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Looking into gunsmithing DYI,complete tools?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Dlowe167, Feb 11, 2013.

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  1. Dlowe167

    Dlowe167 Member

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    Looking to purchase gunsmithing tools. But i want a complete set,anything i would ever need. I hear special tools used alot,those included. If u know a website,etc. Thanks
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Unless you have several hundred thousand dollars to spend??
    There is no such thing as that.

    Even then, you would have to run right out and buy some other tool you didn't get yet when a firearms new design comes out every few months.

    The best investment you can make right now is to buy every gunsmithing book you can find and read it until you have it memorized.
    And then specialize in one specifiy type of gun.

    Eventually, by the time you either die of old age, or run out of money?

    You will still never have everything you might eventually ever need.
    Or replace the old tools as they wear out.


    Go to http://www.brownells.com/ buy the catalog, and start reading and ordering books.


    That will get one toe on one foot wet.
    The rest of you will still need a real good bath to become even a half way gunsmith with all the tools you will ever need.

    rc
     
  3. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Member

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    Beyond a basic set of gunsmith tools (screwdrivers, etc.), the best plan is to buy specific tools as you need them. Why tie up money in tools that you may never need? Anyway, after you get to a certain level, some specialized tools are either (a) unnecessary, or (b) can be fabricated by yourself. For example, a gas piston rejection gauge for a BAR is handy to have, but at $100 or more (if you can find one), you can do the same job by simply measuring with a micrometer. Another tool that has turned out to be unnecessary is the much-touted M60 receiver stretch gauge. The M60 professionals don't even use those any more.
     
  4. dsink

    dsink Member

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    "Unless you have several hundred thousand dollars to spend??
    There is no such thing as that.

    Even then, you would have to run right out and buy some other tool you didn't get yet when a firearms new design comes out every few months.

    The best investment you can make right now is to buy every gunsmithing book you can find and read it until you have it memorized.
    And then specialize in one specifiy type of gun.

    Eventually, by the time you either die of old age, or run out of money?

    You will still never have everything you might eventually ever need.
    Or replace the old tools as they wear out.


    Go to http://www.brownells.com/ buy the catalog, and start reading and ordering books.


    That will get one toe on one foot wet.
    The rest of you will still need a real good bath to become even a half way gunsmith with all the tools you will ever need."

    rc


    AMEN! There have been alot of times that I have made a tool to do what I want.

    A good set of screwdrivers like Brownells sells is a good place to start as remodel suggested.
     
  5. Doak

    Doak Member

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    Depends on what you mean by "Gunsmithing" and how serious you are about it.
    If you wanna make parts, for out of production arms, and/or design and make parts that are better than factory replacement parts...the more you read & learn, from all sources available, will guide you to the inescapable conclusions that you must have a suitable lathe, a full standing milling machine, compressed air, and a home made heat-treating facility (not a torch). And learn how to use them properly. This is bare minimum stuff. Doesn't cover all the hand tools, wood working tools, belt sanders, grinding wheels, work benches, and enuff space to put it all in.

    It becomes a way of life...if you're serious. And that's just at the hobby level, which IMHO is the most fun. If you wanna make a career/living at it, IMHO it'll grow outa the hobby. Like they said above, if ya live long enuff. :-D

    Kindest Regards,
    Doak
     
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    It would be hard to even call yourself a gunsmith without a good (preferable hollow headstock) lathe, a good drill press, two or three vises*, a couple of bench grinders, a barrel vise and receiver wrench and at least the most common inserts for both, a belt sander, a small electric furnace, oxy-acetylene and propane torches, and probably a lot of things I forgot. A milling machine is a definite plus, but can be postponed for a while if necessary. Plus the skill and knowledge to use all of the above.

    Anyone who thinks he can be a gunsmith with just a few hand tools is not going to be much of a gunsmith. Sure, he can farm out the work to others, but that puts him at the mercy of some one else's schedules and priorities. Further, when (not if) the customers find out you are having someone else do the work, they will go to him and eliminate the middle man (you).

    *That is vises with an "s". We all have vices but they are not much good for holding work.

    Jim
     
  7. twofifty

    twofifty Member

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    For tinkering, basic disassembly, and parts R&R at home:

    - gun mat or old towel
    - gun cradle (can be home made)
    - bench block
    - single-handle gun-specific hex driver kit including hollow ground flat blade tips, hex tips, etc.
    - brass drift punch set sized for the guns you got.
    - small gunsmith's 2-faced hammer.
     
  8. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    The best sources...

    of gunsmithing tools and equipment are Brownells and Midway. Their catalogs will give you a very good idea of the broad range of gunsmith-specific tools available.
    You should certainly read a number of books available on gunsmithing, per-se (Howe, etc.) before deciding how much you want to invest in the tools.
    The best training for gunsmithing is in general metal shop practice and machine tool operation, and there are certainly many good books on those subjects.
    Wood working, as in stock making, is a separate but equally important field.
    Having said all that, and having worked as a general gunsmith, barrel maker and custom riflesmith, I can't really encourage you to take it up as a profession. The investment in time and money, unless you already have the necessary skills and equipment, and/or can work for an established firm, is prohibitive, if you intend to depend on the trade for your living.
    PRD1 - mhb - Mike
     
  9. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Hi, Dlowe,

    As I reread your original post, I think some of us, myself included, took the word "gunsmith" at face value. Maybe you will clarify, but I suspect you really mean a set of hand tools for gun tinkering, not an intent to get into the gunsmithing business. If that is the case, buying tools as you need them is good advice. The trouble is that some tools will be ones you will never use again and eventually you accumulate a bunch of those tools at considerable cost.

