This delightful tool is a Millers Falls #104 hand drill (nicknamed the “Buck Rogers” drill):
These drills, alongside their plane counterparts (that now sell for a zillion dollars, because plane collectors have a lot of money) are precious rare examples of quality postwar hand tool design and mass production in the USA. Millers Falls not only thought that they needed some o’ this here “industrial design” stuff, but they decided to keep their quality up to scratch. This drill’s casing is die-cast and its gear mechanism is enclosed, keeping dust out. As in the finer hand drills of yesteryear, the handle is hollow for drill bit storage, and the rear unscrews as the cap.
This drill cranks as smoothly as glass, just as it did when it was new, some 50 years ago. Of course, I just had to try it out, but then again, doing that to random wood in the apartment can get you in trouble. My solution was the obvious one–good luck finding that hole, heh heh heh.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy a drill as nice as this in a hardware store today? You can, in fact, get a Chinese-made cast iron drill for cheap at some (no doubt the cast is from some antediluvian American or European manufacturer). I actually have one; it’s crap. Guys, is it so hard to make sure that all the parts fit correctly? Yeah, I can probably tweak it a little to get it to work so that parts don’t scrape against each other, but I also have a Millers Falls #2 on the way, so it’s likely just not worth it.
Also, there is no way in the world that I should have bought this drill. You might say that I have a soft spot for hand drills, but I don’t want to get into this collector mania stuff. But on the other hand, it was cheaper than what a Millers Falls #5 goes for.