Dedicated to the Gunsmith and his craft. A place to talk building techninques, design, and build-alongs.
So where should one start when it comes to going down the trail to gunsmithing .
Well really you can start anywhere . Take classes, even go to a trade school .
But for myself it all started with a love of history and muzzleloading specifically .
Now I want to say here , that I don’t know it all and in fact when it comes to others like myself I would have to say im only average in my knowledge and skill .
But anyway , I started reading , gathering and collecting books of any and all kinds . Basically anything pertaining to muzzleloaders . We didn’t have the internet and the information was sometime very scarce
Learning to build was even harder if you did not have someone around who had the experience and was willing to teach .
Today we are lucky and those much of the information concerning rifle building ,contained in bits and pieces, in all the books have been somewhat consolidated into building book .
Recreating the American Long rifle by Shumway
The Gunsmith Of Grenville County by Peter Alexander
Recreating the Double barreled shotgun by William Brockway
Just to name 3 . There are others as well and with the advent of the internet the historic information explosion is about unlimited .
Now days we can just jump on line , go to a web site like the Traditional Muzzleloading association , American Long rifle Association . Or even web sites like this one and find answers to questions we may have ..
But when I started working on muzzleloading pieces I had no such options nor any such money .
As such I started out converting center fires ro muzzleloading . My first was an Old 6 # 03A3 that had been scrapped . Then I converted a 30 .30 marlin that been shot out . If I recall I actual bought that rifle for 5 bucks at a yard sale when I was 15 .
But anyway back in those day the rendezvous seen was big and heavy . Lots of folks . One of those events was considered small if they had only 150 shooters that’s where I go introduced into the differences in muzzleloaders IE production guns and customs. During those days there were few customs but the ones that did show were simply wonders to the eye . The reliability of the flintlocks was amazing . But again while today the price of a custom rifle back then seems cheep . The cost was actual has hard to swallow as it is today . So I was out of luck .
See I grew up under some different circumstances the many folks but the same type as some others .
My father worked for the Government and made back then 375 .00 a month .
We didn’t really have anything .
But we had family . My mother was American Indian and really played a big roll in my life .
As children when we went to town and my sister and I wanted candy , my mother would show us how to make our own . Later when I wanted a slingshot , my dad showed me how to make my own .
My grandfather would tell me . Charlie , everything you want is in your head . The ability to make it is in your hands . Never let the want in you hart out run those two .
Ok so here is my point . Maybe we cant aford a high end currly maple , English walnut in presentation grade or a good piece of rock maple or cherry .. Maybe we cant aford a new barrel , or what have you . But we have an old kit gun or CVA rifle . Maybe pistol that’s gathering dust .
All we have to do is use what’s in our heads . See what’s inside there is free , its easily filled , expanded.
The more that’s added to that space between our ears , the greater our imaginations can be . Remember that imagination is the maps our hands need to make that come true .
Was Tomas Edison born with the knowledge to make the light bulb ? NO . he filled his head with Knowledge. Which in turn grew his imagination. Which gave his hands the skill to do what he did .
Now what im about to do , some folks will say AHHHHHHHH you cant make a silk purse from a sows ear .
I will be the first to say , That is true . But you can make a real nice purse from a sows ear .
Frankly way would any of us want a silk purse anyway . Would look kinda silly im thinking . But ha, in this day an age , what can I say
So lets take say this Jukar old pistol . doesn’t look like much right now . The person who built it did a real poor job . The wood is less the quality . The lock is the same as is the barrel . But the important part is it shoots . This makes it a good candidate for someone wanting to learn to start out on . Or maybe you have a rifle that you want to change but need practice firsT” which by the way is a real good idea .”
So lets see what we can do with this . Over the next couple weeks im going to make some changes . we are going to strip the old finish of the stock . Clean the barrel up . Do some Pewter casting , refinish the stock . Do some engraving and maybe even a little gold leaf work , we will have to see how our imagination runs
I will add nothing to this gun in the way of cost IE IMO this pistol as is worth IMO no more then 15 to 20 bucks My plan here is to add no more the 10 bucks worth of material and maybe 20 hours in time tops . My hope in doing this is that it will stir your imagination as to what you can do
So lets get started shall we . Please feel free to ask any questions along the way .
If it just so happens you have something laying around and want to work along , Please feel free to do so .
Ill be glade to answer any questions you may have
So here is the poor abused animal we are going to pump new life back into . the first thing we are going to do is set back and just look at it . tell the point we get over what it looks like now and come to the place where our imaginations take over and that little light bulb above out heads clicks on .
Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land."
ok so now what i want to do is as different ideas come to mind , draw them onto the stock.
there are some things we cant change . well we could if we had the money , but we dont so things like the greater overall shape, , barrel , lock , side plate inlets are all going to have to stay the same . but past that we can change things like the contours . so once you have an idea , draw it onto your piece . then set it aside and just look at it for a while .
normally i do this for a couple days . if after 2 days im still happy with things then i start removing wood . believe it or not , whats hidden in this piece is a nice pistol .. All you have to do to see that is get over what your eye sees and let your imagination tell your eyes what you want them to see . IE picture it in your mind with your imagination
Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land."
now another thing im going to do while i work on this piece is to write down comments as they come to mind .
So here is the first one .
One of my biggest complaints with production guns . I should say 99.99% . Is that they have way to much wood left on them people don’t realize this . So search the net for originals or reproductions of custom rifles and pistols.
