Introduction: Restore a Vintage Power Drill

Picture of Restore a Vintage Power Drill

This is a Black & Decker No. 100 1/4" power drill with a Jacobs Model 6141 Rubber-Flex Hex-Key Chuck.

From what I've found, this drill was manufactured sometime in the early 1950s.

It was in a box full of old power tools I bought a couple years ago. I paid 40 dollars and got 3 drills, a circular saw, a buffer/polisher, a router, and a gnarly saber-sort of saw (like a modern reciprocating saw, but configured to be held like a circular saw).

A couple of the tools are in decent shape and just need a good cleaning. My goal isn't to return any of these tools to actual daily workshop use, but just to get them back to looking nice and being in working order. I enjoy the process of fixing up old tools, and it's just kind of fun to have little pieces of history like this.

I'm starting with this little Black & Decker 100, and figured I'd document and share how it goes.

It's not a terribly complicated process to clean up an old tool like this, but perhaps some of the things I show will be beneficial to someone who wants to do something similar.

Alrighty. Let's dig in.

Step 1: Before

Picture of Before

Here's the state of the drill when I got it.

The original power cord had broken off. (I still had it but it was cracked, crumbly and in very bad shape.)

The chuck was locked in place and I couldn't turn the motor over without a decent amount of effort.

The exterior was oxidized and pretty gunky - an indication of things to come once I opened it up!

Step 2: After

Picture of After

Here are some after shots.

It's not perfect, but it cleaned up pretty well and the motor spins, although much slower than it likely did when it was new.

If I hold the trigger for more than about 10 seconds at a time, the whole drill gets extremely hot. At 30 seconds on, the motor started to sizzle and let out some of it's smoke! And there's only so much left in there . . .

So . . the motor is nearly shot, but it works well enough for occasional "proof" of functionality.

The following steps outline everything I did to get from the before condition, to the after. Enjoy.

Step 3: Handle, Switch and Internal Wiring

Picture of Handle, Switch and Internal Wiring

I started by removing the handle and examining the condition of the switch and wiring.

The internal wires coming from the motor were in decent condition (not cracked, still flexible), so that was a good sign.

Side note: This is not a complicated tool compared with others I've worked on. All the parts and pieces go together pretty logically. However, it's always smart to snap lots of photos along the way with a project like this, to help you out when reassembling.

Step 4: Brush Assemblies

Picture of Brush Assemblies

The brush assembles are take apart next.

Some notes in the photo, so check those out. Here's the order:

  • remove the Bakelite brush caps and pull out brushes. Be sure to note orientation of the grooves worn into the ends. Reinstalling these differently than they came out will result in lots of sparking till they wear down evenly again.
  • the brush housings have a wire attached to each that is held in place by a spring in a ring shape. These just pop off. There is a washer underneath each one that can be pulled off.
  • Loosen/remove set screws holding brush housings in place. Pull out brush housings.

Step 5: Remove Chuck - Jacobs Model 6141

Picture of Remove Chuck - Jacobs Model 6141

This type of chuck is removed by locking a hex key into it, and then striking the key with a mallet in the direction the drill spins (clockwise).

This old drill only had one direction and one speed. The chuck is threaded on in reverse to that direction, so it stays tightened in place by simply using the tool.

A few firm whacks and the chuck is loosened and can be unthreaded and removed. I used a shot of WD-40 to penetrate the threads before trying to knock it loose.

Step 6: Remove Front End

Picture of Remove Front End

The front end of the drill is held together with three screws. These were removed and the various pieces were pulled from the drill case.

A later step shows all the cleaned parts laid out in order.

Step 7: Remove Motor Components

Picture of Remove Motor Components

With the brushes removed the shaft/armature assembly can be pulled out. The armature assembly is shown in the next step.

The stator magnet assembly is held in place with two screws. These are removed and the this can be pulled out of the case.

Step 8: Clean Armature and Commutator

Picture of Clean Armature and Commutator

All the gunk on the armature and stator assembly was gently brushed away with a toothbrush. Q-tips dampened with goof off (this stuff) were used to do a deeper cleaning as needed.

The copper commutator was black with burn marks from the brushes. This was burnished clean by gently going over it with a carbon steel wire wheel (this) in my rotary tool (this - it's kind of interesting to use a modern B&D; tool to clean an older one).

Step 9: Clean More

Picture of Clean More

All the remaining parts got a thorough cleaning.

