Making and early Peter Berry rifle

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dave_person

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Hi Lexington,
That looks like a nice later Berry. Folks debate if there was a father and son pair of Berrys or just the one maker who worked for a long time. Regardless, any Berry rifle is a great conversation piece.

dave
 

Rifleman1776

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Hi Dave. I came in late to see this build thread. Very interesting original rifle. Are you going to try to exactly duplicate the buttstock carving or do your own? IMHO, the original is not very attractive.
 

dave_person

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Hi,
The funky carving and patch box were Berry's style. Here is the second rifle of that style and the third I am aware of is in Kindig's book.









The patch box on the gun above is likely what I will do. It will interrupt the butt molding but I won't run the molding lines through the brass. I also like the carving on this one more than the previous rifle. Berry (or Berrys) were just a bit different, which is why I like the guns. Look closely at the way Berry treats the step at the rear ramrod pipe:



I really long for something different.

dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Got more done but I am FUSSING! I may be trying too hard to get the architecture right. Anyway, I think I am on the right track and here is the stock so far.





I am mostly following the architecture of the gun shown in David Hansen's book. The other 2 differ a bit. However, I am going to borrow from what I consider the good features of those rifles as well. Again, I am not making a bench copy but I want it to be instantly recognizable as an early Berry. I finished assembling and heat treating the internals of the lock. I still need to polish the outside and case harden the plate and flint cock but the lock is functional and is very good. It will be an excellent and reliable lock.













dave
 

dave_person

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Hi Everyone,
Thank you all for your input and comments!! I was offline this last week because my hard drive died. My computer repair folks fixed it but I was off line during the last week. I made a lot of progress on the Berry. Here is where I am.















I shaped the stock close to the finished form and it is very elegant. Not only that, it holds and points unbelievably well. I forged the trigger and trigger plate. I installed all the ramrod thimbles and found a perfect sand cast trigger guard that could be shaped for the rifle. I made the muzzle cap from sheet brass. I simply shape the wood into the form I want, bend the annealed brass sheet around the muzzle, and then solder on a front plate. The Berry rifle I am working from clearly has a cap made that way. The front is soldered on the end of the sheet brass and not shaped to be inserted within the brass shell and soldered. Of course that makes it easy to make the cap. I sawed out a side plate from sheet brass and am still in the process of refining its outline before inletting. I also shaped the lock panels and wrist area. I have stressed this many times but too many folks carve their lock panels prematurely and use the wrong tools. Let the lock panels evolve naturally as you round the wrist. Do not cut the borders in with gouges except the front rounding the front of he lock. That is the only place for gouges or rat tailed files. Here are photos showing how it should be done. Note, no gouged panel edges except for the front. Even there, the gouge and rat tailed file work is minimal. You can always create lock moldings with tighter cove moldings using the method I show but you cannot go the other way if you cut too much off to soon.













dave
 

labrat

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I am always in awe at your level of work. Just amazing how you can carve out a beautiful piece of stock and the inlets are so perfect. Unbelievable!.....Labrat
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Got more done but not nearly as much as I would like. I have too many other tasks demanding my time this fall and I think it is time to completely abandon by old life as a scientist and let it go. I find I enjoy the work less and less. Nothing exciting but I think perhaps useful. I made and inlet the toe plate.



The rear is attached by 2 screws and the front will use a brass nail. The original rifle has a screw there but I do not like it at all and it screws up any engraving. I have 2 little chips in the mortice to fix but it came out pretty well. When I inlet toe plates, I sharpen my tools and then sharpen them again. They have to be razor sharp to deal with the end grain you will run into.

I decided on the position of the patch box.





It will look funky but a little less that the original because my stock shape differs owing to the fact that I fit it to my build. If I angle it down more, it will be off the center line of the original rifle. Mine is actually on that line. The lower butt molding will just hit the brass and I will let the brass interrupt it rather than file the line through it.
It should be very "Peter Berry". In making the patch box, I decided to follow Dave Crisalli's method in which the hinges are made separate from the lid and front finial. Then they are riveted and/or soldered in place. I just soldered them with Hi-Force 44, which should be more than adequate. The method yields neat and precise hinges. It is always wise to listen to Dave Crisalli.





