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Which old hand drills to look out for?

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d3v

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Hi all,

As a convert to old well made tools I am now on the look out for a good quality hand drill that ideally can fit standard modern bits, or atleast has bits that can fit readily available to buy.

What particular brands and models should I be looking out for in my usual car boot sale trawls?
 

condeesteso

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Wow - another hand drill thread (AndyT, Scouse, Alf, BB, Jim and the others will be down in a moment...).

My personal favourites are Millers Falls, pre late 50s. Being American they aren't so common over here, but they are around. I'm sure there are some good old Stanleys but one of the others will advise you on those. And on braces, I'd say 2nd choice Millers F, first choice (try finding one on the Uk for sensible money) North Bros. Absolutely ace but not cheap, even in the States.
 

AndyT

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Did someone call?

The happy truth is that you cannot meet all your drilling needs with just one tool, but what follows is all about using tools, not collecting them, honest!

The key difference is in the chuck. For the 'old style' bits (which for some odd reason, you seem not to like!) the square shape tang was often gripped by a two-jaw 'alligator' style chuck. That is what is normally fitted to a carpenter's brace. Some later models have a groove along the jaws which will also grip round-shanked bits bigger than about 5mm, up to about 13mm. I have a nice solid 'Toga' brand like this. Pretty much any Stanley with plastic handles will also have this sort of chuck. Look for anything from the last 50 years or so.

Here's a picture of the works of an old alligator-jawed chuck, with a groove!



And here are the bits of a three jaw chuck which will only grip round (or hexagonal) shafts:





As well as a brace, you'll need a breast/belly drill for big holes. There are plenty about in good nick with two speed bevel gears, easily swapped. I'd go for Stanley, or Chapman, or indeed Millers Falls. Try and find one which is complete with its side handle; that's essential. Some of these were offered with a choice of two jaw chuck (for the old square bits) or a three jaw chuck - you want the three jaw. It will normally be fatter, and may need a key.

And then you will need something small for pilot holes etc. These were a popular diy tool so there have been cheap and nasty copies around for years. Price is not now any guide to quality (at least, not on eBay, while these remain under-appreciated). Look for a chuck which closes up nice and smooth and decent wood on the handles.
Better ones have a second small bevel gear which doesn't drive anything but reduces slop in the mechanism. The nice old Millers Falls ones have a cute flanged jockey wheel that you can use to reduce slop entirely, provided your gear casting is true.

So, Happy hunting! And thanks for giving me a chance to post this gratuitous snap of 'braces corner' for the first time:

 

Scouse

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condeesteso":1wgin4fe said:
AndyT, Scouse, Alf, BB, Jim and the others will be down in a moment...
There's nothing I like better than having a reputation!

I don't think there's anything to add to Douglas and Andy's roundup. I feel redundant!

I also tend towards the American Millers Falls end of the spectrum, ebay is always a bit of a lottery for older stuff, but try to get one that at least looks clean and complete; side handles, little wheels and related bits and bobs are like the faecal expulsion of a rocking horse.

That said, there are many Stanley 803 and 805 hand drills, breast drills and braces about, which I've recently begun investigating and seem to be very good and inexpensive. If you can make it to a car boot sale before the weather closes in, they go for pennies.

Just waiting for a gratuitous picture of Andy's drills...

El.
 

AndyT

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Scouse":1iroc86r said:
Just waiting for a gratuitous picture of Andy's drills...

El.
... just gone to take one!



Funnily enough, there really aren't that many. The odd thing is - as I'm sure others will appreciate - I didn't exactly go out and deliberately buy all of these either.
The two Stanleys, the M-F and one of the Archimedean drills were in mixed boxes of tools that I bought because of other things in them. The all-metal one I caught by being nearby when it was thrown out. So I only really bought two, which nobody else wanted to bid for.

And they are all different, as are the braces.

And it's useful not to have to stop and change bits.

And have a dedicated countersinker ready.

Shall I stop now?

PS - getting back on topic - the two Stanleys on the left show the sort of differences to look out for. One has a pair of bevel gears and a side handle. The other has a single gear and no handle. So one would have cost a shilling less when it was originally offered. But now, the price would be the same, so seek out the superior offering.
 

