Saturday, 16 July 2011

An Eggbeater Whipped Me Good...

I spent this morning writing a post for this blog that discussed the rebuild of the Miller Falls No.2 eggbeater that I purchased last year.  I spent about 4 ½ hours writing it, as not only did I have to write it, but also follow an email trail, reading each to determine the gist of their content, as well as establish the timeline. 

Once completed, I felt that the facts it listed did not reflect well on the tool restorer that did the work on the drill, so I sent a copy of it off to him, allowing him an opportunity to refute any of the points I had listed as untrue before posting it.

I have since trashed that article because I had made two major mistakes with it. My first mistake was writing it. My second was sending it to the restorer.
This is a compilation of the drill as it was
before I sent it off for restoration

So what are my problems with all of this?

To try and make a very long story shorter…

July 18, 2010
I purchased a very rough Miller Falls No.2, circa 1910 ($30)

August14, 2010
I spoke to the leading restorer of Miller Falls drills
I was told a mechanical and cosmetic restoration - quoted $180

August 15, 2010
I spoke to the restorer again to discuss not doing cosmetic work
Restorer agreed to only a mechanical restoration - quoted $180
Told 3 month turn-around
Told once drill was apart, he would contact to discuss cosmetics

August 20, 2010
Shipped drill to restorer ($34)
Paid restorer’s invoice through PayPal - $180 plus $25 shipping ($205)

January 18, 2011
No drill, no contact – emailed to request delivery date
Restorer stated he broke his wrist in October which put him behind

May 26, 2011
No drill, no contact – emailed to request delivery date again
Restorer stated he planned to start work the following Monday

June 9, 2011
Received email from UPS stating shipping label had been issued
Emailed restorer to ask what was going on as still no contact
Restorer answered I should “relax”, only the label was issued

June 11, 2011
Received call from restorer to discuss cosmetic requirements

June 14, 2011
Received email with 10 photos of completed drill attached

June 20, 2011
Received email stating drill was in transit

July 4, 2011
Drill delivered by UPS

As you can see from this ridiculous list, I sent the drill to the restorer almost a year ago and paid out $269 at that time to buy it, ship it and pre-pay for its restoration. I did this because I took this guy’s word on face value that the drill would be returned to me in 3 months. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

On top of that, I felt like the guy was treating me like a mushroom; keeping me in the dark and feeding me poop. Here’s a guy who broke his wrist, an injury that I would assume would pretty much shut him down for 6 weeks or so and he didn’t bother to let his customers know this had happened, at least not this one. What kind of businessman has so little concern for his customers that he does something like that?

The biggest issue, however, is that the drill arrived broken. As I was unpacking it, pieces fell out of the box onto the table. The handle’s cap had been broken in three pieces during transit.

I had sent the restorer a very tired drill that had a very worn handle and no cap. What I had in my hands after waiting a year and paying out a couple of hundred bucks was a refreshed drill with a new handle and a broken cap. As far as I was concerned, the cap was toast as a broken cap is not that much above not having one at all.

The most important part of all of this was that this broken cap negated my investment in the tool and meant the time, effort and money I had invested in it was wasted. Let’s be real here. Even whole, this drill will never see a value that will even come close to what I have invested in it during my lifetime, and possibly my son’s. Without a proper cap, that loss is even worse.

Although I consider it garbage, to be able to live with it, I glued the cap back together so I could at least live with the drill until a replacement arrived. Obviously, at this point, I was still under the impression I was dealing with an ethical businessman. I also took the pictures you see displayed here, one with the broken cap and shipping box and the other with the cap clamped together with tape to hold it together until the glue set. You can easily see the cracks where it was broken. I then emailed the restorer to inform him of the problem, attaching the photos.

Sadly, here is how things came out of the box
I did a glue up of the cap so I could live with it,
but anyone can see this cap is toast. It would
appear that the restorer has lost his pride
for his work as he was quite comfortable
leaving me stuck with it.
His answer back was pretty simple; I should glue it up myself, and if that doesn’t work out, I should pay to have the drill shipped back to him so he can do something.

