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Old July 18, 2013, 11:03 PM   #1
Matidas
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How would you prepare to get into gunsmithing?

This is my first post on the sight, so I'm sorry if it's in the wrong place. I'm a 16 year old kid who's been around guns for most of his life. I like them enough that I'm seriously thinking about starting a career after highschool. I guess my question is how would you all go about it? Going into a gunsmithing school, then apprenticing, starting off as a machinist and then move into gunsmithing, or something else entirely? Also, wha do you all think would be goodto brush up on? I'd appreciate any advice you all could give me.
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Old July 18, 2013, 11:59 PM   #2
4V50 Gary
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Since you're in high school, take machine shop and learn how to sharpen a bit, resharpen drills, chisels, lathe operations and precision machining. If there's a mill, learn that too. All these things will serve you well as a gunsmith. Learn how to write a resume and to conduct yourself in a job interview. When you hit 18, take some NRA summer gunsmithing classes at Trinidad. Take the basic gunsmithing, metal finishing and gun repair. Do a lot of reading too. Read Stuart Otteson's The Bolt Action Rifle, Vol 1-2, W. H. B. Smith's Small Arms of the World, Steve's Pages (website), P. O. Ackley's books on hand loading, Hatcher's Notebook, W. W. Greener's The Gun and Its Development.

After high school, Move to CO and establish your residency (for cheaper tuition). Then go to Trinidad. It's the best gunsmithing school in the nation. It's not easy to get admitted as it is a very competitive process. Remember that stuff about resume and interview skills? You need them to get in.

Once you're in, keep your mouth shut and your mind open. You will learn a lot more that way. An empty glass can be fully filled by the master and a half filled glass only filled halfway by the master.

During your fourth and last semester, Attend the job fair for gunsmiths. Go to the SHOT show and the custom gunmakers guild show both years you are at Trinidad (dress clean, be well groomed, neat. You are on parade and will be making impressions on potential employers). Don't drink at any show. Make an arse of yourself before a potential employer and you'll never be hired. You are attending to network. Also, stay off social websites like Facebook. These are used by schools and employers to learn more about applicants.

One last thing. You're probably a good kid who has his act together. No fighting if it can be avoided at all. That can be the legal kiss of death for anyone who wants to be around guns. There is a trend to keep people deemed "violent" disarmed.
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Old July 19, 2013, 02:55 AM   #3
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There are several brick and mortar Gunsmithing schools, and I would look into all of them to see which one might fit you better.

With the above said, and while you're still in High School, see if your Vo-Ed has a machine shop class. Sometimes its within another class like mining mechanics, but most will have one, as its just because of how big the school is. If it is within another, or not, all the better, as that might give you a field to fall back on in the future, if you don't make it at Gunsmithing, as you've gained a skilled trade. Also, see if the machine shop class is combined with welding, as you'll need that knowledge too. That will give you two skilled trades.

Once you finish Gunsmithing school, you can attend the job fairs, and probably hire in at a sporting good chain that will start you under an experienced gunsmith to apprentice under. Listen to what he says, and you'll learn the ropes. If you're lucky, you might find employment with a manufacturer, but they generally want experienced Gunsmiths.
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Old July 19, 2013, 06:21 AM   #4
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Dixie Gunsmithing made a good point

Welding! Learn Tig welding for gunsmithing. Go ahead and learn as much welding (arc, mig) as you can. These are life skills that are useful anywhere in the world.
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Old July 19, 2013, 12:21 PM   #5
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You might even find someone who does fine woodworking during the afternoon, after school, to learn you the in and outs of fitting wood, and especially, finishing it. Tell them you will work for free to learn the skill. Generally, they'll still offer to pay you a little for your work, but the knowledge is priceless.