For the internal parts with thick coatings of grease, as much as possible was wiped away with a paper towel.

Anything with hard-stuck-on gunk I soaked in a plastic bag with goof off. This loosened up stuff and dissolved a lot of the crud.

Then everything (aside from the motor components) was washed and scrubbed in hot soapy water with dish soap.

Step 10: Clean and Polish Case

Picture of Clean and Polish Case

The drill case parts were all cleaned with goof-off to remove whatever was on there - various dribbles of paint and what appeared to be lacquer, as well as a layer of greasy gunk.

The parts were then washed with hot water and dish soap inside and out.

I made a simple buffing station a while ago with a cheap grinder (this is the grinder I used - works great).

Brown tripoli compound was used to machine-polish all of the pieces (I have this set of polishing compounds).

That was followed with a hand-polish using Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish (link).

I didn't feel inclined to over-do this, as it will just get oxidized again over time. The goal was a just quick cleaning and a light polish. I also did not want to give the case a clear-coat or anything like that.

Step 11: Parts Layout

Picture of Parts Layout

Here are all the parts cleaned and laid out.

Step 12: Reassemble

Picture of Reassemble

The stator magnet assembly was reinstalled, and the brush housings were put in place and the wires reconnected.

Step 13: Motor Shaft

Picture of Motor Shaft

The motor shaft was put in place next. The brushes don't get installed till later.

Step 14: Front End Reassembly

Picture of Front End Reassembly

The front end is reassembled with some fresh grease. I think this is axle grease - it's just what I had on hand.

Step 15: Front Cap

Picture of Front Cap

The front cap was reinstalled.

Step 16: Rewire

Picture of Rewire

The brushes were installed, and their caps screwed in place.

The trigger switch got a couple of drops of lubricant, as did the sleeves that hold the ends of the motor shafts (the front sleeve got a drop or two before reassembling the front end).

A new power cord (I used this) was threaded in through the handle and the retainer clip was installed as it was on the original cord. I put on two layers of heat shrink underneath before pinching the clip in place.

The wires were fastened exactly as they had been originally (I even used the same bullet connector).

SAFETY NOTE: As mentioned by several commenters, it's best to replace the original ungrounded two-prong cord with a three-prong cord. The green/ground line can be attached to the inside of the case with a small bolt or screw. This makes the tool much safer to use, and I may upgrade to a three-prong grounded cord at some point.

Step 17: Close It Up

Picture of Close It Up

The handle was wiggled into place and the screws were replaced.

The chuck was screwed in place, and after a final wipe-down with a rag and it was done.

I don't claim to be an expert on any of this - specifically related to electric motors. If you've got related experience that will benefit future readers who may find this, please speak up in the comments section with tips, thoughts, etc. It is much appreciated!

Thanks for reading.


bs3330 (author)2017-11-03

I have at least 5 old drills skill black and decker craftsman and some others all old vintage recently picked up 3 more from my wife's late father's cabinet when her mother passed for some reason I always use my late dad's black and decker to drill I have battery ones but I'm old school

LastPayLoad0 (author)2017-03-31

I like this alot, qute alot

HollyMann (author)2016-09-15

Wow, Sam. I have seen a lot of antiques, but this is the first vintage drill I've ever seen. I think it looks amazing! Do you use it? :) I love it!

seamster (author)HollyMann2016-09-15


No, I don't actually use it . . it's just kind of a cool thing to have around.

David_Lin (author)2016-09-10

WOW! good job. kinda shining.

like a brand new one !

ScottM144 (author)2016-09-01

One thought on repacking the grease. If you're going to use an "axle" grease, be careful not to use a molybdenum based grease. While molybdenum is fine for heavy machinery like vehicle axles, it will ultimately case small mechanisms to seize up over time.

seamster (author)ScottM1442016-09-01

Excellent to know, thank you!

Is there any particular kind of grease you'd recommend for use in an old power tool like this?

ScottM144 (author)seamster2016-09-01

I typically use a standard white lithium grease for most small to medium load and temperature equipment. It works well on the smallest of mechanisms, bearings, gears and sleeves, yet has thick enough viscosity enough not to seep through lightly sealed gear boxes such as hand tools. (Note: never use lithium grease on any equipment meant for food preparation. Lithium in food is a bad combination!) Ordinary, (non-moly) gray or amber colored petrolium type grease, the kind you can get at any hardware store in the pint size cylindrical cans, is also quite fine for old tools like the B&D drill here and has the added value of feeling more authentic, if you have a sentimental sensibility for old tool restoration, which I do and clearly you do too!

