How do you hold the chamber reamer?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by oscer, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. oscer

    oscer Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Hi fellas, I'm tooling up for my first rifle build and I've read the book "The complete guide to precision rifle barrel fitting" by John Hinnant. Mr Hinnant shows the reamer being held by hand in a home made wrench and being pushed by a dead center in the tail stock.
    There is a fella over on "Practical Machinist" who sets the barrel up with a little "float room " in the steady rest and holds the reamer in the tail stock with an ER 40 collet chuck. Essentially he is reaming between centers with the piloted reamer becoming the tail stock center once the reamer begins to cut, when the reamer is retracted the barrel is resting on the steady fingers. I like the sound of this set up because I'd have one hand free to hit the kill switch and I also like the Idea of retracting the reamer with the tail stock hand wheel. However as I said I've never built a rifle before, so I would appreciate hearing your comments. Thanks oscer
     
  2. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,309
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004

    As you are just getting started I would recommend buying a reamer holder. These are designed to
    do this job.

    Manson makes one and there are several other makers that make one.

    Start with the right tool and as you get more familiar with Gun Smithing you can do what works
    best for you.

    Chambering is one of the most important parts of building a precision rifle/firearm. the proper tool
    for the job should always be used.

    Other methods will/may work but until you become familiar with all of the aspects of Gun Smithing
    use the tools that were designed for the job.

    Start right, learn right and you have a chance to be a good Gunsmith. learning to do things Half ass
    will only produce Half Ass results.

    Just some advice

    J E CUSTOM
     

  3. Hired Gun

    Hired Gun Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,537
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    I like and use the JGS floating reamer holder. I do not like the concept of the Bald Eagle unit and to hold it solid is risky unless your tail stock is perfectly aligned in all axis. That is tough to do.

    Equally important to how the reamer is held, is how the barrel is supported and chamber prepped before reaming. I would suggest getting Gordy Gritters chambering video.
     
  4. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    If you like 'Speerchuckers' method, I say go for it! Worst that can happen is you'll trash the barrel, snap off the reamer, and cut a finger or two off!
     
  5. IdahoCTD

    IdahoCTD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,506
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    I use a flat surface in the tailstock to push with and a wrench on the reamer. You have to make sure the end of the reamer is flat and smooth or it won't really float.
     
  6. oscer

    oscer Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Thanks for the response fellas, I see I found someone who frequents the PM forum. I've read some of the debate over there on through the headstock vs. between centers chambering and it sometimes degrades into folks just bashing each other. I'm not trying to set up a situation like that here, I'm just trying to figure out the way to proceed with this project.
    Some folks have stated that floating reamer holders can introduce chatter into the job and I'm hoping to avoid that. The method outlined in the John Hinnant book is the between centers method. It seems to me though, that the barrel would be held more rigid in the through the headstock method which should help to prevent chatter even if the reamer is not held tightly, but if the barrel is spinning on the steady fingers and the reamer is floating, I don't know... sounds like I'm asking it to chatter. Thats the reason I was considering the ER 40 collets plus I have one hand free to hit the kill switch as opposed th Mr. Hinnants method of holding the reamer with a wrench. I could always wire a foot or knee operated kill switch through the drive to solve that problem though.
    My lathe is pretty long through the spindle and I would have to make some sort of jig to hold and align the muzzle end of the barrel if I decided to go that route.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  7. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Only to see what kind of "crack-pot" idea has been touted, next. Do yourself a favor and get some 'hands on' training, like the NRA Sponsored , week long training seminars, held at many of the community college gunsmithing schools across the country. It'll beat the heck out of any 'training' you'll get on "the mis-information super highway".
     
  8. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,309
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004

    To save you a lot of grief .
    I will try to step by step the/a process that will keep you out of trouble.

    The best advice is to do an apprentice ship under an instructor or a good Smith. That being said !

    The first step is to place the barrel between centers to check for straightness. (Lots of custom barrels
    are not perfectly strait).

    Next place it in your lathe with about 2'' of shank sticking out of your 4 jaw chuck.

    Then using a spider or some other device align the muzzle end of the barrel in the lathe using a range
    rod in the bore of the barrel. THE BARREL MUST BE PERFECTLY CENTERED WITH THE BORE !!!

    Before going any further check the tail stock for axial alignment with the bore.

    If everything is near perfect you can use the reamer holder with good results and start chambering.
    (Setup is everything. Crap in crap out)

    Reamer chatter is caused by to fast spindle speed or something that is loose. (Start with spindle speed
    between 50 and 80 rpm) clean the reamer every .020 to .030 thousandths of cut if you don't have a
    pressure lube system.

