The spoon bit was used in the chairmaker's wooden brace. They had a
flat tang that was driven into the foot of the brace or into a wooden
pad that fitted into the foot of the brace. In the brace that I own and
the ones I have examined, the bits were driven directly into the foot of
the brace or the pad. R. A. Salaman, The Dictionary of Tools,
illustrates a spoon bit tang that is driven into a hole the diameter of
the tang and then wedged on both sides. The Dictionary of Woodworking
Tools is reliable and highly recommended. While probably not used on
the majority of wooden braces, a brass ferule around the foot of the
brace prevents splitting. I have seen many repairs of unferruled braces.
Regarding these braces and bits see W. L. Goodman, The History of
Woodworking Tools and Henry Mercer, Ancient Carpenter's Tools.
Spoon bits are available through most of the large tool catalogs. By
far the best spoon bits that I am aware of are made by Fred Emhof ,
Wharton Valley Tool Works, Rte. 1, Box 124, Burlington Flats, NY 13315.
All the commercially available spoon bits have the standard square
tapered tang that fits into today's bit chucks. I do not know of any
blacksmith that will custom make flat tanged spoon bits, but I am
Well, this discussion has helped me see some questions , I need to work
on. Remember that the wooden brace and bit has been around and in use
for well over 500 years. The first illustration is in the 1438 Merode
Altarpiece . The earliest surviving examples date from the mid 16th
Century. They were used by traditional English Chairmakers through the
early 20th Century. And now we are back again! There are countless
variations in design and style. It is difficult to attribute a given
technology to a particular time. We too often assume that one
technological innovation leads directly to another. Sophistication is
not necessarily more modern, nor crude, old. One thing that I have
learned, as David Pye has said, that just because people are dead
doesn't mean they were dumb.
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