True MACHINIST gunsmiths? (a rare breed)

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by Litehiker, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

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    How many gunsmiths do you know that are certified machinists? I'm talking about someone who has all the training to be a machinist with the certification to back it up.

    Sadly any guy with some knowledge of firearms and a lathe capable of cutting a chamber or threading a barrel and a few go, no-go gauges is not a gunsmith.

    Maybe a military trained armorer is one with a start toward being a gunsmith. However military firearms are limited in variety and unless they with an elite unit like the Army Marksmanship Training Unit they won't be ready to enter civilian gunsmithing.

    Did they attend a brick-and-mortar gunsmithing school? Better, but still not a machinist.

    Eric B.
     
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  2. Edd

    Edd Well-Known Member

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    I believe there are at least two members here that are.
     
  3. 26Reload

    26Reload Well-Known Member

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    What do you consider someone gunsmithing for over 30 years and learning all the basics of machinery use from a knowledgeable person.....is that a smith....or a hobbyist....
    Most TRADES were/are passed down somehow.....contractors of building, electrical, plumber, concrete, iron workers.....everybody starts somewhere........
    Just because you have a piece of paper says you are accredited doesn't mean you are worth what you want or what they say you should charge.........you are only as good as your work....and your word........
     
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  4. mtbullet1

    mtbullet1 Member

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    what type of machinist would one have to be ?
    class I, class II, class III, CNC, tool and die maker,
    general repair, railroad, heavy equipment, etc. ?
     
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  5. Ckgworks

    Ckgworks Well-Known Member

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    I know very few.....probably because most people judge on results more than what a piece of paper says they have been trained to do......kinda like understanding the difference between getting a college degree and getting an education. Just because you have a "cert" or a "degree" doesn't mean you know more than someone that's been doing the task for years.
     
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  6. adam32

    adam32 Well-Known Member

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    I know some badass machinists that couldn't build a rifle worth a crap, and also know gun builders that don't know anything about a CNC machine that can build excellent rifles...
     
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  7. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

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    At least a Class I machinist would be my request for a gunsmithing school to require before entrance or upon graduation.

    Yes, for sure there are excellent gunsmiths that are not certified machinists and who can build very good rifles because, through experience, they have learned how to use the "tools of the trade". They also know how to build and fit stocks, mostly wood stocks and fiberglass, something that goes beyond a machinists trade. These are people who have a deep tribal knowledge but I think there are not a lot of them with this deep knowledge. I've seen enough botched "gunsmith" jobs to know that.

    When people search for a "good gunsmith" they have only references and anecdotal tales to guide them. We need a rating system and national standards for gunsmithing.

    A good gunsmith should be able to do many things beyond proper chambering, threading barrels (either end) and bedding actions into stocks. They really should be able to take a barrel blank and machine flutes or make it octagonal so that the top flat is exactly at 12 o'clock, fit front and rear sights into dovetails they machined, and properly fit bottom metal so there are never any feeding problems.

    When they fit a scope they should know when hand lapping scope rings is warranted, how to level a scope and how to fit fore and aft it to their client. They should know when a zero, 10 or 20 MOA rail (or ring mount) is justified and be able to explain it to their clients. Generally, as a professional courtesy, a scoped rifle should not leave their shop without being bore sighted.

    Good gunsmiths should be able to hand lap a barrel, make a given trigger as good as its design will permit, add forearm and pistol grip caps of wood or other material so it looks perfect, and of course know "the law" as it pertains to firearms modifications and of course, be a good businessman and employer.
    That's a lot to ask of one person. If they need help in the business or employer department they should seek professionals who can help them. I think this is where a lot of truly good gunsmiths struggle.

    A good gunsmith will also tell his clients when he cannot do a certain operation on a firearm either because he does not have the skill or the tools, then refer the client to one who can help them. I have had this happen on a few occasions.
    I have used the services of an excellent gunsmith/machinist, Neil Jones of Sagertown, PA. His advice and work always was first class. His reloading dies are world class.

