Buying a Brace

A secondhand swing brace should last a lifetime if it has been well looked after. We recommend buying secondhand as there are lots available which are not worn down, they are also much less expensive than buying new. Stanley has proven to be good quality so look out for them when buying secondhand.

You can get different sizes, Paul recommends a 10 inch swing. This refers to the diameter that the handle swings round in, if the brace is described at 10 inches, the depth of the handle will be 5 inches, and the diameter it swings in will be 10.

If you are buying secondhand bits, check that the pointed snail (the smaller spiralled tip on the end which pulls the bit into the wood) and the spurs (the cutting edges either side of the bit) are sharp and protrude past the cutting edge so you get a clean cut, to see how to sharpen second hand bits click here. Machine bits made for electric drills can also work in a hand brace, however they do not lock in as well as the tang type, square taper traditional bit, however they will work. The main difference is that the machine type has a hexagonal shank designed for a three-jaw chuck. When searching for these use the terms ‘brace bits’ and ‘auger bits’.

Paul suggests spending no more than £50 on a new brace and between £5-10 on a secondhand one.

We purchased this for £13.95 from eBay with £3.50 delivery.

buying a brace

Further Reading

To read more on this tool, we recommend the following from Paul's blog:

Questions Answered- On Brace and Bits


  1. Jim Bruno on 1 August 2018 at 11:50 am


    I commend you for making this information readily available in a condensed format (compared to reading through Paul’s blog and the forums on WWMC) including some links to suitable, affordable options when buying new and prices you paid when buying second hand.

    In this particular guide I would recommend (or rather wish for) an added paragraph regarding augers/brace bits and where to get them new. I have a brace, found in my late grandfathers shed, but the augers were in poor state and some sizes were missing. I have tried to find a set on eBay to a reasonable price but have failed and have seen some offerings of new ones but I’m not certain of quality and suitability for braces as the new ones mostly have hexagonal shanks.

    Best regards,, Jim

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 8 August 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I am pleased to hear you are enjoying the site!

      I have taken onboard your suggestion and we will be adding more details on brace bits soon.

      Kind Regards,


    • Stephen Steiner on 1 November 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Jim,

      I’ve been out shopping for some good antique/vintage hand tools–inspired by Paul’s work–and I’ve had very good luck at antique shops. Of course there’s a small price to pay for buying from the antiquer who took the time to visit estate sales to find the items; nevertheless, I’ve found good deals. I found a complete brace bit set in a scroll-style roll-up pouch for about $25USD–it contained everything from 3/16″ up to 7/8″–in mediocre condition.

      Good luck!

  2. Christopher Jackson on 6 November 2018 at 2:08 pm

    What brand are the boxed set of bits in the picture?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 15 November 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Christopher,

      These are a new set of bits made in China which are unbranded and are readily available online. As an alternative, Paul suggests you might try looking for second hand bits, you can see how to sharpen and repair these in our Setting Up and Sharpening a Swing Brace and Bit guide.

      Kind Regards,

  3. Byron Stephen Wiseman on 3 August 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Dear Team,

    My brace is an old Stanley 965-10 . However it does not have a spring in the auger chuck and I was wondering if it was missing or this brace didn’t have one? It seems to work fine so I was wondering if there was any advantage to the spring? Perhaps this was a lower priced one not for the professional?

    Many Thanks,

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 6 August 2019 at 11:24 am

      Hi Stephen,

      Paul says:

      If it has handyman written on it then it doesn’t have a spring, you just turn it with the chuck uppermost and drop the bit in.

      Kind Regards,

  4. David on 27 January 2020 at 11:47 am

    Hi there,

    does it matter how many jaws the drill chuck has? My favorite tool store sells braces with two, three or even four jaws and they become more expensive the more jaws they have.

    Kind regards

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 3 February 2020 at 11:59 am

      Hi David,

      Paul says:
      The one with the split chuck crocodile jaws works best on a swing brace.

      Kind Regards,

  5. João Borges on 11 February 2020 at 8:02 am

    Hello I’m looking for a brace and came up with a Stanley H1253 in a very decent using condition. The seller said that the handle does not spin and I’m wondering if this particullary model just haver a rust problem or if it’s just not supposed to spin at all. Can you help me with this question? Thank um advance

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 13 February 2020 at 3:56 pm


      Paul says:
      I don’t know because I don’t really know the different types of Stanley braces that well.

      Kind Regards,

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 14 February 2020 at 8:36 am

      Hi João,

      Paul says:
      I don’t know because I don’t really know the different types of Stanley braces that well.

      Kind Regards,

  6. Joey Goodwin on 17 July 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Izzy. Hope you’re safe and well. I picked up a very nice brace for around $6 U.S. Now I face the somewhat daunting (to me) task of getting a nice set of bits for it. I am constantly browsing flea malls and thrift stores but haven’t found any yet. If Paul were to recommend buying new, does he have any particular brand/set he might suggest I get?

    Thanks and have a wonderful day!
    Joey Goodwin. (across the pond 😉 )

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 24 July 2020 at 9:26 am

      Hi Joey,

      Paul says:
      I’ve never bought them new, but have bought some almost new sets on eBay that come up frequently.

      Kind Regards,

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