the bit after it has bored a hole to a specified depth. This allows a worker to precisely bore a series of holes all to the same depth. This item is marked "STANLEY MADE IN USA C575." The bit gauge has two identical cast pieces, held together by two sets of bolt, washer and wing nut. The flared feet on one end stop the bit when they touch the surface of the piece wood in which the hole is being bored. This gauge fits on an auger bit up to 1 inch in diameter. This Stanley No. 49 adjustable bit gauge was introduced around 1904. Stanley began advertising a different bit gauge, No. 47, by the 1950s.
The Stanley adjustable bit gauge No. 49 in the left photo, and set on an auger bit in the right photo. Photos by Donald Albury.
Next is a screwdriver bit. A screwdriver bit mounted in a brace can be handy for driving or removing large screws, as the sweep of the brace provides much more torque than gripping a screwdriver handle by hand. This bit is 5-1./2 inches long and has a 9/16 inch wide tip. The bit has no visible markings.
A countersink bit cuts a conical depression around a screw-hole, so that a flat-headed screw will have its top at or below the surrounding surface.
The first countersink in the Tison Tool Barn collection bores a conical hole up to 7/8 inch across. This countersink has a hollow head with a cutting edge that shaves wood from the hole, unlike many countersinks, which scrape wood out of the hole. It has "PATD APR 12, 187~", "P MALVIK" and "P WHEELER" stamped on it. US Patent 101,796 was assigned to Asa Wheeler on Apr. 12, 1870 for this countersink. The countersink was manufactured by George B. Wheeler and, later, by the Stanley Rule and Level Company. I have found no information on the name P. Malvik..
This countersink bit has a cutting head with several radial vanes that scraped wood from the hole. It is 3/4 inch at the widest point of the head. "RAFTSMA" is visible stamped on the shaft. This is almost certainly a Craftsman bit from Sears, from sometime after 1927.
The next countersink bit does not have a tang, It probably was used with a powered drill. It has "80" (or "08") stamped on the shaft. The cutting head has a single cutting edge.
If you have ever taken a pump apart, then you have probably had the experience of hand-cutting a replacement gasket. Gaskets may be made of cork, leather, rubber, rubberized cloth, and other materials. (One contemporary supplier lists 41 types of gasket material for sale.) Washers, or circular gaskets, may also be made of those materials. The next two items are washer cutting bits, which allow the cutting of washers with concentric inside and outside edges from any material that can be cut by a knife blade. Both of these washer cutters have two adjustable cutters. One can be set for the outside diameter of the washer, and the other for the inside diameter.
The first washer cutter has a maximum outside diameter of 3 inches. It is marked "KING & SMITH'S PAT. OCT. 24, 1865" and "MF~ BY SAVAGE & SMITH, MIDDLETON, CT". This tool was assigned US Patent 50,600.
The second washer cutter has a maximum outside diameter of 4-1/2 inches. The only markings on the tool are an "H" in a circle, and the letters "HA" followed by some worn down or otherwise obscured characters. This tool was sold under the "Hargrave" trade mark used by the Cincinnati Tool Company. (My thanks to Bob Page and Mark Stansbury in the Antique and Vintage Tools Forum on Facebook for helping me identify this trade mark.) The Hargrave brand was used on clamps, chisels, punches, washer cutters, and other related tools. I have not found a model number for this tool, nor when it was made.
In my next post I will leave woodworking tools for a bit, and take a look at the monkey wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn.
In my last post I wrote about bits in the Tison Tool Barn that were used with a brace to bore holes in wood. In this post I will look at hollow augers, which cut wood away on the end of a spoke or post, leaving a cylinder of wood called a round tenon.
Round tenons are a form of the tenon in mortise and tenon joints. Round tenons are inserted into round mortises, which are indistinguishable from bore holes. Round mortises and tenons have primarily been used by wheelwrights in mounting spokes to rims on wooden wheels. Round mortise and tenon joints are also used in making Windsor chairs.
Forming round tenons that fit correctly in their corresponding mortises took skill and care. The development of hollow augers allowed wheelwrights and chairmakers to repeatedly and quickly cut round tenons of a consistent size and shape. Between 1835 and 1928 there were 98 US patents issued for hollow augers and other tools for cutting round tenons. (Although manufacture of wagons and coaches had steeply declined in the 20th century, wooden spokes continued to be used in motor vehicle wheels until well after World War I.) Many of the hollow augers invented during that time cut tenons of a fixed diameter. A worker needed a different fixed-size hollow auger for each diameter tenon he wanted to cut. Other hollow augers were adjustable, allowing a worker to use one tool to cut tenons of various diameters by making adjustments in the settings of the cutting blades.
The Tison Tool Barn collection has three adjustable hollow augers. First is a Bonney's Pattern Hollow Auger, patented Aug. 2, 1870. This bit has one cutting blade. It has a wheel with 8 holes from 3/8 inch to 1 inch in diameter, limiting it to cutting round tenons of those diameters. This range of tenon diameters may have met the needs of most woodworkers. This tool has two slots cut into the tang, indicating that it could be used with at least two different varieties of cut-tang chuck.
The next adjustable hollow auger in the Tison Tool Barn is shown below. It is marked "E. C. STERNS & CO. SYRACUSE, N.Y." and "PATENTED MARCH 16, 1880." Patent number 225,496 was issued to Edward C. Stearns, who had become the head of a company founded by his father in 1864. George N. Stearns & Co. became E. C. Stearns & Co. in 1877. The company was still doing business in 1891. Father and son were obviously interested in improving hollow augers. George N. Stearns was issued 8 patents for hollow augers between 1863 and 1880, several of which were manufactured by the Stearns company.
The third adjustable hollow auger in the Tison Tool Barn appears to be a rare find. The only marking on the tool is "PATḎ DEC ~ 1868." US patent 85,423 was issued to J. H. Beauregard of Sandy Hill, N. Y. on Dec. 29, 1868. The Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents web site, which is a volunteer effort to compile information on patents, had not found any previous evidence that this tool had ever been manufactured. I have found no information on who manufactured this item, or when. This hollow auger has two cutting blades.
Before a hollow auger could start cutting a round tenon, the end of the spoke had to be pointed, that is, have a truncated cone cut on the end so that a hollow auger could be securely centered on it. Spokes could be trimmed with a pointing tool. The Tison Tool Barn has two tools that could be so used. First is this dowel pointer or trimmer. It could point a spoke or dowel up to 3/4 inch in diameter. The only mark on the tool is the trade mark "STANLEY."
Next is a spoke pointer. This tool is marked "E. C. STEARNS & CO. SYRACUSE, N. Y." Patent No. 220,442 for this tool was issued to Edward C. Stearns on Oct. 7, 1879. This tool will point a spoke or post up to 1-3/4 inches in diameter.
In my next post I will cover some odds and ends of bits in the Tison Tool Barn that were used with a brace.
Bits and braces go together like, ... well, you get the idea. This week I will cover some of bits in the Tison Tool Barn that were used with braces.
Most of the bits included here are for working with wood. Bits for boring metal are often used these days on wood (and plastic) as well, but the Tison Tool Barn does not have any metal-working drill bits. Over the last two centuries the most common wood boring bit used in braces has been the spiral auger bit. Auger bits differ from T-augers (covered a couple of weeks ago) primarily in that they have a tang for use with a chuck, rather than a cross handle.
First is a wooden box that holds a set of spiral auger bits. There are twelve bits in two trays, ranging in diameter from 1/4 inch to 7/8 inch in 1/16th inch intervals, plus a 1 inch bit. The size is marked on the tang of each bit by a whole number, 4 through 14, plus 16, representing sixteenths of an inch. These days I am used to interpreting whole numbers on a set of bits, sockets, etc. as millimeters, but these bits go back to a time when the metric system was not in general use in America, and such confusion was unlikely.
Box containing twelve auger bits from the Tison Tool Barn. Photos by Donald Albury.
The set is from early in the 20th century. The box is unmarked. Ten of the bits are marked "THE FULTON." Fulton was a house brand of Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the early 20th century. Sears registered the brand name Craftsman" in 1927, but I have not been able to find when Craftsman replace Fulton on auger bits sold by Sears. One of the other bits, number 6 (3/8 inch), has no discernible markings. The final bit, number 16 (1 inch), is marked "THE IRW~~/REG. US PAT~~~/MADE IN USA/MAINBOR." Irwin Tools has been manufacturing auger bits for over a century (and still sells auger bits for hand braces). The Mainbor line of auger bits was advertised at least as early as 1928.
Next are two spiral auger bits marked "RUSSELL JENNINGS." The Russell Jennings Company made auger bits from 1855 until 1944. One of the bits is size 8 (1/2 inch) and the other is size 24 (1-1/2 inches).
Spiral auger bits made by Russell Jennings. Size 8 (1/2 inch) on the left and size 24 (1-1/2 inches) on the right. Photos by Donald Albury.
The Tison Tool Barn also has an auger bit that would not have been used with the usual chuck on a brace. It does not have a conventional tang, but does have an wider section of the shaft with a flat side and a depression where a set screw would hold it in place. This bit may have been for use in a drill press or other power drill. There is no discernible marking or size number on the bit. It is 7/8 inch in diameter.
Auger bit on the left .Close up on the right of the round tang with flat side and depression for a set screw. Photos by Donald Albury.
Next is a center or centre (British spelling) bit. The center bit was invented in England, and was in wide enough use by 1879 to be included in the article "Boring" in The American Cyclopædia of that year. It reportedly is no longer produced by any manufacturer. The center bit has a wide flat blade. the point in the center anchors the bit as it turns. One wing of the blade bends up and has a sharpened edge, so that the edge shaves the wood to make a hole. The other wing has a spur which cuts a groove around the hole slightly deeper that the cutting edge, so that the cutting edge lifts the shaving cleanly without tearing around the edge of the hole. A center bit superficially resembles a spade bit, but a spade bit scrapes wood from the bottom of the hole, while a center bit shaves wood from the hole, as does a spiral auger bit. This center bit has no markings. It is 1-3/16 inch in diameter. The tang has a slot for use in a cut-tang chuck.
The centre bit is on the left. On the right is a closeup of the cut in the tang. Photos by Donald Albury.
Another bit is this taphole auger (previously shown in one of my posts about cooper's tools). Like spiral auger bits, it has a gimlet-style point, which lets the tool start its own hole. The tang on this bit appears to have been forged onto the shaft after the bit was made. This suggests that the bit originally had a cross handle (i.e., was a T-auger), and was later modified to work with a brace.
The taphole auger bit is on the left. A closeup of the forged joint in the shaft is on the right. Photos by Donald Albury.
Reamers are tools for enlarging holes with a taper (wider at the top than at the bottom of the hole). The Tison Tool Barn has three reamer bits. First is a number 1 reamer. It is marked with a logo consisting of a V-shape with a curved line across the top, like a quarter of a pie, with the letters "AKT" inside. I have not been able to identify this mark.
Next is a number 5 reamer. This has markings on the stem that are hard to read. The appear to be two triangles, with a "G" in the left hand one. The right side of the marking is either damaged or was not stamped completely into the metal. I cannot identify this mark.
Number 5 reamer on the left. Closeup of stamped logo on reamer on the right. Photos by Donald Albury.
The last reamer is a number 6 reamer made by the Watervliet Tool Co. Information on the Internet is scarce, but the Watervliet Tool Co. published a catalog of reamers and other automotive tools in 1922. By the 1950s it was known for making automobile jacks, when it was bought out and the business name retired. This may not have been intended as a woodworking tool.
Number 6 reamer on the left. Closeup of marking on tang on the right. Photos by Donald Albury.
Next week I will finish covering bits in the Tison Tool Barn that were used with braces.
By Donald Albury.
This week I continue describing braces that are in the Tison Tool Barn.
In the second half of the 19th century chucks using jaws tightened and loosened by rotating a shell came into use on braces. William Henry Barber was issued a patent in 1864 for what became known as the Barber chuck. The Barber chuck has a pair of spring-loaded jaws inside a rotating shell. The jaws are arranged so that they make contact along their full length with a square tapered bit tang. The rotating shell tightens or loosens the jaws depending on which way it is rotated. The Barber chuck, with various improvements introduced over the years, became a popular style of chuck for braces.
