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
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
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.