Monday, September 27, 2010

To continue...

This rifle has the traditional 8 pointed star on the cheekpiece - lovely and ubiquitous.  Well, it can be lovely - it can be badly done too.  This one is a nice piece - a copy of the original.  Pretty straightforward inlay work.  The small acute angles in between the points are of course the thing you look at for quality work.  Have they been chipped off and reglued?  Or are they all in perfect place, denoting nice, slow, poorly paid work?  I didn't chip this inlet, if I remember correctly.  I used sheet silver (pure) instead of the probably more historically correct coin silver, which would have been the typical gunsmith's raw material for most silver inlays.  Coin silver is slightly more yellowish in color, and you learn to look for this.  

Looks naxty!  (with an x)  Lamp black all over the place, hasn't been filed and sanded down yet.  

As if the other view wasn't awful enough.  There's a certain charming honesty about this really nice, delicate inlay being held into the stock with a big wood screw.  He didn't try to hide his tracks - he just screwed it down.  I love it.  No pretensions.  

The vent pick inlay.  It houses (until you lose it in the leaves) a small metal pick to keep the touch hole open.  This rifle is about 1810-20, I believe, and we can see inlays creeping all over the stock, replacing the once common relief carving.  This is an exceptional rifle - it has both wonderful carving and great inlays, but on most of his competition there would have been thin, weak, vestigial carving and more and more inlays, some of them tasteless and graceless.  The old ways and skills, like the old smiths, were dying off.  Tastes were changing.  Even if you bought an expensive piece of furniture, it wouldn't be carved, it would have probably been inlaid with veneer and marquetry.  Things fall apart - the center cannot hold...

Still not too shabby.  He knew his way around a rifle stock, that's for sure.  I sort of lied - the long east/west points on both the star and the vent pick inlay (which, on this gun, does not actually hold a vent pick - it just takes the place where carving used to be done) are held in place by small silver nails.  I didn't try to hide them too well because they're obvious on the original.  Once engraved, these guys will really whistle Yankee Doodle.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ryan -
    I just discovered your blog today after reading a comment of yours on the American Longrifle forum. I have read all of your blog posts and very much enjoy your thought process and style of writing - I hope you keep it up!

    I also look forward to further images and descriptions related to the building of this longrifle. I am soon to embark on my first rifle build from a Jim Chambers kit, and very much look forward to it.