This is a restoration I did quite a while ago, but just recently got around to writing about. I picked this Miller Falls Hand Drill No. 2 up on ebay for $16 in 2011. It ran okay from the start, but it was definitely not super smooth. For those who want to jump to the before and after:

Some more shots before the restoration:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures of the restoration process itself. To start I disassembled the whole thing, which didn’t require too many special tools besides some various size pin punches. Once dissembled, I put all the metal parts in a bath of Evapo-rust. While soaking, nearly all the paint came off and it needed just a little brushing to remove the rest. Like my miter saw restoration, I used Duplicolor engine enamel paint.

The wood threads in the handle were a little warn out from years of use causing the handle to wobble a bit.  To fix this I used a few turns of teflon tape to fill the gaps.

I re-greased the bearings.

I also used some PB blaster on the chuck to clear out some gunk. I believe most of the exposed metal was once nickel plated, but unfortunately the plating has worn off. Maybe some day I’ll splurge and get all my old nickel plated stuff restored. Here it is all assembled:

I find the drive gear quite pleasing to the eye.


The back of the violin is traditionally made of maple. More commonly the back is also made of a piece that is cut in half and then opened like a book and joined in the middle to create a “book matched” joint. However, my piece of maple is large enough to use as a single piece back. As seen below the maple is highly figured (flamed). First, I started by planing the wood and getting it roughly flat.

The back was thick enough that a fair amount of wood would have been wasted getting it to the initial thickness, so I took it to the bandsaw and re-sawed it. Now there’s an extra piece of very pretty maple for another project.

To trace the outline of violin, everything needs to be nice and flat. After some planing everything was smooth and co-planer again.


To trace the shape of the violin, I drilled tiny holes in the upper and lower blocks and also into the back of the violin. Small pins can then be inserted to ensure everything stays aligned.


To get the appropriate amount of overhang, I used a small washer while tracing the ribs.

I drew the corners by hand to avoid them looking rounded and I also added the top “button.” Here the violin is fully outlined.

I then cut the back on the bandsaw. A little bit of extra is left outside the line to refine later.


Here’s my Stanley 358 Mitre box in the condition that I purchased it for a whopping $35.  I’ve seen a number of these on ebay, but the shipping is usually more than the item sells for.  So when I saw this at a local used tool store, I snatched it up. For those who don’t want to read about the process of restoring, replacing, and rebuilding parts, here’s the before and after:

Cleaning and Painting

Like every used tool I’ve purchased in Oregon it had a good patina or what some call rust.  The picture doesn’t show it, but most of the japanning had started to fall off as well.

First, I start with stripping off all the old paint.  For this I used paint stripper, which is my new least favorite task when restoring a tool.  I thought about letting my electrolysis bath strip the japanning off but I wanted to keep the nameplate on the side in tact and it was attached with rivets that didn’t want to come out easily.

After all the paint was stripped I used a degreaser on all the parts. I then took them out to my “paint booth”.  For the spray paint I used duplicolor engine enamel.

I’ve seen this recommended as a japanning replacement and I have to say it looks quite good.

From what I can gather from looking at a few pictures of how the mitre box would have looked originally, the back face of the mitre box would have been painted with a silvery/aluminum paint.  I played around with a few different spray paints, but nothing looked quite right.  In the end, I decided to leave the back as bare metal with some BLO on the rough parts to darken them up to give a little more contrast with the machined pieces.

For the small parts I soaked them in evaporust and polished some with abrasive pads.  To clean up the saw plate I first used a razor blade to remove the heavy rust, then sanded it using mineral spirits, a sanding block and more abrasive pads in varying grits.  For a more detailed explanation of the process see the Saw Blog entry on cleaning up a saw plate.

Saw Handle

To clean up the saw handle I first sanded off all the old finish with some 120 grit sand paper.  I then sanded with 220 and then abrasive pads.  For a finish, I did two coats of boiled linseed oil(BLO) and french polished with amber shellac.  For applying the shellac I used a technique outlined by Sauer & Steiner who make beautiful infill planes.

