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Author Topic: Why I'm not a gun smith  (Read 7086 times)

JW Blute

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Why I'm not a gun smith
« on: January 29, 2012, 06:44:31 pm »
Hi folks,
I'm new to the site, but instead of sharing useless information about myself, I figured I'd share the experience I had building a rifle for my father.

Enjoy
JW
Ohio

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    StevenTing

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #1 on: January 29, 2012, 07:16:08 pm »
    For those that don't want to download.

    Quote
    Christmas for Dad

       Let me start this saga from the beginning.  One day when I was in High School (I don’t remember which day because it was many years ago) Dad came home with a rifle.  Well, he said it was a rifle; it was the most decrepit thing I’d ever seen. The whole thing was rusty, the metal was severely beat up, the stock was broken, the action lever hung loose from the bottom and the extractor was seized; it was a total basket case.  I remember asking Dad, “What are you going to do with that?” It was obviously too small to use as a flower pot and too odd looking to make a hillbilly lawn ornament (not that Mom would allow hillbilly lawn ornaments.)

       “It’s a Stevens Favorite” Dad replied, “I’m going to fix it up”.  Ah, this explained a few things.  I remember Dad telling me that when he was a kid his Aunt Virgie had a single shot Stevens Favorite rifle that he always thought was great.  This however, was not Aunt Virgie’s rifle; it was one he had gotten from my Uncle Jim who had acquired it some where else. (Somewhere with a lot of moisture) Any way, even though I was a gun nut in High School this rifle didn’t look like something you’d want to shoot unless you had an eye you wanted to be rid of.  Since I needed both eyes to look at pretty girls, I didn’t give this gun a second thought.

       Fast forward: I’m now in my 30’s.  I was over at Mom and Dad’s house for some family event and was looking for something in the walk in closet next to my old room.  There it was; the Stevens Favorite rifle, just as crappy as I remembered it.  Apparently Dad hadn’t gotten around to fixing it up. (It’s only been a couple of decades)  So, I got the bright Idea that I’d fix it up for him for his birthday or maybe Christmas if I didn’t finish it in time.

    Well…… Here’s the story.

    8/2

    Last night I started on the Stevens favorite restoration project.  I’ve been staring at it for a week now and formulating my plans on how to attack it.  I’ve picked up some tools at Lowes and Home Depot for doing the stock work (More on that later) and I’ve wasted several trips to Sears and more $ than I’d like to admit buying band saw blades that don’t fit (To cut out the stock). Apparently my Craftsman 12” band saw is an older model that takes a non-standard length.  (I know this because I’ve bought every standard length on the rack, and I still don’t have one that fits).

    One of the decisions I’ve been dealing with is what parts to save and what to scrap.  The problem is that apparently this gun was more that just Steven’s favorite, (Or there’s a lot of people named Steven) because every part imaginable is available for it over the internet (For a price).  So basically, I can do it the easy way and just throw a sack full of $20’s at it (replace everything but the frame with new parts) or I can take a more industrious approach (Read cheaper) and salvage some of the parts that are workable.
    So far I’m replacing:

    Breechblock Screw
    Hammer Screw
    Trigger screw
    Lever Screw
    Forend Screw
    Takedown Screw
    Upper and lower tang screws
    Butt plate
    Rear Stock
    Firing Pin
    Ejector / extractor
    Rear sight

    Some notables of what I’m not replacing are the barrel, fire control group and the front stock.  The barrel is pretty rough but the more I stare at it the more I think I can save it.  The rear stock is completely trashed but rather than buying a brand new stock for it, I’m going to attempt to make one from scratch.  That’s right folks, I have a piece of straight grained maple and I’m going to attempt to turn it into a stock for a Stevens Favorite.  (Or I’m going to turn it into kindling, which is actually the most likely scenario.)  However, the amount of cash I have invested in the maple blank ($0) is low enough that I can give it a shot. (Actually, I could have bought a new stock set for the amount I have invested in band saw blades that don’t fit. Not that I’m bitter.)

