Three Jaw Brace


Human-powered driver

Ever have to fight with a thirty foot cord on a cold day? This tool has no cord. And no batteries. No worry about theft, obsolescence, charging. Imagine being able to remove #4 Phillips screws, long embedded with their heads effectively stripped before they were painted over. By hand. The same tool, with a “no moving parts” adapter, is a speed wrench for 3/8″ drive sockets. And you can use 1/4″ hex bits as well.

The traditional hand brace does all this, and weighs less than a commercial-duty battery pack. That’s why I have two old braces in my on-site tool kit, where I do a vast array of kludge-like repairs to building systems — everything from removing the third set of windows in a building’s life, to re-hanging wood and steel doors (remember those stripped, self-tapping, Phillips screws?), boring holes to run a fish-tape through, and taking mechanical stuff apart.

I just bought my first-ever “new” brace from Lee Valley Tools. Made in France this version will accept traditional square-taper auger bits, and with its three jaw chuck, any round or hex shank tool up to about 15 mm (9/16″) diameter. This new one together with two power tools — a 25-year-old Black and Decker screw gun, and a Makita 7 1/4″ circular saw — makes my tool kit.

07/5/06 -- Lou Parsons