Questions to ask a new smith.

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by azgutpile, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. azgutpile

    azgutpile Well-Known Member

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    While interviewing smiths, what questions should I be asking? Here is a list of what I’ve thought of so far.
    · How do you true the barrel in your lathe?
    · What is your turn around time
    · What is your cost?
    · What kind of results have you been seeing?
    · What kind of experience do you have?
    · When you chamber the barrel do you use a neck reamer in addition to the regular reamer?
    · _________________________________________________________________
    · _________________________________________________________________
    · _________________________________________________________________
    The reason I ask, is that several of my friends are doing a group by on Stiller actions and we are all going to need a reputable gun smith to install the barrel and brakes we provide.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure you can have it done near your proposed completion date?

    This should be asked 3 times durring your conversation.

    Also make sure at the end of the conversation you BOTH have a list of the thungs that are to be done, and an estimate of costs.

    Jeff
     

  3. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    You have narrow view that appears to be "internet generated"! Every 'smith out there, that's been there awhile, has their own way of doing things. Results are what counts!
     
  4. azgutpile

    azgutpile Well-Known Member

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    Then what do you suggest I ask them? If Iask what kind of results they see they are of course going to say "great". Also, if smith "A" does everything the same way as smith "B", but his asking rate or turn around time are much more, what is the benifit?

    All I'm trying to figure out is What I should ask so that I'm not being sold a bad bill of good?
     
  5. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    Get references. In a couple days you can learn if a smith is worth fooling with. He is no different the the contractor that you want to build your dream house.

    Just like said in a previous post they all do things differently so its the finished product that counts. "Get References".
     
  6. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    #1, ask about price. #2 Does the 'smith stand behind his work? #3 does he have an accuracy guarantee? #4 can/will he deliver as promised and in the time frame specified? #5 ask to see some of his work, he should have something done/almost done/ in progress in his shop. #6 , research his reputation concerning the previous mentioned 4/5 questions. Get something in writing. Ask around, maybe someone you know personally can refer you to a 'smith who has done work for them. My point in my previous point is, if you are not a gunsmith, or not a machinist, just how would you know if he was "truing a barrel in his lathe", as you put it, properly or not? I see in you initial post you're only looking for barrel/break work. Planning on doing the 'stock work' yourself? Many, including myself, won't offer a 'guarantee' on 'piece meal' work. How can you guarantee something 6 different people have had a hand in? Any competent gunsmith should willingly answer some basic questions,,,,, but he shouldn't be expected to be your technical teacher, either. When you take your pick-up in , for a frontend alinement, do you ask the tech for detailed info as to "how he's gonna' do it"? Because you read it on a forum/saw it on a u-tube video, doesn't make it the only way to 'skin the cat'.
     
  7. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

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    I feel the pertinent questions for what you want done, depend on Exactly what you want done. Example.

    Mr. Jones I have heard great things about your work from some of your past customers, I have in hand a Stiller Predator SA, a krieger 8T 264, a badger dbm, and a McMillian a-3.

    What would the cost be for the following? ;
    Barrel thread, fit, chambered and crowned, in 260 rem to feed XYZ bullets out of an XYZ magazine?
    Pillar bedding into the stock?
    Instal a jewel trigger supplied by you?
    All fitting, assembly and function testing?
    I do not want to have the rifle blasted or coated in any way.
    Instal the 20 moa stiller rail I am supplying.
    I do not need rings or a scope.

    What is a Realistic time frame for completion IF I send in the parts by March 15th 2012. I would really like to see this rifle back to me by July 1st 2012 or earlier. If this is impossible for you to do please e-mail me as such, and I will continue my search for a smith, or is there one you know and could recomend that would do a good job and meet my time expectations?

    Thank you for your time,
    bob davis



    This should be the extent of your questions, how he does this or that, whats your experience level, ect are questions he really doesn't want to take the time to explain to a neophyte. If you have done your research and have read good things about the smith or talked to guys who have used him then those questions are pretty irrelevant if 6 guys told you that he was "great to deal with" "built a tack driver" ect ect. Many of the questions can also be answered by going thru every page of a smith web-site.

    You want cost give him a description of work so he can price it to you with-out going back and forth for 7 emails while he has to pull the info out of you.

