Sunday, 15 August 2010

Beating Up An Eggbeater...

A while ago I posted about my search for an eggbeater drill. To date, I now have three.

At the beginning of last month, while away on a weekend getaway with my wife, I came across a Miller Falls in an antique store. It was a pretty rough looking old tool, but the clincher was the fact that it had an egg-shaped side handle, making me think it was slightly more rare than the usual Miller Falls examples. Missing its cap and a tooth in the main pinion, I still grabbed it for thirty bucks.

Having researched this drill since, it turns out I was right about the side handle. It is a Type K4, manufactured around 1885. I believe it is from a very early run as there are no markings on the tool anywhere, not even on the chuck, which is the three-jaw variety introduced with this model. All three handles are rosewood, but as the main handle’s threads for the cap are pretty thin, it will have to be replaced. It is a pretty looking tool and much larger than I expected it to be, this being the first example I have held.

Since getting it home I have tried to source a new handle, cap and pinion, but without success. As a result, I have emailed  Wiktor Kuc at in Albuquerque, New Mexico to see if he could work it into his schedule for restoration.

Another reason I scooped this Miller Falls is superstition. I want a Stanley No.624, but nothing was turning up anywhere and I honestly believe that the minute you buy an alternative, something you would rather not have, exactly what you want will show up out of nowhere. Well, sure enough, I bought this Miller Falls piece and within two weeks Jim, at jimbodetools,com, gave me a buzz to tell me he had a line on a Stanley No.624. I answered “Sold” without any questions and within two weeks, the drill was delivered to my door.

Sadly, I should have asked one pertinent question, “When was it made?” As it turned out, it was indeed a Stanley No.624 and it was just as Jim said, a little rough around the edges but complete and working. The problem, however, is that it is too new, being a solid main gear example while I want the older spoke type. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but it will end up on eBay soon.

Here’s the thing. I’m trying to keep my collection within a specific timeframe; 1880 to 1910, something that is turning out to be harder than one would think. I have purchased more Stanley planes over the past few weeks, all are either Type 8 or Type 9’s placing their manufactured date between 1899 and 1907. All of my saws run from 1888 to 1915 and because I try to purchase only E.H. Mitchell wooden molding planes, most of them are produced after 1875. While I do have the odd, odds and sods kicking around which fall out of this timeframe on one side or the other, the vast majority are within it and that is were I would like to stay.

Just as an aside to the H. E. Mitchell planes, God help me for saying this and not to start another controversy, but I think W.L. Goodman might be wrong about this maker in his "British Planemakers from 1700", second edition. Researching Henry Mitchell, I did find a toolmaker who was born in London, England, not far from my grandfather's home, as a matter of fact. This H. E. Mitchell had a father who became a saw sharpener after retiring from the army, ran a "Jointer's Tool Shop" in Brighton after marrying a local woman and lived at 3 North Road Brighton, according to the appropriate census information. Most of the planes that I have from this maker have his address marked as 4 North Road, Brighton, so I think I can be fairly confident that these two H. E. Mitchell's are one in the same. The thing is, if this Henry Mitchell set up shop in the year W. L Goodman stated, 1855, he would have been twelve at the time, and in fact, at that age, he was still living in London. Hence, it is my belief that H. E. Mitchell produced his tool line starting in 1863, not 1855 as Mr. Goodman states in his listings, and operated until he retired in 1897, when he moved to a small town north of Brighton where he died in 1908. While there is a huge margin of error following the British census as it was taken only every ten years, the similarities between the two are too close to ignore.

Back to relating my eggbeater story...

Disappointed with the Stanley, I returned to eBay’s drill listings and kept up the search. Within a few days, a listing from England caught my eye. After the trim saw fiasco, trying to determine its original use and being stymied left, right and centre by trying to find proper translations from French to English, I passed on the few French drills listed, but I had no qualms about clicking on this English one to see what it was about.

While pretty lean on descriptions, stating only “Hand drill with wooden handles, early 19th century, good condition”, the pictures stated a lot more. This was probably the most robust eggbeater I had ever seen and I thought it would be a good one to have. As it turned out, my wife hauled me away from my computer when the auction was ending so I couldn’t do my usual “snipe”. For this purchase, I used my iPhone to do the deed, my first and last time for using it for this purpose. While the Apple "cult" likes to rave about this phone, it is as slow as molasses in January when it comes to working the web. To be sure I would win it, I had to overbid a few minutes before the auction ended, and, of course, everyone interested in it worked like mad to have it, but it only resulted in the price going sky high for me. I ended up winning it for $112 Canadian, which actually was only one cent short of my maximum bid.

Just before the end of that auction, I noticed one for a brace that had a very similar wooden handle as the eggbeater. The eggbeater’s listing didn’t have a manufacturer’s name, but the brace was listed as being made by E. W. Jung & Co. The web turned up nothing on this company so the only thing I could do was try to find some similarities in the images.  I screen captured every image of both and ran them all through Photoshop, enhancing whatever I could to determine any similarities. There were a number, but all were common to many different brace manufacturers’ of the time, so I had to take a chance, but given I won the brace for ten bucks,  it wasn’t much of a leap.

My reason for being so enamored with this brace is not for the brace itself, as the images showed it was shot and just junk, but because along with the brace came a small chuck, something that was missing with the eggbeater. As it turned out, the two are a close match, and I have ended up with a complete and workable eggbeater, but the two are not a true match, only a workable one.

So I’ll keep my search up for the Stanley, I’ll sell the No.624 that I have, but as for the other two, their keepers, so the worse thing that will happen when it comes time to drill a hole, I’ll have a choice of what to use. It is highly doubtful, though, that I will stop reaching for either my Ryobi 18V or my Delta Mini Drill Press as those are the two power tools that I will never give up, even with a gun to my head. In truth, I am not jumping through all these hoops to purchase a workable drill. I did all this simply because I like the look of these things.

Yes, your right. I'm nuts.




  1. Wonderful blog; I just picked up an older No 624 too but didn't know how to tell how old it was. It even had the original bits in the handle. Ebay is a wonderful thing isn't it? I saw some of the prices and lucked out, mine only cost me $15!. nhnonna