Mortess Chissel, Brace & Bitt

XXII. He beareth Argent, a Mortess Chissel, Azure, the Helve, Or. By the name of Chizell.

This is a Chissel broad in the sides and thick in the face part, so consequently stronger than other Chissels, that it may abide heavyer Blows with the Mallet; it hath a deep Basil, and is used to cut deep square holes called Mortesses in a piece of Wood: They are of several bignesses answerable to the breadth of the Mortesses they are to make.

XXIII. He beareth Or, a Sprig Bitt, Sable; Handle, Argent. Three such is born by the name of Hile. This is a thing like an Awle, having a four square Blade, with which holes are made in thin and narrow Stuff, to drive in small and slender Nails called Sprigs; Nails without heads.

XXIV. He beareth Azure, a Brace and Bit, Or. This hath several denominations as I find amongst Workmen; for of some it is termed a Brace, others a Wimble, others a Wimble-Brace, and a Vambrace; in London it is generally termed a Piercer. It is used in Boring of Holes to drive Wooden Pins through Mortesses and Tennants in Joyners work.

Two such Braces erected and endorsed, or conjoined with a Girdle Gules, is the Crest of Bracegirdle, of Bracegirdle Green in Cheshire.

The parts of the Brace and Bitt.

The Head, is the round top, flat Button, which turneth in a hole in the Stock.
The Socket of the Brace head, the place where it turns.
The Handle.
The Bush or Pad Hole, a four square hole in which the Bit is placed, so as it cannot turn.
The Stock, is all the turning part of the Brace.
The Bush or Pad, is the square piece of Wood in which the Bit is fixed, which is taken out and put into the Brace as often as it is used.
The Bit, is the Iron as bores the hole, which that you may see the parts more exactly view the next Figure.

XXV. He beareth a Bit, fixed in its Bush or Pad. The Bushes being made fit for the square hole of thes Brace may serve for several sorts of Bits, both to make small and large holes, also ebb or deep according to the length of the shank of the Bit. The Bush hath its hold, which is the square; the Shoulder for the Brace to rest upon; and the round or bottom, where the Bit is put in.

— From Randle Holme’s “The Academy of Armory, or, A Storehouse of Armory and Blazon” Book III, Chapter IX. Why am I reading this?

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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One Response to Mortess Chissel, Brace & Bitt

  1. Wendy Dodd says:

    I love the phrase, "They are of several bignesses answerable to the breadth of the Mortesses they are to make."

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Wendy Dodd

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