    Last night I completely disassembled the rifle and took some photos of all of the various parts.  I made a list of parts that needed replaced and proceeded to put them on order.  One topic worth mentioning is this Stevens Favorite is marked as a 1915 model. However after getting the rifle apart and comparing it to all of the drawings, it became apparent that it was a very early version of the model 1915.  I believe this because:
    a.) it has a low serial number (#4XX) 
    b.) it still used the fire control assembly from the 1894 model.
    Thus, we have what is known as a transition gun. (i.e. It is a hermaphrodite of the two models.)

        Feeling rather excited about my progress thus far, I went upstairs to tell my wife the good news. (Mental note: be sure to do a better job of spacing out your harebrained projects in the future.) Since this project fell right on the heals of an unsuccessful computer upgrade, a new barrel for my Thompson Encore, and a steady supply of useless band saw blades (Not that I’m Bitter), Melissa wasn’t nearly as thrilled as I was about the fact that I had just ordered more gun parts. (Women,….go figure!)

    After my unsuccessful attempt to share my personal excitement for this project with my spouse, I decided to see what other progress could be made with the parts I had on hand. I decided to start with the frame.  While this rifle may have been Stevens favorite, I don’t think the machinist who originally milled the frame thought much of it. In addition to several well earned battle scars from years of honest hunting, there where a large number of deep tooling marks around the breach from its original manufacture.  Honestly, it looked like parts of the frame had been had been chewed out by a groundhog. This needed fixed.

    No Problem, I own a Dremmel tool!
    I’m joking of course.  I thought about listing all of the various items I have screwed up over the years with a Dremmel tool.  Fortunately I abandoned the idea before I became too depressed and / or developed carpel tunnel from trying to type the list. (You get the picture) Nevertheless, I figured the rifle had already been forgotten in a closet for 15 years, so if I screwed it up too badly I could always just put it back in the closet (and if discovered) blame my nephew Austin for messing with it.

    Fortunately, with a little bit of patience, I was able to grind most of the major tooling marks out of the frame without buggering anything up.  I then took wet stones and went all over the frame to grind off any nicks or high spots and clean up a few of the shallower battle scars.  It turned out pretty nice, so I went ahead and stopped on a high note, bagged up all of the pieces and got ready for bed. 

    8/3

    OK, I’m back.
    After work I continued working on the Stevens Favorite project.  I started looking at the work I had done on the frame with the wet stones and decided there were a few more places I wanted to hit. (Ignore my previous statement about it being “Pretty Nice”.  Sleep depravation must have been taking hold.) So I stuck it back in the vice and proceeded to rub it out a little more. I then buffed it with steel wool as a final step and then set it aside to concentrate on the next piece.

    The next piece was the barrel.  Let me try to describe the barrel………. It’s a turd. (How’s that for a description)  However, it’s a turd that has a $125 replacement cost, so I’ve convinced myself it’s a turd with potential. 

    The first obstacle I had to tackle was the rear sight.  The current rear sight consisted of a sheet metal screw that some “Appellation American” had pounded into the rear dove tail and then cut a “V” into the shank.  (Really! I can’t make this stuff up. Heck, Jeff Foxworthy couldn’t make this stuff up!) From the looks of all the gouges in and around the dove tail, this “meticulous” operation apparently involved a tire iron and a rock and required several attempts before “success” was achieved.  Now, I’m not a tea totaler, but I have never been intoxicated enough to have come up with such an idea.  A man needs to take an honest assessment of his abilities before he starts a project. This guy should have left gunsmithing to someone else and stuck to activities more commensurate with his abilities. (Like raising “Sea Monkeys”.)

    Anyway, I soaked the crime scene with WD-40 and let it set for a few minutes.  Then I took the appropriate size punch and taped the screw head out of the dove tail.  Again I took out my collection of wet stones and attempted to clean up some of the nicks and gouges.  Even after using the stones, there are still several ugly marks in that area.  What I’m counting on is that bead blasting the frame and barrel and then giving them a matte textured finish along with a wide rear sight should cover up most of the problems.

