Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Taking a break to show the before and after.  This trigger guard is cast off a wooden master I carved myself because there was nothing available that was suitable.  Castings get smaller and less sophisticated through time it seems - the inevitable result of multiple generations being distanced from their sources which are usually someone's trigger guard they took off their antique rifle back in the 70's and cast copies of it, often for sale through Dixie Gun Works which was about the only game in town for a generation.

Sand castings are cheap and readily available but they're hella work.  As is evident.  Investment casting cost usually at least twice as much but it's a much bigger and more expensive project to get a custom investment casting made.  These were cast at a local sand casting foundry in Chattanooga for just a little more than stuff normally costs through the catalogs.  But I can take them almost anything and they can have ten of them ready in a few days.  I get lots of stuff cast there and making my own masters has really changed how I work.

Here is the master (embedded in a mold board) with two castings of a trigger guard I did based on the Brass Barreled Rifle, which is just a stunning trigger guard.  It's a whopper though, and takes almost an entire working day to bring it from the rough casting to a finished piece ready for mounting.  

The guard on the left you saw earlier.  It's taken from the John Sheetz of Staunton rifle and required a lot of work to get right.  The bow has to be very wide, and all the angles and details are just great.  It's quite versatile though, and with minimal filing can be used on a huge number of guns.  Also visible are two types of sideplates, which I also carved out and had cast.  They look and feel very different from sideplates cut out of sheet.  I've done it both ways and won't go back to sheet if I can help it.  

I intend to set up for home casting in a year or so.  It's a job of work, and dangerous too, but an integral part of the trade and one which (like forging or lock making) must be kept alive in home shops if it's to survive as part of the trade.  The more we buy from catalogs the less we make, the less we learn, the less we can pass on.  The trade doesn't belong to us - we just borrow it from our grandkids.  Just like the rifles.

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