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Woodworking with Jason Stamper


The Fantastic Fray

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In the continuing series on the lot of bit braces I acquired a few years ago I am going to tell you about the awesome Fray brace.

John S. Fray began manufacturing his braces in partnership with Horace Pigg. You may occasionally find one marked Fray & Pigg as in this example I have.

That partnership seemed to dissolve by about 1866, as from then on most were just marked John S. Fray. Frays were initially manufactured with a non-ratcheting Spofford patent chuck. The brace I got in the eBay lot was one of these early all iron Frays with the Spofford chuck.

I de-rusted, cleaned and oiled it, and it works flawlessly. Here you can see the markings on the arm. Not bad for a tool made in the late 1860ís to early 1870ís.

This little brace now lives in my tool chest with its big brother and is a primary, daily user for me. I love the lightness, simplicity, and robustness of the Spofford chuck design.

The early Frayís also sported a cast iron top pad.

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