Replacement/Missing Parts

The majority of parts were still there except for some pretty common missing/worn parts:

  • frame board – the sacrificial piece that goes under whatever you’re cutting
  • cross bar – provides support for the two guide posts
  • stock guides – holds the work piece
  • length stop rods
  • length stop coupler
  • length stop stand or “tree”

For more information on these pieces go to ToolTrip and click on “Stanley Tools” and then go to the mitre box section.

Frame Board

The frame board wasn’t missing but the one it came with was in pretty rough condition.  For a replacement I used some 1/4″ thick oak scrap that I trimmed to size using the old one as a template.  To make the slots for the stock guides I first sawed edges then chipped out the material in between.  I also had to chamfer the back bottom edge of the board so it matched the iron frame. It was finished with two coats of boiled linseed oil.


The crossbar is relatively easy to replace for my version, its just a piece of 1/8″ thick by 1/2″ wide flat steel bar that is long enough to span the gap when the two guide posts are farthest apart.  I used the leftovers to make stock guides below. This bar can be seen in the final picture.

Stock Guides

For the stock guides I used some of flat bar left over from the crossbar and some 1/2″ diameter steel rod. I’m not sure on the original dimension of these pieces so I just cut them to lengths that made sense for my mitre box.  For the bar, I cut it long enough to go all the way to edge of the frame which was around 8″.  I may cut them down a bit in the future because it seems a little too long.  The steel rods were cut just tall enough to fit under the opening in the back while on top of the bars. For all the pieces I used a hacksaw and then cleaned up them up with a file.

To get the rod ends flat I chucked them up in my drill press and lightly pressed them into a file that was clamped to my drill press table and lubricated with some WD40.  I probably committed some machinist sin doing this and it probably wasn’t very good for my drill press, but it worked. Don’t press to hard unless you want to see what gives first when you jam spinning metal into a file. If you have a disc sander or lathe that would probably work better.

To attach the rod to the bars I used some JB Weld epoxy. Real welding or tapping holes for screws would be a better solution, I don’t have a welder or any taps.

Length Stop

The length stop is used to make repeated length cuts. The parts are broken down below.

Length Stop Rods

The length stop rods are just 5/16″ steel rods as seen above sticking out of the side.  For the 358 I took a 48″ long piece and split it into two. Again see the tooltrip site mentioned above for the recommended length.

Length Stop Rod Coupler

The coupler I found at a fantastic Portland hardware store called WC Winks.  Something similar I’m sure can be bought online from McMaster. At some point I’ll probably replace the screws with a filister head screw so I can use a flat head screwdriver for all adjustments.

Length Stop Stand or “Tree”

This is probably the hardest piece to find a replacement for.  As the tooltrip website says “Get at the back of the line for an original replacement”.  For mine I decided to make my own and used a scrap piece of hardwood, some threaded screw inserts and thumb screws.

To understand how to make a replacement first understand the three different ways it can be used:

Short Pieces

For pieces that are too short to get to the edge of the frame both rods are used in the stand and the workpiece is butted up against the top rod.

Medium Pieces

For medium length pieces the workpiece is simply slid over to the length stop stand.

Long Pieces

For long pieces the two rods are connected with the rod coupler and the length stop is used in the same manner as above.

Wobbly Uprights

When I re-assembled everything one of the uprights was a little wobbly and I couldn’t tighten it all the way or the top connector pieces wouldn’t line up correctly.  To fix this I made a tiny washer out of a pop can using scissors and a hole punch.

All Together Now

And here it is all finished:


Failed Attempts

I recently purchased nice little Miller Falls 104 egg beater drill.  I plan to do a full restoration eventually, but to use it in the mean time I wanted to get the sticking chuck working properly.  I thought it would be easy to take a part but it proved rather difficult.

The first method I tried was just using some channel lock pliers with bicycle tubes for protection, but with that it didn’t budge at all.  Even after letting it soak in some PB blaster it still wouldn’t budge, so I decided to send one of the experts on Miller Falls drills,  George Langford, an email. He responded very quickly and said “channelocks tend to squash the shell of the chuck  and make it even tighter on the base”. He then recommended making a little set of pads to hold the shell.  Lastly, he told me the proper tool to use was a spanner, which fits in the hole seen below.


Step 1

Make some little wood clamp pads like George suggested.

Step 2

If you have a spanner to twist it off use that.  I looked around online and adjustable spanners were over $40 which is 5 times as much as I paid for the drill so that option was out.  Instead I made a “spanner”. Get some scrap material and bore a whole big enough for the top of the chuck to fit into.

