Miller’s Falls Eggbeater Chuck Re-build

This is the chuck before disassembly and cleanup.

This is the chuck before disassembly and cleanup.

Hand tools are becoming evermore popular and eggbeater drills seem to be near the top of the popularity list lately so I thought that it would be a good time to finish the Miller’s Falls #2 eggbeater chuck rebuild. In a previous post I showed how to make new springs for this chuck (see 11/25/2012). It is the Ryther’s Patent chuck that was first introduced in 1922 and has been in use through the 1940’s and later. This chuck was made in three sizes and I think this is the middle size. It will hold a 3/8″ drill bit. The picture above shows the chuck removed from the drill. It is in as found condition, rusted, pitted and barely working.

Two nails that fit the holes in the chuck and an adjustable wrench usually work for me.

Two nails that fit the holes in the chuck and an adjustable wrench usually work for me.

The first step, after removing the chuck from the drill, is disassembly, and the first step to disassembly is removing the collar from the chuck shell. This is the part with the threaded hole that mounts to the drill spindle. The picture above shows my method. Put the chuck in a bench vise with soft jaws. If you don’t have soft jaws for your vise you can use a couple of pieces of soft wood such as poplar or pine. Hold the chuck high up on the body near the collar. This is to prevent distorting the chuck shell which is thin and easily squashed by the vise. The collar is threaded into the chuck shell with a right hand thread. Turn it counterclockwise to remove. Put some penetrating oil on the joint between the collar and the shell and let it soak in. If the chuck is badly rusted you can invert it and set it in a small container of penetrating oil to soak. This chuck collar has two holes, one on either side of the spindle hole, that are used to unscrew it from the shell. Find two nails that fit snugly in these holes with very little sloppiness and grind the points off. Hold the nails in the holes and use an adjustable wrench on both nails to twist the collar out of the chuck shell. You may need a third hand to tap the wrench to break the collar free and sometimes I have even used some heat from a torch. Once the collar is free unscrew it from the shell and the hard part is done.

If you are fortunate inside the chuck you will find a carrier with three jaws dangling from it, held by three bent wire springs. I say if you are fortunate because often the springs are missing or broken. If you have missing or broken springs refer to the post mentioned in the first paragraph for instructions on making new ones.

Here are the chuck parts as they look after the Evap-O-Rust treatment.

Here are the chuck parts as they look after the Evap-O-Rust treatment.

Wash all the parts in hot water and a strong grease cutting detergent. I like the “Amazing” spray cleaner from the Dollar Tree store. Dry the parts thoroughly to prevent more rust. Then use your favorite de-rusting method. Over the 25 years I have been dealing in antique/vintage tools I have tried most de-rusting methods and have settled on electrolysis and Evap-O-Rust, available in most auto supply stores such as AutoZone. For this project I used the latter. The picture above shows the parts as they came out of the de-rusting solution. You will notice the absence of the springs in the picture. I don’t de-rust springs. They can sometimes become brittle and break in any de-rusting method. Instead I clean springs manually and oil them.

Here are the chuck parts after polishing.

Here are the chuck parts after polishing.

After de-rusting I polish the parts using a non-woven abrasive wheel on an electric motor, but you can also use 0000 steel wool and a good metal polish such as Brasso. Polish the conical surface inside of the chuck shell, where the jaws ride using silicon carbide paper and your finger. I start at #180 grit and go up to #400 grit.

This is the finished chuck after polishing, greasing an reassembly.

This is the finished chuck after polishing, greasing and reassembly.

A look at the bachside of the chuck.

A look at the backside of the chuck.

All that remains to do is lightly grease the moving parts and reassemble your chuck. The chuck now looks and works as good as or better than when new.

If anyone is interested this chuck is for sale. SOLD

As always thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment.


Professional furniture maker and restorer. Dealer and collector of vintage and antique woodworking tools.
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8 Responses to Miller’s Falls Eggbeater Chuck Re-build

  1. Alex Moseley says:

    Bill, great write-up! Thanks for sharing. I’m sure my eggbeater drills will run all the more sweetly after this treatment.

    • Thanks for your comment Alex. The idea is to keep the best of the old tools working well for the next generation. This is really a very good chuck and after a thorough cleanup and lube it is as good as new.

  2. Tim says:

    Great post Bill. Thank you for being willing to share. I have a similar one that needs this treatment as the chuck jaws don’t retract without tapping them. Will any oil work for reassembling the jaws or do you recommend a specific grease? And I agree it’s great to save these tools for another generation.

    • Thanks for your comment Tim. Any good quality light grease will do. The most important thing is cleaning all parts thorughly and doing a light polish on the mating surfaces. The biggest problem with these chucks is missing or broken springs. Any missing springs will have to be replaced. If you have any more questions please mail.

  3. Pingback: Millers Falls Drill Repair | thewoodworkingconsultant

  4. Simon says:

    Hey! Thanks for your explanation how to disassemble a hand drill chuck! It was inspiring me how to fix the chuck of my old and heavy Xillo breast drill. Must be rare, I havent seen one on the web but I still use it on a regular basis.

  5. Steve says:

    I took apart my chuck but am too dumb to reassemble it. Can you show a pic on the proper alignment of all the springs and such?

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