Several years ago
I bought a lot of 5 bit braces on eBay.
I think I paid
around $30 for 5 of them, and it seems the rust
scared off the other bidders.
In any event, I was thrilled
with what I ended up with. I got a cheap Stanley (which I
have long since traded off), an early all iron Fray, a small
odd blacksmith made one, a rare Holt brace, and possibly my
favorite a rare Rose (Millers Falls) brace.
Most of these braces needed
serious cleaning, and several were missing parts. However,
nothing was cracked or un-fixable, so I was thrilled. In
this article I am going to focus on the Rose brace, but I
will do a few follow up articles on the others.
The Rose brace was originally
patented in 1867 by Clemens B. Rose. His idea was for an
improved chuck, and top pad connection. He had another
patent in 1868 for a wood handle for the side that was
captured between two brass “cups.”
Originally manufactured by the
Bitstock Company of Greenfield, CT, his patent was soon
bought by Millers Falls in 1869. Millers falls only made
them until around 1878, so these fall into a fairly small
Unfortunately I don’t have any
before pictures, but trust me when I say it needed help.
To briefly sum it up I
de-rusted the brace with Evaporust first. Then I gently
polished the steel with 600 grit sandpaper. I also polished
the brass with Brasso, and refinished the wood. Yes I’ve
heard all that stuff about preserving the patina, and what
not, but to me it’s a balance.
Trust me, this brace has plenty
of patina (aka character). Plus in my shop all tools must be
users, or out they go. There is a big difference between
patina, and just plain nasty dirty. This one was on past
Here is the Rose brace in its restored form.
This brace had two major issues
when I got it. The first, and most major issue was the
chuck. The chuck has two little pins that keep the
tensioning collar in place.