A beginner's problem with a swamped barrel inlet

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250Savage3000

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Hi all,
I have a lot to say here, so to make the read easier here are my three general questions so anyone interested will know what to look for!
  1. How does one go about the fine-tuning of a barrel inlet to the barrel?
  2. What tools are the most essential and necessary for a beginner looking to expand their collection?
  3. Thoughts on building a flintlock from scratch; does it get easier with experience, timeline estimate, general advice
Also by the way the inlet is so deep because of another mishap with a saw; that should not affect my problem here but it is making work with the chisels a little more difficult.

I am probably about 80-90% (hopeful estimate, I really have no idea) of the way through completing my first swamped barrel inlet, but I’m not sure where to go from here. I cut the channel down to depth and roughed out the bottom flats pretty well, but now I am stumped on how to finish the darn thing! When I use inletting black on the side/bottom flats of the barrel and tap it into place hardly any marks show up, most of the transfer occurring at the breech. I don’t know what the hold up is! I thought maybe the sides were too tight and the barrel was getting lodged before actually making contact with the bottom of the groove, but after shaving the sides a bit there wasn’t a whole lot of improvement. To be clear there was more transfer occurring, but it still was pretty minimal.
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(picture above left: most transfer occurs at breech)
(picture above center: more typical transfer throughout inlet)
(picture above right: general overview of inlet for context)

The other thing I noticed is that when I tap the barrel in place with a mallet (not even sure if that’s okay, we’re just going with it at this point!!) the breech end settles pretty well but when I go to tap the muzzle the barrel rocks over the middle of the inlet, presumably because more wood needs to come off the middle so the barrel can be in full contact with the breech AND the muzzle.
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(picture above left: HUGE gap that is seen at the muzzle when the barrel is seated at the breech)

I guess I am just looking for a bit of guidance from someone with more experience inletting swamped barrels like this as to what to do next to get the full length of the barrel to be in contact with the stock. I’ve been fairly meticulous in measuring depths at 2’’ increments to correctly profile the barrel in the groove, so it is really just final tuning to get a perfect fit. Should I continue using inletting black and shaving off where transfer occurs? If so, should I focus on the breech area and move forwards to the muzzle to eliminate that rocking? At what point do you stop shaving down where the inletting black is when you are getting close to being done?


It certainly isn’t helping anything that I have very limited tools. “The Gunsmith of Grenville County” by Peter Alexander which I’ve been using for reference details the construction of a scraper from an old file to do the bottom flats. A few different factors make this tool just about as far from my capabilities as possible:
1) who in the world has old files just lying around?! Is that a thing that people just have?!!
2) I don’t have access to an oxy-acetylene torch nor would I know how to use it
So… fair to say that one is not going to happen. In the absence of a scraper, I’ve been using a ¼ inch and ½ inch bench chisel (at least that’s what I think it is) from a hardware store for basically everything. From what I’ve read this is more the way to go about it than buying a kit of tools and not knowing how to use any of them, but literally having two chisels is probably more of a bad thing than a good thing. Took me a bit to figure out when to use the bevel up and when to use it down but what I’m doing now seems to be working. Looking on the positive side I am super comfortable with them!!
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(picture above left: my technique for using a 1/4 bench chisel to do oblique bottom flats)
(picture above right: 2 inch barrel increments marked on the barrel with electrical tape, one of my finer moments! In my opinion, the better my measurements are the less of a problem my limited experience with using chisels will be)

I have got about 5 of my grandfather’s old tools, but they are of dubious quality and most don’t even have a real edge. Does anyone have any suggestions on what chisels/files/tools in general that are overall good to have and where to find them? Preferably of good quality but not crazy expensive, not trying to break the bank here!


One last thing for this lengthy post! I am getting more and more concerned with how long just the barrel inlet is taking. I’m trying hard to be patient and not try to rush causing careless mistakes. The summer is pretty much the only time I have to work on flinty (yes, I’ve named it) since I am about to be slammed by a ton of work come September. I’m feeling a bit isolated having no mentor or really any help at all to be starting on such a large undertaking. From anyone who has built a flintlock mostly from scratch before, does it get easier? Once the barrel is done does the rest kind of come naturally?