    The rest of the barrel was covered with mild to heavy surface rust.  However, a little steel wool and a large amount of rubbing revealed that most of it wasn’t very deep even though some “pitting” had occurred.  This was welcome news and made me feel better about my decision to reuse the original barrel.  I spent several hours cleaning up the worst places on the barrel with files and wet stones. Finally, I chucked the barrel in a hand drill and sanded the outside with some emery cloth.  I held the emery cloth in one hand while the drill in my other hand spun the barrel. This got me close to the finish I was looking for so as a final step I gave the barrel a rubdown with steel wool.  All looked well enough, so it was time to tackle the inside of the barrel.

    The inside of the barrel was nasty! Like all turn of the century firearms, it spent its early days being subjected to a steady diet of ammunition with corrosive primers.   However, after a good scrubbing and many passes with JB bore paste (A mild lapping compound) it cleaned up pretty well.  This is to say it looks like a barrel manufactured in early 1915 which was never perfect to begin with. The tooling available back then wasn’t nearly as good as it is now and when coupled with the aforementioned machinist’s attention to detail, you end up with a bore that looks like this one. (1915 being the first full year of WWI, I’m sure the machinist in question would appreciate the fact that a German kid is criticizing his work.)  Anyway, I don’t think this barrel is one I would take to a bench rest match but it may be adequate for shooting squirrels and such at less than 50 yards.  Also, with a good finish, it should be pretty enough on the outside to get dates before closing time.
    With that accomplished, I cleaned up my mess and again got ready for bed………

    8/5
       Today (Saturday) I decided to get some more work done on the Stevens project.  I keep staring at the frame. I know that twice I’ve said I worked on it and that it looks good, It does look good….just not good enough for me.  So, off I went to Home Depot to get some needle files.  Wow! These really did the trick.  I proceeded to flat file the sides of the frame and also clean up the hammer / breach area.  The top edge of the frame’s receiver ring was chewed pretty badly so I filed a 45 degree bevel on it.  This bevel eliminated almost all of the gouges, yet flows with the lines of the frame enough to look like it came that way. After I completed the filing on the frame I went over it (Yet again) with wet stones to smooth out any file marks and then set it aside, hopefully for the last time. (I’m beginning to think I’m a closet sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

    The next item I tackled was the hammer.  The hammer (as with most parts on this gun) had been slightly molested.  The back of the hammer had been cast (Poorly) with checkering at the factory and then the gun had apparently been dropped a time or two on the hammer at various times over the years.  Most of the checkering had been smashed flat and the rest had ugly casting marks here and there.  So, I chucked it into the vise and proceeded to re-cut the checkering by hand with a needle file.  Now, I know it took you about 5 seconds to read that I hand cut checkering on a steel hammer with a small file.  However, it took a lot longer to actually accomplish the work.  As in, re-filing the frame and re-cutting the hammer checkering took me all day.  At 5:00 p.m. the Creno’s pizza guy showed up with my breakfast/lunch/dinner (My first non-Mountain Dew meal of the day) so I decided to call it quits and see if there was something with violence & nudity on T.V. (I love having cable).

    8/16
    I went to visit a friend of mine who is a gunsmith / artist. His name is Art Cleary and he runs “Legend Arms” a small operation located in the basement of his house.  Now, don’t get the wrong impression when I say this is located in his basement.  Art’s workshop has a full sized lathe, a large mill with digital readouts, custom gun vices and checkering cradles, reamers, files, and every other tool you can imagine a gunsmith or machinist might need.

    Art’s work is absolutely beautiful.  When I dropped by he showed me a few of the projects he was finishing.  One was a 1903 Springfield that was so beautiful that I was almost afraid to touch it. This rifle had started out as a beat up old WW1 infantry weapon. However, after hours and hours of metal work on the receiver, a new custom barrel, hours of hand polishing, a stock carved from figured walnut, and beautiful borderless hand checkering, it looked as good as any gun Griffin & Howell ever produced. 