- Scott

seamster (author)ScottM1442016-09-01

Great info, thank you!

I may have to re-clean and replace the grease. Or just use something better on the next one I work on . . ;)

ScottM144 (author)seamster2016-09-02

Here're my family of old metal bodied B&D drill motors. One of the Model #100 drills belonged to my father's mother's sister's husband—whatever you call that relation. (Grand-uncle?) the other I found at a thrift store. The other, older B&D drill has no model number, but has a patent date of Nov 6, 1917. It still runs like a champ. Also a thrift store find.

BobM9 (author)2016-09-02

To be fair - the reason I noticed this in the first place was that I was drilling a hole in the bar on the back of my motorcycle - and there were sparks between the drill bit and the bar, like arcing. Lucky I didn't grab something that was grounded or I would have been lit up. Nice build by the way.

BobM9 (author)2016-09-02

A simple note: I had one of these many years ago, and the original cord
was NOT grounded to the metal case (2 wire only). In my instance, I
could measure 120v from the case to natural ground. If you have not used a
three prong cord with a ground to the case on this rebuild - I recommend
it highly, since it looks like you have not done that. Looks like
others have mentioned it also.

boatmakertoo (author)2016-09-02

Some time ago Home Depot was offering discounts on new tools in exchange for the old ones. I tried to get them to sell me one of the worm geared circular saws that they had exchanged but they wouldn't do it. I have an old Bendix Holgun that belonged to my father. He bought it in 1948. I have repaired the cord but little else. I installed a 3/8" chuck and it seems to handle the larger bits without difficulty. It has been in use, though not heavily, from 1948 to the present. The trigger is not completely reliable today and of course it runs at constant speed and has no reverse. The year he bought it I used it to build my first boat, a hydroplane only 8 feet long and later a 12 foot outboard powered skiff. It has been used in many home projects. The two of us rebuilt an old 16' cyprus bay built boat using the drill and hand tools. This exact drill was manufactured for a long time and I remember seeing them in the hands of maintenance workers as late as 1975. I have other old tools like this. One is a Mall saw, a 6" hand held circular saw of conventional design. I use a plywood blade on this saw and it makes nice smooth cuts in up to 3/4" thick sheets. It belonged to my grandfather who was a specialist in building complex and ornate stairways in large Baltimore homes. This saw I believe he acquired during WWII while working building cabinets in Coastguard boats. I love these old tools and use them just because of the memories they invoke. In my current boat project I have been using my grandfathers coping saw and block plane but a new Bosch jigsaw. The only problems with these old steel cased tools is that they are heavy and present a possible shock hazard. It is probably advisable to make sure that they are grounded through a three pronged plug but I confess that I don't worry much about the shock.

uncle frogy (author)2016-09-01

I have a very similar drill I have done a little work on. it is too fast for most of the things I need a drill for but I did press into service as the power for a drill bit sharpener that likes the higher RPMs. I all so have a 1/2" drill of the same vintage that does not spin very fast but it sure has the torque for big auger bits over 3/4" and up and does a swell job of mixing 5gal. buckets of mortar and plaster does not get hot or bog down both could use a little polish though then I might be afraid to use them

bravoechonovember1 (author)2016-08-31

awesome! you really cleaned it up!

though I hope you didn't write on any of the aluminium..


No, I didn't write on any of the aluminum . . why do you ask?

graphite is corrosive on aluminum. I learned that the second day of restoring airplanes!

Not if you keep it dry.

ahh.. interesting!

ncdave4life (author)2016-09-01

I have one of these, It was my dad's; he died in 1962. I've never done anything to it except replace the power cord. I don't use it very often, but it still works fine.

DylanD581 (author)2016-09-01

Neat technique for restoring old power tools. I have a few different old metal tools, including a drill similar to this one, that I don't use anymore. I think, with some TLC, they would make awesome display pieces.

artedwards67 (author)2016-09-01

I have one of these drills which is in good shape, it was bought new by my father to assist him building our home that was started in 1949. He used it to drill holes in the tongue of tongue and groove oak flooring to keep it from cracking. He had drilled hundreds of holes in that tongue and groove flooring all though out the house. i used it for several years after my father passed. I still have the original cord which had a lead which was threaded to ground the drill by screwing that into the cover hole of an outlet (I think). I'll pass grandpa's drill to my son who likes collecting family oldies.

an4rchos (author)2016-09-01

What a beauty!

kludge77 (author)2016-09-01

Thank you for the cool detail on this! Those exploded parts pictures are excellent! And you've got a sweet looking vintage tool now.