    Notice how I asked the time line question, it pins him down to a commitment. He may be happy to get the parts and work the week-end that his wife or GF is out of town, just to fit you in and get a little cash flow. You also gave him a clear deadline and a quick out if he really can't take on the extra work. One of the worst things you can do is price the work with a smith and after 4 e-mails you ask him to have it done by x/y/z and the smith knows he can't do it. Now you wasted his valuable time, and at this point he is a little vested in you and may say, "sure I'll try and get it done by then." you take that as a YES, and that is where the trouble starts.

    Personally if I got your original post as a first contact e-mail I might not even answer it, would depend on how my day was going weather I even wanted to deal with the vague silliness of it.
     
  8. Derek M.

    Derek M. Well-Known Member

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    To the OP, don't confuse the smith's "cost" with his "fee." Doubt very much they will talk much about their costs (expenses).

    Another question you should consider is whether or not the smith is going to stay in business awhile, is he passionate about his work, and as touchy as you want to get about the security of his business, especially after what happened with the other smith who filed bankruptcy and failed to return thousands of dollars in equipment back to the owners.

    I think that is a parallel to asking your surgeon how many times he's been sued and why and what were the outcomes. My opinion is you have a right to know.
     
  9. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

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    Derek I think in the use of the term cost, he was referring to the cost to himself, as the customer, for having the work done, not what are the smiths cost to operate a business.

    As far as the "other" smith who stole from the public, He must have been a first class liar, and that type of person who can lie for monetary gain can only be weeded out by people coming forward with bad experiences and looking at the consensus of the results. I had a few calls from guys who had work done by him, who had bad things to report but didn't.

    You could ask a man all the financial questions you want, the one who intends to cheat you, will give you lies. Bernie Maidoff come to mind.

    OP if you send in all your parts and the smith wants a deposit for your labor or a scope, then run. Deposits are typical when the smith orders and funds all the parts, typically they help to cover the expense of accumulation, if he has 30 builds at $2000 in parts on each build he may need a little capitol to keep the business ball moving with-out interruption. I usually require a $1500 deposit on a full custom build, this does not cover all the parts, I fund the rest. The reason I do it is so the customer is invested. I wouldn't want them backing out of a build that may be completed or getting hung with the parts, seeing how they are selected by him, and may be hard to get there value out of.

    I have been in business full time about 5 years and in that time I could supply a list of names for testimonials, or you could read them on my site, or you could ask on many forums, and I never make it my intent to "get all the work" I couldn't possibly do it all. If you have a local guy who is new and starting out, go visit him he will be more than happy to answer questions face to face and visit. When you do that he knows you are serious and he will give you his time. He will be more than happy to show u recent builds and target results, ect. When going over with an out-of state smith, look at his web-site that is the best face to face you may likely get. Ask about him in the forums, don't assume from the responses posted in other thread questions, that the guy is great, you didn't see the PM's the OP might have gotten recommending against him. You will only see those if YOU ask, in your own thread. Then give him a call on the phone, get a feel for him and go with your very best judgement.
     
  10. grit

    grit Well-Known Member

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    I'll add my business philosophies. I find myself on both ends of the stick very often, as a customer, and as a service provider. I like to do business with people. I am relationship oriented. I view business transactions as personal relationships.

    When I wanted to have a custom rifle built I put together a short list of smiths who had consistent positive reviews. I knew any of them could / would turn out a quality product. The question became, who do I want to do business with?

    I looked at their websites, and gave 'em a call. One smith would not take a phone call under any circumstance. Another smith didn't respond to email or voice mail. One answered the phone, but was brusque and bothered. The best suited to me returned my phone call the same day and happily discussed my build. He showed enthusiasm for his work, desire to do my work, and interest in me and my project. When I hired him I asked for his input on a couple of items, then let him do his job. The other smiths are quality smiths too. I understand their positions. I simply prefer to do business on a more personal level.

    I enjoy small outfits because they tend to treat you like a person, a friend even. I choose a person I like, an outfit I want to support, and I trust their expertise. I have no interest in dealing with "sharp" business people, or people who aren't genuinely friendly.
     
  11. Derek M.

    Derek M. Well-Known Member

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    Jim, I agree. I knew what the OP was asking regarding the smith's fees. Some folks misuse terms, however.

    Good advice I've seen so far.
     
  12. joe0121

    joe0121 Well-Known Member

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    Excellent post/point. I think the barber/customer and gunsmith/customer relationships are the last of the old school consumer/producer relationships where both parties are expected to act in good faith. Quality takes time and money period. In today's instant gratification society people seem to lose sight of that.