After I restored the Craftsman 107.1 hand drill, I was feeling pretty good about things, so I picked up this Millers Falls no. 5 hand drill for my next restoration project. The drill dates from ca. 1921-1936, making it about 80-90 years old at the time of the restoration. Here’s what I started with:
Millers Falls no. 5 hand drill, as acquired. Front view.
Millers Falls no. 5 hand drill, as acquired. Rear view.
The finish on the handle was worn out.
The threads are not broken off.
The wooden threads look good.
There was a tight crack along the base that I did not see before I bought it. I filled it with a Titebond instant bond wood adhesive, thin viscosity (a CA glue). It set up well and I think the crack will be stabilized.
An intact (and present) side handle is always appreciated. The finish and stain is crap, but that’s not bad.
The crank handle is bent, but can be carefully un-bent in a machinist’s vise with judicious pressure.
The chuck is a bit marked up, but it opens and closes just fine.
The lower gear is intact. The frame finish is worn.
The upper gear is also intact.
The chuck spindle is rusty and needs to be cleaned up, as does the chuck itself.
No cracks in the cast iron wheel.
No missing teeth in the wheel, either.
When removing the chuck shaft, you must be very careful not to lose the thrust bearing components, which are pressed up inside the cup in the frame that the spindle rides in. They’ll fall out once the spindle is removed, and good luck finding them.
I media blasted the cast iron wheel and the frame (frame not shown). This is a much easier way to remove the paint from all the nooks and crannies.
Masking the gears and rim of the main wheel is a little tedious, but I do it in small pieces (about 3 teeth at a time) and it is soon done. Masking is much easier than removing paint later. I suspect that in production, they painted first, then machined the teeth and rim into the wheel afterward.
This is my new favorite trick to masking the cups and screw holes in the frame: foam ear plugs. They’re cheap and they quickly expand to fill the holes. Buy them in a big jar from Amazon for practically nothing, and then you always have ear protection in your shop as well!
Foam ear plugs do a great job masking small holes for painting – depending on you paint chemistry, they might melt, I suppose. These don’t seem to mind my paint.
I painted the frame with Dupli-color engine enamel in semi-gloss black (DE1635).
I painted the wheel with Dupli-color engine enamel in red (DE1653).
I sanded the wooden parts down to about 600 grit and applied Minwax water-based polycrylic in several coats, sanding between coats. This time, I tried stuffing a little of my son’s play-doh into the handle cap and sticking a pencil into the play-doh to hold the piece while I finished it. It worked ok.
I sanded the crank handle gently (this is before finishing the wood). I also bent it back into shape using a machinist’s vise with wooden jaws. I’m not crazy about how the surface turned out. I may revisit it in the future.
I didn’t finish the screws properly, and I need to disassemble them and re-polish them. My bad.
The triangular trademark and ‘MILLERS FALLS, MASS’ origin date this drill to somewhere ca. 1921 and 1931, according to Old Tools Heaven.
The handle turned out pretty good. I don’t notice the repaired crack at all.
The chuck and bare metal parts were moderately polished. I have since found a better way to do this, as you’ll see in the second Millers Falls no 5 I restored, but the chuck looks good and works much better.
Reassembled and restored Millers Falls no. 5 hand drill, rear view.
I am pretty happy with how it turned out.
Millers Falls no. 5 hand drill – restored.
I learned a lot restoring this drill, and I had fun doing it. Now it’s ready for another 85 years of service.