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  • where to start in home gunsmithing

    I have a question for the pros and regular folks who have done home smith work for a good while: Where do you recommend a rifle crank start to get the most bang for his buck and starting out with little to none gunsmith experience but a good dose of common sense and hand tools?

    Most folks on this forum are really sharp and have a lot of firearms and reloading experience. I expect some are like myself and ready to get more involved in the gunsmith side to enhance the accuracy and usability of our own firearms.

    I now have tools I could not do without that I did do without for years: Some examples are good screwdrivers, torque wrench in inch pounds, Tipton gun vise, scope alignment tool and level kit... What kind of tools can the gunsmith not do without???

    Where does a guy start? Glass bedding? Muzzle crown work?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Ozarks View Post
    I have a question for the pros and regular folks who have done home smith work for a good while: Where do you recommend a rifle crank start to get the most bang for his buck and starting out with little to none gunsmith experience but a good dose of common sense and hand tools?

    Most folks on this forum are really sharp and have a lot of firearms and reloading experience. I expect some are like myself and ready to get more involved in the gunsmith side to enhance the accuracy and usability of our own firearms.

    I now have tools I could not do without that I did do without for years: Some examples are good screwdrivers, torque wrench in inch pounds, Tipton gun vise, scope alignment tool and level kit... What kind of tools can the gunsmith not do without???

    Where does a guy start? Glass bedding? Muzzle crown work?
    Glass bedding is a good start. I wouldn't take on crown work without a lathe and experience. I also did a bunch of recoil pads when I started out. Refinishing stocks is great. I built and inletted a few stocks from blanks along the way.

    Looking back, I have to say that the most fun I have ever had "gunsmithing" was building a Lyman muzzleloader from a kit. It took only common hand tools, and going slow I didn't have 40 hours in it. And the final rifle shoots like a house afire. Interested in muzzleloaders or not, building one of those is going to call into play a whole lot of the small skills you'll need to develop for working on other guns. Build one and give it away, or build it and shoot it, but I bet it won't be your last.

    Just be careful if you build a muzzleloader. It leads to all sorts of bad habits. Since I did that I've been building shooting bags, powder horns, powder measures, loading blocks and a whole bunch more. It's also really interfered with my cartridge gun shooting. I probably whap off 100 shots with a muzzleloader now for every 1 I shoot through a centerfire.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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    • #3
      I shy away from bedding because it is gooey and sticky. Gunbugs does my bedding for me. ( Very good work at reasonable prices) I can disassembly and reassembly any gun, anytime, but don't like making pudding to drop my gun in. I have a rather extensive set of good screw drivers, I hate marred screw heads. And a nice set of Starrrett pin punches. That will cover a lot of it.

      I would suggest you start with rather simple guns. Bolt action rifles are, the Ruger 22 semi-auto pistol is not. The Marlin model 1894, 1895, 336 are very simple and can be taken apart easily and you can polish the wear points with lapping compound (400, 600, 800 grit) to smooth things up.

      Also a test of skill and good training is the S&W revolver. Remove the side palte and all the guts. The trickiest part here, after getting the plate off, is the rebound spring (trigger return spring). You can replace springs in most any gun and this generally improves function and trigger pull. I swap out the springs in Marlin rifles, Ruger and S&W revolvers, when slicking up the inards.
      There are spring kits for just about every gun. A lot of smithing is just replacing parts, broken, worn or new and improved parts.

      I'm surprised at the number of folks who don't even remove a rifle from the stock. They are quite simple inside once you get the hang of it.

      You will accumulate the specialty tools, such as the rebound spring tool, some bolt action bolts are tough to dismantle without certain tools. But I think the very first step is to get a Brownells catalog and study if every night for a few years. You'll learn so much you'll feel like a gunsmith.

      I am not a gunsmith. I tinker, it's a hobby. I have disassembled many, probably every handgun model and almost every rifle model ever made and successfully reassembled all. All my guns have very smooth actions and good trigger pulls. I have two guns in pieces on my bench right now. I came in to get some supper and found this thread. Where did I put that return spring?
      Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


      Comment


      • #4
        A really fun project that I did over the summer was to take a Remington 514 that I bought off the forum here for $100 and turned it into a “boys rifle” by cutting, refinishing, and bedding the stock (yes I know it didn’t need to be bedded……. But it was great practice and looks good) then I cut the barrel down to 16 ½”, recrowned it by hand with files and sanding blocks (yes it can be done, and no it is not quick or easy) a rounded brass rod and lapping compound. I cut a new dove tail by hand with a file and block kit from Brownells and re-fit the original front sight. I also cut several coils off of the striker spring and polished up the sear and trigger. It was a fun project with minimal expense and it turned out very well in my opinion. And hey…… if you totally muck it up, your only out a $100
        Attached Files
        “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