Oh, and with respect to the piercing in the front finial closest to the hinge, I am considering carving the letters "BATMAN".

dave
 

Colonial Boy

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I only came onto this build today after your last post, I’ve read the lot (should be out doing a bit of gardening ! but…)
It’s been a most interesting read and I sure admire your work and look forward to the coming posts.
Great work and and truly artistic.
 

Brokennock

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I only came onto this build today after your last post, I’ve read the lot (should be out doing a bit of gardening ! but…)
It’s been a most interesting read and I sure admire your work and look forward to the coming posts.
Great work and and truly artistic.
I would highly recommend clicking on Mr. Person's name and using that to find the topics he has started. Then read all of his build topics(and drool over the pictures). I'm not a gun builder, have no interest in ever building a gun myself, but, follow his builds intently. When i see he has posted an update to a build,,, I save it for the last thing I read on the forum for that time,,,, kind of like desert.
 

dave_person

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Hi,
More done. I finished the main finial, lid, and hinge for the patch box. Making the hinge separate from the lid and finial simplifies things a lot and makes for nice precise hinges.





Taylor commented about the low knuckles. That has more to do with the 5/64" wire hinge and 0.040" thick brass used for the hinges. The finial and lid are 1/16" thick brass and you can image how much bigger the knuckles would be if made from that thick sheet. After the hinge is formed, I insert the pin and then hammer it down into a narrow space between vise jaws such that the bottom flattens and the round hinge is pushed to the outside of the lid and finial, raising it somewhat on the surface. This makes it easier to inlet because the bottom is almost flat.




I added 2 brass rivets to strengthen the attachment of the hinge on the lid, which will undergo the most stress. It is probably over kill. The brass rivets are small brass flat headed wood screws. The counter sinking on the outside is nicely filled by the screw so the rivets will eventually disappear on the out side.




The forward hinge doesn't need any rivets because the wood screws attaching the finial to the stock will reinforce it. Finally, I made paper patterns for the side plates and glued them on to sheet brass. Tomorrow I will cut them out and finish making the patch box.




dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
The patch box is ready for inletting. I finished the side plates and cleaned up all the edges, ready to go. Tomorrow, I will start inletting it. I will leave the rivet "bumps" on the outside of the lid until I final file and polish the lid. I will also move the box forward a bit. There is excess length left on the lid and side plates to accommodate the fit. I think it is a really attractive patch box.

dave



 

dave_person

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Hi Guys,
Do you see what Berry did with this hinge?



I believe it is a hybrid using some soldering. I think the hinge attached to the lid was soldered on as a separate piece. On the front finial, I think the center knuckle is a separate piece but the end knuckles were formed from the finial. Most interesting, Berry punched lines along the both sides of the hinge to raise brass up and onto the knuckles. That creates a butt or stop hinge preventing the lid from opening past 90 degrees. Impressive work.

dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Got more done. It has been hard finding time to work in my shop this week. Too many competing tasks. Anyway, I finished inletting the patch box lid and finials. I haven't installed the catch and spring yet. It came out well but it doesn't look quite as radical as the 3 original Berry rifles I am using as models. A while ago someone posted the idea that Berry positioned the patch boxes so the front flower would be close to center of the round wrist and avoid the hollowed out areas where the comb is formed. After inletting the box, I think that is right. I used several guidelines for the centerline of the box that were based on the originals and chose the one that would give the most radical and funky look. However, the results don't look that radical and it took me a while to figure it out. It is simply because the LOP on my rifle is an inch longer than the originals and I have a little more drop at the heel. Those two parameters really influenced how it all looked even when using guidelines from one of the originals. Anyway, I like the result. The side panels will eventually be held in place by brass screws that will be peened over to look like nails and the 3 forward screws counter sunk and fitted. Note the end of the box lid fits inside the butt plate so no notch in the plate is required. I think it is a very attractive patch box.














