Our other sites:

Hand Drills and Braces Maintenance and Care

Hand drills and braces maintenance and care

Shop for Hand Drills and Braces

A little bit of basic care and maintenance can extend the life of a hand drill or brace Hand drills and braces are simple tools with few maintenance requirements.

However, taking a bit of care with them and carrying out some simple general maintenance can prolong their serviceable life meaning they last for many years.

Vintage braces can be very valuable if they are in good condition Many vintage and early hand drills and braces that were properly maintained still work perfectly well today. Along with their appearance and increased rarity, this has led to them becoming collectables and exchanging for hundreds of pounds in some cases.


Like all tools, hand drills and braces should be cleaned before they are put away after use.

A soft brush should be used to brush away any wood or metal shavings from the tool. Particular attention should be paid to any exposed gears on hand drills and exposed ratchets on braces.

Hand drill gears that are not lubricated will wear Gears on hand drills and exposed ratchets can become clogged with shavings, preventing them from turning correctly or increasing wear between them.
After brushing off any shavings, take a soft cloth and wipe over the frame of the drill or brace.

This will help ensure the frame stays dry and remove any dirt or shavings that could scratch the plating or painted surface.

Multi purpose oil will clean lubricate and prevent rust of the gears within the hand drill or brace ratchet Apply a multi purpose oil that is designed for both lubricating and rust prevention to the drive wheel and pinion of hand drills.

You should also apply this to the oil holes of any ratchets or the exposed parts of the ratchet mechanism.

Rotate the hand drill drive wheel so the oil coats all the gears. After applying the multi purpose oil, rotate the ratchet and drive wheel through several turns.

This will ensure the oil coats the surface of all the gears, preventing rust or wear between them.

Other maintenance

Wooden splinters need to be sanded down smooth

Maintaining wooden handles

Wooden handles on hand drills and braces require particular attention to ensure they do not splinter or crack.

Should you notice any splinters on the handle or head then they should be sanded smooth again with some fine grit sand paper.

Boiled linseed oil will help prevent hand drill and brace wooden handles from cracking. To help prevent the handle and head from drying out and splintering or cracking, rub them with boiled linseed oil.
It is sometimes possible to repair small cracks in wooden handles with wood filler. You may be able to fill small cracks in a wooden handle with a wood filler then sand it smooth again with fine grit sand paper.
Varnishing the wooden handles of hand drills and braces can cause them to have a sticky feeling Some people like to varnish the wooden handle and head, although this can cause them to develop a sticky surface.

Also be careful not to get varnish on any other parts of the hand drill or brace as should this get between the frame and the sweep handle, it could prevent the handle rotating smoothly.

Rubber handled braces and hand drills can develop cracks if they are not sprayed with a silicone grease to keep them soft

Maintaining rubber handles

Rubber handles on braces and hand drills should be sprayed with a silicone grease to help prevent them from becoming hard and brittle which can lead to cracks forming.

Wonkee Donkee says: "You should never use any petroleum based greases on rubber. Whilst they may improve the appearance in the short term, over time they eat away at the rubber and weaken it."
Do not leave braces or hand drills with plastic handles out in direct sunlight

Plastic handles

There is no maintenance required on plastic handles other than brushing them clean of any dirt or shavings and keeping the brace or hand drill stored somewhere out of direct sunlight.

Painted frames and drive wheels that become scratched or chipped can be repaired

Repairing scratched or chipped paint

Should the paintwork on the drive wheel or frame of your hand drill become scratched or chipped, it may be possible to repair it.

Enamel paint should be used to paint frames and drive wheels of hand drills A protective enamel paint is the best for this as it easy to apply with a fine paint brush, will provide suitable rust protection to the metal frame underneath, and is available in many colours so you should be able to find a match close to the existing colour.
Follow the instructions on the tin for how to apply the enamel paint Clean the frame as described above and ensure the surface is dry, then follow the painting instructions on the can.
Preventative maintenance is the best course of action with chrome and nickel plating

What can be done with chrome and nickel plated frames?

With chrome and nickel plated frames preventative maintenance really is the best course of action.

Although chrome and nickel plating offer better corrosion protection than black Japanning or enamel/lacquer painting, it is not easy to re-plate a hand drill or brace frame.

Re-plating maybe a job for professionals Replating them will require taking the tool completely apart and achieving a reasonable finish is likely to require taking the tool to a plating specialist.

The cost of this is often far more than the hand drill or brace is worth.

Instead, ensuring the frame is brushed and wiped clean after each use will help protect the plating and ensure that the tool is in a satisfactory working order for many years.

Storing hand drills and braces

A simple clip can be screwed to the wall in your workshop that can then be used to secure your hand drill Unlike most power drills which come with a storage case when you purchase them, hand drills and braces do not.

This is not such a problem when the drill or brace is to be stored in a workshop or garage, as they can often be hung up on the wall with the aid of simple clips.

Home made dedicated storage cabinet for hand drills and braces Some people choose to make dedicated storage cabinets for their hand drills and braces that can then be fixed to the wall of a workshop or garage.
Tool cases with foam linings are ideal for storing hand drills and braces in away from a workshop If you want a storage case for a hand drill or brace that you will be taking out of the workshop then the best solution is to purchase a generic toolbox with a compartment large enough to fit the hand drill or brace.

This will also often mean you have additional storage for drill bits, adaptors and other accessories you use with your hand drill or brace.

Foam inserts cut to size around a tool can stop them moving around and damaging themselves in toolboxes A popular choice is to fit a foam insert into the storage compartment of the toolbox where the drill or brace is kept.

This can be cut to size around the drill or brace to prevent from it rattling around in the toolbox and damaging itself.

Home made wooden storage cases can give an authentic vintage style to collectable vintage hand drills and braces Some people like to make their own cases for their vintage hand drills and braces as this can help compliment the vintage appearance of the original tool.

Should bits be left in the chuck?

Should you store your hand drill or brace with the bit left in the chuck or not? It is usually better to remove a bit from a hand drill or brace chuck and store it with other bits you may have. This means when you go to get a bit you will have a full selection to choose from and can be sure the one you need is in amongst them.

However, some people will only use one bit in their hand drill or brace, in which case leaving it in the chuck makes sense as it saves time removing and replacing it. As well as guaranteeing you always have it with your hand drill or brace.

Wonkee Donkee Tools