Any Advice On Hardening A Flintlock Frizzen?

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Mar 24, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
Hey guys, my newest fostor child arrived from Dixie Gun Works (DGW) via UPS Ground yesterday, and I am really pleased with my new son !!! I am definately going to keep and adopt him !!!

It is a Tennessee 50 Caliber Flintlock Carbine, 24-12" barrel length, and I paid $465.00 for it. Overall, I am very pleased and impressed with the gun, and I outfitted it with a flint and test fired the frizzen flash right away. The lil guy fires reliably and easily, however, it looks to me like the frizzen is a bit too soft, and needs to be "properly" hardened. I want my puppy to have a long and happy life, I think I need to harden the frizzen a bit.

Any advice on how to do that, "properly", techniques, methodes, heating tools/methodes?

I would appreciate that very, very much.



ElvinWarrior... aka... David, "EW"
Dear Articap !!!

Thank you for that link, which turned out to be, several links nested inside each other !!!

I read through them all, and the process, although it needs to be done carefully, is not all that complicated really. I have, a long time ago as a lad, case-hardened frizzens in the past, specifically the cheaper smoothbore flint kits Dixie used to offer years ago. I think the kits came with simple proceedure instructions for hardening, and I followed those precisely. Now, those were inexpensive kits, so, I doubt very much that they used any of the high-tech metals mentioned in some of the threads. All of my home-builts sparked and fired well and reliably, so I think, I did the proceedure properly back then.

Now, however, is not yesterday, I think I will wait and call Dixie on Monday, and find out exactly, who made the lock, and how to find out precisely what kind of metal is used in it.

Thanks for all the help !!!



ElvinWarrior... aka.. David, "EW"
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I doubt if you will get that kind of info from DGW. There is a product called "Casenite" that has worked for me when I was building lock kits. Another method is to fashion a sole from an old handsaw blade to fit the frizzen and solder it in place. While it is still hot from the soldering, quench it.
I had a soft frizzen on my Traditions PA Pellet from new. Took it back to the gunsmith I bought it from, and he replaced it free courtesy of Traditions. He was told there were a few "softies" that got out, and they will replace them.

The thought of soldering an old hacksaw blade onto the frizzen, although that may improve the performance, in my oppinion would detract from the guns appearance and resale value at a latter time. I am inclined not to alter the gun in that manner at this time. I am not detracting from your method, I am sure it sparks really, really well and results in much better performance, I am just not inclined towards doing that to my rifle, right out of the box, still in it's wrapper. I would view it sort of like circumcising my son immediately at birth, without allowing him time to grow up and make those decisions for himself.


I will keep that in mind, I know that DGW is very good at standing behind their products with repairs and replacements. I did not purchase this rifle locally however, through a gun shop, I purchased directlly from DGW and had it shipped to me, which took exactly one week. If I were to ship the frizzen back to them, and they either had it hardened or replaced it with a hardened one, and then shipped back to me, I think I would be looking at three weeks time to complete that cycle. The process of hardening, from what I have read, and I have read alot now, isn't all that difficult, but, it is different for different types of steel with different carbon concentrations in them. When hardening, it is very, very important to KNOW EXACTLY what kind of steel you are working with, precisely, in order to correctly match the temperatures, soak times, and quenching bath composition and times with the steel being worked, properly. Since the rifle was sold by DGW, and came from Traditions, I don't think it will be difficult to determine the exact steel used in the locks, if I had purchased the gun from a gun shop, and it was made at some little sweat shop in India, that would be an entirely different matter I think. (Oh Yes Mahatma !!! We here at the East Indian Gun Compny of BomBay take great pride in our steel !!! We make it ourselves, from iron stone gathered from the great iron mountain and melted, and forged using the very finest Elephant Dung !!!)

Thanks for all the help and advice fellas !!! This has been very educational so far !!!