At first my reaction was just simple shock. As time went by, the shock was replaced by anger. After I sent him a copy of the write-up I had done about this experience this morning, he called me. By the time I hung up on him, I was just downright furious with the guy.

Because I don’t want to relive it, I won’t bore you with the details of that discussion, but to say that an apology wasn’t in it would be more than an extreme understatement. Yes, he believed there were some mistruths in the article, one of them being I stated the bill was $187, and it was only $180. Can you imagine someone writing an article to post on a public forum that completely brings into question your business ethics, and the first point you bring up is a discrepancy in the figures of 7 friggin’ dollars????

The gist of my telephone conversation with him was that this entire fiasco, by his estimation, was entirely my fault. Huh? Hello? Customer screwed here…hello?

I know I’m screwed and he knows I’m screwed, and here’s why. The cap is rare. I have spoken to a few in the business and they have told me that these caps are almost impossible to find. My best chance is to find another No.2 that is trashed, but happens to have a good cap, something that rarely comes up. If I do find one, I can expect to have to pay out another $40 or $50 to get that stupid little cap landed on my desk.

It was obvious from the get-go that the restorer wasn’t going to take any responsibility for the broken cap. It might be possible that the space inside him is so full of knowledge about Miller Falls tools that there isn’t any room left to hold ethics.

I can’t even go back to PayPal and open a dispute, as their customer transaction “Protection” is only good for 45 days from the date of the transaction. In 35 days, this transaction will have its first year anniversary.

Nope, I’m nailed to the preverbal barn door on this one.

Giving this nonsense some serious thought, the old adage, “…he has read so many of his own press clippings that he has started to believe them”, comes to mind. We all get a bit carried away with our own reputations when they raise us above the norm. It is only natural to do so. What separates the great from the imitation, though, is the knowledge that it takes as much work to maintain a good reputation as it does to create it in the first place.

The biggest irony of all here is the fact that I didn’t even want this drill in the first place, but bought it only because of superstition. Well over two years ago I started looking for a Stanley No.624. One of the first in the business that I contacted was this restorer, asking him if he had a Stanley 624 with a spoked pinion. The fact that I never heard back from him at all should have been an omen to me. After over a year of looking and not finding a Stanley, I bought this Miller Falls thinking that if I bought what I didn’t want, what I did want would turn up. While the Miller Falls cost me way more than I ever imagined, within weeks the Stanley I was looking for came up on eBay and I bought it. I was going to send that drill to the restorer for the same treatment once the Miller Falls came back, but hey, life is way too short to have to go through that nonsense again. I’ll deal with it on my own.

So there you go. Admitting that I have been very quick to praise those that I have had successful business transactions with, I realize that I have to be just as quick to let you guys know about the ones that didn’t turn out as well. This is the first negative report on a member of the vintage tool community I have had to do and after living through this experience; I truly hope it is the last.



Added the afternoon of July 16th, 2011...

If you would like to know the name of the restorer, please email me at I will be more than happy to supply his name.

When I wrote this post last night I glossed over my last telephone conversation with the restorer for the reason of brevity. Having thought about it this afternoon, I realized that there was an overall theme to his statements to me that, in hindsight, I think explains a lot. Reviewing his excuses for just about every one of my complaints, almost all can be paraphrased as; I didn't do anything wrong because you never complained to me about anything. Having spent over 40 years in the past dealing with the public, and having the bad habit of watching how people act in the checkout lines to-day, I have to say that it is astounding that anyone connected with the public today could even come up with this as an excuse, let alone use it. I think stating that because I wasn't bitching about anything, he didn't think it was necessary to act ethically is about as lame as you can get.




  1. Sad story.... Which is why I restore my own tools. I know the quality of my own work. ref:

    There's only one other person I'd trust with a MF, and I'm guessing he's not the person you tried.

    ... next one?

  2. Part-Time Woodworker:

    Perhaps one can guess at the identity of the restorer involved in your unhappy saga. Perhaps not -- or worse, perhaps one can mis-identify the restorer. Would you wish to add a few more words about why you've chosen not to identify that restorer, as well as the your view of the possible value of that choice for the reader?


    Phil Lang

  3. I hate posts like this, it just shouldn't have to happen. But it does.

    Anyway, it is possible to tease out the restorer from the return address on the box in the picture if you are really interested. I did.

