Issue Six: Making a Wooden Brace


Beginning with this post, we will announce one Issue Six article each weekday until pre-orders open on February 1st. If you don’t already have a subscription and just wanted to order a copy of Issue Six by itself, you may do so on February 1st.

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Boring an accurate hole is one of the most basic skills in furniture making, but how was it accomplished before the era of the factory-produced twist bit and electric drill? Author Joshua Klein tackles this question as he delves into the world of wooden braces, often called “bitstocks.” Until metal braces became popular after the industrial revolution, a wooden user-made bitstock was the most prevalent boring tool among woodworkers – wielded by chairmakers, coopers, and cabinetmakers for centuries.

After exploring the history of the tool, Joshua heads to the shop for some fascinating hands-on experimental archaeology. He reproduces several wooden bitstocks from historic forms, and makes a range of interchangeable bits using a variety of period methods – from casting pewter ferrules to burning bit mortises. Through practicing the diverse techniques and gleaning the subtle (yet essential) design details that go into crafting bitstocks, we’ll polish our skills and gain the self-sufficiency that comes from learning to make our own tools.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post announcing the next article in Issue Six…