Coes Wrenches

Bit Braces

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Woodworking with Jason Stamper


A Woodworker’s Rose (brace)

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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 timeline.

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 nasty dirty!

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.

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Millers Falls Braces

Millers Falls Drills


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