Tool Lubrication & Asher’s First Eggbeater Hand Drill – Part 2

eggbeater hand drill

Giving a toddler an open-geared eggbeater hand drill is risky business because the gears can pinch their fingers and ultimately scare them away from woodworking tools for a while. Therefore, the logical solution is an enclosed-gear drill. Many companies used to make them (see the Stanley Continental No748A, and Stanley 610 for example) but since practically almost all of our drilling industry went corded then electric cordless, the number of makers and the variety of hand-operated tools has dwindled drastically.

I remember a few years ago seeing a German-made enclosed-gear hand drill in the catalog of a North American hand-tool vendor. The drill was made by Schroder and seemed to be robust. It had two transmission settings: low gear for bits with a larger diameter and high speed for smaller bits. Its chuck’s capacity was 1/2” which was very impressive given that most “eggbeater” style drills are limited to 3/8” bits.

As I began contemplating buying such a drill for both Asher and me, I visited that catalog again and was disappointed to discover that the drill was no longer listed. I resumed my online search and located two stores that list it, but they displayed the ominous “out of stock.” So I assumed the worst – that company stopped making the drill. More searches revealed a clone drill made in India, but I couldn’t find any store in the U.S. or in Canada that carried it. The only avenue I could think of was eBay.

After a short search, I was lucky to find a used drill at half the price of a new one, and it even came in its original box. Thrilled to try it out, I inserted a 3/8” bit into the chuck and gave the crank handle a spin. The outcome was OK, but not great. The high-speed gear seemed stiff while the low gear was fine. So to find out what was wrong with the drill, I opened the gearbox caps and probed the mechanism.

The picture that unfolded was unpleasant – caked-up grease in a spectrum of colors that one finds in toddler’s diaper or on the paint pallet of an impressionist artist. The original grease disintegrated into black and hard clay, brown and stiff goo and soft and runny honey-like oil. I decided to overhaul the gearbox in hopes of making things run smoother. So I picked up a painter’s spatula, an old toothbrush, a micro brush, toothpicks, Q-tips and lint-free cotton rags.

First, I scraped up as much of the old grease as I could with the spatula. Then I grabbed the micro brush and got out all the crud between the gear teeth. In spots where stubborn black strands of metal and grease refused to let go, I wetted the area with mineral spirits and scrubbed again. As you can see in the pictures below this was a tedious job. I used the Q-tips only on wide surfaces to avoid the fibers from catching in the gears.

Short strands of hardened grease and grime packed the space between the teeth had to forced out with a spatula. Once the gunk was removed, both the helical gears and the bevel gear worked much better.

Once the gearbox was pretty clean of old grease, I smeared a generous amount of new synthetic grease on all areas of the gears, and dropped some oil on the the gear axle bearings. Then I closed the box.

A new layer of grease is smeared on the gears.

Then I turned to the ball bearing around the shaft behind the drill’s chuck.

I pushed out the retainer clip, lifted the cap washer above the ball bearings and, with a makeshift spatula, scraped the old grease out. Next I tucked in some new synthetic grease and recapped the bearing with the retainer ring.

The job was done – now to try the refurbished tool. It worked like a charm, smooth and fast. The effort was worth it, for sure.

After all this work, I began thinking that, although I figured out a way to give Asher a safe drill that will not hurt his extremities, our house remained unprotected. As the saying goes: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – meaning that once Asher starts using the drill (with a bit inside) he might soon enough get bored with the scrap pieces I provide and try drilling everywhere. This, of course, is out of the question. So how do I make his drilling experience more interesting for him but not detrimental to our floors, walls and furniture? I came up with the idea of making a drill bit lookalike that will not drill. I picked up a wooden peg and drew a candy stick spiral on it. Now when Asher turns the drill, he sees the spiral moving and gets excited.

We shall see how long this lasts before my toddler uncovers my deception and demands the real deal.

 — Yoav Liberman

If you have kids (perhaps slightly older than is Asher) check out “Build it with Dad” by A.J. Hamler (when we reprint it, we’re changing the title to “Build it with Kids” or something along those lines). The book has 22 projects suitable for little hands and interests, with a section on teaching your kids the safe use of basic tools and techniques. — Megan Fitzpatrick

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PWM Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.

12 thoughts on “Tool Lubrication & Asher’s First Eggbeater Hand Drill – Part 2

  1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick

    OK – everyone be nice! (And blame any grammar mistakes on me – I didn’t have time for my usual gimlet eye.)

  2. absteen

    Yu gotta be kiddin me Yoav.
    I had my father’s eggbeater to playwith at age 5 or so.
    Never pinched a finger with it or any other tool.
    72 now, and still use my eggbeaters:)
    Andrew

    1. chrisp

      Unlike you, Andrew, my own experience with my dad’s eggbeater drill was less than wonderful. Of course, it was a wonderful toy, and HUGE ( to me ), but one evening while he was working on something, I got a hold of it, and without thinking, I held it with the drill end ( yeah, it as loaded ) on my bare foot. The crank handle was up at the top, and I just let go of it. That big old wooden crank handle majestically turned a nice half turn, and put a not so beautiful hole right in the middle of my foot. I’m 64 now, and the old scar is no longer visible, but for many years it was interesting to watch my scar get longer and longer.

      Of course, people would ask how my dad could have left a twist drill in the eggbeater drill, and why would he ever let me in the garage with bare feet, but i guess we were a little different in the fifties.

  3. Kirby

    Re: “in a spectrum of colors that one finds in toddler’s diaper or on the paint pallet of an impressionist artist”:

    I’m guessing you don’t know any Impressionist artists. That shade of brown is associated with many neo-Renaissance movements over time. It is never associated with Impressionism. “Impressionism”, btw, is capitalized. And the mixing board painters use is called a “palette”. And that’s hardly a spectrum of colors — the hue seems uniform. And grammar.

    Your ignorant and casual slur is unbefitting.

    Excellent article otherwise.

    1. Auggydaddy

      Are you insecure or just a pompous ass? This is an article about cleaning grease out of a gear box. Nothing more. There is no need to be a mean jerk.

      1. MikeyD

        I’m pretty sure this was a bad attempt at humor. The grammar complaint is made with an obvious incomplete sentence, considered by many to be among the worst possible grammar errors. And the color bit? Complete BS.

    2. RandMart3

      Kirby,
      In response to your response to Yoav Liberman’s article in Popular Woodworking. I feel that you must not know very much about publishing. Once the article was written and submitted do you have any idea how many hands it went through before it reached you. For you to try and hold him accountable for the grammar much less the way every sentence was laid out. Instead, someone like you takes a story about a man trying to do something nice for his son. As well as teach people a lesson about bringing a tool back to life that had probably been given up on many years ago. You take something that was done by a person who seems to care about getting closer to his son and try to make yourself seem more intelligent by discrediting things he had no control over. Get a life!!

  4. NativeWoods

    Wonderful article by a kindred well-all-this-needs-is… soul. And it saved a still very useful tool from the furnace or land fill. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  5. Shawn Nichols

    Glad to see you’re changing the title. The book is good but the title always bugged me.

    Keep these type of posts coming Yoav. I love reading your adventures.

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