Gunsmithing is an assembly of several arts from metal smithing (including welding), machining, polishing, metal coloring, and woodworking. You have to learn it all to be successful, and a thorough knowledge of all firearms on top of that.
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Old July 19, 2013, 09:37 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the advice. I would be interested in going to one of the gunsmithing schools, I live in central Ky, so I I would probably go to a vocational school around here first, and move to a college to take a gunsmithing class after that., unless there are some good ones on the east coast, then I might be able to go to them instead. I'll look around locally to see If I can find someone good at woodworking that could teach me, I'll be working a part time job, but if I'm lucky, I may be able to help and get some money from that as well, and put it into a fund to help pay for school. I'm going to take either carpentry or welding next year in school. I'm pretty sure we have a machine shop, so I should be able to take a machine class my senior year. I'll look into reading up on the books you suggested, hopefully I can get them from the library until I can afford to buy them. I'll also look around and see if I can find any gunsmiths around here, maybe I could try and work under them as a helper and learn a little bit at the same time.
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Old July 19, 2013, 10:13 PM   #7
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Check for gun sites like this one, then search on "gunsmithing" and read the posts. A lot of your questions have already been answered, some many many times.

Jim
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Old July 19, 2013, 10:23 PM   #8
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How would you prepare to get into gunsmithing?

I'd be real surprised if your school library has books about guns but with the Internet you can buy used books for stupid cheap.
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Old July 20, 2013, 12:03 AM   #9
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Ways that a gun is assembled:

1) Screws (or screwed in)
2) pins (solid, tapered, roll)
3) mechanical tension (spring & plunger, interlocking parts)
4) Semi-permanent (staked, soldered, welded --- and therefore generally not disassembled)

Learn to recognize which method is being applied. After a while, you'll be able to disassemble almost anything. Reassembly is another matter.
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Old July 20, 2013, 05:49 AM   #10
Dixie Gunsmithing
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A young man from my home state, of course, I was from as about as far east as you could go!

The two closest schools are the Montgomery Community College in Troy, N.C., and Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh, PA.

It's a shame that Berea doesn't have the gunsmithing portion that they do with wood, or that would have been my first suggestion. I think they do have mechanical in engineering tech, but I'm not sure what all that entails.

Big Sandy Community & Technical College (Mayo), at Paintsville, has a Manufacturing Engineering Technology - Industrial Maintenance Technology degree, that includes machine shop and welding, along with industrial studies towards the mechanical side. That's around two years, though.

http://bigsandy.kctcs.edu/Academics/...intenance.aspx

The closest two, for an actual degree, are the first I posted, and out of state, which means a higher tuition.
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Old July 20, 2013, 01:55 PM   #11
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One other thing to do depends on the type of "guns" you want to work on. Get into competitive shooting with the ones you'll "smith" then learn from the winners and record setters what it takes to make them do a well as they do.

I base this on my experience with all kinds of 'smiths that those who shoot guns well in competition do great in making others guns shoot well. And they know what stuff works and what is a waste of time.

On the other hand, if you're going to do nothing except parts replacing and fixing of guns, then you don't need to be a competitive shooter.
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Old July 20, 2013, 02:51 PM   #12
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There's a lot of good blackpowder gunbuilders in Central KY. Suggest you find one to hang around with. The fitting of wood to metal is a skill that is useful to blackpowder gun builders, modern rifle builders whose customers don't want synthetic, shotgunners (stocks do crack).
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Old July 21, 2013, 03:15 PM   #13
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In the woodworking field, an often overlooked area is stock repair. There are (literally) millions of vet-bringback and surplus rifles that had the stocks cut down years ago but which new owners want restored. There are a fair number of stock makers (those who can take a stock blank and fit it to a rifle or shotgun) but there are few who can repair broken or cut stocks and make them look good. The work is there for someone with the tools (not too expensive) and knowledge to do the job right. I knew one man (now gone, unfortunately) who worked his magic on many guns, including a couple that are in museums billed as totally original and worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Jim

P.S. I told the folks on another site how to repair a K.98k stock, and was informed that making a repair that was not obvious was impossible. Hmmm.

