Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 1

Sometimes it feels almost impossible to get some shop time in. Over the weekend I attempted to make some headway during Henry’s afternoon naps and both times I ended up receiving a phone call that turned into hour long conversations. Since the weekend was mostly filled with cleaned and home improvement projects, I decided to not finish milling the bench top as I had planned (I had even sharpened up my 6, 7 & 8 in anticipation); instead, I decided to get started on my saw till.


I cut out the sides slightly over-sized and jointed one edge with my #7 and then squared up the edge with my #5 & attached Miller Falls jointing guide.

As you can see from the undersized shaving, I was a bit out of square.
As you can see from the undersized shaving, I was a bit out of square.

I then used this as the reference edge to square up the ends and adjust the length with the shooting board and did a mediocre job planning them with width (I really need a panel gauge). Since this is just shop storage I did not get to picky on smoothing the surfaces but I spent a few minutes flattening the surface and then plowed a groove for the back pieces.


Next it was time to inaugurate the Moxon Vise and gut some tails. I alighted the reference edge (which will be the front face of the carcass) and clamped them together with the outside faces touching in an effort to minimize visible damage. Next I laid out the tails using the dividers method and marked my tails using my old Veritas Magnetic dovetail guide as a pattern and started cutting. It is amazing, I have owned my BadAxe saw for almost a year and these are the first dovetails they have cut.

I thought these looked a lot better in person than they do in this picture
I thought these looked a lot better in person than they do in this picture
Waste sawed out.
Waste removed.

At this point there was just enough time for a shower before Game of Thrones started so chopping the waste (and testing out my “new” dovetail chisel) will wait until one day after work.


Millers Falls Drill Repair

Last night I had planned to do a bit of work on the Moxon vise but two packages arrived at the office right before I headed home. One was an e-Bay purchase and the other was a package from Bill Rittner at Hardware City Tools so the evening plans changed to tool repair/restoration.

As I have previously mentioned, I am fond of my egg-beater drills and I think they work great however, each of them has some problems: my #5 is missing a chuck spring and my #2A is missing its LRRCW. Well no more, both of these problems have been solved. Here are the patients for this evening; from left to right we have my Millers Falls #5 with a ¼ inch chuck, my original Millers Falls #2A with a 3/8 inch chuck, and my newly acquired Millers Falls #2A, also with a 3/8 inch chuck.


First the #5: I thought I could live with its missing chuck spring (I got it for cheap) but alas it started getting on my nerves so I ordered a new set of springs from Hardware City Tools (along with a replacement tote for my Stanley #8).

This is actually the #2A Chuck
This is actually the #2A Chuck

Disassembling the chuck was very straight forward (Bill has a nice walk-through) as this is a “newer” model which used a slot instead of two holes and it just so happens the slot is the same width as an old #5 Handyman plane iron I had in my spare parts pile. It was a simple matter of swapping out the old for new springs and cramming the suspended jaws back into the housing along with the 3-in-1 oil and screwing everything back together.

IMG_0323_2 IMG_0322

For some reason, Millers Falls #2A drills in good shape with a LRRCW have started going for stupid amounts of money on eBay so I decided to buy a couple of less desirable examples and try to restore them. Both of these drill cost less than 15 bucks because they have problems: the left one is missing its LRRCW, has had a previous drive gear repair, and is missing the handle end cap; the right one had a terrible drive handle, is missing a chuck spring, and is missing the side handle.


After stripping down both drills I determined the gears on the new one seated together better so that frame became the basis of the new drill. After Goo Gone and Goof Off both failed to remove the paint from the handle I pulled out some sand paper and discovered that what I assumed was a painted handle was actually rosewood so I wet sanded it with some BLO and will eventually add a shellac top coat. The old drill’s chuck, drive handle, and side handle were moved to the new frame and after some oil and adjustments I had a very nice new drill.

The Frankenstein Drill
The Frankenstein Drill

I did identify one problem with the new Frankenstein drill, the main shaft threads on the donor frame are damaged right at the base near the frame; this did not cause any problems with the previous chuck as it was a slightly shorter design however, when the new chuck is tightened completely this damage introduces some wobble. I am hoping this will not cause any issues as I typically use my #5 for small drill bits and the #2A for larger ones.