        Comment


        • #5
          getting started

          You can start with stockmaking without spending alot in getting tooled up although you will need a drill press . If you are so inclined I would look for a "stockmaker" special , the basic inletting for the action will already be done but will leave the barrel channel and exterior shaping (cheek piece , etc. ) up to you . Exploring different stock styles and developing your own can be really satisfying . You'd need scrapers , rasps and a few chisels to get started and I believe Brownells still sells a basic stockmakers kit . Checkering is great if you enjoy precise work and is good therapy in January , again , a basic set of checkering tools can probably be had for $100 or so . You are going to be severely limited in metal work , nothing but big $$ in geting tooled up , a lathe with adequate headstock , milling machine and all the smaller gadgets like barrel vices and cones and all the jigs (lug lapping , bolt bending ) will put you in the hole fast and you'll never get out . You can get into chamber reaming by hand and with a pre chambered barrel and a barrel vice you can waltz into turning out your own barreled action . There are alot of interesting twists to get into without spending alot , just having head space gauges and understand go , no go and field will be interesting and help you and your buddies not get screwed buying the nice old guns . Learning to bed an action with all the little tricks is fun and valuable . On the cheapest end learning about filling the grain on a stock and hand rubbed oil finishes , fitting a recoil pad correctly (no jigs) is all rewarding . I spent 2,200 hrs studying riflesmithing at a JC , served an apprenticeship with gun builders from Ferlach and did some work for Browning and taught at a JC for a year but now live too far out to generate enough work and have sold all my equipment except for my MMC but still value knowing what I know , at least I can pick a good gunsmith for chamber work . Get a Brownells catalogue and order all the gunsmithing text books , you'll figure out something to do at home without spending alot on tools . Good luck !

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Murphy View Post
            I have a rather extensive set of good screw drivers, I hate marred screw heads. And a nice set of Starrrett pin punches. That will cover a lot of it.
            Do you have one complete set, or just a bunch or smaller ones?

            Originally posted by Murphy View Post
            Also a test of skill and good training is the S&W revolver. Remove the side palte and all the guts. The trickiest part here, after getting the plate off, is the rebound spring (trigger return spring). You can replace springs in most any gun and this generally improves function and trigger pull. I swap out the springs in Marlin rifles, Ruger and S&W revolvers, when slicking up the inards........
            You will accumulate the specialty tools, such as the rebound spring tool...
            I did my smith a while back just to clean it. Should I redo it and replace some springs for increased performance?

            THERES A TOOL FOR THAT!!!!! UGH!!!
            The Alaska Life www.facebook.com/thealaskalife
            sigpic

            ~Spero Meliora~

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            • #7
              bought a few Mil-Surp M 98's, aside from the conventional required hand tools and vise I needed an action wrench. Pulling the barrels an observing for lug setback is a plus....for me. Living in bush Ak. is no excuse for being ignorant although am just "tinkering" it saves me quite abit of money in regards to those who have the talent and equipment to do the work for me. Gunbugs is quite good at what he does, one good example of where my money does go in times past.

              The internet provides me with an exceptional knowledge base to begin with and my wife encourages me to help others with there "peculiar" problems.

              Simple Green is a very excellent cleaner prior to any metal work of any kind.

              Comment


              • #8
                Stock work is always a good place to start, as are cheap rifles. If you have a cheap rifle even if you completely ruin it your are only out a little dollars and have learned a lot. The same is true for stock work, most common rifles can be given a new stock for around $100 if you really mess up the original and cheap 22's can have an entire stock made from scrape wood. All my stock work has be with pocket knifes, a 5/8" diameter surform tool, a double cut metal file and sand paper; so no real tool cost.

                I got a Romanian 22LR training rifle about 6 years ago and had a lot of fun with it. I gave it a good cleaning, including removing a lot of grease from the trigger workings, which is important when it gets cold. I could not find scope mounts so I took it into work and used the milling machine to modify the top of the receiver and some A-bolt mounts. I then used Birchwood-casey cold blue to touch up the blueing. The stock never felt good in my hands so I reshaped it a lot, free floated the barrel and glass bedded it. The stock was finished with Tung Oil. I also did some stoneing of the trigger to get rid of the creep in the second stage. I think all total I have about $180 in this gun including the scope and it looks like a high dollar rifle.

                Some advice on glass bedding. So far I have only used Acra-Glass, but I think I would not use it in the future, to bed. I think it is great for fixing cracks in the stock but is to runny to bed easy. It is continues to run till it sets so you have to litterally seal the bottom of stock and make a pond and then lower the receiver into it. This causes the glass to run everywhere. Some of the other beddings are surposed to have a more puddy like consistancy that would work way better.

