Old Hand Drill refurbish completed (I think...)

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Blog entry by jasondain posted 08-13-2013 01:13 PM 1852 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This summer while on vacation in NH, we made a stop in Maine to hit some woodworking stops. First off we hit Christian Becksvoorts shop in New Gloucester then we went to Lie Nielsen tools and finally stopped at Liberty tool in Liberty ME. I had heard about this place in magazines and online and those didn’t even come close to preparing me for the number and variety of tools they had there. If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping in. I know I will be making another trip there this fall to find some more old tools to fix up. This is my second operation and I really enjoy reading about the history of old tools and making them work again.

I got this hand drill that was unmarked for a few bucks and figured I could tune it up. I did all kinds of research and determined it was likely a Millers falls #2 or #5 or some knock off from the time. The cast iron was a bit beat up and rusty, the knobs were a bit busted up and the handle had been replaced by the owner years ago.

I fully disassembled the drill and cleaned up all the metal parts with a wire brush on my drill and that worked quite well. I then used WD-40 and a tooth brush to clean out any grime in the gears etc. My friend Richard graciously offered to help turn new handles for the drill and we made them out of Cocobolo and used Ferrules from Lee Valley. They turned out really nice and I’m very pleased with how they look. I decided to make the handles a bit larger than the original as I found them too small in use. Unfortunately, this has made me want to get a lathe so I need to manage that as my tool allowance on the home front is pretty limited unless we get another pet and I don’t want to go there as we have 3 cats and a dog already.

My final conundrum is whether to paint or not. The original drill had a gloss black enamel on the frame and the inner part of the wheel was glossy red like this I actually prefer the raw cast iron so will likely just wax and call it day and use it in my next projects. Thanks for reading.

Original Drill;

10 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days

#1 posted 08-13-2013 01:30 PM

My vote would be to not paint it. It can’t get any better looking than it is now. Beautiful job on the restoration.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15342 posts in 2612 days

#2 posted 08-13-2013 01:35 PM

What Don said; it’s beautiful as is, nice job!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JayT's profile (online now)


5620 posts in 2205 days

#3 posted 08-13-2013 01:37 PM

Wow, very nice!!! +1 on not painting. It looks great now.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3079 days

#4 posted 08-13-2013 02:00 PM

Great job on the drill, now you have to buy that lathe and figure out how to make the threaded handle
to hold the bits for this little jewel. I have a Miller Falls that I got from my father and it is a wonderful tool
for drilling pilot holes when you just do not want and sound but your own thoughts in the shop. Thank
you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Handtooler's profile


1553 posts in 2126 days

#5 posted 08-13-2013 06:23 PM

Super re-furb. Yes, don’t paint, but keep oiled or waxed to keep rust down as newly cleaned steel/iron tends to rust again quickly.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4091 days

#6 posted 08-13-2013 09:35 PM

Well done. Looks very similar to a Miller Falls #5 I picked up over the weekend.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3034 days

#7 posted 08-13-2013 09:39 PM

No Paint here also, Nice Job !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3145 days

#8 posted 08-13-2013 10:24 PM

Wow that is sexy! I think I’m going to go out and strip the paint off of mine!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View theoldfart's profile


9694 posts in 2445 days

#9 posted 08-13-2013 10:47 PM

Jason, Liberty is a dangerous place. You should also stay away from the Tool Barn at Hulls Cove on MDI! Both are part of our annual pilgrimage to Maine. Great job on the restore.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View freddyaudiophile's profile


58 posts in 2045 days

#10 posted 08-26-2013 09:18 PM

Skip the paint… Paint would ruin it… Look at that warm grey colour!!

Wow… I’m partly interested in refurbishing some old tools now…

-- freddyaudiophile, Fredericton, NB, Canada

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