View Full Version : Tools of the trade?

11-03-2002, 02:06 PM
Thinking of starting to do my own smithing. Ive taken about 6 semesters of machining classes over the last few years and have wanted to buy some equipment to do motorcycle parts. I figured id get into this as well. Was planning on purchasing a Smithy lathe/mill combo. If the funds are there i might get a CNC capable one. What other tooling or equipment might come in handy? Already have MIG/TIG welders, grinders, buffers, drill presses, a fully functional wood shop and 3 buildings full of handtools. Im not looking to build guns from scratch, id like to be able to make some mounts/rails, mate barrels, and install muzzle breaks and such. Any thoughts?

11-03-2002, 04:08 PM
Slider: Sounds as if you're set up and ready to go. If I could offer some suggestions, I'd tell you to:

:Skip CNC. That's a manufacturing facilitator and something for computer-fascinated home machining geeks. In the "one off" world of gunsmithing it woudn't pay for itself unless you plan on, indeed, manufacturing.

:Don't get dual purpose machines. A Combo horizontal-vertical mill (like I have) is OK but a mill lathe combo will hinder your productivity. As soon as you're in the middle of chambering a barrel you will need to mill something. It'll happen all the time. Get a separate mill and lathe. For gun work you don't need a bridgeport-sized mill. