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.
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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