    Eric B.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
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  8. 26Reload

    26Reload Well-Known Member

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    Let's apply this to a taxidermist.....
    They build a mount using foam reproductions of critters to give it structure and some degree of true lifelike looks....but some taxidermist stop there..when others put the extra minutes(or hours) into the mount to give it even more realism....
    I myself did fish...while i was learning my results were decent...then i started looking in-depth of fish pictures i took for myself to better recreate what i wanted to see..not just what was "good enough"....
    My work reproduction fish mounts went from 6-7 hours to 40-50 hours per piece......and if i screwed up and had a serious problem with the final clears that I applied......i stripped it all off and started over.......
    Here's a reproduction blank..a finished reproduction..and a real fish....what I have learned over twenty years of fish taxidermy....eventually the clientele shrinks because you feel the time you put into the pieces is worth more than what you can get paid....
    My current job as a business owner is a handyman service..i have 30 years of practical experience..i play some with plumbing & electrical..but simple stuff..if it's beyond my scope i say so right away and tell the person they need a more knowledgeable person...i have driven to and checked out many jobs that I was not paid a dollar...hopefully those jobs were finished correctly by someone else....
     

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  9. manitou

    manitou Well-Known Member

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    I have met a lot of jokers that claim to be gunsmiths around here but all they do is put together AR rifles and kit guns... maybe Duracoat a gun or two. The wouldn't know the first thing about threading a barrel, cutting a chamber or checkering a stock. NOT gunsmiths IMO. Most 12 year olds can assemble a "modern sporting rifle".
    It is difficult to find a true gunsmith in our area.
     
  10. Ckgworks

    Ckgworks Well-Known Member

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    While I agree there are at ones that shouldn't call themselves smiths, everyone starts somewhere and I think it's the ones that stop their personal growth that you need to stay away from.....Like Reload26 taxidermy example....(I love the fish BTW!). Some "smiths " don't know their own limits and are content to practice on customer guns...... I think the sadder thing is why people pay them to do it. It's pretty tough to find one person that is an "expert craftsman" in every single trade needed to build a gun from scratch. I have done enough checkering that I feel decent about my skills, but I also know that I don't do enough of it to be fast enough to make money doing it. I think most Smith's excel in one or two areas, and are passable on the rest. I really don't like standards in cases like this, if you can't visit with a smith, look at their work, and talk to others and figure out whether to use them, that's on you. An example: I know a older concrete pre-caster who does great work, but dosen't really keep up with technology/modern times. Corporations have push through "standards" on architectureal precast concrete (not structural) companies in order to bid on public work. He is basically screwed because he needs to go get himself and his physical shop certified just to be able to bid certain jobs......all this does is push out the little guy that knows what he's doing.
     
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  11. just country

    just country Well-Known Member

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    morning. knowledge, experience, equipment and a certain
    caliber of person make very good smithy's. no ONE can judge
    a person without walking in their shoes. to me smithy's
    r like reloaders, u learn an ART. read, read, read.
    do I know a precision rifle maker. YES. Pete Phiefer
    Hempstead, TX. Outstanding!!!
    yes to bluing, no cerakote. if Pete does not do
    a service, he will help u get what u want.
    KNOWLEDGE by customer is a A****** in
    custom rifle build.
    I obtain the barrel, action, trigger, bottom box or clip,
    rings, mounts, muzzle brake and H&S stock, mounting
    hardware. then the parts go to the smithy.
    with buying the parts urself, save $$$. still
    a person is looking at $2000 in machine work,
    depending on the smith. accurate rifles do
    not come cheap!!!
    justme gbot tum
     
  12. KyCarl

    KyCarl Well-Known Member

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    Pie in the sky idea! I've been in the trades for over 40 years and have all sorts of ISO
    certification's and the kind of shop to do everything you are talking about
    would cost over 1 million bucks!
    Just remember that "papers" never treed a coon..Dogs do!
    The money is not in the home shop! I would rather have a I.A.M. negotiated contract
    than fend for myself. Believe me that places like GE and AK Steel offer a better deal than working for yourself! Why sell yourself short? Go for the big money!
    AND dealing with the public is a pain in the rear..Why subject yourself to it?
    Please no more registry or national standards! Less government not more!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  13. EddieHarren

    EddieHarren Well-Known Member

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    The last one I knew was Homer Culver.
     
  14. BallisticsGuy

    BallisticsGuy Well-Known Member

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    My local smith is a machinist first and came to gunsmithing as an extension of that trade. He actually specializes in M1 Carbines and M1 Garands but has decades of experience with all manner of guns. His main income generating job though is and long has been making super precise gauges for use in the aerospace industry. Before finding him (no listing in phone book, internet, etc... you get to him through a referral) I used to just use a local machine shop for much of the work I needed done that didn't require special licensing. If you give precise instructions you get precise work but it means knowing a lot more than you might otherwise have to.