Just do a Google for custom flintlock rifles and pistols . Notice how small framed they are you simply do not see these big heavy thick bodied guns . Even the hawkens leman Derringer and hennery rifles which were known to be heavy framed , are much ore defined then folks realize . A good compression would be to compare say a Lyman plains rifle to say a TC or CVA hawkens . You simply do not need all that extra wood . Removing it will make your end product much nicer
Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land."
ok comment #2
All to often as we work on something like this , we find cracks .
About 95% of the time these are caused by a poor job of inletting .
So if you have cracks look the piece over and find out why .
I find that only about 5% of the time are these from the poorer quality of wood IE to soft or the grain being ran wrong .
With this pistol , we have a crack on the lock plate side .
So I look it over and try to find why it would crack here ? Was the past owner careless?
What I find as I trace the crack is that it closes up slightly when the barrel is removed .
Sharpie Markers make great inletting black . So taking a Black Sharpie marker , color the bottom of the barrel . And fit it back in . what I find is the factory inlet does not let the barrel set correctly . The black ink has left a mark on the wood , about ½ way up the barrel channel . What this high spot has done is that when the barrel is tightened down into the stock , the stress has caused a crack to form in the already soft wood . While there is no way to completely hide the crack above the side plate . We can take out the wood that caused it , then using a good white glue , fix the crack .
Now because this pistol will end up in the hands of someone else that im fixing it for , I will use Acra-Glas to make the bond …
Now something to remember here . . A job , no mater how big , is only as big as all it parts .
So don’t get caught up in the job itself . Concentrate on one of the small parts . Finish that and move on to the next small part only keeping the overall job as a prospective .
Basically its like ,,,ahhh say walking a mile . We know that those trees at the end of the road are a mile away right ? Walking down the road is the prospective to getting to those trees , each step we take , be that a 3ft stride or a 6 inch shuffle, means we are that much closer to finishing that mile ,,, right ? So find that first step and take it .
Now a note here . IF we were building a rifle from scratch , then there is an order that must be followed . But with this type of build , that order has already and somewhat carelessly been taken for us .
Ok so after a couple hours here is where im at .
I have started my fist sep by cutting 2 ½ inches off of the frankly Funky looking forstock .
Then notice I have come back a little farther and defined the lock mortises on both the lock plate and side plate sides so that they now match . Also notice that as I have defined the lock mortises , this has caused the wrist to also define itself and now we can see a crisp line forming down to the pommel
Compare the pictures I to to start with , to these .
Now also notice that the thickness of the wood along the barrel is also much thinner . By the time I finish with this , that thickness will taper and round to nothing as it comes to the barrel .
Folks ,,, with few exseptions , there shold be no shelf IE flat , to the stock alog the barrel but for only a short section along and just forward of the mortices . the forstock should come to a nice clean VERY THIN edge, running down the stock along the barrel .
i think already you can see where my Imajionation is leading me here s . Its IMO looking much better but we still have a ways to go
OK so by now some of you are probably wondering what im going to do with this endless , who knows why someone would want to do , tang inletting that the original builder did .
Well there are some things we just have to live with . Like wide lock and side plate inlets . But this monstrosity isn’t one of them .
As was said by a poster in the hello thread . Building isn’t that hard . But what is hard is learning to fix the “ G#$ damits in life “ we all make them . The more experience we gain , the less we make . BUT we still make a few don’t we. .
A little story here if I may .
Some years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to physically inspect and document for my own Knowledge an original Flintlock , SXS built by the master 18th century gunsmith Josaph Manton SR . The piece I got to hold was in pristine condition and the owner and English fellow ,who had lent it to the museum had paid I was told , near 40 thousand US for it and its matching S# mate back in the late 1980’s .
The pair had been in a family from the time they were built .
But on close inspection what could not be seen from looking through the glass display case was Manton possibly had one of those “OPPPPSSSSS” just like everyone else and had actually replace a small ½ x 1/8 piece of wood , along the Tang . It was so carefully done that until you got very close , you could not see the repair . It showed IMO a true masters skill .
So in all fairness to the person that put this kit together , we don’t know what happened or why this was done this way . Surly there had to be a reason at the time .
So what im going to do is repair this with an inlay .
Now inlays can be anything , bone, metals , wood , anything but since we are wanting to keep the cost on this to a minimum . While at the same time keep this simple for folks , what im going to do here is do a pewter cast inlay right to the stock . We will also do a new Nose cap and pommel casting at the same time
Now there are some Pluses to Pewter and Minuses .
Pewter is easily cast . It casts at a very low melting point that’s achievable with the same equipment that melts lead .. It also can be reasonably hard .
The minuses are that it doesn’t hold a shine well . But IMO it does make a nice patina over time .
There are also places it should not be used . For instance for a buttplate of a rifle . Pewter just will not hold up to the pressures of loading. It also can be heavy so you have to watch the pewter’s you use . Low lead pewter for use in food service items normally are very light and work well .
So for this we have one of our fist expenses.
For this much pewter it will run about 5 bucks . Less if you get picky and pick up old pewter belt buckles at yard sales . 2 buckles will do this job in fact I will probably only end up using about 10 Oz . most of which will get sanded away .
So fist we must draw out out center lines of the stock . This way the inlays will be true . Once we have that laid out then we can start working on a design .
This is where im going to stop today as im not sure I like what I have drawn on the stock just yet .
