View Full Version : homemade smokepoles?

November 12, 2002, 04:57 PM
I have been looking for a left-hand caplock in .36 cal. but to no avail. I come across one every now and then, but when I do they are always WAAY out of my budget and somewhat too rare or pristine for the use I have in mind (squirrel hunting).

Since I can't find anyone who makes the rifle I want, I've begun to think about making my own. I don't think it would be terribly difficult. My father used to make some locks and barrels in his earlier machining/blacksmithing days and he is willing to help, but I would like to do some research before I get too carried away with the idea. So, I would like suggestions one where to look (books, websites, etc.) for information on the techniques, legal issues, and parts suppliers.

I'd love to hear any suggestions as well as input form anyone who has built their own rifle.


4V50 Gary
November 12, 2002, 06:28 PM
There's some really good books out there on how to assemble a smokepole. Shumway's (Recreating the Long Rifle) is good as is Dixon (sp?). Gunsmiths of Greenville is the newest, but I haven't seen it yet (also the most expensive).

It's not that hard to assemble one, but putting it together so that it's a piece of art is. I can take $500 worth of parts and make a $500 gun. Others make a $2,500 value gun with the same parts. It's the skill (relief carving, inlays, engraving, fit & finish that make the difference) that distinguishes hobbyists like myself from artisans.

BTW, next year there's going to be an "art" gun show in Houston. Featuring guns as "art" it has guns that are original and contemporary. Wallace Gustler and Mark Silver are preparing the catalog (both teach during the NMLRA gun building workshop in Bowling Green, KY).

http://www.trackofthewolf.com is a good outfit. So is Jim Chambers http://www.flintlocks.com (Jim has high quality kits that can be made for percussion). James Klein puts together good kits (don't know if he has a website).

November 12, 2002, 07:44 PM
go get a dixie gun works catalog. they might have a .36 left handed, or a kit. you could also see if they just have a left handed lock and stock or stock blank, and you could make your own. i would say go to the website, but i don't think that it has nearly as much as the catalog. they have pretty quick service too. i ordered something from them about a week ago, and with their cheapest shipping, i got it in like 4 days.

4V50 Gary
November 12, 2002, 11:50 PM
It's easy to make your own, but you'll wind up with a functional but incorrect gun - just like I did and many others before me. That's the advantage of a kit - everything matches and is appropriate. I bought my parts from Log Cabin Shop and they didn't know enough to help me.

Oh, the book I have is Dixon, Miller & Ehrig's the Art of Building the Pennslyvania Long Rifle.

Here's some advice that I got that I now pass on: Find a rifle you like and do your best to replicate it. That way, you not only have a period rifle, but an accurate one. BTW, I was also told to try not to begin restoration work before you finish the rifle (goes to show what a "craftsman" I am).

This requires a bit of research but is worth the effort. May want to check out some local museums and see what they have. Take pictures and ask for measurements (bring rules to lay alongside specific parts). Take note of the style of lock, buttplate, sideplate (if any), trigger guard, thimbles (ramrod pipes), nose-piece (if any), sights and see if you can buy them commercially.

November 13, 2002, 09:32 AM
There is a wonderful company called Track of the Wolf. Do a yahoo search for them.

They sell all the parts you need to build a gun - it will turn out great if you take your time. Get the books others have recommended and read them first. TOW sells the books too.

If you tell the good folks there what you want to build, they will put a parts kit together for you. Great prices too!


4V50 Gary
November 13, 2002, 03:17 PM
If you can get up to Friendship, Indiana on June 14, you'll be in blackpowder heaven. All the dealers, gun builders, shooters, re-enactors will be there for the biggest blackpowder rendezvous of them all. Bring bucks, lots of them. You can walk away with a complete kit or buy the parts for one. Review the books before you buy. Talk to experienced shooters or builders. Watch a demonstration of a rifle being built (one week long demo) and Dick Miller answers any and all questions (including the mysteries of the universe).

Don't think it's that far away. We've got Texans who show up and a few of us from Communist California.

Alex Johnson
November 13, 2002, 04:16 PM
Go to www.trackofthewolf.com and I think you'll be impressed, they have dozens of rifles for sale that were built with there parts. I can't say that this is necessarily a cheaper way of obtaining a rifle, but you can make a better one than you can buy commercially. If you just want a nice offhand 36 caliber rifle I would consider looking at making an underhammer if you have the necessary metalworking skills, than you only have to worry about building the butstock and the inletting and stock shape are quite simple.

Joe the Redneck
November 13, 2002, 08:00 PM
There are two great books called Lock,stock, and Barrel 1 and 2. Also get the Art of Building the Pennsylvania Long Rifle. These are avaliable from Dixie Gun works. Get that catalog first.

DGW may have left handed kits. I lent mine out, and ofcourse it never came back. l

November 14, 2002, 02:12 PM
While we're mentioning building smokepoles, try looking at Foxfire #5. It's all about blacksmithing and gunsmithing in Appalachia. Some great pics and drawings for ideas in that book.

November 14, 2002, 03:33 PM
Thanks to all of you for the good information. I've been able to find out a LOT from the info you've provided. I still haven't found a production gun like I want, but it looks like a kit will be the way to go. I'll be doing a little research to decide the style and features I want and then (after hunting season is over) I'll try to get the ball rolling on the project. Maybe that way I'll have it finished before next hunting season.

I'm sure I'll have more questions before long. I'd still like to hear suggestions and input on this topic as well.

Thanks again,