The Tison Tool Barn holds several braces with jawed chucks. First is this brace with a Barber chuck and a wooden head and sweep grip. There are stamped markings in four different places: "F. BUNNY", "F. DUCK" (twice), and "G. ROCK". I have no idea what those markings mean. This brace is 14.5 inches long and has an 11 inch sweep.
While a brace was an efficient tool when the crank could be swept in a full circle, it became much less useful if something obstructed a full sweep. The invention of a ratcheting mechanism solved the problem. William P. Dolan was issued a patent in 1871 that became the basis for most ratcheting braces, in which the sweep could be swung back and forth, turning the bit in only one direction. Ratcheting braces normally have three settings, turning the bit clockwise only, counter-clockwise only, or locked, so that the bit always turns with the sweep.
This ratcheting brace, which has a Barber chuck, is marked "NO. 33" and "PAT PDGY.18 1880". "PAT PDG" is short for "patent pending", but the rest of the marking is confusing. The PDG may have been stamped over JUL in what was originally JULY 18 1880, or the date was added in an attempt to overstamp PDG. A (rather cursory) search has not found a patent with that date for either a brace or a chuck. "NO. 33" is probably a model number, but I have no clue as the manufacturer of this brace. The brace is 13 inches long with an 8 inch sweep.
Here is another ratcheting brace with a Barber chuck. It is marked "STANLEY" and "NO. 945-10 IN." I have seen comments on the Internet that the model 945 was offered in the 1920s and in the 1950s, so this brace is likely between 60 and 100 years old. It is 13 inches long, and has a 10 inch sweep.
The next brace, shown below, is marked "P. S. & W. Co." and "59 1/2". The Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co. was formed in 1870 by the merger of three companies, and continued in business until 1950. This brace appears to have a Barber chuck, which indicates that it was probably produced in the 20th century (braces with Barber chucks are shown in a 1911 caralog from P., S. & W). The "59 1/2" appears to be a model number, but the few model numbers I have seen for P. S. & W. braces have been four digits long with no fractions. This brace is 11 inches long and has an 8 inch sweep.
Below is another ratcheting brace from the Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co. with a Barber chuck. The Brace is marked "P, S. & W. CO. 2010". Again, the Barber chuck indicates that this brace was probably manufactured in the 20th century. The brace is 13.5 inches long, with a 10 inch sweep.
The next brace is also from Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co. It has a Peck and Powers-style interlocking jaws chuck. (The Peck of Peck and Powers apparently had no relation to the Peck of Peck, Stow & Wilcox.) The Peck and Powers chuck was patented in 1879.
The brace is marked "P., S. & W. CO." and "1003". The lack of a patent number for the chuck on the brace indicates this is a later model. The brace is 13.5 inches long with an 8 inch sweep.
The brace below is a corner brace. The rotary motion of the crank is transmitted through gears to the chuck. The brace is not marked, but appears to be a Fray model 100, but with a Barber-style chuck rather than the interlocking jaws chuck pictured in the 1911 Fray catalog. This model was also made by Stanley after it acquired Fray, and it may have been produced for sale by other companies. The brace is 17.5 inches long and 9 inches wide. It has an 8 inch sweep.
The last brace in this post is more of a toy than a working tool. It probably came from a child's tool kit. The handle on the crank is short, and not really big enough for a grown man's hand. The sweep is narrow, producing a low torque suitable only for drilling very small holes. The chuck is simple. There is a ratchet, similar to ones on mechanical screwdrivers, just below the head. The brace is 12.5 inches long, with a sweep of 2 inches.
Spofford Style Bit Braces - 1897
Featured Braces - The Barber Brace, Dolan's ratchet patent
Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co..
Another source (for information about all sorts of old hand tools) is:
Walsh, Peter C., Woodworking Tools 1600-1900, Smithsonian Institution. The e-book version is downloadable for free from Project Gutenberg. Information about augers is found starting at location 515.
I have been a volunteer at the Matheson History Museum. Feeling an affinity with old hand tools (some of which I remember from my youth), I have tried to learn more about the history of the tools in the Tison Tool Barn, and how they were used.
All text and photographs by Donald Albury in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All illustrations taken from Wikimedia Commons are either in the public domain, or have been released under a Creative Commons license.
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