Its VERY important that I do . Because once I start cutting the cavities , they are there . So im going to let this set for a while so I can think on it . I also need to set the crack
So this is what I have . The stock is 80% shape . What this means is from here out we will start finish work which is bring the stock down to a smooth finish . So this is the final shape of the stock excluding the final shape of the nose cap .
so if anyone has any questions , Please ask away
Ok so day 2 ,so no questions ??? From day the couple hours of day 1 ???
Ok so here we go
Now your about to find out why good woods are important for gun stalks . Not only is hardness important to keep the stock from splitting but its also important if you want to do anything like carvings , checkering or inlays .
Production companies use everything from popular and ash , all the way up to walnuts . But even when it comes to the walnut, its usually of a lower quality . So understand that even when we talk about hard woods like maple , cherry and walnut , within those woods are what’s called soft woods .. To often we look at say a stock of curly maple , often called tiger maple . Folks say wooooooooo ohhhhhh what a stock . But keep in mind figure means very little . Its just eye candy . A simple stock made of very hard solid maple with no figure will in the end produce a rifle of many times much higher quality . The reason for this is that your inlets and carvings stay crisp and clean . Where with softer woods , they wood wants to split or chip out ..
So if you working with a soft wood like we are with this piece we must go slow , be carful so as to not have our work chip out . So go low with making your beds be they for a solid inlay or for this soft pours like we are doing here
Ok so after looking at this over night , I have come to the conclusion that we have just to much going on . The end result is that we could end up with something that’s just to busy . As such I have decided to drop the pommel inlay all together and stick only with the inlays we have to have in order to cover up the original owners problems . That leaves us with the nose cap and tang inlay ..
So yesterday we drew out what would be the outlines of our inlays . We have though about it some and decided to go with the design .
So now we have to start making the beds for our pewter inlays .
For this I use just a simple exacto Knife . Now some of you may be wondering why . Why no hi end carvers and such . Well the reason is that you want something that extremely sharp . Now we can use a blades that we have to keep sharpening , or something that we can change out often . Exacto blades are cheep . The get dull , just replace it .
So here what I will do is go around my drawings until im about 1/8th deep with the blade strait down
This is different then doing a solid inlay like say a piece of brass so keep that in mind if that’s what your wanting to do .
once we have made a few passes , we then come from the inside and angle the blade to the cut
now we can come from the inside and remove the interior wood .
, once this is done carefully go around and clean up all the edges . They must be crisp or our inlay will not look clean on the edges . now the reason on this piece that i dont taper the edges in is that with this wood , its splits and runs . so to keep this from happening i have squared the edges .
now a NOTE here . its best to make anchors that the Pewter can flow into and help hold the inlay in place . if you dont do this , it will want to pop out while you filing things .. simply drill some small holes at least 1/8 and 1/4 deep so as to help hold the pour in place .
ok so now we must make our forms that will hold the pewter in place and force it into the stay there .
now before we go to far , we need to look things over for areas we dont want the pewter to go . IE like down the tang scre hole or into the barrel lug where the pin goes to hold the barrel down .
as you will see , the nice thing about pewter is that its low temp and will not burn wood or paper . infact we can cast in paper and thats what we are going to do here .
so take some small pieces of paper towel and fill any place that you dont want the pewter to flow into .
in this photo i have packed paper towel into the batter lug , pin hole
ok so now we need to make our forms . with pewter , we can just you card stock from an old box , or a playing card ,,, basically anything thet will hold the hot pewter .
here is my thin cardboard frame
now notice that i have purposely made it bigger then what the finished nose cap . the reason for this is that you get one shot at this . if you dont get a good pour , you might get lucky and be able to peal the pewter out . BUT with as soft as this wood it , it would surly damage what we have done . so make your form bigger then you think . this will alow more material weight , which will help force the pewter into all areas . it will also help by giving you lots of material to file through . this reduces the chances of having a bubble that will ruin your piece .
now simple wrap the form with tape . lots of tape . while the Flow temperature of pewter is rather low , it is still hot and will melt the glue of the tape . so don’t be frivolous here . Its better to have to much then to have your mould blow and thus have a bad pour
here is my finished mould , ready for casting
So now out to the shop to melt some pewter . For this im using an Old pot . DON’T use one of you wife’s good pots . Not only will she not be able to use it again , but she probably will hit you with it .
A simple camp stove will give you enough heat to bring the pewter to liquid .
WARNING!! As with all casting of liquid metals , use proper ventilation .
Ok now grab some good leather gloves . Again while pewter is low temp , it will burn the living C@#$ out of you if it get on your skin . So where gloves .
Now once the pewter has came to liquid, let it continue to heat for another 3 to 4 minutes tell you see a blue tint to it
Now pour it into your mould .
Notice im wearing welding gloves . Eye protection is also a VERY good idea .
Now once the pewter has cooled and you can touch the paper with your hands and its only slightly warm, then its time to remove the paper forms .
Now don’t be surprised because your casting looks nothing like what you think .
What is important is that the pewter has flowed completely into and over all areas .
Now you will see WHY its best to let the pewter be thicker then you want .
Here is what the pour looked like
Now comes the file work and clean up . You will quickly see why it was so important to have clean edges on those beds
So here after another hour of filing , we can now see our inlays . At this point , they are tight and will receive the final polish when we do the stock finish . If you took your time made the beds deep and clean . The inlays will be tight to their full depth . Thus there will be no cracks around the edges that will form even if you sand so much as to completely sand through the inlays . Insuring that we don’t is whey we brough the stock to the 75-80% range in our sanding
Ok so that’s it for today . When next we meet , we will start the finish sanding on the stock .
ok so questions ?????? any one ???, anyone ??????
