In today's post I wish
to introduce a very specialized brace and
a kind of bit that is
The brace is cellarman's boring
tool to create a tapered hole in the head of a wine cask for
insertion of a wooden or metal tap of like taper.
The brace and its dedicated bit are
Austrian in origin. The bit is marked "Wien" for "Vienna". The
brace has a two-post cage head with a rather robust wooden pad.
The bit is held in the brace chuck by a spring-actuated lever
that fits in a notch in the bit's flat tang.
Over the last five decades I have
found a few of the specialized bits that were used for insertion
of barrel taps. These are known as "cock plug bits". They were
used to bore tapered holes in casks filled with wine or other
The tapered collar behind the bit
cutting head serves as a metal stopper to contain the liquid.
Once a bit broke through the wooden cask head the stopper
plugged the hole. The next step was to rapidly remove the bit
and insert a tap or cock whose handle was in the off position.
If I were going to accomplish this
task I would detach the brace from the bit and hold the bit by
its shank then position the tap right next to it, yank the bit
out, and insert the tap. Obviously a small quantity of liquid
would run out while this task is accomplished which I assume was
caught in a pan or bowl placed below it. Perhaps the spillage
was consumed by the cellarman.
All cellarman's braces and cockplug
bits I have seen are European in origin.
This brace and its specialized cock plug bit measure 19 1/4th
from the tip of the bit to the top of the pad. It was made in
This is a close-up of the cock plug bit in the
brace. The lever securely
retains the bit in the chuck.
The bit is marked by the maker in Vienna,
Austria. It probably dates
from the first half of the 19th Century.
This detail photo illustrates the manner in
which the bit is retained in the brace.
The bit tang is flat and the lever engages a notch in the tang.