JK
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Old July 21, 2013, 03:48 PM   #14
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Jim,

So true, as hiding the repair is the hardest part, especially with missing wood. I keep a good bit of culled walnut stock blanks on hand, that I have bought from manufacturers as scrap, in order to find matching wood from. I even save old stocks that folks didn't want, as there is usable wood there, and the aging of it can make a color match too.

If those guys who told you that had ever saw a really good restoration, they would know that, yes, it can be hidden, but it is very time consuming. Matching the grain is the hardest part, but it can be done.
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Old July 22, 2013, 02:26 AM   #15
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If you do go to a gunsmithing school don't fo your final project by building a simple black powder gun. I knew a gun who went to Colorado and he did his final by building a modern bolt rifle with a custom stock he made. Alll parts were handbuilt and hand fitted. The best rifle I have ever seen.
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Old July 23, 2013, 01:10 AM   #16
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I agree with James K, stock making is part technology, part art, and part magic. I can repair a stock that a horse has rolled on, and it will be strong, serviceable, and hard to see the repair. The man who tried to teach me could repair a stock and you could not tell it had ever been touched. He also added extensions to stocks that had been cut down, and "enhanced" the grain of very plain rifle stocks. He was a true artist. And now he is dead, like most of the other greats, but I learned a little bit from him.
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Old July 24, 2013, 04:02 PM   #17
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I went to TSJC but there is a school in NC and PA
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Old July 27, 2013, 03:10 PM   #18
Matidas
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I've always been interested in older firearms, predominantly WWII era. It would be nice to learn to take someone's old Garand or Mauser and fix it up for them. I am looking into taking 4 years of school, two in a trade school here in KY, and two at whichever gunsmithing school is best for me to go to after I finish there. I live relatively close to several gun shops/ranges, so I should be able to look for some work around there, and let me talk to people and learn a lot of things.
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Old August 7, 2013, 11:52 AM   #19
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My amateur gunsmith resume

1995 - 1997
I went to pawn shops at lunch and bought broken guns for cheap.
After dinner at night I would take them apart.
I ordered replacement parts from Numrich.
http://www.gunpartscorp.com/
I cleaned, lubricated, and fixed the guns.
Then I sold the guns on consignment at a pawn shop.

2000 - present
I bought a lathe, vertical mill, Oxyacetylene, TIG welder, etc and started sporterizing and rebarreling rifles.

2005
I worked a couple nights after dinner on aerospace test fixtures and billed my time to a large corporation. This paid for all my gunsmithing equipment and the shop structure. Not even THAT will make the wife happy.
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Old August 7, 2013, 01:17 PM   #20
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How bad do you like to hunt? People bring in a lot of stuff last minute. You can't ignore them. it will ruin your bow season in a hurry. Something to think about.
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Old August 7, 2013, 09:26 PM   #21
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Just FYI, there is an article by Reid Coffield in this week's Shotgun News on stock repair. He had a VN bringback SKS that he wanted to preserve as much as possible (which is why he didn't just replace the stock).

He did miss one point that maybe will help someone. He had to put in an inlay and cut out a rectangular hole which he filled with a rectangular inlay.

It is better, for looks, to cut the hole with a Dremel tool to conform to the grain of the stock, like say a long oval shape. Done right, that kind of patch will blend into the grain of the stock, where an inlay with straight lines and sharp corners will usually be very obvious. He is right on one point, though, and something some folks miss. You cut the hole for the inlay first, then make the inlay. The smaller piece is easier to work on, and can be scrapped if it doesn't fit.

Jim
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Old August 8, 2013, 02:08 PM   #22
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Jim,

You are correct, and follow the grain. I would hate to see that repair, as it would surely stick out like a sore thumb.
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Old August 8, 2013, 08:09 PM   #23
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I can spot a bring back SKS from some distance.
The stock looks like it was pickled.
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Old August 10, 2013, 10:25 AM   #24
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Quote:
The stock looks like it was pickled.
They didn't try to match the original color, just slap on some finish? I have seen this, plenty enough.
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