Ok so . We have had some discussion on inlays .
Many times when folks what to change or modify a production type weapon , the first thing they look at is inlay .
So what about these hard inlay . Hard being an inlay that’s pre cast or cut and not formed directly to a bed that’s made to the stock .
Well as long as a person wishes to set an inlay that is larger then one done by the manufacture, you should not be concerned .
But lets say you cant find an inlay you like ?
Well then you can make your own . Like I referred to before , an inlay can be anything .
Myself I watch all the time for things that would make good inlays . often times these can be found on the handles of old silverware , jewelry and such basically anything that strikes your fancy . But keep in mind that in areas around barrel lugs or pins . These should match so if you have a long rifle that has 3 pins . You can get away with the main forstock being different then those in the forward area but from side to side , they should be the same .
Lets also talk here briefly about annealing. We talk alittle bit about this concerning half shoeing a frizzen . What is it really that William and I were speaking of .
Well basicly , without going deep into detail , every metal has an annealing temperature.
What that is basically is a temperature at which the metal becomes softer or softens IE losses its temper .
Each metal has a different softness it will achieve . With aluminum, gold and silver the metal can be made by annealing “ heating to a given temperature “ so soft that it can be molded by hand to some existent . While brass and bronze will become somewhat softer and easier to work is never gets as soft as say aluminum. Steels will also soften depending on their make up . So if you have something like say the frizzen . If enough heat is applied to reach that annealing temp , it will becomes to soft to be used for it purpose and must be re tempered .
But some metals like brass , bronze ,and even gold , they will whats called work harden . In other words you have made the metal soft by annealing but as you hammer or bend it , it once again becomes hard . Sometimes to the point that it will become to hard for the intended use . A good example of this is the old bronze cannons used by the confederacy during the civil war . These often failed because of work hardening . IE each time a round was fired , the bronze got harder and harder tell a point the barrel got so hard , it failed under the pressure .
Ok so lets do a hard inlay here so as to give you an idea of how this is done . For this we will cut our inlay from cheep 1/16 plate brass . About 1.50 at the hardware store .
First we must make a template and then lay that template in its intended location to see how it looks
Now we trace or glue that template to the sheet brass and cut it out .
Now once we have our inlay we must fit it closely to the couture of our stock ,
So now we know that the template will have to be formed . But before we do that we need to prep the inlay for its bed . Now when we did the pewter inlay we simply cut a square edge . Now while this same process will work for doing a hard inlay , you will have a gap all the way around the inlay caused by the thickness of the blade . IE we traced the inlay with a sharp blade . So because of the thickness of our chosen blade we have an oversized bed . We don’t want this .
So what we need to do is prep the inlay . What this is is simply going around the inlay from the back side and filing an approximate 45 deg angle from the back to the from . Now by doing this before we try to form the inlay , we insure the whole outside edge has a good beveled angle .
Ok so now we must soften the inlay . To do this with this piece of brass I heated it to a cherry red and then let it cool . Now I can bend it with my hand . Now some metals you have to quench to make soft after heating . While others if you quench it , it will again become hard . So as you gain some experience you will learn what each metal needs .
For instance with aluminum. All it takes is for the metal to be sooted with sat a candle or even an acetylene torch with no oxygen . While its warm and using a heavy leather glove it will easily bend to a contour almost like butter. But as it gets cool , it becomes hard again ..
So now I have anneal the piece to a general contour .
Now I place the piece on the stock and glue it with epoxy . Now you maybe tempted to just hold the inlay in place while you start cutting the bed . DON’T do this . You cannot hold the piece in place with your hand solid enough . Epoxy works well because it will hold solid . Once you have the inlay outlined you can just slip the blade under and the inlay will pop off . If it doesn’t , just add a little heat to it from say a soldering iron and the inlay will fall off .
Ok remember we made that bevel on the back side of the inlay . Well here is why and how making the solid inlay bed differs from the soft inlay .
That bevel allows us to angle the blade under the inlay . Carefully go around the inlay so the cut gets deeper and deeper , you want the depth to be close to the thickness of the inlay itself
NOW If your close to the 45 deg angle you will find that this has actually mad a bed that has a matching angle but about 1/16 less then the outside diameter of the inlay . You will see this, if before you pop the inlay off you trace the inlay with a pencil . When you pop the inlay off you will see you cut is smaller . This is good .
Now take you blade and just as we did when making the soft pewter inlay , carefully cut all around from the inside area to your cut . Once you have gone all the way around , remove the wood from the center .
Now take the inlay and and ensure you have no epoxy on its back . If it does remove it .
Now place just a small amount of fresh epoxy back on the inlay and press it into the bed , now once again go around the inlay . Then again remove it , cut out to your mark . Each time you do this the inlay will drop alittle more each time . Once its just at or slightly above the wood level . Take the inlay and using a file , scrape the back so that its ruff . Now apply you choice of glue and press the inlay in place and. By roughing the back of the inlay we have given the glue something to hold on to . Now if you chose epoxy remember that heat will cause the glue to let go so be very careful while sanding or filing to finish . Remember as you do that , the friction cause heat and will pop the inlay out .
