Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Henry Brown brace from Sheffield

It has been a long time since my last post, but still the butcher is alive and well alive. I have been busy with some gardening work, landscaping and all sort of outdoor pleasures but now that winter is back at our door it is time to be back to woodworking.

For a long time now I wanted to get a wooden brace for the beauty of the tool but also to use it. I always found some either too expensive or in very bad shape... until recently.

I was lucky to find a very nice one, made by Henry Brown from Sheffield. I think this one was made sometime around 1810 to 1830 but not sure exactly.

Henri Brown brace.

The knob handle is solid, turn perfectly on the main body and does not wiggle. It shows only a very fine crack in the wood that looks more like a wood aging crack than coming from any abuse. This will be nothing to prevent its usage.

Medaillon on the knob,
Henry Brown from Sheffield.

The brace mouth is very clean, the square is almost perfect and does not show any damage nor much wear.

The brace mouth in very good shape.

The mechanism to release the bit is also working nicely, I just oiled it a bit so to make it smooth. On this brace, instead of a push button, there is a small lever that push the spring holding the bit.

The bit release mechanism.

The bit is tight in the mouth and have no room to wiggle.

Brace bit tight in the brace mouth.

Now that I have the brace I was looking for, I need to clean my bits collection so to get them shining. I have a bunch of them so it took me few hours to give them all a good Evaporust bath. While they were bathing I took the opportunity to make an holder so they won't just lay in a plastic box and be forgotten.

The brace and my bits set.

These bits are all in usable state and sharp and I tried every one of them. However I guess that some will be used more often than others. I doubt I will use the reamers very often.


  1. Ooooh nice brace. Its a good one and in great shape. That type of chuck, relies on a notch to hold the bit. There was never any
    Standard as to where to locate the notch, hence why some bits have more than one notch filed. Go ahead and file a notch if you have to. Love my center bits, easy to sharpen and even easier to bugger up. I wrote about the geometry of the bits in an earlier post.


  2. Sharpening center bit, everything you need to know

  3. If you look around that post from 2015, you will find info of different bits such as nose bits etc.
    Sharpen those bits and enjoy your new brace, just don't abuse it (over torque it)


    1. Thanks a lot for the link Bob, I keep this in my records!
      You're right for the notch. I have bits that have notches at different height on the 4 faces. I am lucky as most of the bits have a notch at the right place but a bunch of them do not.

  4. That's fantastic, Lionel. It's a beauty! It should give you many years of reliable (and fun) use. I've never used center bits, but would love to try them - and spoon bits, too.

    1. The few spoon bits I have looks almost new. They are very sharp and do not show any wear. I tried them and they work fine. I guess that as they are small they are easy to use. I am wondering though if bigger ones are so easy to enjoy, my guess is that they will require quite some effort but just a guess.

  5. Lionel,

    Beautiful. I'm envious, would love to add one to my collection of braces. Getting good bits to go with it is just the cherry on top.