How to Lovingly Restore a Vintage Leytool Hand-Cranked Drill
If the video player is not working, you can click on this alternative video link.
Having a nice collection of tools is an absolute must for those who like tinkering with things. But, more modern tools just don't seem to last as long as they should.
For this reason, wouldn't it be great to get the vintage ones working? As it turns out, you could try restoring some old pieces back to working order.
How about, for example, this circa the 1950s or 1960s hand-cranked drill?
This particular project is brought to you by the wonderful people at Operation Restoration. You can check out their YouTube channel above and also take a look at their Instagram when you get a chance.
Like any project of this nature, you'll first need some stuff to get you started.
Tools and equipment needed
- Antique hand drill (in this case a circa the 1950s-1960s Leytool drill
- Basic tools (wrench, screwdrivers, etc)
- Metal files
- Screwdriver set
- Powder coating gun and coating
With all your tools and materials in hand, it is time to get on with the project.
Step 1: Check the condition of the drill and begin disassembly
Like any project of this nature, the first step is to give the piece a good looking over. Check the piece for damage or perished/lost parts and plan your restoration project accordingly.
In this particular case, the hand drill crank is very stiff. This will need to be dealt with when we come to the restoration proper. The cause should become clear once we open up the piece.
With that complete, we can now begin the restoration project. Take the drill and begin to disassemble it. Depending on the design of your hand crank, undo the central bolt to the main crank part of the device.
In this case, the main assembly is closed using a 2-pin pan head bolt. If you don't have a matching tool to remove this kind of bolt, take two short and narrow screwdrivers, hold them in the pins, and grip the screwdrivers using an adjustable wrench.
Hold the wrench tightly around its jaws, and firmly turn the 2-pin pan bolt to first loosen, and then unscrew it. The bolt will likely be very stiff, so you may need to loosen it up a bit with some lubricant or WD40.
Carefully remove the bolt, and watch for any pieces that may become loose when the bolt is removed. This could include things like washers or springs, etc.
With that complete, the main crank of the drill should now be easily removed from the piece. Once removed, the interior of the drill should now be exposed.
With that complete, you should be able to find a small screw holding the bevel gear of the hand-cranked drill in place. Loosen it and remove it from the main assembly.
With the gear removed, the main drill assembly should also come loose. Be warned that there may be ball bearings in the cavity between the drill bit and the main drill assembly. Try to rescue as many of these as possible -- ideally all of them.
Keep breaking down the drill into constituent parts as best you can. As you go, check the condition of the parts too to ensure they can be salvaged and reused. In this case, one of the springs to the drill chuck is bent and deformed.
Step 2: Begin the restoration process
The first step in our restoration of this drill is to clean off years of grime and dirt from the pieces. To do this, take each piece and give it a good scrub with warm soapy water.
Rinse off the soapy water once complete, and leave the pieces to dry.
With that complete, the next step is to begin to make any repairs needed to any of the drill's constituent parts. In this case, the main crank wheel teeth have some burrs on them,
To correct this, hold the piece in a vice and begin to reform the gear teeth using thin metal files.
Now, let's turn our attention to the main drill housing. In this case, the original piece has a series of forge/mold lines along the outside.
While this is an original feature, this restorer has decided they would like to remove them. To do this, mount the piece in a vise, and file off the lines.
With that complete, take the metal pieces and give them a good polish with a Dremel tool or other rotary polishing device. You want to make the parts as shiny and clean as possible and remove any file marks made from the previous steps.
Give all other metal components from the drill the same treatment to bring them back to their former glory. Remove any tarnishing and rust too -- obviously.
For parts like the 2-pin pan bolt, check if the pinholes are in relatively good condition or not. If not, clean up the pinholes with some fresh countersinking.
Step 3: Powder coat or paint the main assembly
With all the parts now cleaned up and restored where required, we can now begin to prepare the pieces for reassembly. If you want to keep the piece as bare metal, you can skip this step.
Take the main assembly, suspend it into place, and use your powder coating gun to apply a layer of powder coating to the piece.
With that complete, take the main crank handle section of the drill. Cover the wooden handle with masking tape, and either powder coat or spray the part to match the main assembly.
With that complete, take any powder coated parts, and bake them in a suitable oven at 356°F (180°C) to cure the coating.
With that done, take the crank handle assembly, and, if desired, spray paint a different color to the main assembly. In this case, the restorer has chosen to paint it jet black.
You can choose whichever color you'd like, of course.
Leave the paint to cure before moving on to the next step.
Step 4: Begin the reassembly
With all the parts now cleaned up and painted (where applicable), we can now begin to reassemble the piece.
In this case, the chuck proved to be unsalvageable. As previously mentioned, one spring was damaged beyond repair, and the other could not be reinstalled. This effectively renders the old chuck unworkable.
So, the restorer managed to source a very similar modern replacement. If yours is fully functional, then clean it up as needed.
Next, take the main drill barrel, and, depending on its design, grease up the piece and reattach the loose ball bearings.
The grease should hold the ball bearings into place, so don't worry about them falling off. With that complete, take the barrel and bevel gear.
Reconnect them once again to the main body of the hand-cranked drill.
Resecure the bevel gear to the barrel as needed. With that complete, slather the bevel gear with more lubricant grease.
Next, place the lower main crank bolt washers into place inside the hand crank body.
With that complete, carefully replace the main hand crank assembly. Be careful not to move the internal washers when doing so.
With that complete, grease up the 2-pin pan bolt thread, and insert it back into place in the hub of the hand crank drill.
With that complete, grease the exposed end of the drill barrel, and secure into place either the original, or the replacement, drill chuck.
You should be able to simply screw it into place, but this will depend on the design of your piece of course.
And with that, your old vintage hand-cranked drill is now fully restored. Now, all that needs to be done is putting the piece to work or find somewhere to display it for posterity.
If you enjoyed this quick restoration project, you may enjoy restoring some other old tools. How about, for example, an old vintage wooden spirit level?
After all, since you've started collecting old tools, why stop with just this drill?