The Pilkington Brace
form of wooden brace is thought to have originated in northern
Europe sometime in the 15th century. Prior to that date, the
bow drill or different styles of hand augers were used to pierce
or drill circular holes. Coinciding with this type of brace's
the concept of removable bits, which eliminated the need for
a purpose-built device for each bit size used. By 1800, graduated
sets of metal bits were being manufactured for distribution
by ironmongers in Sheffield, England. This meant the journeyman
no longer had to carry as much weight in his daily toolkit;
one tool holder could be used for the various shell, center,
taper and nose bits. Countersinking in wood and metal, along
with driving larger screws and nuts, was easily accomplished
using the wide range of specialty inset bits made for the brace.
Its sweep design allowed the user to develop great torque and
English wooden sweep brace was manufactured in many forms: plain
wood, plated and metal framed with wood infill (Ultimatum style).
A type with an all-metal or iron body was often referred to
as a Scotch brace. All types had a brass or steel nosepiece
or pad (chuck) that encapsulated the tapered square tang of
the bit and, in most cases, had a spring device that actuated
to engage a filed slot in the bit. This slot allowed for the
retention of the cutting tool in the brace during use.
||The nosepiece features a spring device that retains notched tapered bits, such as the one shown here.
The brace shown here is a version described in the letters patent
#1,113, granted to Charles Pilkington, Thomas Pilkington and
Abraham Pedigor on April 30, 1853. The patent claim was for
an improved joiner's brace. In 1854, partners Pilkington, Pedigor
and Storr, of Chester joinery works in Sheffield, claimed they
were the sole inventors and manufacturers of the patent brass
mounted brace. By 1856, Storr had left the company and in 1858,
the company became C. & T. Pilkington. It's unknown when the company