Reading an old book on boatbuilding, the writer says the _best_ tool for
removing old corroded screws, or any tricky screwing operation is a
screwdriver bit in an old brace (brace & bit cranked hand drill thing).
Sounds like just what I need, but a quick search reveals no source. Were
these items once manufactured? Are they still available? Posi also? in the
uk? with the old square section tapered shank for locking into the chuck of
the brace? Or can the brace be adapted to take a hexagonal shanked bit?
Not sure what kind of brace you have or talking about, but the old one my
father had, used three teeth to grab any round bit or something with 3
sides. It also held the bit with the V notch in them that locked into place
on those tools designed to use them.
Still pretty much common in good old Europe.
Product No. 707182
Tim W wrote:
Why not just chuck a common bit into your drill motor and go at it? Brace
and bit might have been the appropriate tool years ago, but a decent motor
with a tech adapter in it is the modern day equivalent.
I fear I must disagree with that. A power drill is no substitute for a
brace when it comes to what the OP is talking about. With a brace, it
is easier to apply force parallel to the screw to keep the bit in the
screw head; easier to tweak it out too since the rotation is as slow as
Don't fear it - I actually gave those two considerations some thought before
I posted. Decided that the difference in force that one could apply to a
brace versus a drill motor wasn't big enough to be concerned about, and that
a decent variable speed motor will allow you to back a screw out with enough
control. I know I've certainly fought many a stubborn screw out with my
motor. In fact, it seems to me that it would be easier to maintain a well
controlled angle with a drill motor which does not require you to bear into
it while at the same time attempting to turn it.
With all due repect, one point in in favor of the brace & bit solution is
the brace is designed with a large flat knob on the end of the handle that
you can place against your chest as you rotate the bit, thus bringing your
full body weight to bear on the screw head if necessary. (I hate to admit
I'm old enough to have used one of these in my younger days). That's hard
to do with a 'motor' drill as they are designed to be pushed by your hand
which brings your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints into play as you try to
apply pressure. As Isac Newton said, it all comes down to physics .....
(sorry, I made that up).
Point well taken, and in fact it was one of the factors that I considered at
the very opening of this thread. Having extracted untold numbers of screws
with my cordless or my corded drill motor though, I have to wonder just how
much value that really is. (Point of diminishing returns). I've used brace
and bit before as well, so that makes me equally reluctant to acknowledge
what that says about *my* age too, but there are ups and downs to
everything. A brace and bit is quite unstable before it can really dig in,
which of course it can't do with a driver bit in it. With all of that body
weight leaning into it at a further distance from the object, it becomes
more unstable than a drill motor. Add to that that one has to apply a
rotation to it which does nothing to help add stability - in fact as most
who have used a brace and bit know - it tends to de-stabilize the tool.
Sure, with a small amount of practice it's easily enough mastered, as
evidenced by the existence of the tool over time, but that does not negate
the natural tendency for instability. The amount of leverage provided by a
3" or 4" offset is not all that significant as well - particularly in the
case of nasty stubborn screws. I see lots of potential for the very screw
damage that the OP was fearful of.
I wasn't suggesting that the brace and bit would not work, or that perhaps
it would even be a much cooler way of doing things. Heck - it could be a
lot like using a hand plane instead of a planer. There's much to be said
for some of the cool old tools. I originally replied just to suggest a
common, every day solution to the problem. It works and it really does not
suffer the pitfalls that have been posted so far. Of course - it is not an
elegant, neander, cool way of doing things - I gotta give you that. And...
I really do believe there is a lot of value in elegant, neander and cool.
Don't know that I'd agree with all of that. Certainly, if the brace and but
was not centred, then it has a good chance of being unstable. However the
biggest problem I've noticed with a drill and bit is the fact that unless
you're extremely careful, it gets up to speed really fast, throwing the bit
off what you're working on. The brace and bit on the other hand, is much
more controllable at low speed, even with power behind it.
I've been trying to follow your logic on this, Mike, and I've got to
admit I'm baffled.
For small screws - say #6 through #10 - and particularly in softwoods,
your electric drill is fine. So is a plain screwdriver, a Yankee-type
ratchet screwdriver, or even a brace and bit. With the larger screws,
though - #14, #16, even #24 - a brace and screwdriver bit is the only
way to go.