dave
 

Artificer

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Hi,
Got more done. It has been hard finding time to work in my shop this week. Too many competing tasks. Anyway, I finished inletting the patch box lid and finials. I haven't installed the catch and spring yet. It came out well but it doesn't look quite as radical as the 3 original Berry rifles I am using as models. A while ago someone posted the idea that Berry positioned the patch boxes so the front flower would be close to center of the round wrist and avoid the hollowed out areas where the comb is formed. After inletting the box, I think that is right. I used several guidelines for the centerline of the box that were based on the originals and chose the one that would give the most radical and funky look. However, the results don't look that radical and it took me a while to figure it out. It is simply because the LOP on my rifle is an inch longer than the originals and I have a little more drop at the heel. Those two parameters really influenced how it all looked even when using guidelines from one of the originals. Anyway, I like the result. The side panels will eventually be held in place by brass screws that will be peened over to look like nails and the 3 forward screws counter sunk and fitted. Note the end of the box lid fits inside the butt plate so no notch in the plate is required. I think it is a very attractive patch box.














dave
You really did a great job mounting that patch box where it is MUCH more esthetically pleasing than the original.

Gus
 

dave_person

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Hi,
The limited time I have right now for gun work is really frustrating me. I am definitely making adjustments for next year. I completed the patch box for now. I constructed the catch. latch, and lid spring. Several folks sent me photos of original guns using the kind of catch probably used on the original Berry and I examined photos of another rifle with a similar system. I saw problems with each and also wanted to make sure I could remove the butt plate without having to remove the entire assembly with the plate. So I got to thinking "what would Dave Crisalli do?" 🤔 So I engineered this solution. I don't like whimpy patch box latches and releases. I want a solid click. I also did not want something that released when I snugged my shoulder into the stock. I assume there is a reason why few gun makers used this design and it appears Berry only used it once. So the latch spring is sturdy and I made a latch that locks solidly into the catch on the lid. The latch joins the spring with a threaded rod anchored by a nut. That way I can separate the latch from the spring to remove the butt plate. The knob on the outside of the butt plate is threaded onto the latch but also soldered in place. I can remove it if I need to to finish the gun, and then solder it back in place. The system snaps closed with a distinctive sound and I think I could hang a 20lb weight from the lid and it would not fail (I over engineered it). It releases crisply and easily when needed but is not going to open inadvertently when I shoulder the gun.











When I cut the cavity, I broke into the inclusion and knot on the inside. I had to really sharpen my mortising chisels to cut that stuff away cleanly.

Finally, I cut the lock and side plate moldings. I used one of the Berrys as a model for the rear beaver tails but am hedging on the front aprons. I cut the larger funky apron seen on the early Berry shown in Kindig. However, I think I will cut it back to the shape of the one in Hansen's book (the same one I pictured originally). It is funky but I will wait on it a bit. The other Berry of this design has no forward apron.




dave
 

labrat

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Your brass work is just as incredible as your wood work. Indeed a beautiful designed patch box & you did an incredible job duplicating and inlaying it. Thank you for your generous instructions and I always refer back to your links..........Labrat
 

dave_person

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Hi,
I got a little more done. It will be a few days before I can get back to the Berry. I shaped the fore stock molding. It was fun. I believe Berry used a gouge to give it a concave surface. The unevenness of his molding suggests to me it was a gouge not some sort of molding plane.



The first task was making sure my initial simple fore stock molding was even along the ramrod channel. Many folks use jigs and guides for this kind of task but just used a gouge like Berry. My photos are after the fact so they just show the tools. I often get the task done before remembering the camera. My gouge is razor sharp and sliced through the maple very evenly like cutting butter.




I smoothed the cuts with a round scraper and then cut the parallel line with a Gunline 60 degree double checkering cutter.





Then I widened the border line with a 90 degree Dembart bordering file and I was done. It appears that Berry just let the molding peter out at the muzzle, which I did.









The rifle looks very sleek and the fore stock is long and slim.

dave
 
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