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I Forge Iron

nifty discovery: Cole drills

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I searched the archives and I know a few folks here, at least, are familiar with the Cole drill, a.k.a. a ratchet drill or old man. (The estimable Mr. Powers apparently owns one that he got for $10 at a flea market -- lucky dog!) But for those who aren't, here are a couple links:


I recently discovered these things, and I'm fascinated with them. Frankly, for drilling larger holes they look much more more fun than my POS Chinese drill press. (You know it's bad when they're too ashamed to put their name on the thing. But the price was right.) And in the process of looking at them I've come to realize that the same basic principle was used in a lot of old drills. In fact after looking at this thing I finally understand how post drills work: it's basically a Cole drill with a pivoting arm that engages a ratchet mechanism to advance the feed screw automatically, and the the drill ratchet moved to the side of the drill and replaced with a wheel and gears. Now I have a hankerin' to try out the post drill at the shop.

Anyway, I thought some of you might find these things as neat as I do.

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I've also got a variant that was designed for drilling pipe and so has a chain that goes around the pipe and fastens to the drill so you can make a hole away from an end...what can I say; I have gotten a fleamarket allowance for over 25 years from my charming wife!

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I've got a couple of these, only played with them once and found it a fair amount of work to make a hole

I'm a little surprised. Most of the reports I've found by guys who've tried them are very positive. If you want to send one out to Virginia for troubleshooting, I promise to give it a thorough workout! :P
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Guy Lautard wrote up a good piece on Cole drills in The Machinist's Third Bedside Reader.

I ran across the company's website several years ago and they were still selling both the Cole drill and vise. My foggy memory is that they were both going for around $250.

Link to a brochure: http://www.rustyiron.com/literature/ColeDrill.pdf

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