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What brace and hand drill sizes are available?

Shop for Hand Drills and Braces

Hand drills and braces are available in a range of sizes to suit different situations. Hand drills and braces are available in a range of sizes suited to different applications, with smaller hand drills suited to more delicate work, and larger braces able to apply more torque for drilling larger holes.

How are braces sized?

The chuck size or capacity is the largest size bit that can be fitted to the chuck. A brace will be advertised with two sizes that you need to take into consideration.

Chuck size

The first is the chuck size: this determines what size bit can be fitted into the chuck of the brace. For example, a brace with a 13mm capacity chuck can be used with a bit that has a shank size of up to 13mm.

The second size you will need to know when buying a brace is the sweep.

Wonkee Donkee says: "When purchasing bits for a brace make sure you buy ones with the correct shape shaft shank for your braces chuck. A 2 jaw or split frame chuck will require a square shank bit."
Braces are sized according to the sweep of their turning handle

Brace sweep

The sweep, or throw, is the diameter of the circle formed by the sweep handle when it is turned fully.

It is also double the distance between the centre line of the brace and the centre of sweep handle.

It is important to know the sweep size of a brace as the larger the sweep, the more torque you can apply. This makes drilling larger diameter holes easier.

However, the larger the sweep of a brace, the less likely it is that you will be able to make a complete turn of the sweep handle when working in confined areas. Braces with a smaller sweep can also be turned faster, so are better for driving in screws than braces with a larger sweep, as they are able to turn faster, they take less time to use.

Braces sizes ranging from 6" up to 12" in 2" increments The sweep size of braces starts at around 6″ (150mm) and goes up in 2″ (50mm) increments to around 14″ (355mm).

10″ (250mm) sweep braces are the most common size as they are the most versatile, being able to accomplish most tasks. Braces are generally sized in imperial measurements instead of metric as the metric system had yet to become widely used when braces became popular tools.

How are hand drills sized?

The chuck size or capacity is the largest size bit that can be fitted to the chuck. Like braces, hand drills have two sizes you need to be aware of.

Chuck capacity

The first size is their chuck’s capacity; this is the maximum diameter drill bit shank that the chuck can accommodate. The chuck capacity of hand drills is typically less than that of braces, with hand drill chuck sizes usually only going up to 8mm (5/16″) where as braces often have a chuck capacity of 13mm (1/2″) .

  The reason for this is that a hand drill cannot apply as much torque as a brace, and so is unable to drill large diameter holes, unlike a brace.
Hand drills are sized by their length from the tip of the chuck to the end of the handle or breast plate

Length

The other size you may need to be aware of with a hand drill is its length. This is the total length of the drill from the tip of the chuck to the end of the handle.

Handle hand drills are shorter in length than breast plate hand drills Hand drills that have a handle are normally between 230mm and 380mm (9″-15″) in length. On the other hand, hand drills fitted with a breast plate will typically be 355mm (14″) or longer.
The breast plate hand drill needs to be longer to provide the room required between the turning handle and your chest to make drilling easier. Having a greater distance between your chest and the workpiece gives you more room to turn the drill’s handle, making the job easier.

What size hand drill or brace should you use?

The type of drill bit you need to use will affect what size brace you choose to use. 25mm auger bit with conical square tang. 6mm twist drill bit with straight shank. 10mm Brad point drill bit with straight shank. 22mm auger bit with 1/4" hex shank.

Bit shank

The first thing you should do when selecting the size of a hand drill or brace is decide what size and shank shape bit you will be using, as this will determine the size and type of chuck the drill or brace must have.

Braces are better suited to drilling large holes or driving long screws. Hand drills are better suited to drilling small holes or driving short screws.

Hole size and screw length

The next thing to consider is the size of the hole or length of the screw you wish to put into the workpiece.

For small diameter holes or short screws, a hand drill is better than a brace as it can be turned more quickly and can produce a greater cutting speed. Whereas, for large diameter holes or very long screws, more torque will be required so a brace is better suited.

Your choice of hand drill is affected by the material you wish to drill hand drills with breast plates are better for drilling metal

Material and hole size

The next thing to take into account is the workpiece material. If the material is very hard, such as metal, then you will need a larger, heavier hand drill, as this will make applying pressure to the drill bit easier and less tiring.

When drilling a very hard material such as metal, if the hole you are looking to drill is greater than 6mm (1/4″) in diameter, you should consider using a large hand drill with a breast plate. However, for more delicate work, a smaller drill should be used to increase accuracy and prevent damaging the workpiece, even though this may mean the job takes slightly longer.
The size of brace you use will affect your drilling speed. Small braces can drill faster but have less torque, larger braces will drill slower but can apply more torque. For large diameter holes in softer material such as wood, you are better off using a brace as you will be able to apply more torque to the bit. The larger the sweep of the brace, the more torque you will be able to apply, making drilling less tiring on your arms.

However, the larger the sweep of a brace, the slower the turning speed, so the longer it will take to complete the job.