Now if you want to do this the period correct way then you want to use a hide glue OR use small silver nails to hold the inlay to its bed …
Now we want to file and sand into the inlay . don’t go from the metal to wood or you will create a dip around the inlay .
Now because of the bevel of the back side of the inlay and the resulting bevel of the walls of the bed , as you file , if you went slow and capet everything even , the inlay will look like the wood had grown around it and that it belongs right where it is .
Ok so now we have a brass thumb piece as an accent .
Now we are going to start the finish work .
Now as a note here . Every gunsmith has their own preferred way to finish a stock . This is just a basic way that will give you a nice finish .
If your looking for a show finish , then there is more steps between all these steps.
Now for this piece im going to use sand paper not scrapers . No real reason other then im doing this piece in a way that even a first time builder will be able to understand .
The first key here , is use a sanding block . If you just use the paper without a solid backing you will get waves in the level of the wood.
So we sand with 180 , then go to 200 . Then 250 .
Now once we get to 250 we are going to whisker the wood . See because sand paper tears the grain , not cut it , we have lose lifted fibers that we cannot see . But if you wet the wood , just lightly , they will show . So we dampen the wood and then using 250 sand again , then re dampen and sand again tell the point that no more of the grain is lifted .
Now once we have done this we can do what’s call boning or burnishing basically what this is is compressing and polishing the wood with another hard smooth surface. With Boning we use a polished bone when we say burnishing that could mean any object .
notice how smooth the stock is
So now once we have that we have reached this point we can stain the wood .
Now I have found through the years that I don’t like oil based stains . Myself I prefer alcohol based stain . Stay away from water based or what will happen is that you may find you have to start over on your whiskering . The water in the stains will open the wood , even if you have done a good job to begin with .
I have had very good luck with Leather dyes . When you go to buy them read alittle about them before you chose your colors . You want to use brands that are alcohol based and that can be mixed . This way you can come up with unlimited colors and even add patinas if you like .
So for this pistol I have chosen a mix of chocolate brown and Coco Bean . This gives just a hint of red to the brown and thus will set of the contrast of the silver and gold .
It also will help blend repairs to some degree .
Lighter stains such a nutrals or natural stains IE very light colors , will show any imperfection ..
Ok so now we have stained our wood and we MUST apply a finish . Again as I sated earlier , there are many different types of finishes and ways of applying those finishes .
Historically many things were used basically everything from just basic bee’s wax to lacquers, boiled linseed oils , even fish sun flower and other oils , with dries added to them to make them dry .
Myself I prefer a linseed oil with a light tung oil sealer .
See linseed oil even if it boiled linseed , never completely dries. It also doesn’t seal the wood well and stays around 30% porous. IE moisture and stains can travel through the oil to the wood . Also because it never dries 100% it collects contaminates over time . This is why say with old original shotguns , the stocks are often very dark . All the dirt , cleaning oils and fouling , over time collects and is trapped in the oil .
Now if we use say tung oil alone “true oils is a mix of tung oils and dries “ , we will find that its very hard . It only when dry is about 10% porous. . This is good . BUT it also has its problems . Tung oils penetrate very deep into woods . So lets say that down the road , you find you need to make a repair . You sand down through the oil , fix the problem and then try to re stain the damaged area . What you will find is that it will be very hard to match the stain because the tung oil keeps the wood from absorbing the stain like the wood did before the tung oil was applied . Now it can be done , but its not any fun to do and most times folks resort to using an oil based stain mixed into the finish oils in order to blend in the repaired area .
Now what I have found is that if both linseed and tung oil are used , we can fix this issue .
So basically what we do is apply the linseed oils first . This will hold the tung oil out of the wood . At the same time the tung oil will bond to the linseed and thus not peal and flake like a lacquered stock can do because it still lets the wood breath just enough .
So now I take the stock and flood it with linseed oil . By flood I mean just that . Get it dripping wet , every last nook and cranny. Let it soak for a few minutes , then flood it again . With this last flooding , I work the oil with my hands . Slowly rubbing in a circular motion . The heat for the friction of rubbing will start to thicken and dry the oil . But keep working it , adding just alittle oil to keep things wet tell you have rubbed the whole stock down . Now set the stock aside to dry for at least 24 hours or tell its no longer tacky . That sometimes depending on the outside temperature and humidity can take more then 24 hours , but don’t rush things .
When its dry you want to rub in more linseed . Just dip you fingers in the oil and rub it in as a section begins to dry , re dip your fingers and move along the stock tell you have it completely coated . Then set it aside and let it dry .
You want at least 3 good coats . Most times I do 5 .
So now is the time to be thinking about what type of finish you want .
The two main types are English and American
Now your going to be asking whats the difference.
The American finish is what is now seen on very high end firearms . IE you can see the figure of the wood but the grain is all gone .
With say walnut , the wood is very open pored . Thus the oild go into those pores and leave little low spot . So if you hold the stock in the light , you can see the pores / open grains of the wood. This is an English finish when those pores are left visible. With the American finish we go back and wet sand the surface of the oil . Being very careful not to sand through the oil . To do that finish we mix a thinner like mineral spirits to the oil as a lubricant . We then use a very find wet/dry sand paper , wet the stock and then sand . What this does is create a slurry that fills the ends of those open grains .
We repeat this tell no end grain or open pores show.
That is an American finish that even the English starting about 1900 use .
Now don’t be confused here . This doesn’t have anything to do with high or low gloss . Its just the smoothness of the finish .