I just took a look at some #24 flat head wood screws. The head is 3/4"
wide, and a 1/2" Stanley screwdriver bit fits it pretty well. The bit
is actually about 5/8" wide but beveled to 1/2" at the tip. If I had a
lot of #24 screws to drive (or remove) I'd probably grind it back
somewhat to make it fit even better. I've never seen a bit for a drill
motor that will fit a screw that size - have you? Or even one for a
#14 slot, or for a #3 Phillips.
The bit brace is far more stable than an electric drill. It is longer,
and the pad is designed to be braced by not just your hand, but also by
your chest, thigh or even forehead if necessary. An electric drill is
difficult to brace in that way. And, that extra support from your
chest, thigh or forehead also translates into extra pressure holding
the bit in the screw slot - which keeps it from camming out.
An offset of 3" or 4"? Those 6" and 8" sweep braces are pretty rare,
although they are good for driving smaller screws. Most of the braces
you'll find are larger. I've got a half dozen or so, with sweeps
ranging from 8" to 14". The 14" brace is capable of driving a #24
screw into hardwood without any great effort. I'm guessing your drill
motor would have a tough time with that, assuming that you could get a
bit to fit it.
Hmmmmm... then it was poorly articulated. My logic seemed quite clear to
me. But then it should, shouldn't it?
#24 I'd have to check into. Off the top of my head I do not know what that
size is. I have though used my drill motor well beyond #10, and in other
than pine. Likewise, not just wood screws, but machine screws.
#14 slot - can't speak to that one. #3 Phillips - I have several tips right
in my drawer. They are quite common.
Several people have stated this so I have to believe there is truth to it.
I did wonder though, how many of those who spoke did so not out of
experience, but out of having heard it said. I know some of the guys do
work with these tools daily and really do have first hand experience. I'm
comfotable saying that it does not seem like the brace would be more stable
to me, but it's based on my use of a brace and first hand knowledge that a
brace can be quite an akward tool if not perfectly centered and held
perfectly square to the work. This doesn't necessarily argue your point, it
only explains why I hold mine.
Well, it would be interesting to see. I'm not about to say that a drill
motor can drive anything that a brace can - hell, like I said, I don't even
know off the top of my head what a #24 screw looks like. I have to say that
I'd be surprised if it proved that the drill motor couldn't. But then
again, I've been surprised before.
You probably won't find any #24 screws around, nor even any #18s or
#16s. They are for really heavy jobs, like mounting bench vises.
Don't understand the part about machine screws, though. Are you using
them in tapped holes in metal? That shouldn't require much torque. Or
are you for some reason using them in wood?
You are right about the #3 Phillips bits - they do make them. I'm sure
you know the importance of fitting a screwdriver to a slotted screw,
and I've never seen a 1/4" hex bit large enough for, say, a #14 screw.
I was wrong about the #3 Phillips, though.
It sounds like the drill motor is the perfect tool for you. Horses for
No - sheet metal screws. I'm sorry, I used the wrong word and didn't catch
it when I re-read before posting.
Yes indeed - I do appreciate the importance of fitting the right sized
driver to the head. So tell me - and again, this is not in the spirit of
argument, it's in the spirit of genuine question - will the bit used for a
#14 or perhaps even a #16 (the bit you would use in a brace) not chuck into
a 3/8 "or 1/2" drill motor chuck?
Probably better said that it has served me well in what I have done. Don't
want you to take from this that I believe it's the ultimate answer. It may
always be a good tool for what I do and I may never encounter a situation
where another tool would truly be a better alternative, but all the same it
is interesting to understand the real differences and benefits of another
Mike, you've just about convinced me. Especially as I get older, I
realize that I shouldn't be taxing myself with hand tools when I can
use power ones.
Chris suggested I look at a Milwaukee Super Hole Shooter. I think he
might have been kidding somewhat, as it seems a tad large for driving
wood screws, and I don't know where I would find screwdriver bits with
#3 Morse taper shanks. Perhaps he had in mind a taper adapter with a
drill chuck on it, but that gets a bit heavy and awkward.
What sort of drill motor and bits should I be considering?
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