Posts Tagged ‘gunsmithing tools’

Restore antique weapons to their former glory with a certificate from gunsmithing schools

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Restore antique weapons to their former glory with a certificate from gunsmithing schools

Fans of shows on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel know there’s some serious money in antique firearms. The appetite for authentic vintage weapons has exploded in recent years, and the number of collectors is increasing all the time. However, without the skills of restoration experts, many of these fine weapons would be lost to the ravages of time. If you’re looking for an interesting and rewarding way to apply the skills you’ll acquire in gunsmithing schools, why not consider a career as an antique firearms restoration specialist?

Tools of the trade

One of the most important tools in an antique weapon restoration expert’s toolbox is care and attention to detail. Although many vintage guns were built to last, especially those dating to the Civil War, great care must be taken when working on these fine weapons.

A common procedure in antique weapon restoration is bluing. This process involves the use of special chemicals that oxidize the steel surfaces of metals, improving their appearance and making them more resistant to rust. In some instances, the existing blue can be buffed and improved, while sometimes you may need to strip the steel first and then re-blue the metal components. There are several different bluing techniques, including charcoal, hot or salt bluing, nitre and rust.

Other techniques you’ll need to master to become an antique weapons restoration specialist is the use of chemical agents for cleaning purposes. These compounds include liquid soap concentrates such as potassium methyl cyclohexyl oleate, which are used to remove dirt, wax, hydrocarbons, and fatty and mineral oils from the surfaces of antique firearms.

As an antique weapon restorer, steel wool will be one of your best friends. To avoid accidental damage to the firearm, be sure to use a fine grade like 0000 when working on antique finishes.

Art and craftsmanship

Of course, some weapons need more extensive repairs and restoration before they can be displayed or sold. This is where the true skill of a gunsmith comes into play.

Many antique weapons are constructed from solid wood, especially rifles and shotguns. In some cases, the stocks of these types of firearms may be extensively damaged, requiring great care and skill to restore. Some weapons may need their stocks to be refinished, whereas others may have to be replaced entirely. Strong woodworking skills are a must for any serious gunsmith, and there are a variety of things to consider when working on antique stocks, such as the grade of the wood, checkering and finish.

The times, they are a-changin’

Sometimes, corrosion or damage to the firing mechanism of old weapons may be so extensive that the weapon will no longer fire. In these cases, it might be necessary to replace certain parts altogether, such as the lock. Some antique weapon restoration experts specialize in converting old rifles from percussion firing mechanisms to their original flintlock state. This technique is especially common for Civil War-era weapons.

What sparked your interest in antique guns? Let us know in the comment space below.

Tools of the Gunsmith Trade

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

While the term “gunsmith” may bring to mind visions of the Wild West, the truth is gunsmithing is a viable, modern profession. A trained and licensed gunsmith can design, repair, build and restore both modern and antique firearms. To do this, the gunsmith needs many types of specialized tools and equipment.

One tool used by most gunsmiths is a small, specialized hammer. The hammer is used to gently tap on a gun when it is being disassembled and also when it is reassembled. Using the hammer, the gunsmith can separate the various components of the weapon without damaging any of them. Gunsmithing hammers often come with interchangeable faces. The different facing materials, such as brass and plastic, allow the gunsmith to customize the amount of force needed for an individual task.

gunsmithing-toolsAlong with the hammer, a gunsmith will also need a set of punches. These are long, nailed-shaped steel tools that are sold in sets, usually with a selection of different sizes. The varying punch sizes allow the gunsmith to match them accurately to the different-sized pins found in individual guns.

Like punches, gun stock carving chisels also come in sets with a variety of sizes. They also have different shaped heads. Some of the heads are for gouging and chiseling while others operate more like tiny saw blades. These are used to carve a pattern into the stock of a gun. Called checkering, this pattern can be decorative, but it also affords a more secure grip on the weapon when it is in use.

Bench clamps or vises are also indispensable tools of the trade. Clamps allow the gunsmith to hold a gun or gun part securely while freeing both hands to use other tools. Clamps can be as generic as ordinary woodworking vises, designed to attach to a workbench with one clamp while holding the gun with another, or as specialized as a gun vise, which will have a rubber-lined cradle designed to securely hold the stock of a gun. Specialized clamps also have compartments to store cleaning supplies and special slots for rods, solvents or small parts.

Another tool a gunsmith will need is a boring tool or lathe. This is a device that is usually mounted on a work bench and, not only holds a gun barrel absolutely still, but also bores out the interior of the barrel. Because every shot from a gun is affected by imperfections in the barrel, a gunsmith’s lathe has to be accurate in its cuts to a very high degree. The size and shape of the gun barrel have to be near perfect for the weapon to work correctly.

Whether a gunsmith works restoring antiques, maintaining working equipment or as a hobbyist, many specialized tools will be required to do the job right.

Image courtesy of boboroshi via Flickr.

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