Thanks for sticking around to the end, and any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated!

250Savage3000
 

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billraby

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I did several videos on how to deal with this but You Tube thinks it will make you decide to kill people so they took them down. Sorry. I would love to give you some answers but I just do not have the time. Maybe I can get to it over the weekend.
 

rchas

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Using transfer takes some finesse--when you start you need to remove each spot. As you continue the work, you should see the spots spreading and increasing in number. You are done when the barrel is at the proper depth and you see consistent transfer down the length of the barrel channel. The odds are you are probably getting transfer at the breech because you are pulling at the muzzle when you take the barrel out--thus you keep deepening the breech unevenly and get the barrel "rocking". When I inlet a barrel I put a piece of dowel in the muzzle as a handle; and chisel a narrow slot just behind the breech where the breech plug will go (this will go away as you inlet the breechplug and tang later). this allows me to use a piece of bent brass rod to pull the barrel evenly from the channel and avoid that problem

If the breech is at the proper depth, I would suggest leaving it alone. Put the barrel in the channel oriented the way you want, but don't tap the barrel over the breech--tap it only over the area you know is high. Finally, don't sweat it too much. As long as your sides are tight against the barrel you should be ok. Historically, some gunsmiths used round gouges to inlet a barrel and didn't bother trying to get a tight fit except on the sides.
 

rich pierce

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Agree you are likely levering the barrel out from the muzzle causing excess transfer at the breech. Epoxy or solder a piece of brass or steel atop the top flat at the breech sticking out like a cross. Use that to lift vertically.

You are using too much inletting black.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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Thanks for sticking around to the end, and any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated!

250Savage3000
Rich has a good idea to help prevent breech area excess transfer, but another way: Invert the stock and place the barrel on your bench. Tap upward strokes on the buttstock with the palm of you hand so the barrel's weight does the work of removal. As you work the wood down it is also more prone to warp or curve some. Take that into consideration when you are checking for high spots.
Patience, patience, patience, is your biggest helper here.
Larry
 

TFoley

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I watch Mr Kibler doing the job. He seems to know what he's doing. ;)
 

Phil Coffins

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At this point the sides of the inlet should of been removed, the long deep trough that you have now is fighting you. The steel straps were ok for hogging out but I’d remove them along with the wood to about where the center of the barrel will be. Use very little transfer black as well. And as the others suggest don’t cut any more at the breech till you find that rocking point and deal with it.
It does get easier and a barrel can be inlet in a day after you’ve done a few. The other parts are not easier just different.
 

martin9

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What Phil said. You should have cut the top of the blank off before starting to inlet the barrel. I just cut roughly half of the barrel thickness at the breech off.....then work on the inlet. I've inlet many barrels and I couldn't get a decent inlet trying to work in a hole like that.

Measure to the bottom of the inlet along the whole length and mark it on the outside of the blank. then Measure half barrel thickness at breach and mark that measurement UP from the marks you made for the bottom of the inlet. Mark a straight line at half barrel thickness measurement and cut all of that wood off the top of the blank. After that things will be much easier to see what's going on.
 

martin9

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Here's a couple I'm working on now. See how much I cut off the top of the blank. Obviously don't cut the top of the breech area off but looking at the depth of your inlet from the front you will cut some off. I would do this before doing anything else.
 

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250Savage3000

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Ok yeah I agree that taking some material off the sides will definitely make things easier. I've done a lot of measuring and remeasuring in general and already have a line on the side of the stock showing the depth of the barrel within one 1/6'' (when bringing it down to depth I stopped about 1/16 inch above my measurements). But isn't the measurement from the top of the stock to the center of the side flat at the breech the only one you need? Since that distance should remain constant assuming the barrel is being inletted parallel to the top of the stock.

For context the groove is so deep in the first place because I wasn't sawing vertically initially and there would've been a gap between the wood and barrel flat. I took the advice of some other people on this forum, started a new saw cut and made the groove deeper. The muzzle was the furthest off, so I made a new mark deeper by the radius of the barrel at the muzzle. Since when I take the sides down only half the barrel is revealed and that would get rid of my mistake. Then I found the distance from the top of the stock to my new centerline based on my mark at the muzzle and transferred it to the breech. The only reason why I explain this is because my measurements are now based off of my mishap with the saw. Wouldn't you measure down from the top of the stock to the center of the side flat not up? I might just be confused though.

