Budd Davisson, exclusively for Airbum.com
Tools and other stuff
This section will probably grow as I get the energy to get deeper into specialized tools, but I thought wed get started with the basics.
In the first place you dont need anything exotic although there are a couple of things you cant do without and there are a couple that make life a little easier.
Cant Do Without This
The first time you pick up a lock, be it a flintlock or a cap lock, youll work the hammer back and forth and immediately realize how it works. Dont let them fool you, however. They can be pretty sophisticated in their simplicity and there are quantum leaps between the cheaper locks and the better ones and the differences are in details you and I cant even see. DONT BUY ON PRICE! A cheap lock is like doing a heart transplant and getting the heart from the lowest bidder.
Were using Siler locks here because they are the standard and because they are close to the style of the Lancaster rifle were building and right for the period.
Part of the way a lock can fool you is that you think you can get them apart with a screw driver. FORGET IT! Take a look at the springs. Both types of locks have the main spring in the back and the flintlock has the frizzen spring up front. These may not look like much but youre sure to damage a lock if you dont un-tension these springs before you remove any of the screws.
Don't let anyone kid you, getting that spring off
a vice is a bear
The springs put everything under tension and if you try to take a screw out itll bugger up the end of the threads as you try to get it out. Besides, itll be a real bitch getting the screw out in the first time. To take tension off the clockworks you need to compress the spring. This much is obvious even after a cursory examination of the lock. What isnt obvious is that it isnt easy to compress the spring.
This little bugger doesn't look like much, but it'll save you
a lot of heartburn.
The first thought is to use a little C-clamp. Good idea, but the springs are so narrow and have so much slope to them the clamp cant get a good purchase on the spring.The next thought is the pride of Dewitt, Nebraska, the Vice Grip (all true Vice Grips come from Dewitt, not far from my hometown). These might work, depending on how you feel about leaving gouges on springs and suchreally bad idea and smacks of MM (Mickey Mouse).
Enter the spring vice. This is a little gadget you should buy right along with your Kentucky parts. It has rotating jaws that are specifically made to span the length of a main spring and let you compress it with a couple turns of the thumb screw. Go to Trackofthewolf.com to order tools and parts. They also have kits, but Dunlaps feature better wood and select parts.
Yep, these are all you'll need for a Dunlap kit and you'll be
using the red 1/4" more for scraping than anything else.
Chisels: dont chintz on these
They are available from a number of sources but get the best money can buy. Youll use them for the rest of your life, so dont screw around with middle of the line stuff. You can use palm chisels if you want, but Ive always found them too short for general use. Theyre great for fine carving, but we may or may not be doing any of that on this piece.
A surgeon isnt going to wade into a quadruple bypass with a Swiss Army knife and you shouldnt try to work curly maple with anything but topnotch chisels.
Youll need the following blade types:
-straight 1/4, this can be a simple Stanley type tool since youll use it as a scraper.
-gouge, 5/16, make this a medium radius to get into corners of curved mortises.
I have probably fifty chisels, but these are the ones used most and are all youll need for this project.
Youll also need sharpening stuff as follows:
-medium stone to start working the blade
-black stone to set final shape
-white stone to put glass smooth edge on it
-LONG leather strop to really put an edge on it.
You can make your own strop by gluing a 16 long piece of belt leather on a board. Then moisten it and rub (they call it charging it) coarse rubbing compound like youd use on paint into it. Really soak the leather with it and work it in. Ive used a lot of different stuff and it all works okay, but Simichrome polish, if you can find it seems a hair better than the other stuff.
The strop is nothing but belt leather charged with rubbing compound. Use it religiously. No, ignore that. Use it much more than you use your religion.
This strop is going to sit right there in front of you every second youre working wood and every two or three cuts youre going to wipe the chisel across the strop. If you get in the habit of doing that, youll never tear a piece of grain out because you waited one cut too long to sharpen your blade.
The Bench Vice
There are vices and there are vices and the only really important aspect of a vice is that you have one and that it be bolted securely to a bench that doesnt move under pressure. A lot of folks use a special cradle on the bench to work rifles, but were not going to get that sophisticated, so well make do with a vice.
If you can find a unit known as a Vice Versa, they make life much easier. They pivot in three dimensions and make it easier to position the piece for easy whacking. God knows we dont want to be whacking at the wrong angle, right?
The Versa Vice moves in three-dimensions but even without one make a set of blocks for any vice and radius the back of one so it can rotate and align with odd shapes.
Regardless of what vice youre using, make a set of blocks like Ive illustrated here. Mine are pretty beat up because theyve seen a lot of use, but you cant work without them.
The blocks not only protect the rifle from the jaws, but we can cut grooves in the face of the block that match parts of the rifle and let you grab it more securely.
Notice in the pictures that the back of one of the blocks is radiused slightly. This is to let one of the blocks rotate in the vice so it can self align with tapered parts of the stock.
Dont get too exotic with the wood, but make sure its a relatively hard wood. Youll need to start with something about two inches thick, which can be hard to find. Here again, dont get too caught up in the details: find an old shipping skid and jerk one of the big pieces off the bottom. If its not thick enough, glue two pieces together and get out your saw. Or better yet, break out the band saw.
Also, notice the notch in the bottom legs: it has to straddle the screw in the middle of the vice.
Keep an old sweatshirt laying behind the vice because youre going to be using it as padding to protect the stock in the vice. Doubled up carpet works better.
Youre going to need something to rub on the back of parts as you try to inlet them into the wood. Where they are touching, theyll leave a smudge of the medium. Here again, simple works: lip stick will do the job. A better bet is to get inletting black from Brownells.com. If you dont have their catalog, you should. Even though 99% of the stuff in it isnt applicable to this project, its a great resource for all sorts of stuff thats gun related but useful in other areas too.
You can this entire project with a steady hand and a 1/4 drill but having a drill press makes life much, much easier. If you dont have one, dont rush out and buy one for this project. I can think of only one hole that should be done in a press and thats the touchhole and only then if you plan on threading it and putting a unobtainium liner in it. Otherwise, just hand drill it and try really hard to make it a square.
As we get into the different operations and other tools pop up (since Ive probably forgotten some) well get into them at that time.
So, get a vice, get some chisels, get going.
Go To Part Three