Again , don’t rush this , you will be sorry . A good premium finish is going to take you a minimum of a week to 2 weeks as you can only work alittle on it each day before you have to let it dry
But in the main time while the stock is in oils , we have other things we can do like draw filing the barrel , browning bluing the steel or iron hardware , polishing out the brass and such
So when we next meet ill go over browning or rust bluing the barrel
ok so while the stock is drying , i did a little tinkering and added some gold leaf to the lock.
simple, cheep and should look real well against the stock . ill let that dry for a day or so and then clean it up
The stock is gorgeous. I love the color of the stain and the marbling of the grain stands right out. I'll have to keep in mind about the boiled linseed oil. I usually use one cot just to show the grain more.
What gold leafing did you use?
well i make my own LOL .
a little laqued fingernail polish of my wifes and some sand paper and file work on a Brass plate to get real fine dust .
mix the dust with the finger nail polish and Wa lla you have fostners gold , well not exsactly but close to it . gently wipe the serface with asitone and let dry .
OR for 13 bucks you can get a bronze and copper mix of very fine dust with the chemical mix through brownells .
the stock stained stock in the photo above , has had no oil applied yet .
tomarrow i post a photo after the first coat . im thinking ill put 5 on and wet sand . then apply 2 coats of tung oil
re reading this this morning i think i should once again point our , that 1 coat of linseed will not seal the stock . as such moisture can and will penetrate the wood .
Which is not good .
If we want to accent the grain of a given piece of wood , there are things we can do that will do that better and to a greater existent then just adding oils .
Using lamp black , Aquafortis , Vinegar, lemon juices all will make the grain stand out . Thus when we add oil the grain stands out even more .
Ok so today while the stock is in oil we are going to work on the barrel .
Now we need here to decide what we want .
Is it to be browned , blacked or blued .
So lets talk alittle about this for just a second
Lets start with browning . Many folks think browning was the way original barrels would have been done and most certainly over time if not taken care of , they would have taken on a brownish or grey patina. But the wide spread application of browning seems not to have really started to take hold tell very late in the 1700’s and carried on for some 50-70 years when bluing came back into fashion . Now this is not to say it wasn’t done earlier because it was . it just doesnt seem to be as common
So basically what has happened is we transformed from barrels being a blue , black or polished to a application of brown .
Now why did this happen ?? I personally don’t think we know for sure .
Myself I lean to possibly it was a reasoning of cost . Browning happens naturally, its very easy to do and while blacking a barrel takes only 1 more step , it is ,,,another step which applies more time to finishing the rifle . Possibly people preferences just changed.
But my point is that today we think of an original finish of brown . But we need to realize that this isn’t always the case .
Ok so how do we brown ?
Well we can go out and buy a cold brown salutation. There are many out there .Birchwood markets plum brown . Laurel mountain has a brown . Most muzzleloading supply retailers sell their own browns as well .
Or we could go with the hot browns like those offered by Sculpt Nouveau which work under heat . All when applied properly work very well
But all these cost money don’t they .
But Folks look, Browning or blackening a barrel , un like bluing is nothing more then Rusting a barrel . Basically all these products do is stimulate Red or different colored Iron oxides to form on the barrel . This happens very quickly on iron. IE Iron Oxide. With modern steels , this happens slower but because the steel is still formed from a base of iron , that iron oxide still grows .
When I first started building muzzleloaders back in the mid 1970’s we didn’t have but 1 or 2 marketed products for browning . Most folks simply just did it the old way . Either by setting the barrels out in the weather while we worked on the rifle or by building a sweet box to stimulate and speed up the rusting process . we also used natural things to brown . One of these was urine. Yep you heard right . Many folks would take their barrels , plug the bores and flash holes / bolsters . Set the barrel out behind the shop somewhere and pee on them regularly for a few days .
Now I will say I don’t know anyone today that still makes and sells muzzleloaders that does that “Laughing “ but it did work and at one time many folks did do that .
But keep in mind products like plumb brown will do in minutes what the way im going to do it takes IE a couple hours . Which by the way is faster then products like laurel mountain but slower then a sweet box
Now what about blacking . well blackening a barrel is a process of simply converting red iron oxide to Black iron oxide .
Because this process takes very high humidity and heat for it to happen , we can simply place the barrel in to hot boiling water and right in front of our eyes , the color will start to turn black .
Here is IMO one of the best explanations of Blacking a barrel . While this shows Damascus barrels , the process is the same for steel or iron barrels . You just don’t end up with a pattern. Some wonderful photos of examples there as well
Now with bluing we have a completely different set of things happening .
Depending on the blue we are trying to apply . There are hot blues , cold blues , chemical bath blues and fire blues . All are done in different ways and all have different levels where they will resist wear . Excluding a fire blue all these simply Dye the metal to some existent or level . chemical bath bluing produces the deepest darkest , longest lasting blue . Fire bluing will also do that but I wont go over that because you basically need to know what your doing or you will damage the barrel itself .
Now hot blues will color deeper then cold bluing and you can actually hot blue with most cold blue solutions simply by bring the barrel up to a give temperature. That temp isn’t to hot but it is hot enough to make water and the solution itself sizzle and pop when its applied . Cold blue and hot blue are the cheapest ways to go concerning bluing . But chemical bath and fire bluing produces a much higher quality and longer lasting finish. Again though it costs and for most folks , they have to have the item sent of to be done .
ok so now back to our barrel . Since this is a learning tutorial . I think we will blacken the barrel . Basically because by doing so I can show you how to not only brown but also the black we can get from boiling the barrel . + the wife is gone for the day , and I can tap into her supply of bleach. WARNING do this out side . Bleach will make a smell and as with all chemicals that get converted to gas , its best not to breath it .
