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This brace, also known as a “brace and bit”, “belly brace” or “boat brace”, was found in the carpenter’s chest on the Mary Rose

It was essentially a hand drill, used to drill small holes through thin pieces of timber, starter holes for large nails or for creating a centring rebate for larger holes, to be drilled with an auger. A brace comprises three elements: an iron bit, a wood handle and a wooden pad, which would rotate, protecting the hand from wear when the handle is turned, driving the bit.

While the iron bit hasn’t survived, we know from comparison with other surviving examples it would have been a spoon-shaped piece of iron with a cutting head at the end. Eleven braces were found in total, six within the Carpenter’s cabin and the other five scattered across all the decks.