Learning About Vintage Auger Bits
Twist or screw augers have been used since the 1700s
Can you tell me about these old auger bits I inherited?
—Thomas Condry, Lawton, OK
What you have are twist or screw augers, which have been used since the 1700s to bore large—and often long—holes in wood and to hog out mortises. Yours would have been chucked into a tool called a bit brace and turned by hand. The bit in the foreground and the one behind it follow the Jennings pattern, invented by Russell Jennings in 1855. It has a double twist, a screw point to anchor it, and spurs to cut a clean hole. The other augers, with a single fin spiraling around a thick central shaft, are Irwin pattern bits, patented by Charles Irwin in 1884. They can withstand much higher torque than the more delicate Jennings bits.