Work in Progress - Big Red

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BillKilgore

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The muzzleloader bug has bitten again. First off, this is my second build. While it is going better than my first rifle, I am still an extreme novice.

I have been thinking about building a Lancaster style 50 cal. with a cherry stock. This one will be a little more embellished than the maple rifle. Left-hand cherry stocks are hard to find at the moment. I found this one at Pecatonica River. The barrel is a 42" swamped Rice Southern Classic. The lock will be a Chambers large Siler. The remainder of the parts came from Track of the Wolf.

Any comments / advice is welcome.

Initial check of the parts.
Big Red 01.jpg


Big Red 02.jpg


Stain / finish samples.
Big Red 03.jpg


I modified my woodworking vice to accommodate irregular shapes.,
Big Red 04.jpg


Big Red 05.jpg


Enlarging the breach and muzzle ends of the stock to fit the swamped barrel.
Big Red 09.jpg


Initial inletting of the trigger plate.
Big Red 11.jpg
 
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BillKilgore

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Laying out the general placement of the barrel, tang, tang screw and trigger plate.
Big Red 12.jpg


Starting to inlet the lock. Notice my micro chisel/scraper (patent pending 😉).
Big Red 13.jpg


More inletting. It took me two days after work to complete the lock inlet. I got a little carried away at the top of the inlet and had to epoxy a small patch.
Big Red 16.jpg
t

The entry pipe rough fit. Still a lot of clean-up to do.
Big Red 15.jpg


Trigger plate and trigger guard fitted.
Big Red 18.jpg


Borrowed the lock from my first rifle to complete the inletting.
Big Red 20.jpg
 

BillKilgore

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Starting work on the barrel underlugs. I made the initial cuts with a router fixture on my dremel, then finished the dovetails by hand. This barrel had more machining marks on the outside than my first Rice Southern Classic. Some filing and sanding produced a nice exterior.
Big Red 21.jpg


Going with four underlugs on this one because I plan to use small brass escutcheons at each barrel pin.
Big Red 22.jpg


Big Red 07.jpg


Rough carving of a teardrop behind the side panels. They will be sanded down to about 1/8".
Big Red 27.jpg


Big Red 24.jpg


The entry pipe is starting to smooth out.
Big Red 25.jpg


Big Red 26.jpg


Butt plate nearing completion. This one was sand cast, so it requires hours of filing, grinding and sanding. I was reminded that brass is an excellent conductor of heat. 😖
Big Red 31.jpg


Toe plate ground to the correct width. Have I mentioned brass conducts heat! I plan to inlet the toe plate tomorrow.
Big Red 23.jpg
 

BillKilgore

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Please tell us you're not using a sharpened nail as a chisel.

Should this be in the Onion?

And do you have the TOTW model number for your trigger/plate assembly? That's a nice looking trigger.

Thanks.
I used the nail to scrape the rear corner of the lock inlet. It worked well for this limited task. My smallest chisel is 1/4".
The trigger plate is TR-BIVINS-TP.
 

BillKilgore

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What order are you inletting things? I don’t follow. I thought we inlet the lock and barrel before the trigger… (and why the huge hole in the trigger mortise?). Maybe the photos are not in proper sequence here?
A couple pics are out of sequence. I followed the traditional method of inletting the barrel, then the breach plug, lock and finally the trigger plate. The hole in the mortice is to accommodate the trigger pivot.
1669597033906.png
 
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BillKilgore

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I am finally getting around to posting a few more photos. Here I have inlet the silver star and brass ring.
Big Red 33.jpg



I have carved a single line parallel to the ram rod channel.
Big Red 34.jpg


Brass muzzle cap about to be installed.
Big Red 35.jpg


I have been taking photos when I take a break. All of the steps in the pics are "in progress" and look pretty rough. That will be resolved as the final design takes shape.
 

BillKilgore

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Inletting the patch box. Some people may have laughed at my micro chisel / scraper (a sharpened nail), but it alllows me to make a well-defined border. The straight portion on the far left was made with a 1/4" chisel. The rest was outlined with the nail.
Big Red 37.jpg


Carving inlets for the barrel pin escutcheons.
Big Red 38.jpg


Big Red 39.jpg


The original beaver tails looked too large and awkward. I have reduced their width and made them more streamlined. This will better match the overall long and lean lines of the rifle.
Big Red 43.jpg
 

BillKilgore

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Getting down to the carving. I have been practicing on some scrap cherry,. This is my first time carving on a stock and it is nerve wracking.