ElvinWarrior... aka... David, "EW"
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If you fitted the flint, tested it, and it sparks, why mess with it? Why do you think its too soft? Many repros come with the frizzen already treated with Kasenite. If your getting a good spark, I would leave it alone.
if the flint is gouging the face of the frizzen or chattering across the face instead of a smooth scrap or leaving small bits of flint enbedded into the frizzen face then you need to reharden.

if the frizzen face is smooth and the flint is chattering across it also could be too hard......

as mentioned, kassenite will case harden but only a few thousanths beneath the surface of the face. the saw blade repair works good but you mentioned not wanting to deface the frizzen.

most modern frizzens are probably cast from low carbon steel & then case hardened using kassenite. if the rifle is fairly new as in months/weeks i suggest going for a factory replacement. save the old one and perform the blade repair & use it. keep the factory replacement incase you ever want to sell the rifle.

my experience has been unless the rifle is a show case the buyer could care less about the frizzen's looks as long as it sparks like a champ! seen the blade i have sen blade repairs that were very difficult to tell it had been done once scraped a few times.

then, as stated prior, you may have an ill fitting flint or a poor quality one.
some frizzens' like english flints & some prefer french or even sawed agate.
you may have to try several different before condeming your frizzen unless of course the face is gouged or embedded then you know it is soft.

a poor lock with incorrect short hammer/cock arc or weak main spring or too stiff frizzen spring can also be problematic.........

good luck!

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This is a new Traditions flintlock, correct? I don't mean to be disparaging, but the likelihood is that it's neither the flint nor the frizzen but the geometry. Traditions flintlocks are fine guns, but the fact is that they're inexpensive entry level guns. One of the issues they tend to have is lock geometry, and that shows up at the frizzen/flint interface.

Put the hammer at full cock and the frizzen down, hold the hammer with your thumb and pull the trigger; gently lower the hammer slowly until the flint just touches the frizzen. It should make a 60 degree angle with the frizzen face somewhere between halfway and two thirds of the way up. And it should contact all the way across the face. Another issue that occasionally needs work is the frizzen spring; if it's too soft you may be getting rebounding - that's often thought to be 'chattering'.

Tuning the geometry on a brand new, inexpensive flint lock is important to getting good fire.
What had me thinking that the frizzen was a tad soft, was the fact that I have only test fired the gun five times or so, to test the flint, and the flash pan, I have not actually fired it with a full load yet.

But, after test firing it only a half dozen times, the frizzen was already scored and marked up a bit. I thought, this might mean, the frizzen was a tad too soft. I sparks and fires just fine however, much more reliably and better than I thought it would. I checked the geometry of the hammer, and the general overall tension and workability of the entire lock mechanism in fact. Everything is fine, everything is correct.

A newly found friend, that I found here on this forum, stopped by the other day, to show me his wonderful collection of original LeMat pistols, his father was a specialist BP gunsmith, and he grew up with gunsmithing. He is very knowledgeable in all things BP. I asked his oppinion on my frizzen and lock, he said, "Everything is fine, it's a very good lock."

So, I guess I really didn't need to post this at all... Sorry guys, but... I did learn alot from this little post, thanks to all of the fine responses !!!

Thanks again guys !!!


ElvinWarrior... aka... David, "EW"
Honestly, unless you need it right away I'd let Dixie check out the frizzen and replace it if necessary. You might want to get a replacement to keep on hand in case you need it in the future anyhow. They do wear out and even break, but are generally only about a $10 part for many brands.
Like I said, it sounds like it's functioning very well and the flint will produce marks on the frizzen as the sparks you see represent very small pieces from the frizzen.
Can you post a photo of the frizzen? Remember, it ain't the flint that makes the spark, it's the flint shaving tiny pieces of steel that turn into sparks from the rapid oxidation (burning) of the tiny particle. Your hammer (frizzen) should get scarred. And, geometry is very important. The cock (what we call the hammer) must have the right geometry and position the flint so it does scrape down the flat of the hammer/frizzen and make sparks.
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