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Old August 9, 2012, 09:51 AM   #1
jproaster
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Join Date: November 14, 2010
Location: SE Tennessee
Posts: 214
Where to start?

Visited a gunsmith recently and discovered that he's more part time than anything. I told him that I was interested in learning how to work on guns. His workshop has all the right machines and tools and he's willing to teach.

At this point I don't know how far I'll go, but the possibilities are exciting.

So. What are some basic projects that would teach me fundamentals? How might you approach this?

I'm thinking to put about3-4 hours per week to start.

Guns I own:
semi pistols and rifles(ar)
30-30
308 bolt
2- 870s

I'm starting today with polishing trigger parts on my 10-22.

Thanks,
John
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Old August 9, 2012, 10:08 PM   #2
10-96
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Location: Tx Panhandle Territory
Posts: 3,255
You started today and are already polishing trigger parts? I was able to touch very few parts during the whole first year I was apprenticing. I cleaned a lot of machines, I learned to identify by use/need all the many files and how to properly use, maintain, and store them. Shop safety with machines, chemicals, cutting tools- that was a big one... and a long one.

I spent boucoup time watching, learning where to find printed diagrams and schematics, every once in a while he'd stop and make me articulate what he had done, the next logical step of what to do next, what parts needed to be checked against drawings to ensure they were still within spec, what tools/equipment, mics, blocks/clamps, bits/cutters would be involved. That man is easy giong, but wouldn't stand for any slop work.

My opinion, if you're being allowed to polish trigger parts on the first day- you owe it to yourself and the customers to ask much much more of the guy you're working under.

Go slow, honestly. It'll benefit you in ways you can't imagine. Start tearing down and cleaning milsurps such as bolt actions and SKS's, learn how deep heat treating goes into metal, heck, learn how to both estimate and test metal hardness. Learn all the files, stones, screwdrivers, jigs inside and out.
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Old August 10, 2012, 01:57 AM   #3
wyop
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Location: Wonderful, Windy Wyoming
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Well, a schedule and timeline of skills in gunsmithing doesn't usually begin with doing trigger jobs, for starters.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:57 AM   #4
jproaster
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Join Date: November 14, 2010
Location: SE Tennessee
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I apologize for my poor communications.

I will not be apprenticing as much as hobby learning. And when I say he is part time, it's more like a hobby to him since he took on another full-time job.

And that's more the scenario- he's willing to teach me how guns work and do basics; at least for now anyway.

And I understand what you mean about trigger jobs; And I don't know how to use the tools properly for sure. My hope for my 10-22 trigger is just to get started on something that "seems" doable to me and start learning how things work.

Anyhow, I'm fifty, work way too much and want to learn guns. I really like to know how and why things work; so I'll just make the most of my opportunity.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Btw, is buying a starter kit from Brownells a cost effective approach? The gentleman's shop is 30 minutes from me; and I want my own hand tools regardless.

John
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Old August 11, 2012, 02:58 AM   #5
10-96
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If you dont already have ANY of those tools, that's not a bad way to go- although the price is kinda high in my opinion. I see that it's out of stock at the moment, so perhaps that will give you time to watch your friend and make some decisions based on what you feel your needs are for how far into this you want to go.

You'll want a more expanded screwdriver tip set (hollow ground), far more punches of all different types, far more miniature files (jewelers, gunsmith- fine and medium), various stones of various types and shapes, 8oz and larger ballpeen hammers, channel lock pliers, shotgun magazine cap pliers, calipers (I prefer dial type), ball tip allen wrenches... I could go on, but you get my point, right? I know a guy has to start somewhere, but it really is a lot to do about amassing as you learn.

Some things don't have to be top of the line, but things like punches, files, and stones- hopefully you'll learn that cheap is deffinitely not the best way to go. It took me a long time to work out a piece of Harbor Freight crap punch that broke and lodged itself firmly in my face right below my safety glasses.

Speaking of safety glasses- get some. If you wear Rx glasses, spring for Rx safety glasses and wear them religiously.

Oh and don't buy a dremmel tool. If you have one- hide it where you can't find it for a few years. Anything worth doing is worth doing right by hand. And if you goober up a finish, piece, or part with a dremmel- you'll spend a lot longer fixing that goober up... by hand.

There is never a good reason to get in a hurry and take shortcuts- unless the area where you are working is on fire, then feel free to leave with all the hurry you can muster. Plan each job and each step before you start- get in the habit of making drawings and notes of those jobs/projects and steps. Taking the time to do that will help you mentally envision your steps and progress and help you recognize when you run into an unexpected problem.

And speaking of recognizing unexpected problems... those happen more frequently than you think. You may be presented with a particular malfunction or problem, and your experience or logic may tell you the cause is __________. But once you get into the guts, you may discover something totally different and unexpected. Over all the years of folks making and designing firearms, apparently nobody was put in charge of making sure all the alcoholic and sadistic Engineers stayed out of the drawing rooms. They'll make parts that perform two or three different functions, hide them amongst normal looking parts, and apparently not feel the least bit remorseful about it.

Brownells books "Gunsmith Kinks Vols 1 thru 4" are some great reading and reference materials- I highly recommend those.

I've been working on firearms quite regularly for about 14 years now. I don't and will not call myself a Gunsmith- I respect the one's with the certifications enough to owe them that. I weld and I'm quite good at it, but again for the same reason- I'm not a welder. I humbly ask you to do the same and to give respect, credit, and props to those who truly are the professionals and masters.

I know I made this a long read- sorry. But, I hope you do well and enjoy the hobby. Hope I was able to offer at least a little help and insight.
__________________
Rednecks... Keeping the woods critter-free since March 2, 1836. (TX Independence Day)

I'm going to use the words "clip" and "Long Colt" every chance I get. It grinds my gears to see new members attacked when we all know dang good and well what's being refered to.
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Old August 11, 2012, 09:11 AM   #6
Nathan
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I am an engineer, so preface what I say with that.

I started my DIY gunsmithing with lot's of forum reading. Yes, there are lots top quality gunsmiths posting know how on the web. Not every last detail, but they give clues to how they work.

I would suppliment this with reading about gunsmithing. Kuhnhausen manuals are a great place to start.

Then you need to start with projects. You might bed your 308 or take your scope off and work through what it takes to mount it straight with the bore and without any cant angle.

In this process, you will learn some basics. You will also learn that gunsmithing is all about working with what you have.

Building a 1911 is a good skill builder. That is really a good primer on part fitting and gun finishing.
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