                Lots of people say bad things about Cold Blueing but I have had good luck. I know it is not as durable or nice as a hot blue but for $8 for a bootle that will do atleast 2 guns who cears. The importent thing is to do a good job of prep and cleaning. The metal must to absolutly positively clean. Wear rubber gloves as the oil from your clean figures will cause problems. Use a good degresser and apply it multiple times.

                My current project is a commercial Mauser, which I am bedding and reshaping and finishing the stock.

                In short get a cheap gun and start to play.
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  I started out with learning to dissassemble and clean my guns.
                  A good set of Gunsmithing screwdrivers from Brownells and 80$ or so in NRA dissasembly books with diagrams of exploded (LOL!) guns, and tips to help with reassembly.
                  Both can save you many a nightmare.

                  You wouldnt belive how many of my buddies guns I help'd fix, simply by cleaning them:rolleyes:
                  Besides Cleaning a gun is part of the shooting routine for anybody who cares about what they own.

                  Have fun.
                  If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.:topjob:

                  "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
                    I started out with learning to dissassemble and clean my guns.
                    A good set of Gunsmithing screwdrivers from Brownells and 80$ or so in NRA dissasembly books with diagrams of exploded (LOL!) guns, and tips to help with reassembly.
                    Both can save you many a nightmare.

                    You wouldnt belive how many of my buddies guns I help'd fix, simply by cleaning them:rolleyes:
                    Besides Cleaning a gun is part of the shooting routine for anybody who cares about what they own.

                    Have fun.
                    Well said and good advice. Many big town gunsmiths cahrge $60 an hour to clean your guns for you.
                    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Start with your library. A good set of gunsmithing books is the starting point. Check out the used book stores as you sometimes come across gunsmithing books, sometimes some of the good out of print ones.

                      Where to start depends on what interests you. I personally prefer metal work to wood work, so most of my work has been making chips vs. sawdust.

                      Sporterizing a military rifle that isn't a collectors item, nor a rusted out hulk is about as good a starting point as anything. This could be as simply as replacing the stock, or as elaborate as shortening and crowning the barrel, replacing the military iron sights, drilling and tapping the action for a scope base, fitting a new bolt handle, replacing the safety, replacing the trigger, re-contouring the stock, fitting a recoil pad and checkering the stock.

                      And lest I forget rebluing that military rifle.

                      Just make sure the rifle you start with is in good mechanical order and the barrel isn't wasted.
                      Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

                      If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ozarks View Post
                        I have a question for the pros and regular folks who have done home smith work for a good while: Where do you recommend a rifle crank start to get the most bang for his buck and starting out with little to none gunsmith experience but a good dose of common sense and hand tools?

                        Most folks on this forum are really sharp and have a lot of firearms and reloading experience. I expect some are like myself and ready to get more involved in the gunsmith side to enhance the accuracy and usability of our own firearms.

                        I now have tools I could not do without that I did do without for years: Some examples are good screwdrivers, torque wrench in inch pounds, Tipton gun vise, scope alignment tool and level kit... What kind of tools can the gunsmith not do without???

                        Where does a guy start? Glass bedding? Muzzle crown work?
                        What is a "rifle crank"?
                        Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

                        Better living through chemistry (I'm a chemist)

                        You can piddle with the puppies, or run with the wolves...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I assume it's the same as a "Rifle nut", or "Rifle enthusiast".
                          Vance in AK.

                          Matthew 6:33
                          "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nitroman View Post
                            What is a "rifle crank"?
                            Vance in AK got it right! Where did I come up with "rifle crank"???!!!, After I re-read that I started laughing, at myself!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ozarks View Post
                              I have a question for the pros and regular folks who have done home smith work for a good while: Where do you recommend a rifle crank start to get the most bang for his buck and starting out with little to none gunsmith experience but a good dose of common sense and hand tools?

                              Most folks on this forum are really sharp and have a lot of firearms and reloading experience. I expect some are like myself and ready to get more involved in the gunsmith side to enhance the accuracy and usability of our own firearms.

                              I now have tools I could not do without that I did do without for years: Some examples are good screwdrivers, torque wrench in inch pounds, Tipton gun vise, scope alignment tool and level kit... What kind of tools can the gunsmith not do without???

                              Where does a guy start? Glass bedding? Muzzle crown work?
                              Take your favorite rifle out to the shop, disassemble EVERY part/pin/screw/etc.
                              Clean and polish every piece and place you can reach into, now put it back together and see how much nicer it feels and works, you will be hooked
                              If you are the forgetful type make a list as you go and when done reverse the order placing parts back in.

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