DTR

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AndyT":wsph0p13 said:
As well as a brace, you'll need a breast/belly drill for big holes.
I don't want to put anyone off buying more tools ( :p ), but if one has a brace is there any need for a breast drill? The brace excells at drilling big holes
 

AndyT

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DTR":2x4kabc3 said:
AndyT":2x4kabc3 said:
As well as a brace, you'll need a breast/belly drill for big holes.
I don't want to put anyone off buying more tools ( :p ), but if one has a brace is there any need for a breast drill? The brace excells at drilling big holes
I think Yes, but mostly for using round bits. Although some braces will grip round bits, they don't grip very well at all in the bigger sizes, where a breast drill with a three jaw chuck will do. But you could argue that the brace is for woodwork and the breast drill is more of a metalwork sort of tool.
 

DTR

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AndyT":32gbwakz said:
I think Yes, but mostly for using round bits. Although some braces will grip round bits, they don't grip very well at all in the bigger sizes, where a breast drill with a three jaw chuck will do. But you could argue that the brace is for woodwork and the breast drill is more of a metalwork sort of tool.
That's all the justification I need :mrgreen:
 

Scouse

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Nice drill, you'll be pleased, I'm sure. Bet it's not your last one though!

Regular bits will fit ok, but because the chuck hand tightens without a key, you may find they slip. I get bits with a hex shank, the three jaws of the chuck grip the flats of the hex so they can't move. They are readily available brand new for little money.
 

condeesteso

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At risk of being 'on-thread' (hammer) , Andy mentioned having one hand-drill with dedicated countersink in. Very good idea indeed I think, and I recommend an Axminster chatter-free (5-10mm does almost all cabinet work). They come in 3 sizes but the middle (5 - 10) covers main cabinet work and having all 3 defeats the object of a dedicated drill ready to go all the time.
Since I got one of those I have never really used any other countersink (except in very tight spaces). It is a really good reason to get just one more egg-beater.
 

d3v

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Ok thanks for explaining that. I have some hex shank masonry bits but since I will only be using this drill in wood I will need to buy some hex shanked flat/auger bits. Know a good place to get them? Also does Axeminster's clatter-free countersink bits fit in this drill?

EDIT:
Would these auger bits be suitible? http://www.clickonshop.co.uk/blue-spot- ... -20034.php
 

AndyT

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d3v":266y51g5 said:
Sorry but you won't have enough torque from your hand drill to use those, even if they will fit in the chuck.
The drill that you have bought will be suitable for use with either ordinary twist drills or (better) the 'lip and spur' variant, rotating relatively fast, up to about 6mm diameter.



Those big augur bits would be ok in a bigger breast drill on its low speed setting, or possibly in a brace. They look like they do have lead screws, but are ok in a cordless / corded drill going really slowly.
 

AndyT

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Going back to the ready for use countersink, this is what I use:





Light, quick and controllable. No shiny brass, so affordable as well!
 

d3v

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AnyT, or anyone for that matter, could you possibly link me to a place where I can buy a set of suitible wood bits for this Stanley 802.
And that countersink tools looks ace, is it modified by yourself or are they available?
 

bugbear

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condeesteso":ondxorun said:
At risk of being 'on-thread' (hammer) , Andy mentioned having one hand-drill with dedicated countersink in. Very good idea indeed I think, and I recommend an Axminster chatter-free (5-10mm does almost all cabinet work). They come in 3 sizes but the middle (5 - 10) covers main cabinet work and having all 3 defeats the object of a dedicated drill ready to go all the time.
Since I got one of those I have never really used any other countersink (except in very tight spaces). It is a really good reason to get just one more egg-beater.
I've prefer a (tiny!) brace for counter sinking. I've got a 5" sweep, not ratchet one with a counter sink permanently fixed in.

I also have an egg beater with a 3mm twist bit permanently fixed, for piloting #8 screws.

Why, yes, I do own "more than one" drill, thank you for asking :)

BugBear
 

AndyT

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Ordinary modern twist drills suitable for use in a hand drill can be bought at any tool shop. On-line suppliers include the usual suggestions of Axminster, Rutlands, etc - try exploring the links elsewhere on this site at https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/local/.

The old countersink I use is not available except second-hand; this one probably came in a mixed bag of old bits from eBay. The C19th woodworker had a bewildering choice of different ways of drilling a hole. One good source of info is old catalogues. Have a read of this one - the 1897 Charles Strelinger & Company Catalogue. Start at this page and use the next and previous buttons to read the next ten pages or so (and indeed, the rest of the book!)
 

Fat ferret

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Can't really see me using a breast drill, the brace with auger bits does for dowels and the egg beater is for screw holes. I think the breast drill is really more of a metal work tool.
 
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