    Take your time , It will probably take you 6 to 8 hours the first time you cut a chamber "CORRECTLY".

    There are other ways of cutting a good chamber and this is just the safest way I know for a beginner.

    Craftsmanship is learned not born. Don't take shortcuts.

    Just some advice for what its worth.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    If the splindle bore of your lathe is too small in diameter for a barrel to pass through, or the head stock is tool long, you have no choice but to work with a steady rest. I would not fix the reamer in a solid holder, like a collet chuck. I would not use the reamer (and its pilot) for "centering" a barrel that's extended from the chuck, it was not designed for such a task. I hope your steady rest has rollers instead of brass tips, brass will near down before you finish and it generates heat, besides. When using a steady with rollers, "dial" in the bore the same as you'd 'dial in' if using a chuck (yes,, 3 jaw, independent chucks were made in the past. they're a PIA to center, but, it can be done). Make sure, when "dialed in", that the barrel is supported by the steady and not floating. Do the turning, threading, and chambering from there using a quality floating holder (or a "pusher", like the Bald Eagle, if thats your choice. I prefer the floating holder). Letting the barrel "float", as suggested on the "other" forum will insure a chamber with over sized diameters, possible reamer damage and maybe 'chatter'(because the work is not secure). Be sure to 'skim cut' the shank concentric to the bore before placing the steady on the shank. Same for the muzzle end that will be "dialed in" in the 4 jaw chuck. Not time efficent, at all. Get some professional, in person instruction!
     
  10. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,309
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    +1
    More good advice.

    For the roller steady rest. My spindle is large enough for barrel diameters of 1.750 and I
    don't have to/like to use the steady rest for that reason (Brass tipped, and white lead is hard
    if not impossible to find any more).

    I do use the traveling rest on long barrels and when re-tapering to dampen harmonics.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  11. oscer

    oscer Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Thanks for the advise folks, my spindle is too long to work through, unless I buy another backplate and make a spider that would align the barrel closer to the spindle nose, which I am considering. It's an L-1 spindle. As for the steady fingers they aren't the roller type but I suppose I could make a set. There is a lot of tool making going on for this project already but I'm not in a hurry. Education takes time... and money. I ordered the barrel from Mr. Obermeyer and he said it would take a while.
     
  12. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,840
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    I used to use a lathe that was long through the spindle and was L-1, I made a front spider that took several inches of and then taped holes through the outboard side of the spindle as close as I could, this let me just do a 26 inch barrel through the head stock.
    My new lathe is way shorter and cam lock which was so nice to go to!!

    I hold my reamer in a GTR reamer holder then put that in a #3 MT tool holder and use my carriage, I align the dead center of the reamer holder to the barrel center after it's dialed in then load the reamer up and rock on, the idea of holding the reamer by hand makes my skin crawl after seeing pictures of what is left of a guy when wrapped up in a lathe, not how I want to go out!!!
     
  13. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    There seems to be a lot of confusion concerning "floating" holders. True floating holders are those made by Parlec, Glenco, & Kennametal/Ericson. They were used primarily on screw machines and turrent lathes and truely did 'float' , but held the tool securely, for hole alimement (it's nearly impossible to ream a straight hole to size or tap a hole within tolerance on those old production machines without "floating" holders). The modern rendition that many gunsmiths use is made by JGS, Manson, and others. They allow for alinement, but must be guided until the pilot is in the bore. Many call a "pusher", like the Bald Eagle, a floating holder. It truely does 'float' because the tool is unsupported by any machine attachment (tool holder). I tried a Bald Eagle , then sold it . Took too long to cut a chamber and I felt like my hands were too close . The third option is to build your own. That's what I did as I had worked with Ericsons' and Glencos' in the past. Holes the reamer securely, is held in the tail stock, allows for alinement in all directions and allows for safety. It'd work on a turrent lathe or screw machine without problems, but I sized it for my 13 x 40 lathe and the 7/16" shank of a chambering reamer. 39 years of working with machine tools says don't put yourself in a spot where you might spill blood. Use what is comfortable for you and gives you the desired results.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  14. oscer

    oscer Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Thanks Shortgrass your last post answered a lot of my questions. I really don't want to hold the reamer in a tap wrench by hand.
    I'm thinking of buying my reamer and piloted center drill from Manson's so I'll probably get his reamer holder while I'm ordering.
    I was thinking last night at work that I have a face plate that just clears the spindle nose, not wasting any of the z axis space it would be pretty easy to make a spider to fit on the face plate. I may abandon the between centers method before it's all said and done.
    Bigngreen, I may have seen the picture you spoke of, a while back over on PM, I think. It really makes you think about how to make your next set up that's fer sure.