Spofford style brace is by far my favorite bit
They are so simple yet so
perfect. You can change bits with a quick twist of the wing
nut, Spofford’s are also lighter weight than most braces.
The Spofford chuck was patented
in 1859. John S. Fray & Company started making these braces
the same year, Stanley bought out Fray in 1920 and continued
to produce them into the 1940’s.
Being as simple as they are
there is no too much to go wrong with them. One problem I
have noticed on a lot of them is the pewter rings that hold
the handle halves together are either loose or broken. I
think the rings are a nice detail on these braces and
decided to figure out a way to fix them. I had a couple of
braces that needed the rings repaired; here is what I came
I have no idea how these rings
were done originally, what research I have done has yielded
nothing on the subject.
The brace I worked on here the
rings were gone completely and the two halves had been glued
I pried the handle halves apart and removed them from the
brace. Using a flat block of wood with piece of adhesive
backed sand paper attached I flattened the mating surfaces
of the two pieces. With two halves flat I added a small
amount of glue to the edges and re installed them on the
brace, aligned then and clamped in place.
You don’t have to glue these but it makes it much easier to
keep the halves in place and lined up during the rest of the
process. Next I used a file that was a shade wider than the
ring groves and filed around both ring grooves to square up
Over time the shoulders seem to get rounded over, especially
if the rings have been missing for a while. If they are not
square the rings will have a wavy edge when you get done.
I tried several was of making form or mold to pour the
pewter into. My first attempt was to use a piece of leather
wrapped around the handle with a gap at the top to pour
into. The leather I had was too thick and pressed into the
ring groves when I got it tight enough not to leak. After
pouring the pewter was too far below the surface of the wood
to file down flush. I think the leather idea is a good one
but the leather would need to be thinner than what I had on
Next I tried aluminum foil. I crashed and burned on this
idea as well, the foil acted like a radiator and the pewter
would solidify before the ring grove was filled leaving
gaps. The foil was also hard to keep from pressing into the
While scratching my head trying to figure out what to try
next I noticed some jack plane shavings under the bench,
light bulb went on!