Millers Falls 77 -Hand Drill Refurbish

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Project by swirt posted 08-03-2010 09:50 PM 6407 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I refurbished this Millers Falls No 77 Hand Drill that used to belong to my Dad. This one dates back to 1927-31. I’ve had it for years, but only started using it within the past few years as I’ve gone more and more unplugged. It’s handle was too small and wobbled. Aside from a good cleaning, I didn’t want to restore the tool (new paint, gleaming metal), just refurbish it so it would work better for me.

After a bit of research I discovered that the old handle was actually a replacement. Probably an old broom handle that had been repaired with friction tape. It had to go. I started with a 3” diameter Maple branch that has been drying for quite a while. I have no lathe so I used a drawknife to get it down to 1-3/4” and did final shaping with a spokeshave.

I used a saw and chisel to create the tenon for the copper ferrule.

The handle is finished with 3 coats of Amber Shellac.

These 77’s are not the prized hand drills that the larger No. 2 is, but it works well for small holes. Works even better now with the more stable and beefier grip.

Here is the full story of my Millers Falls 77 hand drill refurbish if you need ALL the details.

-- Galootish log blog,

11 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3623 days

#1 posted 08-03-2010 10:08 PM

looks dam good from here with the bigger handle Swirt
my self has a nr. 2 on the wishlist , when I can afford it…............LOL
I realy like the look of nr. 2 … one day…

thank´s for sharing this one

best thought´s


View mafe's profile


12104 posts in 3597 days

#2 posted 08-03-2010 10:14 PM

Thats a sweet thing!
Nice job, and to bring your fathers old tool back to life are just wonderful also.
I love that you fix it, and not restore it, there are nothing more beautiful than a used old handtool, where you can read it’s history.
Hope it will serve you for a lifetime now.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View swirt's profile (online now)


4225 posts in 3479 days

#3 posted 08-03-2010 10:38 PM

Dennis I too have a No 2 on my wishlist. One day I will stop at a yard sale and it will be there, glistening in the sun with a $2 price tag on it … I can dream can’t I?

Mafe I have to confess to removing a few flecks of white paint that got on the drill, so that bit of history got erased. But I agree, I like my old tools to keep looking well used.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 08-03-2010 11:20 PM

Nice! I agree with mafe, just do what is necessary to make it work sweet. Removing the patina of age is wiping out history and beauty. Not using an old tool and just displaying it is also a sin in my books.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3623 days

#5 posted 08-03-2010 11:22 PM

ceep on dreaming that´s what all the great masters in every trade has been doing
since stoneage , no big things has come without dreaming

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 3373 days

#6 posted 08-04-2010 03:35 AM

Nice job of updating the handle, so you could use your father’s drill. I think the older “cordless drills” are the way to go, and you don’t have to recharge any batteries.

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3505 days

#7 posted 08-04-2010 03:45 AM

You can be on my team !
Taking any old tool and making it functional. For those people who want to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars and just put it on display shelf ? (ALL the power to them)
My tools do get used.
I do admit, I am gathering them faster than I can refurbish or clean them, their day will come !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View swirt's profile (online now)


4225 posts in 3479 days

#8 posted 08-04-2010 05:49 AM

” I think the older “cordless drills” are the way to go, and you don’t have to recharge any batteries.”
Nope, I just have to keep chucking donuts down the pie hole. ;)

These old tools just keep working. I often wonder what modern tools will survive the next 100 years.

I do think a tool left to only sit on a shelf is a shame… unless it has a lot of sentimental value and is at risk for breaking easily. I have an OLD Craftsman level that I choose to not use because I don’t want to risk breaking the glass… but that’s the only one.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Richard's profile


11307 posts in 3540 days

#9 posted 08-04-2010 08:21 AM

Nice Job! Good to hear you’ve gone “Unplugged”. Like to do things by hand myself.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3566 days

#10 posted 08-04-2010 01:05 PM

I have a couple of those old egg-beater drills and I enjoy using them. I also highly recommend investing in a brace & bit set for drilling larger holes. With a good sharp auger bit, it wll surprise you how quickly and cleanly one of these old tools will work.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View woodtoyZ's profile


33 posts in 3345 days

#11 posted 08-22-2010 09:46 PM

Your drill is a really nice story to see unfold. It is hard to believe that people once worked wood without electricity. After seeing your craftsmanship I feel like my plugin tools are “cheating” :)


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