Great gunsmiths are part mechanic, part artist, with some chemist, engineer, woodworker and stage magician thrown in the mix. A Great gunsmith produces ballistic masterworks that end up on display in places like museums.
If you own guns, not only should you know how to maintain them properly, but also how to perform minor repairs. While most of us are not accredited gunsmiths, we can still learn some uncomplicated “home gunsmithing” tasks.
The following is a list of five tools that every DIY gunsmith should have on hand:
- Bench Vise
A good shooter’s workbench needs at least one solid bench-mounted vise. Before you can work on a gun, you must hold it still. Since most of us aren’t born with three hands, the best way to hold your gun still is with the help of a bench vise. You can position the vise body in many different ways to help you do all sorts of tasks.
For a gun that allows removable magazines, you can buy a specially-made block that nips into the mag and fits well into the vise, so you can position the gun without parts resting on the vise itself. You can also upgrade your vise by making use of non-marring jaws.
- Brass Hammer
A brass hammer is useful for freeing up choke tubes, driving taper tins, tapping of frozen screws, and fitting crescent butt-plates. Brass will not damage or nick high-quality steel, and any marks can be cleared quickly. Many firearm enthusiasts also find ball-peen hammers handy due to their round surfaces.
Most gunsmiths use a rawhide hammer for where direct impact in gun work is needed. A rawhide hammer can deliver an accurate blow that shield pins, punches and soft tender parts from flaring or mushrooming.
- High-Speed Rotary Tool
The rotary tool is a DIY gunsmith’s best friend. Polish, polish away. A high-speed rotary tool will make you a very happy little tinkerer. Just use it with caution and respect. These best Dremel tools rotate at speeds of 25,000 RPM or more and can easily damage firearms beyond the capabilities of the kitchen table gunsmith. You will use this for buffing, polishing, grinding, hogging out stocks for glass bedding, and who knows what else.
- Bench Block
Bench blocks are used to balance gun parts during pin driving or pin removal. Nearly all blocks are made of wood or nylon and will not mar the gun’s surface. Cylinder-shaped segments can be positioned in the block’s furrow to prevent the part from swaying and can make detail work easier to perform.
- Gunsmithing Screwdrivers
Nothing is as annoying as working on a gun and ending up with a dented screw head because of using over-the-counter screwdriver sets from the hardware store. Screwdrivers used in gunsmithing have beveled, and tapered heads used to hold and fit the type of screws found in various guns. If correctly used, specialized gun screwdrivers are designed to prevent scratching the weapon’s finish or damaging the slot edges. The most frequently used gunsmith screwdrivers are the magnetic-tipped screwdriver and the fixed-blade screwdriver.
Magnetic tip screwdrivers are designed with hollow handles and have interchangeable screwdriver bits and heads. The magnetic tips come in handy when holding and picking up even the tiniest screws.
Sure, there are plenty of other items that avid gunsmiths will find necessary. Blanks and Snap caps are great, as are bedding kits, files, and more items than one can list. However, these are the basics that every DIY gunsmith should have.
Whether you wish to become a weekend firearms hobbyist or a professional DIY gunsmith, it is important to invest a few bucks in high-quality DIY gunsmithing tools designed specifically for use on firearms.