    At this point I was imagining myself tearing my clothes and sprinkling ashes on my head in an attempt to repent for sucking at gun work. Unfortunately, I was still just standing there holding a beat up barrel from an old Stevens’s favorite.  I felt like I was at a Rolls Royce dealership getting ready to ask the owner for his advice on my AMC Gremlin.

    Actually, I was there to get a hand with getting the new rear sight to fit in the old dovetail on my barrel.  The new sight was wider than the original one and I needed the dovetail on the barrel opened up to accommodate it.  Art gave no indication that I was defiling his workshop, he just smiled and said, “what’cha got there John?” Of course, Art had just the right tool in the form of a triangle file with one side ground smooth.  He had the new sight sitting in the old dovetail in less than five minutes.

    However, Art was full of surprises that night.  Apparently, Art’s father was also a fan of the Stevens favorite and had completely redone one when Art was younger.  He showed it to me (Which was great to see what one should look like when done by a professional) and talked me through some of the finer points of the rifle.
     
    He took a good look at the inside of my barrel under his light and politely shook his head.  He apparently didn’t share my optimism about the barrels accuracy potential. He then reached into a drawer and pulled out two more Stevens’s favorite barrels that he had acquired over the years and handed them to me. He said, “John, your barrel is too far gone to hit anything even at close range.  However, there is an option, you can drill your barrel out and reline it with a new bore”.  He then showed me a catalog that had all of the materials that I would need to accomplish the task.  The two additional barrels he gave me were to practice with just in case I goofed one up.

    I paid Art for his services and started the ride home with some new ideas about the direction to go with this rifle project.  If I am able to get two out of three barrels drilled out and relined properly……..I can make this rifle a switch barrel in 22 LR and 22 WMR. Now that would be Cool!!

    PS.    My Metal work is not at the level I saw at Art’s that night.  Thus, I have been inspired to go back and do a better job of making this rifle’s metal look nice.

    9/9
    OK, (Not that I was bitter) I finally got a blade to fit my band saw!  It was exciting; I was grabbing things at random to saw them in half.  (Not because they needed cut….. but just because I finally could!).  Well, after the initial round of euphoria wore off (and I ran out of expendable items in my garage) I decided it was time to get serious and start working on cutting out a new stock for the Steven’s.  I got the wood blank lined up on the new adjustable band saw fence I purchased special for this task, I got the new blade spinning at just the right RPM for cutting the blank, and then I slowly started to cut.
       
       AAaaaarrrrgg !!! After the initial piece came off I saw what appeared to be worm hole tunnels running through the wood.  They weren’t worms, they were wood beetle tracks and they were running all through the blank.  Apparently, although the blank had been free, it was actually appropriately priced.

       At his point I was contemplating throwing myself on the saw …… or beating the saw with the crappy wood blank ……… or beating the wood blank with the crappy saw ……… or beating my self with the crappy wood blank while stomping the crappy saw …….. or NEVER MIND I’m going to bed.

    9/23
       Plan B is now in effect.  I found a company in South Carolina that sold rough inlet stocks for several types of rifles including……..Yep….Stevens Favorite.  I ordered the stock from a gentleman that sounded exactly like Forrest Gump. (I remember hoping that Forrest wears his “Magic Shoes” the day cuts my stock.) This was a good find for two reasons:
    1)   Since it is just a rough machine turned blank, it is much cheaper than a fully finished stock. (“Much cheaper” is my middle name……..or at least would be if “Wayne” wasn’t already holding the spot.)

    2)   Since the rough inletting has been done it will take a lot less time to fit the stock to the rifle action than it would starting from scratch.

    However, there will still be a lot of time involved in doing the final inletting and getting the stock whittled down to its final dimensions.

    10/7
       It’s time to start working on drilling out the inside of the barrel.  I purchased a special drill bit from Brownells along with special cutting fluid needed to do the job.  The drill bit is around 14” long with several inches of “pilot” on the front of the bit to keep everything strait. The theory is you lube everything up and then drill into the barrel from one end until you get over halfway.  Then you flip things around and drill from the other end until the two holes meet.  At this point you should now have drilled the .22” barrel out to a little over .3”.  (EASY!)