Next, find a drill bit where the smooth end fits well into the hole on the chuck.  Then use that bit to drill a small hole in the scrap. Make the hole low, into the side, and have it intersect the bigger hole you made previously. You can see the hole location where the drill bit is sticking out below.

Insert the drill bit backwards(like above) into the hole and put it in the chuck hole.  The threads on the chuck are normal right hand threads, so now use it like a wrench and loosen the top of the chuck.

Inside you should find:

Clean it up and be careful with those little springs they easily get caught on things and rocket off.


Thanks again George for the help!


Preparing the Linings

The linings are 2mm thick strips of wood that support the inside of the ribs and give the violin more structure. The linings I used were made from the same willow as the blocks, but prepared much differently. The wood was in the rough, so first I had to square it up before I could resaw some thin sheets off of it.

First, I planed down one face and get everything flat checking with a straight edge and using winding sticks to check for twist.

Once one side is nice and flat I can joint one of the edges to make it 90 degrees to my flat surface with my shooting board.

At this point, since I was resawing, I could have stopped and just cut sheets off on the bandsaw, but I was having fun so I decided to make the piece “four square” or a completely square dimensional piece of lumber. To do that first I marked how wide I want my board to be using the good edge as the reference.

Next, I took the piece to the bandsaw and put the flat face down and the good edge against the bandsaw fence and ripped the piece to a uniform width. I then cleaned up that newly sawn edge with my plane.

Lastly, I need to make the second face parallel to the first face. To do this I used a marking gauge referencing off the planed face and mark the thickness the board will be all around on the edge. Then I used my jack plane and finally my jointer to take off wood until I got down to the line on all edges.

Back to necessary steps. I took the willow board to my bandsaw and resawed off 3mm thick sheets.

Then I cut the sheet into 8mm wide strips and the appropriate rough lengths.

Then I used the drum sander to thickness them to close to 2mm and cleaned them up with a scraper.

Bending and Gluing

The linings were bent the same way as the ribs using heat gun contraption. The linings should have been easier to bend than the ribs but the material seemed much more brittle. I made several extra pieces and ended up breaking all the extras by the time I got to the very last lining. Which meant I had to go saw off another sheet and thickness more wood all over again. At this point I had a little melt down and took all the broken linings and snapped them into tiny pieces and threw them as hard as I could into the trash to teach them a lesson. The last lining went very smoothly (probably because it bent in fear).

I forgot to take a picture of all the bent linings, but you can see some sitting on the mould in the background of the next artsy picture.

For the linings in the c-bouts, a tiny mortise is cut into the blocks to hold it. To do this I first used a small saw and cut the edges and used a tiny screw driver that was sharpened as a chisel to chip away the material. Like lots of things on the violin the first two were a little sloppy but I got the hang of it on the rest.

To clamp the linings to the inside of the ribs I used a bazzillion clothes pins that had part of the ends cut off and a rubber band attached to make them stronger.

Here all the top linings are glued and clamped. I had to glue them upstairs instead of in my dungeon workshop because of the abnormally cold weather Portland was having, which would have caused my hide glue to gel too fast.

Once the glue dried, I trimmed the linings and ribs with my block plane down close to the blocks. I then used the sanding board again and this time leveled the blocks, ribs and linings.

// pic of glue sealed blocks?


After all the blocks are shaped I bent the upper and lower ribs. My rib sections were long enough that I was able to use one piece for each section. They were bent in the same manner as the c-bout ribs. Here the ribs are clamped to test the fit. In final gluing and clamping everything was much tighter to the mold. There are lots of ways to clamp the ribs to the blocks, this way seemed to work okay, but I think I’ll experiment with other ways in the future.

Once the glue dried I trimmed the extra overhang of the ribs, first using a razor saw and then a sanding block to get close to the finished result. Finally, I used the sanding board that I used earlier to level the blocks to level the rib structure and bring them nearly level with the blocks.


Now that the middle ribs are glued I can shape the remaining portions of the four middle blocks. To do this if first trimmed them with a chisel and then took them back to the drum sander.

