Braces, also known as "bitstocks" or "piercers," were used to hold various types of bits in place. It operated as a crank to enable a worker to drill holes with greater speed and continuity than possible with a gimlet or auger. Nathaniel IV made braces as well as purchased them, often producing ones that are utilitarian and beautiful.
Button bits were used by the Dominys to scribe, cut, and smooth bone, horn, and wood buttons. Their outer spurs scored and cut the circumference of the button. Sharp chamfered edges between the spurs and center pin smoothed the button surface just before the spurs cut through and released it. Between 1773 and 1822, Dominy accounts record the making of 356 buttons and 1,708 button molds. Buttons were sold to many customers, and the Dominys may have made some for their own use.
In late-eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century tool catalogues, these bits are called "chair," "gouge," "spoon," "quill, or "pin," interchangeably. They were used by the Dominys to drill holes in chair stiles to receive the round tenons of arm supports, seat rails, and stretchers. Gouge bits were defined as an open half cylinder sharpened at the end of the blade like a gouge. Spoon bits were generally bent up at the end of the blade to make a taper point. These distinctions for what are basically variants of the same design.
A countersink bit was used to enlarge the upper part of a previously drilled hole so that the head of a bolt, rivet, or screw could be sunk flush with, or below, a wood or metal surface. The countersink bits owned by the Dominys may have been supplied by local blacksmiths because, on separate occasions in 1788 and 1791, Nathaniel IV purchased center bits and "Screw-Box Bits" from Deacon David Talmage
The gimlet bit was used to drill pilot holes for wood screws. The bits shown were likely used in hardwoods (if not metal) for, with one exception, the blades have all broken above their starting twist.
These hand brace bits are related to the nose, or downcutting, auger. The projecting lip, or notched blade, allows wood shavings to accumulate in the spoon, or hollow portion, of the bit. The shavings had to be removed frequently from the hole cut by this tool. Consequently, they were probably the least efficient of all cabinetmakers' bits.
The Dominys used reamer bits to widen, or ream, previously drilled holes.
There is an obvious relationship between the spiral bit and the spiral auger. The development of a twisted blade provided the advantage of boring a hole faster and straighter while removing wood shavings at the same time. All the Dominys appreciated the efficiency of spiral bits and seven examples used by Nathaniel V and his son Felix have survived.
From the number of unidentified tools in various collections it can be deduced that craftsmen occasionally made special-purpose tools for particular tasks. These tenon-cutting bits are examples of the type of implement for which no illustration or document can be found. Various suggestions have been made regarding the purpose of these bits. Perhaps the most pertinent is that they were used to produce the round tenon, or dowel, at the end of stretchers, arm supports, spindles, and other parts of chairs made by the Dominys, including parts of chairs made for children.