Before drills and braces, T-shaped augers were used to poke holes into wood, while smaller gimlets were used to start them. Auger handles were usually made of a piece of hardwood that was sanded, rounded, or even contoured to give the user a firm grip. Bits on spoon augers essentially carved a hole in the piece of wood, and had to be periodically removed to clear the chips. Spiral-bit augers were precursors to modern drills, whose bits cleared the hole of chips as the user drilled.

A significant advance on the auger was the brace, which was originally designed with a single, permanently fixed bit at its end. Eventually, though, braces were designed with sophisticated chucks to accommodate replacement bits, as well as bits of different sizes and for various purposes. Chucks were patented as vigorously as the braces themselves; the Barber chuck, for example, was widely used on Millers Falls braces of the late 19th century. The braces themselves also evolved for particular trades, from furniture makers to surgeons.

As for drills, they have been around since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians, who used bow drills to bore holes. Archimedean drills resembled what many people know today as Yankee screwdrivers, while hand drills were often called eggbeater drills for their similarity to that common kitchen tool.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Alloy Artifacts

Alloy Artifacts

A tool collectors’ dream, this site is a deep repository of photos and info on 20th century hand tools and the co… [read review or visit site]

Drainspotting

Drainspotting

Josh and Cam Larios have created this site enabling people to upload and 'tag' photos of historic or artistic manho… [read review or visit site]

A Millers Falls Home Page

A Millers Falls Home Page

Randy Roeder has carved out a niche for himself with his fine website devoted to the history of the Millers Falls C… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

*nos* Vintage C.1970's Patience & Nicholson (p&n) 29pc Hss 1/16"-1/2" Drill Set Yankee No. 2101a 10 Inch Bell System Bit Brace Excellent Near Mint No ReserveVintage 1950's Irwin Auger Bit Set 13 Bits In Original Wood Box Irwin Tools UsaVintage Irwin Auger Bit Set In Metal DisplayAntique Yankee No. 1005 Drill Hand Crank Auto Feed North Bros. Mfg. "antique Hand Cranked Wood Barn Beam Boring Machine "Vintage Irwin 13 Auger Bit Set(complete)Vintage Russell Jennings Auger Bits- Mixed-11-jennings, 1-wright-1-birminghamVintage Millers Falls No.2---no.2a Hand Drill??-antique Hand Crank / Screw DrillPexto 8810 - Pec, Stow & Wilcox RollerAntique Barn Beam Drill Auger Boring Machine - The Boss MchRare Vintage Cleveland Twist Drill Co Large Drill Bit Set A To Z & Index & BoxYankee / Bell System No 2101-10 In Bit Brace** "yankee" No. 1555 North Bros Mfg. Co. Phila. Pa. U.s.a. Hand Drill 5 Speed**1800's, Snell T- Handle Hand Auger Barn Beam, 1 In. Bit, Adjustable Handle Old Mathieson Edinburgh, Brass And Wood BraceJames Swan & Co. No. 6516 Auger Handle With Slide Top Wood Marked BoxVintage Stanley No. 741 Hand Crank Breast Brace Drill 2 Speed W/level BubbleYankee North Bros. 8 Inch Bit Brace (no.2101)Antique, Patented 1912 Millers Falls Co, Mass. Carpenters Drill # 97 Vintage Lot Of 44 Wood Brace Auger Drill Bits Various Makers & Sizes3 Antique Drills - Metal CasedVintage Delta Rockwell 15-017 Drill Press Multi Speed Pulleys! Nice Shape!Vintage Tool - Millers Falls No. 118 Hand Crank Manual Drill With Breast PlateMillers Falls No. 2 Egg Beater Drill With Partial LableAntique Hand Operated Drill Press - Very SmallCraftsman #4240 Reversible Ratcheting Bit And Brace W/13 Nos Auger/boring Bits3 Vintage Connecticut Forstner #6 Auger Bits Drills Brace Type Nos Cardboard BoxVintage Irwin Set Auger Bits In Roll Excellent Brace Drill Barely Used ToolsVintage 1920-1930's Goodell - Pratt No 4 1/2 , No 0477 Drill Set !!!!4 Antique Brace Hand Drill Bits Gimlet Twist & Flat Spade Center Point Auger Vtg10 Packs 2 In Each #30 Essanay Push Drill Bit Point 1/8" Fits Bell StanleyMiller Falls Hand Drill 1950 & 120b EucMillers Falls #1322 10 Inch Bit Brace Chrome Plated W/ 7 Auger Bits Very CleanAntique Brace Drill Bits Lot With Dovetail Wood Storage Box Sliding Lid Tools Vintage Lot Of 29 Brace Auger Wood Drill Bits Irwin Winchester Dunlap Vintage Lakeside 10 Inch Carpenter's Brace/hand Drill With Auger BitsVintage Stanley 8 Inch Carpenter's Brace/hand Drill With Auger BitsVintage Hand Brace Auger And Bits Used 14 Pieces Lot Of 2 Antique Hand Drills Millers Falls? Goodell Pratt? See Photos!*rare* Silex Tools Australia 10" Push Drill + Bits Excellent ConditionAntique Early Rosewood Handle Wood Working Bit Brace Hand Drill Tool John S FrayVintage Miller's Falls Hand / Breast DrillLot Of 13 Antique Brace Bits Various Sizes And Brands Plus An Organizer 0616-5Cordless Ps&w No.3910 Ratcheting Bit Brace,10" Mixed Bag Bits Irwin Craftsman Vintage Yankee 1530 & Millers Falls No. 77 Hand Drills - Egg Beater Style DrillsVintage Wood Handle Hand Drill Chuck Tool Holder W/chuck Craftsman 6775Lot Of 9 Irwin Usa Wood Auger Drill Bits: #6, 3x #10, 2x #12, 3x #16 Brace BitsVintage Millers Falls No 2 Eggbeater Hand Drill Crank Usa Brass FlywheelVintage Millers Falls No. 5a Double Pinion Single Speed Hand DrillAntique Millers Falls Brace Drill Ratcheting Hand Tool Driver Altered ? FaAntique Hollow Auger With Original Sharp Blade~farm ToolMohawk Shelbourne 2 Speed Breast DrillVintage 10 Inch Long Archimedean Drill With Nickle Plated Fittings German DrgmVintage Goodells-pratt 2-speed Breast Plate Hand DrillSet Of Irwin Auger Bits For Hand Brace In Original Sleeve, 6 BitsAntique Brace Drill Bit Dowell Cutting Attachment Guide Woodworking Tool 6"Vintage Millers Falls No. 2 Hand Drill W Storage Compartment In Wood HandleAntique / Vintage Hand Drill Brace..goodell Pratt Co..pat. 1912Vintage "stanley Yankee" No. 41y Bell System-b Hand Push Drill With 5 Bits.