Can I use regular drill bits in a bit brace?
May 20, 2009 6:35 AM   Subscribe

ToolFilter: Can I use regular drill bits in a bit brace?

I'm pretty new to this whole tool thing and I'm thinking of getting an old millers falls bit brace for my light drilling needs, but I want to be able to use a selection of bits that may or may not have been designed to be used with a bit brace. Is it possible to use most modern drill bits with a bit brace? Are there any notable exceptions? Or can I only use bits designed for a bit brace?
posted by symbollocks to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Best answer: For light drilling you want the type of hand drill that has a little toothed wheel on the side, that you crank. It gives you higher RPM. The old drill braces have a special bit holder that matches the old-style bits that have a 4-sided bottom. Newer bits would wobble around in it. Another important thing about the old bits is that they have a screw on the point that helps pull the cutting blades into the wood. This it where the brace works best, in so much as the wide turning arc gives you the leverage to turn the bit (an electric drill will just stall if you try to use the older bits in them)
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:43 AM on May 20, 2009

For modern bits you want this.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:45 AM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: Aha! Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to know.
posted by symbollocks at 6:52 AM on May 20, 2009

To expand a little on what bonobothegreat said above, it's possible to buy a modern brace with a three jaw chuck (Lee Valley has one for example) that will take round shanked bits -- you probably wouldn't want to use it with standard twist drill bits though as they are really not right for it.

Bits designed for use in a brace take advantage of the very low RPM and very high torque developed by a brace. There's a range of possible bits, not just the screw tipped variety. For example spoon bits, screwdriver bits etc.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2009

I've taught woodworking (in NYC, K-8th grade) for almost 15 years, and I've had my students use old Stanley braces with modern bits without a single problem. The drills are a great investment too, since they're cheap and last forever if properly cared for. Buy two if you can - I have some in my classroom set up with drill bits and other with screwdriver bits. If you've got one of each you can drill a pilot hole and put in a screw without having to change a thing!
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2009

I've used a brace with a three-jaw chuck and modern twist bits. The only problem is that it's hard to hold the tip of the bit steady in the right place while you start the hole. Spade bits work okay, but slow. The screw-tipped bits you usually see with a brace are a lot easier to get started.
posted by leapfrog at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2009

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