    I suggest doing the book bit, as rcmodel says, then decide how much further you want to go, but in most cases, using the services of a gunsmith will be a better bet in the long run.

    Jim
     
  10. Dlowe167

    Dlowe167 Member

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    Nope no mis-printing. Gunsmithing,ill start on my own. As I progress,ill buy more tools and guns. Im reallt good with my hands. Give me a few years ill be good. But u gotta start somewhere. And yes,i didnt realize tools were so expensive. They dont even say snap-on,lol. Maybe ill buy a basic kit,seen one for $60. Some of those tools are the size of a small speed loader,and are $40 each thanks,ill try midway
     
  11. Xfire68

    Xfire68 Member

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    "Gunsmithing" is not something you typically just pick up and learn by tinkering around with a old 870 or Blackhawk. You need to go to school to learn just the basics and then it takes a lifetime to become good/great at it.

    Most gun owners looking for a gunsmith won't send their guns to a gunsmith with little or no positive feedback. After going to gunsmith college you should train at a reputable gunsmith shop.

    If your serious about getting into gunsmithing look into going to a legit gunsmithing college.
     
  12. natman

    natman Member

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    Instead of getting hung up on the word "gunsmith", here's a list of tools you'll need to work on your own guns:

    Screwdrivers: Do not ever touch a gun with an ordinary household angle tip screwdriver. You WILL bugger up the screw heads if you do. Guns require parallel tipped screwdrivers and lots of them because the closer the match in width and length to the screw, the better and there are LOTS of different sizes. Get a GOOD set for general use and an inexpensive set to grind to fit the oddball screws that turn up.

    Punches. A set of starter and standard punches, one in steel, one in brass. Maybe a set of roll pin punches.

    A punch block

    A set of fine files

    A small steel hammer for punching and a brass & nylon headed hammer for everything else

    A set of stones. Stones are expensive and fragile. Bite the bullet and get good ones. You'll want smooth hard stones. If it looks like a sponge, the grit is too big. Stoning adds years of wear to metal. It's better to have to make five strokes with a hard stone to get the right amount than to make one stroke too many with a gritty stone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  13. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    There is no hand work skill one can learn and perform for which he can acquire every conceivably needed tool. Doesn't matter if it's gunsmithing, shoeing horses, or haberdashery. There is always a new tool that makes an old task easier, or a needed tool for a new task.
     
  14. Teachu2

    Teachu2 Member

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    Check your local community college for basic machining classes and basic welding classes. Unless you just plan on doing basic parts replacements, you'll need to learn how to set up and run a lathe, a milling machine, a O/A torch, a Mig welder, a Tig welder, and possibly a surface grinder.

    I worked for a gunsmith in my college days, and he was very limited with only a lathe, a grinder, a buffer, a set of bluing tanks, a couple of benches, a bullet trap, and a bunch of specialty hand tools. When he was ready to retire, I was considering buying the business. I asked what he would add if money was no object, and he said a milling machine. He sent his milling work to a local machine shop. Even then (1983 or 84) we valued what he had at $20k on the used market.

    If you just want to do gun repairs (replacing broken parts with new factory ones, changing sights, reassembling perfectly good guns the owners took apart "to clean", bedding actions, installing aftermarket stocks, etc) you can do that pretty cheaply. The local range has a "gunsmith" that rents space there. He charges around $75 to do such work, and is backed up six weeks. He only has hand tools, but did graduate from the gunsmithing school at Susanville.

    Several things work against gunsmiths these days. First is the changes in technology over the last 50 years. It used to be a mystery what happened behind the gunsmith's bench, but now many common things have half a dozen YouTube videos to show you how. Guns used to be hand-fit works of art, requiring skilled craftsmen to repair them, hand-fitting parts. No wonder the gunsmith who taught me hated Glocks... Now, anyone with an interest and a set of hollow-ground screwdrivers can do many of the things it used to take a pro for. And 30 years ago, NOBODY but a gunsmith owned a sight pusher...

    Still now, as then, if you give good service you can build a business. I spent the last two weeks in August sitting on a stool at the front counter, greeting the guys with a barrel in one hand and a grocery bag in the other - desperate souls, willing to pay to have someone put their shotgun back together before their wife found out. The last Saturday in August (dove season opens Sept. 1) was a madhouse - I was charging $20 a gun, doing 4-5 per hour, and had a line waiting all day. I did 52 guns that day, and split the proceeds 50/50 with the shop (I was casual labor) so I left with $520 in my pocket. Not a bad day for a college student in 1981. Too bad those days were few and far between.

    The downside can be steep, though. You screw something up, and you have to make it right. You tell a customer it will cost $79+ parts, then hit a snag and spend four hours on an hour job, and it stings a bit. You slip and damage the finish on a $20K shotgun....

    If having mechanical aptitude, a sharp mind, a steady hand, and $1,000 in tools were all it took to make a living as a gunsmith, there would be a lot more gunsmiths.
     
  15. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    At the first year of gunsmithing school, each of us spent over $2k on tools alone. We're talking about dial indicators, magnetic bases for the same, calipers, micrometers, files (and handles for same), drill bits, sharpening stones, hammers, screw drivers, punches, welding equipment (gloves, face shield, welding jacket), mill bits, screw pitch gauge, etc. We even made some tools in class too (polishing stick, chisel, scraper, inletting chisel), machinist square, level indicator, etc. Darn if we didn't use all those things too.
     
  16. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    This would get my vote. Knowing what to do,how to do it and when to do it as well as what,when and how NOT to do will serve you better than any other "tool" in your repertiore.
     
  17. jeepmor

    jeepmor Member

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    Go buy a good metal lathe with a 4 jaw chuck to start. It'll take you far if you can drive it right.
     
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