First of all, I love craigslist. I actually don’t use it that often in my daily life (it’s less useful when you live in the country), but we’ve made a few real scores in some lucky searching stints. While in TN, I happened to do a Millers Falls boring machine search, and I found one… for $160, and it wasn’t terribly far away. The only downside is that it needed some work, namely a new base and one or two small parts replaced.
Considering these suckers can go for $400-$900, I’d say it was worth it. And they just don’t make any equivalent (hand-powered) versions of these things anymore, so I felt obligated to pick this one up, tune it up, and preserve it. (And use it, too, no doubt.)
Fixing up a Millers Falls Boring Machine
We actually have another Millers Falls machine in better shape that we also got off of craigslist over a year ago. (I’m not bragging here, I swear.) That one, pictured below, is intact and works beautifully. It’s slightly different from this newer one, but the differences are minor.
Anyway, without that machine at my close disposal, I asked around and Brad from the Forestry Forum provided me with a simple drawing of the base design, since I needed to reference the original dimensions and construction in order to do a proper job.
The base was actually a lot easier to make than I thought it would be, thanks to the easy access to great wood and tools at Greg’s shop here in TN. I used quarter sawn white oak for the main pieces, and a scrap piece of cherry for the center piece (that piece doesn’t actually have a structural function, see #5 in drawing).
A whopping two bolts actually tie the thing together. Cutting the tenons on a tiny scale is a little time-consuming by hand, and I’ll admit that I opted for using the table saw to speed things along. Re-creating the base was not a huge task, and it should give this boring machine a new (and longer) life!
In addition to restoring the base, I of course did a bit of cleaning and scouring of the tool. I found a small wire brush to be most useful, and citrus solvent cleaner helped make quick work of grime and grit. Dismantling the boring machine is not all that hard, and I had much better access to the gears with it partially broken down. Before I am ready to use it, I will probably take one more pass with some citrus cleaner, and then blast it down with some WD-40 to keep it lubricated and free from rust.
Before it is truly ready for use, I do need to replace one of the support legs and foot where it attaches to the base. You’ll see what I mean in the topmost photo. I’m hoping either the local welder can fabricate these pieces, or a local community mate with a milling machine can replicate it.
And then it’s ready to go!