  4. You're right Luke. I did teased out the return address too ... and it's the one person I thought of in my earlier comment, one that had earlier gotten very good press around the woodworking blogs.

    I know there are many factors that can contribute to poor communication or mis-communication, and just as many that can derail the best of plans. Yet, it's still not a good result.

    Mitchell, do you have another you want restored?

  5. Bob,

    Thanks for "getting it". I was thinking that it might be possible I was over reacting. While there is three sides to every story, I tried to keep my listings here as close to the one in the centre as I possible could.

    I have to tell you, when I got this drill I studied your postings with a fine tooth comb to see if I would be comfortable rebuilding it myself. There were three things that kept me from doing so, however, although I must say you came close to swinging me. 1) The multitude of small parts inside these things. I figured if I popped it open I would be spending the rest of my life on my hands and knees with a flashlight in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other.
    2) Acquiring parts. Re-building as many cars as I have, I know that junkyard parts are questionable at best, so if anything needed to be replaced, I was hoping to do so with new items and while I tried to source them, I didn't have any success.
    3) Value. If a "name" restorer sells a car, its worth more money. I was hoping the vintage car market rubbed off on the vintage tool one.

    I will buzz you when I'm ready to do the deed with the Stanley. Right now, I'm about up to here (insert image of short guy with hand held three feet above his head here) right now with anything to do with tools and their restoration.


    I have added a line at the bottom of the post that states anyone interested can email me and ask. I will be happy to reply with the name of the restorer.

    I didn't list the restorer's name as he is not able to post any rebuttal here, even if he wanted to. Let him use his own blog if he wants to do that. While he did state to me that I was welcome to post whatever I wanted and that he didn't care, right or wrong, I just didn't feel comfortable with including his name.


    It didn't dawn on me that the name was visible on the box label. I didn't create the images of posting, but only for the restorer so he could see what was up. At the last minute, I included them, mainly because I can't face that damned drill long enough to do current pictures of it right now. Just seeing it royally pịsses me off. I have since blurred it.

    As for your, "it just shouldn't have to happen, but it does", thankfully it doesn't happen very often. I have dealt with over 125 different people in the vintage tool industry over the past 5 years and this is the first time I had a negative experience with one. As I said in the post, I don't think this is any more than someone believing their own press releases.

    Thanks for your support, guys. I really do appreciate it.


  6. Am I missing something here?

    It looks to me like the broken cap, at least, should be the responsibility of the shipper, UPS. Have you contacted UPS?

  7. Anonymous, you are not missing a thing.

    Insurance is included on a UPS shipment up to a total of $100, or the declared value, whichever is less.

    Additional insurance is sold in $100 blocks at a retail cost of 90¢ per 100.

    I paid the restorer $25 for shipping. The restorer paid UPS $23.70 plus the cost of the box, bubble-wrap and the time to package it.

    The real kick in the butt in all of this is that the restorer declared the value for this drill as $40.

    Because of the declared value...

    1.) If the shipper says the entire drill is worth 40 bucks, how much is just the cap worth?

    2.) As I cannot find just a cap anywhere, nor a record of one selling, what value can I put on one that UPS will accept?

    3.) The reality of this situation is that I am going to have to buy a "beater", a trashed drill with a cap that is in good shape, if I can find one, which will cost me, after shipping, somewhere between $40 to $70. Add to that the time and materials to refinish the cap so it matches the handle. With a claim like this, all the UPS insurance adjuster is going to do is refer me to point "1"; if the whole thing is worth 40 bucks, what is just the cap worth? They won't pay for the unneeded parts, no matter what.

    Ain't life interesting?


  8. I was missing that your drill had a declared value of forty bucks. Who declares a value under $100?

    I was thinking even if your drill had not been covered with additional insurance, $100 should have come pretty close to covering a replacement end cap. That $40 valuation puts a different complexion on your situation. I surely do not know of any ready source of century old MF No. 2 end caps for some fraction of forty dollars, and anyone who does will probably keep that gold mine a secret.

    It would seem you have paperwork showing the $40 figure does not represent reality, but I can see it might be difficult getting the insurance adjuster to see it that way if that is the figure he has.