Ok so now what we need to do is clean up the barrel , also called draw filing .
Now as a Note here . We don’t want the barrel to smooth . If you get it to smooth the iron oxide will have a hard time forming . .
So taking a fine file we will clean up the barrel . You can also use a sanding block with 100 grit paper to do this . But be careful and don’t round of the flats of the barrel . You want then to stay crisp and defined
Either way you want to pull the file or block at an angle across the flat . really your scraping the barrel .
Now I would like to also make a note here as to the company markings on the barrels .
Today its not uncommon for people to request in their search for a historically accurate example, to ask that original proof and makers marks also be put on the barrels and locks . Personally I have no problem with lock markings . But I draw the line at barrel markings such as proof and inspection marks . I simply do not feel right about doing them . Same with the company stamping on these barrels I simply will not remove it . IMO to do so is to take a way someone else’s knowledge of who made this barrel . They have the right imo to know that this is a Jukar barrel . Thus if they have a preference against this company , they can make a knowledgeable assessment. We aren’t trying to fool anyone here , all we are doing re-finishing this Jukar pistol . It will always be a Jukar and anyone who looks closely at it should be able to know that this is the original barrel .
Ok so here I have the barrel we stared with .
Now here is that barrel after being drawn
Now notice that I also have touched up the edges of each flat at the muzzle . IE I have knocked off the sharp edges that formed by the draw filing . I also have placed a crown on the bore , it never had one and i have re faced the muzzle
Ok so now we are ready to brown . As I said im going to use simply heat the barrel. Then I will apply bleach to a rag and wet the surface of the barrel . Now
A couple things here
1) you don’t want the barrel glowing hot . You will anneal the barrel NOT GOOD!!!
2) you need a clean heat IE propane or like the burner on electric stove .
3) you want the barrel to the point that when you sprinkle a drop of water on the barrel , it will sizzle and pop .
Now a note here with most browning solutions you must de grease the barrel and then be very careful not to touch the barrel with your bear hands . With this method , simply clean the barrel with a household detergent like laundry soak . After that the oils from your hands will not be enough to worry about , the heat will remove it and the bleach will clean it off .
Ok so we dampen the rag and wipe the barrel . If the barrel is hot enough the bleach will sizzle and form a white colored scale . Keep working the bleach in . 3 or for complete coats will do .
Now we let the barrel cool . Then we take it and do what’s called carding .
We take material such as burlap , denim or if you don’t have that and your wife isn’t home a dish rag will do . Just don’t let her catch you or you will be in deep .
Holding the barrel under cool water , we take the rag and gently clean of the scaling.
Now depending on how well you cleaned the barrel , you should have a light even coat of rust starting to form .
To give you some idea , of what things will look like if you don’t clean the barrel , I have applied my first coat with out cleaning the barrel at all .
Here is what she looks like after the first carding
So because we don’t want a blotchy finish , im now going to clean the barrel with powder laundry soap and re apply the bleach . I will then Lightly re card the barrel and again re heat and apply the bleach . What you will notice is that each time you complete the process , the barrel will get darker and darker as well as more even in color .
So here is the barrel after 5 circuits of carding and applying the bleach to the hot barrel.
Looking pretty good
Now if we were going to do a brown finish , we would apply a good oil to the barrel to stop the rusting . Motor oils are good for this . just work it in .
But we are going to black this barrel so we DON’T want to oil it .
Beings this barrel is short enough to set in a large pot , we will use one . Remember the wife is away , DON’T let her catch you .
So now I fill the pot with water and let it come to a complete boil .
Then carefully place the barrel into the water so its completely and well covered .
Within 4 or 5 minutes our barrel will be black .
So while that’s going on lets take a look at how the stock is doing .
she seems good and dry , ill have to put another coat of linseed on her tonight .
ok . tie to check our barrel , its been 5 minutes . carfuly lifting it out of the water . I find its now black . the hot water has converted the red iron oxide to Black iron oxside and the water is still clean , the wife will never know . better wash it and put it back , just to be safe though .
but first set the barrel on a clean cloth to cool and dry .
now i got to wash out the pot and put it back .
ok so here is our barrel , nice and Black , all dont with rust . the finish will be just as long lasting as any brown would be
ok so thats about it for now .
nothing much left but to watch oil dry
we do still have to file and remove the casting marks that were left on the trigger guard . polish it up and then engrave the pewter .
but we cant engrave tell the stock is dry .
so its going to be a few days tell i have anything else to show you all .
does anyone have any questions ?
Looks like I need to put on a lot more linseed oil. I use tru-oil after the linseed oil. How does tru-oil and tung oil compare as a sealer? Is one better than the other or just personal preferrence?