       Now that your familiar with the theory, let me explain how reality works. First you start with an 18V Dewalt cordless drill.  This drill comes in a suitcase with 5 other cordless Dewalt power tools (reciprocating saw, circular saw, jig saw, flashlight, charger, etc.) and cost more than my wife’s first car.  Therefore, although I am from Northern Appalachia, I’m not dumb enough to tell my wife that it’s not the right tool for the job and that I need to go purchase a plug in power drill.
     
    I think you can probably guess where this is headed.  The drilling process ate batteries like a gastric bypass that didn’t take. It took a LOOONNG time to drill out two of the barrels.  All in all, it took about three evenings worth of drilling to get through both of them.  The process was tedious not just because of the battery issue but also because of heat and lubrication issues.  I would soak a rag in ice water and then wrap it around the barrel to act as a heat sink.  Then lube the hole and the bit and begin to drill into the barrel.  I could only go in about a ¼” to 3/8” before I had to stop, clear out the chips, let the barrel cool, re-lube the bit, and then start again. Otherwise, there is a danger of warping the barrel with heat or clogging the bit with chips and causing damage.  However, at the end of the process I had two barrels with .3” holes in them that were ready to accept barrel liners.

    10/14
       Ok, it’s time for the barrel liners. 
    First question: what the heck is a barrel liner?
    A barrel liner is a thin tube of steel that has been rifled for what ever caliber you plan to chamber the gun. (In this case, .22 LR)
     
    Second Question: How does it work?
    Well…. You take the barrel that you have drilled out to accept the liner and coat the hole with Acragalss. (Acragalss is a special two part epoxy that is used extensively in the gun industry.) You then coat the barrel liners with Acraglass and carefully slide them into the barrel leaving the extra liner (The liners are longer than the barrel) sticking past both ends of the barrel. Then allow the Acraglass to dry for several days and cut off the extra liner flush with the barrel. Then, crown the muzzle, cut the extractor slot in the breech, and cut a new chamber.  Simple !

       Simple (This is me were talking about)……… If you believe that, you’ve got the kind of spirit the people at Amway are looking for. (No, I don’t want to come to a seminar and I don’t need any shampoo)
       
    Anyway, I started the process downstairs in the basement since it was too cold for the Acraglass to set up in the garage. (Meaning I generated a horrible mess in our beautifully finished basement) I mixed up the Acraglass which turned out to be the consistency of dog snot.  Then added dye to the mixture so it would match the finish that will be put on the rest of the metal. Since the only two colors that came with the kit were brown and black I used the black to color the mixture as close as possible.  (The result of this effort now being “black” dog snot)

    I made the best of it, I gooped the liner and the barrel with Fido’s finest and then slid the liner into the barrel.  I had blocked the ends of the liner with plumbers putty so I wouldn’t get Acraglass in the rifling.  This method worked well and I was able to get both barrels fitted with liners in a single evening.  I cleaned up my mess and let them sit for a week to fully harden.

    10/28

    Once the liners were in there was still quite a bit of work left to make the barrel functional.  The first item I tackled was re-cutting the extractor groove into the breech end of the barrel.  The previous extractor groove was still there, it just stopped at the new liner.  Therefore, I had a ready made template of how wide and deep I needed to cut the groove into the liner.  That was the good news.  The bad news was the hole in the liner is only .22” in diameter.  Meaning each stroke you make with a file to cut the groove can only be .22” before you hit the other side of the hole. 
    To gain some perspective, get a piece of hardened steel and a small flat file.  Ok, stroke the file its’ full length over your piece of steel.  That’s right, it’s not great but…. you made a few small filings.  Now, try only moving your file 1/5 of an inch over your piece of steel and see what happens. Are you starting to get the picture?

