Spofford Brace Find
#11
  
I was out running errands with a couple of my kids today, and on a whim we stopped in at a little antique shop.  In a pile of rusty putty knives and wrenches was this little beauty: 



It's a Spofford Pattent brace, 8" throw.  The guy running the shop asked $7 for it but gave it to me for $5 when he couldn't make change for a $10.  

It had some light rust and tarnish, but a good deal of pitting all up and down the metal part.  I have a feeling it's been deep-cleaned before.  Still, all the parts are in great condition.  



The wire wheel on the drill press cleaned everything up nicely.  A very light sanding on the handle and pad reveal what looks to be rosewood, though the wood is still dark enough to fool my eye--and I'm no expert in identifying old examples of tropical hardwoods. 

The stamps are barely legible, but if you know what words you're looking for...



"Spofford's Pat."




"________ Pigg"
"Bridgeport CT"

The original stamp was "Fray & Pigg"  

According to George Langford, this brace has features that were patented in 1880, but according to the Directory of American Toolmakers, Fray & Pigg were active 1859-1866, so I'm not sure where this brace fits onto the Spofford timeline.  It seems that wooden-handled Spofford Braces with the Fray & Pigg stamp are uncommon.  Maybe one of their toolmakers got a hold of an old stamp and turned out a big batch with the old toolmaker's stamp before QC caught it?  

Regardless, this is a fine little brace.  After a touch of oil, the pad spins nicely, and the screw is completely intact.  I'm really going to enjoy using this little guy.
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#12
  Re: Spofford Brace Find by Bibliophile 13 (I was out running er...)
Nice find-you did well!
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#13
  Re: Spofford Brace Find by Bibliophile 13 (I was out running er...)
Cool.  Spofford braces are so elegantly simple, yet work so well.
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#14
  Re: Spofford Brace Find by Bibliophile 13 (I was out running er...)
Wow! nice find!  In the parlance of the Old Tool List, You suck! 

Enjoy it!

DC
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#15
  Re: Spofford Brace Find by Bibliophile 13 (I was out running er...)
So...that what these were...
   
Maybe I should have picked one up?
Show me a picture, I'll build a project from that
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#16
  Re: Spofford Brace Find by Bibliophile 13 (I was out running er...)
(12-18-2019, 10:42 AM)bandit571 Wrote: So...that what these were...

I’m far from an expert on the subject, but I believe all the Spofford braces I have seen have the two pewter rings to hold the split wrist handle together as in the original post here. Now a Fray brace without the rings would be a good find also, so I’d give any of the older braces without twist chucks a close look.
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#17
  Re: RE: Spofford Brace Find by bandit571 (So...that what these...)
(12-18-2019, 10:42 AM)bandit571 Wrote: So...that what these were...

Maybe I should have picked one up?
Sweet find and that was a great price!
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." --Benjamin Franklin
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#18
  Re: RE: Spofford Brace Find by bandit571 (So...that what these...)
(12-18-2019, 10:42 AM)bandit571 Wrote: So...that what these were...


Maybe I should have picked one up?
The Spofford brace design splits the chuck and then uses a cap screw* to tighten up the split, trapping the tapered square in the process.  The two in your picture (bottom center and on the right) both look like the cap screw is a setscrew, operating directly against the bit's shank.  See George's Basement discussion for a detailed description.

*Cap screws go into a tapped hole in a machine/tool/object. Bolts get a nut on the end. The distinction's meaningless these days, but I believe bolts were once finished to a looser thread spec than cap screws; certainly stove bolts were, to make it easier to disassemble the stove come summer, after a season of heating/cooling cycles rusting the nut onto the bolt.
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#19
  Re: RE: Spofford Brace Find by Greg Jones ([quote='bandit571' p...)
(12-18-2019, 11:23 AM)Greg Jones Wrote: I’m far from an expert on the subject, but I believe all the Spofford braces I have seen have the two pewter rings to hold the split wrist handle together as in the original post here. Now a Fray brace without the rings would be a good find also, so I’d give any of the older braces without twist chucks a close look.

I can't figure out how to quote two posts in one reply, so this one's slightly redundantly in addition to my post just above.  There are plenty of Spofford braces out there with no crank handle at all, just a smooth shank that you let your hand slip on.  All but one of my (three?) Spofford braces, plus the two or three that I've passed along or released back to the wild, are of that plain and simple design.  See George's Basement discussion for some pictures of that style.

Like this, for those who don't have time to read the detailed discussion at the link:

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#20
  Re: RE: Spofford Brace Find by bandit571 (So...that what these...)
(12-18-2019, 10:42 AM)bandit571 Wrote: So...that what these were...

Maybe I should have picked one up?

Yeah, looks like a couple nice, later models on the table there.  

I've not used these Spofford braces before, but just from handling it I can tell it's going to be ideal for smaller auger bits.  The bigger braces with the ratchet chucks are great for big bits, but they're incredibly clumsy for the smaller bits.  The Spofford brace is SO much lighter than my other 8" throw braces!  

The other great thing is that you can tell at a glance if all the parts are there.  Pad, handle, and thumbscrew.  If they're all there, you've got yourself a working brace.  Online they can command some pretty outrageous prices, but in the wild apparently they often can be found for really cheap.
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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