I was going to strip the bluing off the barrel of the Hawkins and brown it, but I sure like the looks of the black. What could be used for a 29" barrel. It would take a pretty good sized tub to lay down the barrel in. Do you keep the water boiling while blackening? Or will the water stay hot long enough to blacken?
tru -oils is mostly tung oil with added driers and hardners . if you put it on over linseed , you will be fine
it will seal the stock fine . IMO no more then just tung oil and no more then just tung oil .
the barrel is plased in the boiling water and the water is kept boiling .
as what to place it in .
at one time you Home dep sold a dry wall mud pan that was 36 inches long , 10 inches wide and about 8 inches deep .
you could also get a peice of steel pipe and make a tough . you could also get a peice of 4 inch pipe place a cap on one end and set that , standing up on a propain burnier tell the water boils .
basicly anything that will be large enough to hold water and alow it to boil , will work even tine roofing flashing , formed into a trough will work
ya i would think it would work just fine . just keep the water boiling
welll roaring bull , i sure hope you like it becouse as soon as i get done , she will be heading your way
Ok so today was the day to take things out of oil . She is good and dry . Time to polished up the pewter , do some engraving and put it all back together .
Now if you want the pewter to stay shinny , you have to seal it . Pewter will dull when left exposed to the air . So for this I use a good acrylic wax . Now this will not save it from losing its shine with use . So if you want it to stay shinny , you have to polish it now and again and re apply the wax .
I also have done some engraving on the big nasty side plate .
I also files and polished the trigger guard so as to remove ALL the casting lines .
This is one of the things I see that folks who built these as well as rifles , don’t take the time to do . Folks . If you take alittle time and file off the casting lines and pitting , your rifle will look so much better .
Now some things that we simply had to live with .
1) over sized inletting : there is nothing past building a whole new stock or finding a larger part that can be done with this . There are no magic wood fillers that will do this job . When you do inletting it must be right or you have to live with what you have .
2) things like barrel hug keys or pin drillings . There simply is no way to correct one that has been drilled out of square . Now you can do an inletting over it . But unless you go in , weld up the old hole on the barrel lug and fill the old holes in the stock , then completely drill a new hole or key slot there isn’t much else one can do
3) large cracks . No mater how well you fill them , they are going to show even though they maybe stabilized . You may be able to blend them well but when your within a few feet , your going to see them . With a camera , they will show worse then they do in real life so keep that in mind .
Now this stock had one going to the lock plate screw . Its shows in the photos but isn’t anywhere near that in real life . On the close up of the lock plate engraving I have photo shopped the crack because under the micro lens it looked like A@# so please allow me that digital correction .
so basicly what im saying is that there is only so much that can be done past completely restocking such a peice .
but i think as you can see . there is alot of life left in this old girl , even though many would have probably deligated her to the parts box .
So here sheis after about 8 hours more work then what the original builder did . Now mind you that’s minus applying the oil . We could have put 2 to 3X that amount just in the finish of the stock alone
Now im no photographer so I know some of the photos are a little fuzzy
so here is what we started with , so we can compair
and here we are today
here are some shots of the simple engraving which also dresses things up some
our finished tang inaly . remeber what we had before ?
much better i think
our new nose cap
that big ugly side plate
and last but not least a view from the top . notice how the wood along the edge of the barrel is thin. now this on say a long rifle would be even thinner . this is about right for say a plains rifle , like a hawkens or Lyman
I hope you all have enjoyed the revamping of this piece. All that’s left is to test fire it , which I will this next weekend . Ill then post the target for you all to see .
Then this old girl will be boxed up and send to her new home with Roaring Bull
anyone have any questions ?
if so , if you would , lets start asking them here in this thread so that we have a record
That people can find that’s all in one place . That way those who come along later , who might have the same question can easily find one possible answer .
My work computer has the pics blocked because they block Photobucket for some reason.....so I gotta wait 3 hours till I can get home and look at these new pics!!
You're killing me Cap!!
sorry Roaring bull sometimes life just dealls you pruns over cherries . but they all come out in the end LOL
She's a work of art Cap....well worth the wait.
Now I'm tired waiting.....come on come on come on....Iwannshootit....Iwannshootit....Iwannshootit....Iwannshootit....
I know about 0 concerning bows .
i had Fletcher make me a hickory bow and i coverd the limbs with copper head skins . thats about all i can do in that department
just alittle longer . i want to make sure she fires well before i sent her off to you
This has been great, I've been following it from start to finish.
Do you have a brief description/photos of the engraving process? Tools and methods you used?
I thought the plain pewter looked great, the engraving put it over the top.
I'm always greatful for people who take so much time to share their knowledge, documenting a process about doubles the time it takes to do a project in my experience, a big thanks Captchee
well the hardest part of engraving is drawing the design and the layout .
There are several ways to do engraving .
Way back when you basically had hammer or chase engraving or push engraving . Both are still don’t today
Basicly chase engraving uses a small hammer to tap the craver through the design . With push engraving , the engraver is held in the Palm of the hand and the graves is pushed through the designs
The other type of tool that is found today is called a pneumatic graver . Of these , there is several types .
Do to years of working with my hands , I can no longer hold a chase graver tight enough to control .
While push gravers are smaller I have problems holding them also . Thus many years ago I gave up engraving s on my rifles .
Then last year I was lucky enough to win a Lindsey classic Pneumatic hammer graver in an internet contest . Its simply a wonderful piece . I tried the Graver max a few year back but had to send it back because the vibration made my hands hurt . But with the Lindsey grave , I have no such problems .
Well they do have 1 big problem . Its very easy to find yourself engraving in a way that does not fit the style found on muzzleloaders . IE its very hard to stay with the basic simple designs .
Here is a link to Steve Lindsey’s web site .
I highly recommend his systems . Steve also is a wonderful fellow and more then willing to help out folks wanting to get started .
now if your looking for making your own chase engravers . here are a couple scans for you curtisy of bill brockway
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