Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle-A New Project?

Ax and rifle-these subdued the American wilderness in the hands of the early woodsmen.

Bernard S. Mason, Camping Crafts, 1973


The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle by Dixon, Ehrig and Miller, is a wonderful book that has been spending too much time on my workbench these last few weeks every since it arrived in the mail from the Shurlock Publishing Company. Not that I want to build a Pennsylvania long rifle, I'd rather build a Tennessee or Southern "poor boy" rifle, but my wife has been asking me if we should start going to mountain man rendezvous events. I did living history for the National Park Service for a long time and Amanda can do any kind of beading there is, so it is logical for us to create personas head out to some "rondyvous" for a raring good time.

What does this have to do with long rifles? I plan on buying a Lyman Great Plains rifle kit from Lyman Products so I can "make" my own plains rifle to use at rendezvous shoots and to elk hunt with. Not to go too far into mountain man geek-land, the Lyman Great Plains rifle is basically a copy of a half stock Hawken's rifle similar to the kind Kit Carson and Jim Bridger used towards the end of their careers. The factory Lyman Great Plains Rifle is "accepted" at most primitive shoots, and me, being a history geek, I want to customize this kit with a full stock, basically turning the rifle into a full-stock Hawken's, or with a little more tweaking, make it look like Leman trade rifle. (If you want to know the difference between these rifles, just Google it!) I thought getting a copy of Mr. Dixon's book would help me immensely when I get the time make this rifle.

The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle is, as I mentioned earlier, a wonderful book, written very simply and Mr. Dixon easily takes you from how to inlay the barrel to the stock, fit the lock to the stock, carve acanthus leaves on the stock, brown the barrel and end up with a gorgeous rifle. The thing I like about this book is Mr. Dixon quickly tells you that this is something that anyone can do. He never says "now, this next part is tricky" a statement that often appears in how-to-books, oh, such as some books on making classical guitars. Not this book, Mr. Dixon urges you to get up and do it and if you make a mistake just fix it! Then he tells you how to fix the most common mistakes! You gotta love that!

Give the book a perusal, it is worth it just to read through the inlaying procedures, I learned a few new things.

Remember, keep yer powder dry and an eye on yer topknot!

Krenov-Style Scraping Plane, Part 1

...the only way to obtain one is to make one.

Bernard S. Mason, Woodcraft, 1973


The flooding in my part of Colorado is over, but the destruction left behind by the flood waters is something that we will have to deal with for years. Colorado State Highway 7, which I drove to get to my job in Longmont, is only sort of there, 50 percent of the road is gone! Fortunately we do have a way to get to Boulder, down Gold Hill Road to Sunshine Canyon, the only problem with that is it is a steep and bumpy dirt road with a 25mph speed limit. It takes me an hour and a half to get to work this way, it triples my commute time!

Aside from all of that, my wife and I are very grateful that we have a house, our hearts go out to those who lost their houses or are unable to reach them. It will take time to recover and to get back to a "normal" way of life.





This scraper plane is something I was working on before all the chaos.

I decided to make a Krenov-style scraping plane to help smooth guitar sides and help with the final dimensioning of said pieces of wood. Using Dave Finck's book on plane making, click here for his website, I started to make one.


I found a nice piece of red oak at the Woodcraft Store in Loveland, Colorado, it's heavy and had a wonderful ring tone when I tapped the blank against the concrete floor in the store. In this photo, all the parts have been cut with a table saw and dimensioned with a hand plane and a sanding board. I've clamped it all together.




I didn't have much success using dowels to hold the parts together before glue up, my drill press has enough quill runout that the bit makes a hole ever so bigger than the dowel. Or is the dowel ever so smaller than the hole? I got out my battery powered drill and screwed the sides to the body blocks. Oh, so much easier!




Making the cross pin with just a sloyd knife is easy, make sure that the piece is square, make center marks on both ends making sure that all lines are parallel to those points, draw a circle of appropriate size on the ends and start carving away the wood that doesn't look round. This piece fit like a dream and was parallel to bed of the plane.




With the cross pin in place it was time for the "glue up".




I discovered that the blade in my bow saw is dull, well, I did make the blade out of a bandsaw blade that I bought at Wal-Mart twenty some years ago. I need to buy another bandsaw blade, it sure is hard sawing this piece of kiln-dried oak!




Here is where I am at, I need to make the wedge to hold the plane iron in place. That is the problem with having a regular day job, it is hard to make time for the projects you really want to do.

Happy first day of Fall!

All Wood Double Top Classical Guitar

  Double top , or composite top, classical guitars are all the rage these days, especially among young guitarists and I decided that I would...