The top and bottom blocks also need to be cleaned up. To get in close to the line I use two different grits of sandpaper glued to the front and back of a wood block. The sanding block ensures the blocks remain perpendicular to the table. For adhesive I used 3M spray adhesive that I had purchased for another project but it has come to be very useful.

Here’s an overall shot with all the blocks shaped.




To bend the ribs to match the mould I used another homemade contraption. All credit for the idea goes to Sam Harper. It is definitely not a beautiful machine but I already had a heat gun and the piping was around $15.

First, I bend the c-bouts or middle ribs. Before bending I cut down the ribs to size using a bench hook and a 32TPI saw.

To make sure the ends are square I flipped over the bench hook and used it as mini shooting plane. To square the end I used some sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood.

After the iron gets nice and hot I used a bending strap to support the ribs while they are bent.

I found the bending iron to work well for the tight curves, but for the more gentle curves it was quite difficult to bend the ribs in a smooth fashion. Making corrections was also difficult since there was no flat area to work with. At the end of the day I was disappointed with my c-bouts, so overnight I left them lightly clamped in the mold and pondered buying a real bending iron. The next day when I checked them they had actually seemed to conform much better to the mold and blocks. Either they did bend a little, I wasn’t feeling as anal as usual, or the ghost of some great maker lent me a hand during the night. Next time I’ll either fork over the cash for a real bending iron or I may try cold bending with forms.


Before gluing the ribs I put the spacer screws back in the bottom to lift the mold very slightly off the table. I used hide glue to glue the c-bouts to the blocks. To do this I had to practice getting the clamps on in quick manner since the hide glue gels quickly. This is the first clamping method recommend by Strobel. It seemed clunky as the c-clamps would run into each other while tightening. Not much force is needed so cutting off the ends of the clamps may make it easier, or there’s a thousand other ways to clamp the c-bouts. Note to self: be more diligent in cleaning up the excess hide glue before it drys, scraping hard hide glue is no fun.


This was my first time using a card scraper and it was very troublesome to sharpen. I spent a number of hours trying different techniques, but the way that worked for me was first I lapped the front and back on my Veritas Power Sharpener just like a chisel.

I then polished the edge on a granite tile that has 5 grades of sandpaper going from 220 to 1500. To guide the edge I used a piece of angle aluminum, but anything that would keep the edge at 90 degrees would work.

Lastly, I burnish the edge by running a chrome moly shaft at a slight angle along the edge on both sides. This takes very little pressure and you can actually feel the metal edge turning over. I’ve seen the recommendation of sharpening one side to a 45 degree angle, but I could not get this to work on my thinner scrapers. I may try later with my thicker ones but for now the above technique works well enough for me. Note: the angle of the burnisher isn’t correct in the picture, the burnisher is usually more horizontal.

When good results are finally achieved with a scraper it becomes a wonderful tool to use. Much like a sharp plane its oddly satisfying to peel off nice thin little strips of wood. It is also a very good hand workout.


I received some rib material with the top and back I purchased Orcas Island but after working with it for awhile I decided to try some different wood. The second set of ribs I ordered from Bruce Harvey Rocky Mountain Tonewood. This set was much easier to work with and started out trimmed down to a manageable size.

First, I used a shooting board and planed down one edge of the ribs. I then trimmed the ribs closer to the correct width on the bandsaw and then went back to the shooting board to clean up the edge cut by the bandsaw.

Now I have to thickness the ribs to get them down to around 1-1.2mm. The Strobel book recommends 1mm but the Roy & Courtnall book recommends 1.2mm. The diplomat that I am I went with 1.1mm. The ribs started out around 2mm, so to first get them down to size I used a little thickness sander jig I made for my drill press.

Each time I turn the bolt in the back it reduces the gap between the drum and the support. Again changing the sandpaper on the drum made a huge difference. This process was quite tedious and not very enjoyable since I had to have my shop vac running to keep the drum clean and collect all the dust. Next time I plan to get a toothed bladed or grind a special bevel on my block plane and do it by hand.

After thicknessing on the drill press the ribs were around 1.4mm, but the surfaces were very rough from the 80 grit sandpaper. To get a nice surface on the ribs I used a card scraper and reduced them to their final thickness of 1.1mm. As you can see below, scraping really puts a nice finish on the ribs and brings out the “flame”.