I have a Millers Falls 2A hand drill that I bought on eBay last year. I didn’t read the fine print (my fault, not the seller’s) and when it arrived I saw that it was missing one of the jaws from the chuck, rendering it unusable.
In the fall, I found another hand drill at a flea market that I assumed was a Millers Falls 2A. It was in pretty rough shape and the gears wouldn’t turn due to rust. I paid $3 for it, thinking that I would use it for parts. Both drills sat untouched for the past six months or so while I’ve worked on other projects. While cleaning up the shop recently, I came across the flea market hand drill and started to take it apart. I started to work on it, and before long the project somehow morphed from a parts recovery, to a full tool restoration. Since I wasn’t originally planning on restoring the drill, I didn’t take any “before” photos. Damn!
When I cleaned the grime off the drive handle, I discovered that the drill was not marked as Millers Falls. Instead the drive handle was stamped “Craftsman Made in USA 1071”
It appears to me in every other way to be a Millers Falls 2A drill. I searched online and found several links to Craftsman hand drills that were made by Millers Falls, but they were all different models and none were a 2A.
The best info that I have found online about Millers Falls drills (and tool restorations in general) is the www.WKfinetools.com website. This link will take you to an overview of the number 2 drill.
I had a hard time dismantling the hand drill. The pinion gear closest to the handle was rusted solid to the shaft. I managed to pinch the gear between some scraps of softwood in my bench vice and used some locking pliers to turn the shaft until the gear broke free.
Once it was all apart, I cleaned all of pieces with a soft wire wheel in my bench grinder. This removed all the rust and old paint. Even the parts inside the chuck had some surface rust, but all were cleaned, oiled, and reassembled. I polished all of the chromed parts (the chuck and ferules) and the drive handle on a buffing wheel mounted on my bench grinder.
After paint removal, I cleaned all of the parts with spirits and then masked and painted them. I let the paint cure for a couple of days before I removed the masking tape.
The handle shaft happened to be the same diameter as the hole in the drive wheel, so I chucked it up in my electric drill and spun the drive wheel to make it easy to sand. I sanded the exposed metal of the drive wheel up to 400 grit and this left a very nice satin finish to the edge.
I sanded all of the wooden parts to remove the old crumbling finish. I then applied a coat of Minwax mahogany gel stain and followed this with three coats of Watco wipe on poly. I sanded the finish back with 320 grit paper to level the surface and applied two more coats of the poly to finish.
So here it is all done. The gears turn beautifully. There is no play in the mechanism at all. I should now have a hand drill that will give me many years of service. I still however have a Millers Falls 2A that is in good shape but missing a jaw. So much for using the Craftsman drill for parts! I guess the other one will sit on the shelf until I figure out what to do with it.
Nice looking work. What paints did you use?
I used Dupli-Color Engine Enamel with ceramic. I use this when I restore Stanley planes. I usually bake it on (after it dries for a couple of days first) at about 250 degrees. The paint is rated to 500 degrees. I did not bake it this time and I will see how it holds up.
I got the paint from my local O’Reilly Auto Parts store. The colors were Gloss Black (DE1613) and Red (DE1653).
Hope this helps.
I appreciate you sharing this article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.
How were you able to remove the handle from the frame of the drill? I just picked one of these up, having a hard time getting the handle off.
It depends upon which version of the drill you have. Many variations were made over the years and the design changed as time went on. On mine there are two pins that go through the shaft that connects the frame to the handle. One holds the shaft to the frame and the other holds the wooden handle to the shaft. I used an small punch and a light hammer to remove the pins. I didn’t get into it in depth in my post since it has been done so much better on the WK Fine Tools website. You can probably find all that you are looking for there. I know I used it a lot when I was restoring this drill. Try this link and you can see the pin holes that I’m talking about:
I hope this helps,
A couple days after reading this blog I too found a Craftsman 1071! It seems these are a bit rare. I still have to inspect in thoroughly, but if it warrants I will do a restoration much like yours. Thanks for the information, without it I would not have known. As you already know, the 2 and 5’s are some of the most sought after models.
Thanks for your comment. Restoring a hand drill is a fun project. It’s not huge job, but the results are often quite startling. I’d love to see how yours turns out.
All the best,
Any leads on where to find a replacement handle endcap?
I’m not sure. The first place that I would start my search is http://www.wkfinetools.com. Hope this helps.
All the best,