    Basically, if Sisyphus ever manages to roll his stone to the top of the hill in Hades, his next assignment will be to cut extractor grooves with a file.

    Man Law Note:
    Greek Mythology contains enough violence and fornication that making the occasional reference isn’t considered “uppity”.

    11/10

    Ok, time to finish up this barrel. To make the barrel functional it needs to have a chamber.  To get a chamber you have to cut one into the barrel.  To cut one into the barrel you need a .22 finish reamer. To get a finish reamer you need a Brownells catalog and $40.
    I purchased a reamer that cuts a “Bentz” chamber, which is shorter and tighter than a “standard” chamber but doesn’t drive the nose of the bullet into the lands like a “Match” chamber does.  The Bents chamber is normally used on “match grade” .22 semi-automatics that need the improved accuracy of a shorter chamber but tend to miss-feed if the bullet encounters resistance (like being jammed into the lands) when the action cycles.  My hypothesis is: it should also be the best for this rifle since it doesn’t have the “camming” force of a bolt action to seat the round. 

    (Ok, I know I just bored you to death with the technical details of a Bentz chamber, but I’m a gun dork …. I can’t help myself.)

    Anyway, I cut the chamber by hand using the Bentz reamer, the T-handle from my tap and die set, my dial calipers and a depth micrometer.  This again was a very long process since it was my first attempt at performing this type of operation and achieving proper head space is critical to having a functional and safe firearm.

    (Why is headspace so critical? There are a few one eyed guys that can give you the answer.  There are also several three fingered guys that know why barrel obstructions are bad.)

    I finished up the barrel by lightly polishing the new chamber with some jewelers rouge and then crowning the other end of the barrel.

    11/18

       It’s finally time for the first assembly to see if this old dog will shoot.  I reassembled the rifle with all of its’ newly refinished parts.  I spent several evenings this week giving the parts a final finish by rubbing all of them over oiled sandpaper that I had clamped on a flat surface (+/- .006 over 8”) of my 8” angle block.  Yes, that didn’t make for very exciting evenings, but it did get the parts to finally look the way I wanted. (Art Cleary told me about this method…. which means it worked great.........Art ROCKS!!)

       On its’ first outing I fired .22 shorts just to check headspace and check for functionality.  The ignition was a bit spotty due to the original flat spring being nearly 100 years old.  The spring is a little weak but I changed to a new round tip firing pin instead of the original chisel tip firing pin.  This concentrated the pin strike into a smaller area and seemed to clear up the ignition problems.  (The original flat spring is about 1/32” thick, while the aftermarket replacement spring {that didn’t function correctly} was about 1/8” thick.  This is why I’m using the original flat spring.)

       In case you missed it, I said the gun works! After clearing up the minor difficulties mentioned above, I test fired it several more times with both .22 shorts and .22 long rifle ammunition.  It worked great!  The lever no longer drooped away from the action but instead fit snuggly. The newly re-lined barrel and freshly cut chamber worked just the way I’d hoped and the freshly polished metal looked wonderful!

    Sometimes, seeing something I’ve labored over for a long time come together is an exhilarating experience. (Other times it’s just a relief I didn’t break it.) This was one of the exhilarating times!  I just took something so beat up and disgusting that it would have been embarrassing to use as a tent stake and turned it into something I can be proud to give my Dad for Christmas and something his grand children will undoubtedly fight over when we are both gone.

    I don’t mean to brag……..but that ain’t bad for a kid from Northern Appalachia!

    11/25

       Oh yea….the gun still needed a stock.  Well, actually it already had two stocks, an original stock that was broken in half and a replacement stock that was horribly oversized (and in a few cases annoyingly undersized) in every dimension. I tackled the new stock by first fitting the new butt pad on the rear of the stock.  It didn’t fit (of course) so there was quite a bit of file and sand paper work to get it to match up.  Then I fitted the action to the front of the stock.  It didn’t fit either (one of those annoying places where it was too small) so I had a bunch of file work to complete to get the action to go into the stock.  Once these two tasks were complete I then had a base line of what I needed all of the other dimensions of the stock to flow into.