  9. Mitchell,

    Sorry to hear about your issues with your eggbeater drill. Couple of thoughts here:

    1. Either you went back and blurred the photos or I need to eat some of those carrots Luke gets down in Southern Missouri.

    2. Just out of curiosity, if the price quote with and without the cosmetic work was the same, why didn't you just have him do the cosmetic work? Granted, you still might not have your drill at this point...

    3. I've always had an "I need to save it" mentality. Unfortunately, that opportunity seems to present itself quite often when it comes to woodworking tools. Lignum Vitae mallet labeled as a potato masher and listed for $5 at an antique store? Bought. Lone 3/4" Stanley 750 for $3 at a garage sale? Mine. Grandpa's eggbeater drill on Craigslist for $15? When can I pick it up?

    But I've had an Anarchists' epiphany. I think I'm having some problems focusing on my woodworking because there is too much clutter in the shop, so I need to get rid of some of this stuff. I'll probably try to sell a few things here and there - things I actually paid a bit of money for in the first place - but I'm also looking to "pay it forward" with some of the great deals/steals I've had over the years.

    Just so happens that old eggbeater drill I "saved" from Craigslist is a MF #2. It is a duplicate and already in the "to go" pile.

    I'd be happy to send it to you for $180.

    (hehe... sorry.)

    I'd be happy to send it to you for FREE.

    The cap will cost you $180, though.

    (hehe... sorry, again.)

    Ok, I'll send you the drill AND the cap BOTH for FREE, if you want them. Shoot me an e-mail (assuming you can do so by tracking down my login ID, right?) and give me your address and such and I'll send it on over - in less than a year, even!

    I don't know if the threading on the caps was standardized - can only assume it was. I guess the only thing I ask is that if the cap doesn't work for you that you just pass the whole thing on to someone else who might need it. Then just keep the love going - it will come back to you, I swear! And you don't even have to send an e-mail to 18 friends in the next 18 hours.

    4. I feel it is oh so important to bring TRUTH to the rest of the woodworking community. Chris Schwartz recently did that with his retraction of a recommendation of an infill tool maker. I just posted a book review I'd been sitting on for over a year because it wasn't all positive and sparkly.

    But I think Constructive Criticism is something definitely lacking in the general on-line woodworking community. I certainly miss it. How can we ever learn if the only thing you hear are good things? There is no growth opportunity there.

    It is unfortunate when something has to move from "Constructive Criticism" to plain old "Criticism", but... sometimes that is what it takes, either for you to move on, or for the other to learn, or both.

    Keep speaking the truth, brother. You'll find there are people out there who want to hear it.

  10. Hey Kilt,

    You left me a pretty astonishing comment here.

    I really should send the restorer a thank-you card. His actions, or lack of them, I guess, allowed me the opportunity to discover that there are still some pretty impressive people out there. The response to this has been overwhelming.

    I popped by your site,, and had a look around for an email link but couldn't find one. I have this ethical niggling in the back of my head that says reverse tracking is...well, unethical, so I don't do it.

    If you drop by to read this, grab my email address and drop me a line because you know I'm going to take you up on your offer, but only if you will let me at least pay the shipping. I'll scoop the cap and post the remainder here so others can take advantage of your generosity.

    As for the blurred photos, you can lay off the carrots. Once it came to my attention, I ran them through Photoshop again and made the labels unreadable.

    Regarding the mechanical, vs the mechanical and cosmetic rebuild, after talking to the restorer about doing this work, I sent the photos to my son and told him what I was planning. He mentioned that if I had "the works" done, the drill would stand out in my cabinet like a sore thumb as it would be the only new-looking old tool in the collection. When he said that I realized how much I hated re-japanned planes, so I went back to the restorer and explained it to him, asking about just a mechanical rebuild. I could tell he wasn't very happy about it, but he agreed. He wouldn't drop the price, which made us even because I wasn't happy about that, but as I was looking to have this thing done by the "best", I agreed.

    Get in touch, if nothing else, we can compare tartans. I promise not to tell you mine is prettier than yours, I'll let you figure that out for yourself :o)