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Millers Falls Company - Millers Falls and Greenfield, MA


 
  Hand Drill No. 2 Overview 1 of 3  

Drill Review

 

The Hand Drill model No. 2 is credited by many expert collectors and users to be the best hand drill ever produced.  It is the most sought after at many auctions and antique tool stores today and was the best seller through its long production history.

First attempts to create No. 2 drill are sown in the catalog from 1878.

"No. 2.  Single Gear, holds 1/16 to 1/4.

These Drill Stocks are made of malleable iron, with steel spindle and rosewood head and handle.  The jaws are forged steel and will hold perfectly any size Drills named above.  They are the only Drill Chucks in use which will hold such a variety of Morse Twist Drills."

However, the drill described here is nothing more than original drill No. 1 with a larger chuck.  Since there was no construction changes, it is, in my view, more of a marketing gimmick rather than a new design.  Hence, taking this into account, I will not consider it as a "real" No. 2 drill.

The "real" No. 2 drill appeared almost ten years later.  The work on new design begun sometime in the mid-1880s.  The earliest image of drastically modified No. 2 Hand Drill is shown in catalogs dated 1886 and 1887.

"The Chuck of this Drill Stock is the same style as the No. 1 but it will hold 1/4 inch drills and all smaller sizes.  It has cut gears, is heavily nickel-plated, with rose-wood head and handle.  The head is hollow and contains six drill points.  It is a tool much in demand."

The description of chuck mentioned in both catalogs refers to a chuck patented by Henry L. Pratt in 1877.  This chuck was used on many early Millers Falls Hand Drills until it was replaced by spring-less chuck, patented by William H. McCoy in 1896.

Here are a few points on dating.  Consider a hypothetical timeline for a tool shown in a catalog.  First, drills had to be build, tested and modified enough to arrive with final production versions.  After all that, I imagine, some presentations had to take place with potential retailers, the terms of sales negotiated and agreed upon. Then engravers needed to spend some time to produce images.  This material with final descriptions of the drills would be incorporated in a catalogs and forwarded to printers.

Considering this sketchy plan, the drills most likely went into production well in advance of deadlines for printing.  The catalog dated 1886 was most likely available to the public at the beginning of the year.  This means that drill No. 2 shown in the catalog from 1886 was produced sometime during 1885 and the prototype work might began as early as 1884.  For the purpose of reference, I will date this new No. 2 drill as a 1885 design.

In some contemporary writings (print and Internet) the date stamped on the chuck is referred to as a guidance for dating drill design.  This is obviously a nonsense.  

Overall there were six major design changes in the development of this drill - in 1885, 1893, 1895, 1903, 1938 and 1957.  All other changes like handle variations, improved chucks, etc. are rather minor.  They do not constitute construction change and are not a subject or this overview.

Around 1893 company released a drill that completely departed from the original frame design. 

This release however did not have a side handle and continued with a Pratt's two-jaws, spring-less chuck.  It also used elongated and slim main handle with a rounded cup.


 
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