I might not cut the sides completely down to depth since the barrel might end up being 1/16 inch higher or something but I definitely will take it down a bit for now to make things easier. As for the other replies, I never in a million years would have thought of how I was taking the barrel out so thanks for pointing that out! Considering what I know for a fact is high, I might focus on the middle first until that gap starts to come down at the muzzle and the rocking becomes less prominent and then reassess the situation.
 

martin9

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You need to measure from the bottom of the inlet up to half of barrel thickness. Measuring down from the top edge as your blank is now is measuring wood that's not supposeed to be there if that makes sense. On a finished gun you want half or a little more of the side barrel flat showing. See what I mean? any wood above that is too much so shouldn't be there.
 

250Savage3000

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Okay I think we are saying the same thing in a different way. I will work on cutting the sides down though, hopefully that will make things easier.
 

dave_person

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Hi,
The first thing you should do is cut off the excess wood on the sides of the barrel channel. With the method you chose to inlet the barrel, those sides should have come off before you started the inlet. It would have saved you a lot of effort. I only leave that wood on if I am going to use dado cutter or table mounted router to cut the channel to the minimum dimensions for a swamped barrel. Once the chisel work begins, the sides come off. Leave enough wood to cover half the depth of the barrel. Next, stop using so much inletting black. Apply it sparingly with a tooth brush so it will only leave very faint marks that you have to look closely to see. The most useful tool at your stage is a simple 1/4" or 3/8" flat chisel that you use as a scraper to remove wood. It sounds like the middle of the channel needs work to keep the barrel from rocking. You do not need to see black marking evenly throughout the barrel channel. You basically want to see spotted evidence of it along the whole length of the channel but most importantly, fairly even marking at the breech indicating full contact.

dave
 

Sam squanch

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Hit the antique malls and look for OLD chisels and such. I think the steel was better back then. Learn how to grind a bevel, and hone them to a razor edge. Lots of info on the web about that.
 

wulf1928

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I looked at this job as a carpenter [which I am] so I made a wooden vice four feet long with a
straight edge on one side. I use a router to cut the grove , flip it over and cut the ramrod
grove and drill the hole. Including setup time takes me about an hour and a half. For a swamped bbl....I make a template of the barrel and router out the grove. Do the same for the
ram rod....this takes much longer but still I don't have a need for inlaying black, haven't for
years.....I also make my own cutters....I can't share any plans with you because I sold the
script to Muzzle loader Magazine some years ago.....Nobody on this forum liked the idea of
using a router. Too dangerous.......As a carpenter I worked with them for 30 years. They worked
for me....Sorry I can't help....maybe you can find an old issue of Muzzle Loader...
 

250Savage3000

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I just figured out where I've seen your username before, you commented on my last post but I didn't understand what it meant. Using a router seems like a pretty good idea to me though, especially if you have the experience to make it work. Honestly everyone seems to be very loyal to their own process and will criticize anything that differs. If I had the experience I probably would use a router too.
 

Sam squanch

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I’ve used a router a few times on a stock. Not for the faint of heart.
 

billraby

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Don't use any power tools unless you have lots of experience and confidence with them.
 

Col. Batguano

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Another tool you can use is a long thin straight edge, like a 48" ruler. Set it in there edgewise to see how much rocker you have in the middle. You want your breech and muzzle at your appropriate thicknesses (1/16" & 5/32" respectively), and then you can start lowering the middle.
 

250Savage3000

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Whew well it seemed to take forever but I think I'm about done with the inlet. The rocking is gone and the inletting black seemed pretty consistent throughout, not much transfer on the side plate side by the breech end though. I attached a few pictures of what it looks like now; does this look about right? The book didn't say much about when to call it a day. I do still want to clean up the back face of the breech end.
IMG_6068.jpg
64972031474__D09DDB3F-54A7-4B15-B4FE-EDF690F93126.jpg
 
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