Chris Schwarz's Blog

Eggbeater Drills: Beaters and Beyond

Reader Aaron Cashion writes:

“Watched your DVD about drawboring today after reading your ‘Workbenches’ book. Really enjoyed both. I had never heard of drawboring, and this will defintely be going into my arsenal. Where can I get a good eggbeater style hand drill? Are there new quality ones being made or should I go the eBay route and look for a vintage one? I prefer to buy quality and not some Asian import for $4.99.”

Ah Aaron, I relish opening this can of oligochaetes.

I have yet to encounter a newly manufactured eggbeater drill that I like. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I’ve always been curious about this drill from Germany. However, I’ve never seen one boring in the wild.

Most of the eggbeaters , more properly called “hand drills” , that I’ve used have been from the venerable Millers Falls company. This company made a shocking quantity and variety of these drills, and you can learn all about the different models here at Old Tool Heaven.

In the Midwest and East, you can find these tools at almost any antique store, flea market or garage sale. I typically pick them up for $5 to $15 when they are in good working order. Look for a chuck that has jaws that open and close properly (they can be missing their springs). You want the gear train to move smoothly , through usually a little cleaning and lubrication can fix things up.

Typical hand drills will be missing their removable side handles, so snatch up any that of those that you stumble on.

These drills come up every darn day on eBay, though you cannot tell if the thing is clapped out. Here’s a search script that will take you to a page of drills. However, I prefer to take my drills for a spin before spending my American dollars.

The other option is to spend a bit more and get a drill that is better than new.

Wiktor Kuc of New Mexico buys these old drills and rebuilds them so that they look and work better than when they came from the factory. I’ve had a few of Wiktor’s drills pass through my hands, and all I can say is that the man charges far too little for the work he does. If drill restoration is an art form, Wiktor is the Leonardo.

You can purchase these drills from Wiktor at his web site wktools.com. You might have to wait a bit for one, but it’s worth it.

- Christopher Schwarz

8 thoughts on “Eggbeater Drills: Beaters and Beyond

  1. shadyb

    Hmmmm….hand drills….yep, daddy has a drill problem..

    Out of the dozen or so that have found their way into my feverish little paws, haven`t had to do much more that a quick teardown, buff everything on a brass wheel, then reassemble. Never worried too much after cause they always work! I always find these things at yard sales or flea markets, mostly in the $2-4 dollar range, and I CANT PASS ONE without picking it up…missus always gives me that look but it doesn`t do any good.

    Anybody know of a good therapy group? Preferably one covered by Anthem?

  2. Gordon Conrad

    I have a Number 2 and a number 5 that I frequently use. I also have a rebuilt 1920 vintage number 2 similar to that pictured and a later 1940 vintage number 2 that just required some disassembly and cleaning. Both of the latter are available by email at geconrad2@att.net if you can’t find one at a reasonable price.

  3. Adrian

    I’ve gotten three drills on ebay and the chucks never work properly. The first two just needed cleaning. There was too much crud in the chuck for the springs to function. I opened up the chuck and clean the inside and reassemble and then they work. For the third one, the chuck springs are twisted and mangled. (All three are present, though.) I haven’t figured out yet what to do about that one.

  4. Derek Cohen

    I love the MF #5 and 2A eggbeaters. One of these days I will do a "Wiktor" on them, as they deserve it. For drawboring, don’t overlook small braces. An 8" is a nice size here – and you get lots of torgue along with precision and control.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. Doug

    I’m currently using a Millers Falls 2A and as you mentioned, it took quite a while to find one not covered in rust with a working chuck. When I got mine, the chuck wasn’t working but it was simply because the springs weren’t put in correctly. I’m betting the chuck was spun off and came apart and someone didn’t want to spend the time to figure out how to put it back together properly. Works great now, but I was wondering, with all the inoperative chucks out there, is it because the springs break or do they just end up missing when the chuck is taken off the frame. And if the springs do have a tendency to break, would it be better to keep the chuck closed (tightened), open most of the way, or off the drill, protecting those springs like they are the last set on the planet? Just curious of others thoughts being this is my first hand drill. I browse by wktools occasionally and check on their spring supply but their webpage always says out of stock, though I’ve never asked them directly. Thanks

  6. Ken S

    I have been amazed at the quality of the old Millers Falls, Goodell-Pratt, and Yankee hand drills. On several occasions, I have bought drills that were seized with rust but with only a light cleaning and oiling were working as new. Unless the frame is cracked or the shaft bent, it seems any of these drills can be put to use with minimal work. Wiktor’s drills are amazing. Restoration is not a sufficient term to describe what he does. They are beautiful and worth every penny he charges.

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