       At this point I’m not going to bore you with all the details of whittling the stock down to its proper dimensions.  (Proper meaning the wood matches the metal so closely that it looks like one is growing out of the other.)  The basic story is this: File, sand, evaluate, file, sand, evaluate. Do this over and over until all the joints in your arms ach and you inhale enough walnut dust that you create miniature forests in your hankie every time you blow your nose.  Then, do the same thing again every evening that week. 

    12/2

       Ok, I’m getting down to the final stages.  I couldn’t wait to show Dad the gun so once I finished getting all of the stock work completed I drove over to show it to him.  I know, I know…… John, “your going to spoil his Christmas surprise!” Well, you just don’t understand my luck.  If I don’t show Dad the gun right now (The metal work is complete but bare and the stock is complete but without the oil finish) when I send the gun out to Arizona to have the metal blued, it will undoubtedly get lost / stolen in transit.  Thus, ruining Dads’ surprise, my Christmas, and my wife’s standing in the community (by being married to “that guy who screams and throws poop at the mailman”).

       This way, Dad has already seen the gun minus the finishing touches.  Thus, the gun being lost in the mail is not as big a tragedy since he has seen the work. Therefore, losing it isn’t nearly as funny to God / Fate / Karma or what ever divine entity it is that somehow seems to have my number.  Since the fun has been spoiled, the gun will return safely and God / Fate / Karma will find some other way to entertain itself at my expense.

       Anyway, after showing dad the rifle, I got the metal work boxed up and sent to “MAC’s Shootin’ Iron Restorations” in Tucson Arizona to have his famous “TUFF-GUN” finish applied.  Mac first degreases everything and then uses a super fine media to bead blast the metal.  Next, all of the metal is zinc parkerized and finally covered with K.G. Gun Kote. This is a great finish for durability and is guaranteed to never rust so I shouldn’t have to redo this rifle ever again.

    12/9

       While the metal is away I’m putting the tung oil finish on the stocks.  This is a finish I have used with success on other rifles.  It takes several weeks and a lot of elbow grease to properly apply but it looks great and wears well when it’s finished.  The process is this:

    •   Apply a thick coat of tung oil with a paint brush and allow it to soak into the wood for a day or two.
    •   Then apply another coat and let it dry for a day or two. (the oil soaks in and gets hard)
    •   Sand any wood grain that has been raised by the oil and then reapply more coats and let it set again.
    •   Once a good base has been established start applying thinner coats. Letting each dry at least 24 hours.
    •   Every 2 or 3 coats sand the finish with progressively finer sand paper.
    •   After several iterations of this, the finish will be smooth and beautiful. Finish by applying 3 super thin coats (With a 24 hour cure time between them)

    Once this is done you end up with a deep shinny finish that not only protects the wood but looks great.  It’s worth the wait!

    P.S. For the record, I missed the Christmas dead line so it’s a good thing Dad saw the rifle ahead of time.

    1/9

       It’s Here !  The metal work returned from “MAC’s Shootin’ Iron Restorations” so it was time to do the final assembly.  The metal looked great and it mated to the wood stocks with a tight but satisfying fit.  Once it was assembled, I gave the metal a final rub down and put a coat of wax on the wood stocks to further enhance their looks and ability to shed the elements.  I finished up and took some pictures.

    It looked good. (I know that’s not a very eloquent description, but it fits.)

    Merry (belated) Christmas Dad !!

    Your loving son,
    John
    Utah

    StevenTing

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 07:38:09 pm »
    I just finished reading all of this.  Are there any pictures to go along with the story? How much did you end up spending in parts, services, etc.  How does this compare had you had Art do it all for you?
    Utah

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #3 on: January 29, 2012, 08:35:00 pm »
    Steven,

    There is an entire photo album that documents each step of the process I went through. However, I don’t have the original digital files so I’ll scan a few and post them later.  My intention was to create something special for my father that would include the rifle plus the pictures and the journal story bound together in an album.  Truthfully, I could have spent a just a few extra dollars and purchased a new Stevens rifle (There pretty cheap at about $300) or given Art the money and he could have done the job with a lot less hassle.