Big Red 45.jpg


I don't like the placement of the upper "C", so I will move it down to form a more traditional overlapping C pattern.
Big Red 46.jpg


Big Red 47.jpg


Half finished with the first portion on the left side. I see this will require a lot of sanding and scraping to accommodate for my rudimentary carving skills.
Big Red 48.jpg
 

Col. Batguano

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With a softer wood like cherry, you REALLY need sharp tools. It is very difficult to carve in small details in it without tearing the end grain. (Hard maple is much easier to work in.) The small U and V shaped Pfeil hand pushed gouges work well, but you have to keep them sharp. Are you using a leather strop to sharpen or polish the cutting edges your tools every so often? I can see that you have a fair amount of tear-out in a few of your inlets--which is most often caused by too-dull of tools.

Small complicated shapes like your estrucheons are really hard to draw or cut around and make the inlay look really tight. Dave Person uses the trick of taping them to the stock and then pounding them with a soft hammer (like a dead-blow hammer) to create a dent in the stock from the inlay he can then incise cut them more accurately for those small little details.

With your long incise lines, rather than use a short cutting tool like a gouge try using something like a shorter triangular file riding in the groove once that initial shallow groove is established. (I suggest you use the longest one that will work.). That longer bearing surface will help it not get pushed around by areas of harder and softer wood and help keep your incise cuts straighter and of a more consistent depth. The initial scratch might be a little wiggly, but by the time you're at final dimensions it will have straightened out.

When it comes to carving, as you've found out, the MOST important tool is the eraser, followed by the drawing end of the pencil! And to walk away and repeat as long necessary. Once you've gotten to the point that the erased and re-drawn shape you like less than what you erased, you know that you're at the point that it's the best that you can currently do.

When it comes to volutes, try to avoid any extended stretches of parallel lines if you can. They should always be widening or thinning in the main portions of the stems. If they run parallel too long, they take on something of a "leggy" or stretched look. Also watch out for "elbows" in the volutes. Curves look most graceful when they are either gradually and consistently tightening or widening in their radius'. E.g.,; volutes to look graceful generally shouldn't be wide, narrow, wide again (and vice versa) without a new feature "growing" out of them. To find the elbows, you have to look at the carving from all angles, and then look for some sharper "corners" or areas when're the curve seems either too sharp or too flat. Adjust as necessary. Raised carving is MUCH easier to make these adjustments on than incised carving.

Also, don't try to cut it all in all at once. It might take a couple dozen passes at each cut before you're "there". I sometimes might spend as much as 2 hours in profiling a single volute less than an inch long, and I STILL might have to come back to it a few times after that to clean it up some more. It's not a race, nor is it for monetary gain, and these things will spent a lot more time in the rack than they ever do on the bench. So taking your time on the building end will save you a lot of moaning over mistakes you made that will continue to bug you on the back end every time you pick it up.

Curved riffler files with their longer bearing surfaces can be helpful tools here as well, and, as above, the longer the bearing surface the better. They're also helpful in leveling off the base plains in helping you avoid dips and humps there.

Scrapers are good too, (Brownells sells 3 that are just about perfect for most gun making and carving.) but they tend to ride up on hard spots in wood, and dig in to the softer areas so you have to be judicious with them to avoid the washboard effect they can sometimes produce.

Another trick that can help you is taking pictures of your subject area and putting them on the computer. It's amazing what flaws you can see when you blow them up 5x-10x after walking away from the work for a while.
 
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BillKil.

Looks like you built a generous web into your stock. That was smart. You have plenty of room to inlet and pin both barrel and ramrod pipes.

And you're to be commended for taking on all that carving. Not for the faint of heart.

Keep plugging away at her.
 

BillKilgore

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Thanks for the advice Colonel. I will try to implement as much as possible if I have not already gone beyond the point of no return.

Springer - If I screw up anything too bad, I may have to start over with a new stock. I have learned a lot compared to my first build, but I am still low on the learning curve.

Trot - There is a pretty good web between the barrel and ramrod. I think it should hold up. If not, I guess I will have firewood.
 

Trot

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He is talking about the female cuts in the barrel!
Yep! I have often seen the tenons on the waist of a swamped barrel soldered on because of the thinness of the barrel in that area. When they are dovetailed they are very shallow.
 
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