While many people get warm and wet feelings about their smoothing planes, I have those emotions about my hand drill.
Maybe it’s because I use a hand drill almost daily for nails and screws, especially after building a ton of campaign furniture with all the inset brasses.
So this summer I gave away my hand drill to a friend who didn’t have one and thought: “I’ll just buy another on eBay. They are so common.”
They are common, but I got snookered four times. On all four of the drills the chuck was messed up in one of the following three ways:
- The jaws had been abused so they would not close tightly on a small bit.
- The jaws were missing springs. And replacing the springs turned out to be an adventure in spring purchasing. And even with working springs, I encountered problem No. 1 above.
- The jaws closed tightly and had their springs, but there was so much runout that the drill was unusable.
Yes, I asked all the sellers about the chucks. They simply didn’t have the knowledge to give me a good answer.
This reinforced my assertion that the best place to buy used tools is at a swap meet, such as those held by the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. If you go to one of the organization’s regional or national meetings you can try about 20 or 30 hand drills and find one that is perfect. And it will likely cost you less than on eBay.
I didn’t have time to wait for a tool meet, however. I use my hand drill every day.
So I reached out to two respected sellers who are also woodworkers: Pat Leach at Supertool and Ted Hoeft at Lone Pine Toolworks. Pat finds some of the best tools, describes them very well and takes tools back with no questions if you have a problem. Ted restores hand drills and has the same reputation.
Both guys had drills available that met my requirements. So I bought one from each. Pat’s was about $85 and Ted’s was $200. It might seem pricey, but I’m set for another 15 years – or until I do something silly again and give away a tool I use every dang day.
Both sellers are highly recommended. If you are tired of gambling on eBay with tools, check them out.
— Christopher Schwarz
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