    The problem with both of those scenarios is you don’t end up with something special.  My father and I have both done pretty well for ourselves and he could purchase any rifle he really wanted or I could have bought him just about any custom rifle available. However, dad is in his 70’s and his hunting and shooting days are behind him.  The Favorite was a rifle he admired as a kid and this particular one had struck his fancy enough for him to bring it home. 

    I wasn’t really giving him a rifle for Christmas; I was giving him a memory from his youth and a memory about his son.  A son who cared enough to devote his time to making something for a father he loves. You just can’t do that with greenbacks. 

    JW
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #4 on: January 29, 2012, 08:44:55 pm »
    Welcome JW.  thats a great testament to what you had intended to do.  My father has long since past but if i could i'd like to create a memory shadow box of his gun for the next generation
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #5 on: January 29, 2012, 08:50:28 pm »
    Welcome, I look forward to the photos!
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #6 on: January 29, 2012, 09:07:54 pm »
    Here are a few photo's of what I was starting with.
    The barrel photo gives you an idea of the condition the metal was in when I started.
    Ohio

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 09:11:01 pm »
    Drilling and lining the barrel and starting to work on getting gouges out of the sides of the receiver.
    Ohio

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #8 on: January 29, 2012, 09:14:07 pm »
    Chambering the new barrel liner and re installing it on the receiver for a test fire.

    It works!
    Ohio

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #9 on: January 29, 2012, 09:16:31 pm »
    Good read;) I just spent 3-4 hours fitting a ambi safety on my brother's 1911 and I had a few spots with only a hair of movement with the file so I feel your pain;)

    Oh and pics;)

    Take care!

    Luke
    MichiganI am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, [email protected]

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #10 on: January 29, 2012, 09:21:12 pm »
    I’m beginning the process of fitting the stock to the receiver. 
    There is a lot of material to remove and quite a bit of shaping needed to get this to properly fit.

    Ohio

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #11 on: January 29, 2012, 09:28:49 pm »
    Ok, I just broke one of my cardinal rules and posted a picture of myself on a gun forum. (With less than 10 posts here at WTA) :bash

    Anyway, It’s hard to get the lighting right inside a log home for a good detail picture but here is the finished product.  And yes, that’s my handsome self, grinning like I won the lottery when the project was finally finished. :)

    I have quite a few more photos but I figured this would give you an idea of the process I went through. 
    Let me know if there is a specific part you would like to see.

    JW
    Ohio

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #12 on: January 29, 2012, 09:41:46 pm »
    Oh that is super nice. You're definitely doing some very respectable smithing there.
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #13 on: January 29, 2012, 09:44:04 pm »
    Of course, we'll be expecting regular project documentaries out of you now.  >:D
    Arizona

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #14 on: January 29, 2012, 10:24:55 pm »
    Great work.   Bravo!
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #15 on: January 29, 2012, 11:40:22 pm »
    Wow.  Those are awesome pics.  I can understand creating the memory vs. just buying something.
    Utah

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #16 on: January 30, 2012, 12:03:21 am »
    Rebuilding, and generally working on guns has to be a labor of love, even when hate them. You did some nice work there.
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #17 on: January 30, 2012, 01:50:58 pm »
    Dang!  Very nice work.
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #18 on: January 30, 2012, 03:00:25 pm »
    Excellent thread. Thanks!
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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #19 on: February 15, 2012, 04:24:30 pm »
    Truly inspirational....well done, John.  I have a soft spot for these old "boys rifles" too.  They're too nice to be allowed to molder away in closets and barns, but sadly, often too much trouble (for some) to rehabilitate. I have a couple I haven't quite given up on just yet but the progress is slow.

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    Re: Why I'm not a gun smith
    « Reply #20 on: February 15, 2012, 04:39:46 pm »
     :o
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