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How to use a brace?

How to use a brace

Shop for Hand Drills and Braces

Other equipment you may need

A vice is a useful too for holding a workpiece freeing up your hands to operate a hand drill


Depending on the size and shape of your workpiece, you may want a vice to hold it in place whilst you drill your holes or drive your screws.

Clamps can be used to hold two or more parts of a workpiece together freeing your hands to operate a hand drill


You may want to use some clamps to hold the workpiece in place, or two parts together, whilst you use the brace.

Work benches allow you to rest a workpiece at a comfortable height for using a hand drill

Work bench

Placing the workpiece on a work bench may make drilling or driving screws easier.

Socket bits and drill bits can be used with a hand drill for drilling holes or driving in or removing screws

Drill bit or socket bit

You will need an appropriate size drill bit for drilling holes, or socket bit for driving screws.

Rulers and tape measures are needed to accurately mark where screws or holes need to be placed on the workpiece

Measuring device

A measuring device such as a tape measure or ruler will be required to measure the correct position of the holes you wish to drill.

Pencils or other marking tools are needed to mark where screws or holes should be placed

Pencil or other marking tool

A marking tool such as a pencil, scriber or marking knife should be used with your measuring device to accurately mark the position where screws or holes are to be placed.

Using a brace

Use the marking tool and measuring tape to mark the position of the holes or screws you wish to place in your workpiece

Step 1 – Mark out

Before you begin drilling or driving screws into a workpiece you should always mark out the position of where you want them to go.

Using your measuring device and marking tool, measure from the edges of your workpiece, placing a mark where the screws or holes are required.

Turning the shell case of the hand drill chuck anti-clockwise will move the jaws apart so you can place a drill bit between them

Step 2 – Secure bit

Turn the shell of the chuck anti-clockwise to separate the jaws.

With the jaws of the chuck separated place the drill bit between them and turn the chuck shell to tighten the jaws and secure the bit to the brace Once the jaws have been separated just enough to accommodate the drill bit or socket bit, place the bit between them in the chuck.

Then turn the chuck shell clockwise to tightly grip the bit.

Most braces that are fitted with a ratchet have the ratchet setting adjusted by turning a collar to one of 3 positions.

Step 3 – Select ratchet setting

If your brace has a ratchet mechanism fitted, you should now set this so that the brace will only turn the bit in the direction you want.

The other type of ratchet adjustment found on a braces is a bar that moves backwards and forwards through 3 positions, one for each ratchet setting. Brace ratchets are usually set by twisting a collar just above the ratchet gear, or moving a bar above the ratchet gear backwards or forwards.
If you have room to make complete turns of the sweep handle then you should set the ratchet in the non-ratcheting position.

This will allow you to make complete smooth turns of the brace, which will give quicker, more accurate drilling as the brace is less likely to lean off in one direction.

Brace with collar type ratchet set to 3rd position which only allows the chuck to turn clockwise Set the ratchet to only turn the bit clockwise for drilling or driving screws in a tight space where you can not make complete turns of the sweep handle.

If you are using the brace to remove screws, set the ratchet to only turn the bit anti-clockwise.

Always try to keep the drill bit of the brace at a right angle to the workpiece surface for the best results when drilling or driving screws.

Step 4 – Position brace

Place the tip of the drill bit on the point of the workpiece you marked out earlier.

When drilling or driving screws into a workpiece, always try to have the drill bit at a 90° angle to the surface of the workpiece. This will reduce the chances of the bit slipping and sliding across the surface of your workpiece and damaging it.

When holding a brace your dominant hand should grasp the sweep handle and non-dominant hand apply pressure on the brace head.

Step 5 – Hold brace

Grip the sweep handle of the brace with your dominant hand as you would a sword or umbrella.

Then place the palm of your other hand on top of the brace head.

Use your non-dominant hand to apply downward pressure through the head of the brace to the drill bit. When drilling vertically with a brace, use your non-dominant hand to apply downward pressure to the drill bit.
When using a brace horizontally the head can be placed against your chest to apply pressure to the drill bit. If you are drilling horizontally with a brace, the head of the brace can be placed against your chest so you can use your body weight to apply more pressure to the drill bit if needed.
Rotate the sweep handle of the brace through complete turns if you have room to do so.

Step 6 – Turn sweep handle

Once you have the brace positioned and held correctly, rotate the sweep handle through complete turns if there is room to do so.

This ensures the drill bit is constantly turning and so is less likely to stick in the hole you are drilling.

If you are unable to make complete turns of the sweep handle, rotate the handle as far as possible before moving it back to the starting position, and repeating the action.

Continue with this back and forth movement and the ratchet will ensure the drill bit is only turned in the direction you have set it.

When using a hand drill shavings from the workpiece can clog the drill bit flutes creating heat which can caused the bit to jam in the hole

Step 7 – Clear out shavings

As you drill, shavings from the workpiece will be produced and raised up out of the hole by the flutes of the drill bit. These shavings can clog up the flutes of the drill bit and create friction, which will make the drill bit heat up and expand.

This can result in the drill bit becoming stuck in the hole, or even breaking if it is a small bit.

To prevent the drill bit of your hand drill over heating and jamming in the hole, move it in and out of the hole to clear the shavings. To help prevent this from happening, you should remove the drill bit from the hole every few millimetres, before placing it back in.

Keep the drill bit turning whilst you do this so that the shavings continue to be removed.

Wonkee Donkee Tools