IndigoOnion (author)2016-09-01

I have one of these, and when I tried to use it I was electrocuted. This will be useful when I find the time to fix it. Thanks

johnfixesstuff (author)2016-09-01

Very nice, I restored one of these but the switch wouldn't work and I was required to take the switch apart, clean, and reassemble (which was a bit difficult). Check out this link if you need a detailed article on rebuilding an old drill switch:

seamster (author)johnfixesstuff2016-09-01

Nice, thank you!

Your site looks excellent, and your guides are impressively thorough. That's an awesome looking drill you were working on! :)

josecuevro (author)2016-09-01

if the drill was to be used, replace the cord with a three wire cord..

18/3 SJ would be work fine ... Thrift stores have old computer part...

Pick up a use computer cord.. computer cord would work fine and

has a molded cap.

seamster (author)josecuevro2016-09-01

Good idea, thank you. For the ground wire, would you just recommend attaching it to the aluminum case?

jwest7788 (author)seamster2016-09-01

Yeah, that's what he was getting at. The aluminum case should be grounded in case something shorts out, you don't want your arm to be the path of least resistance!

marrsstar4 (author)2016-09-01

Good job, I'll save this PDF for later, I have a super old
circular saw and a 1/2" drill that need restoring, whenever I get free time
in the garage.

ZaneEricB (author)2016-09-01

awesome... I have an old Toastermaster drill... somewhere, that was my grandfathers... it needs a full overhaul....thank you for this... this is awesome!

deluges (author)2016-08-31

Well done man, it's really nice to see people still care about old tools

seamster (author)deluges2016-08-31

Thank you! I love old tools, and have really appreciated a few of the restorations that others have shared, so figured I'd share one of mine too :)

dtallman (author)2016-08-30

I have the very same drill I use just about everyday.Only problem I actually have with it is it goes a million rpms as soon as you hit the trigger,there's no controlling the speed.

dtallman (author)dtallman2016-08-30

Shoot I hit the send button too fast.........great instructable.

seamster (author)dtallman2016-08-30

Thank you!

BeachsideHank (author)2016-08-30

Early '50's, you bet. It was probably a B-25 scrapped out at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base boneyard a few short years before it's rebirth. Ahh, the good ol' days before double insulation, polarized plugs, 3rd wire grounding, GFCI's, when men held potential death in their hands, but were they scared? Heck no, these tools were safe-and the manufacturers said so too! ☺

seamster (author)BeachsideHank2016-08-30

I'm wondering about the safety with this as is.. was it unwise to re-wire it and even plug it in? I'm very much a novice with old electric motors like this. Thoughts?

BeachsideHank (author)seamster2016-08-30

Run it on an outlet receptacle you know has a Ground Fault Interrupter Circuit (GFCI) protected device, usually kitchens and baths have these types of units nowadays, if it does not trip it, then it's probably o.k., but as you mentioned it getting hot rather quickly, I don't think I'd use it myself.

seamster (author)BeachsideHank2016-08-30

Very good to know, I appreciate your thoughts.

It will be disconnected and put on display where it belongs! :)

Myfootsasmokin (author)2016-08-30

This is the type of portable power tool that killed many men. Metal case without a ground, if there is a short ang you are grounded, you then become the ground. No GFI and you are home alone, you will fry like a fish. But other than that, I wish I'd held on to my grandpa's drill. Back then the manufacturers had a design department. They made art! You did it justice. I would be proud to have that drill hanging on my wall in my shop.

seamster (author)Myfootsasmokin2016-08-30

Thank you, that is precisely where it will end up. On display! :)

I found a video where a gentleman took apart the same drill, and actually added a ground (here). I think that was the right approach!

dangerous dan (author)2016-08-30

Excellent work, I especially like the time you took on the polish!

captaincombat (author)2016-08-30

nicely done sir !!

ShaunM11 (author)2016-08-30

Excellent restoration! Well done and thanks for sharing!

WrshpMzshn (author)2016-08-30

That's a great drill! It looks like something Buck Rogers would use to fix his space ship

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Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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