Friday, December 14, 2012


Concerning an unusual Charles found upon a brace. Sorry, too formal? A Chuck then, if you will...

If pressed, I will claim that I seldom buy individual braces. They accumulate via the medium of those package deals known as "the tool chest" or "the fiver for the lot" and so forth. Except it's not actually true. All too many braces of unusual size or design or make have followed me home simply because they were a brace of unusual size or design or make.

One such is this singularly unprepossessing 10" example.

It wasn't even that shiny when I got it, no plating to speak of, blue-painted pad and handle. But it's got the button-type ratchet selector, which is rather cool and just a little bit swanky and first took my eye.

Under the rust, there was a trade name revealed; Comet.

As it happens, the handful of Woodworker magazines (rather than bound annuals) I have from the 1950s gives me many helpful adverts to peruse, CoMeT tools being one such. Here's one from February 1954:

And one from August of 1951. Neither terribly helpful at showing the details of the brace, but I don't think either match.

At least I assume it will be the same Comet; there might have been someone else using the name, of course. Anyway, I can't seem to find any dates for H & D Churchill outside the 1950s; but perhaps there simply aren't any. But in looking I did find this, which demonstrates that well-known chain of frustration from customer to retailer to wholesaler to manufacturer was alive and well in 1954.

Anyway, the bit that clinched the "it's different; I can justify it" purchase was, of course, the chuck.

I should pause here, and admit that every time I set forth to get clear in my mind which chuck type is called which, I slip and fall in a quagmire of patents and confusion, get a splitting headache, and run away before understanding anything. So you're welcome to tell me what this is called and I'll be entirely grateful and not in the least embarrassed at not knowing. My best guess was is would be classed as this one, but then folks mutter about subtle differences and... Gah. Whatever. It looks like this:

The jaws pivot, and there's a nice 'ickle spring to keep the jaws open for your convenience and comfort.

The shell of the chuck tightens up from the back, if you see what I mean, and closes the jaws. Simple but surprisingly effective.

The unhappy by-product of this brace that I had failed to foresee is that now I'm wondering if I can find a tool connection to all Santa's other reindeer. Bet there's a Rudolph someone who was in the tool business in Germany, but some of the others might be a bit of a struggle. Suggestions welcomed in the comments box.


  1. That IS a rather lovely chuck, there, Alf. And so nicely cleaned up after its little jaunt in the wild.

    How did you get him so nice and shiny, if you don't mind my asking? Does this tool get categorized under the "Brits with a wire wheel" category?

    I ask because I have a Fools Set (er... the hollows and rounds took 'Harlequin') of a Stanley 48 and 49 and the chrome is ever so dull and dingy on them. They aren't collector's quality by any means, so I want to brighten them up a bit when I'm getting them ready to go to work in my sweat shop.

  2. .

    I'd recommend a mild metal polish to clean remaining chrome plating - Autosol or the like.

    However, you can't buff up what's not there........


  3. BugBear does a pretty amazing job of buffing up what isn't there using Autosol, but he has levels of patience for the task that I just can't seem to acquire.

    Anyway, I tend to use a combination of scraping, wet'n'dry, non-woven abrasives and a big pot of elbow grease. As here (ignore the citric acid bit; I didn't bathe this one). But dealing with partially there plating is a major pain in the arse and I've still not found a satisfactory way to deal with it.

  4. A very nice brace Alf,
    Having just browsed the German eBay site I found a bit brace with a similar jaw arrangement as well as a button type ratchet selector.

    This one is stamped Primus:


Owing to vast quantities of spam this blog is getting, I'm afraid only registered users can post. All comments are moderated before publication, so there may be some delay. My apologies.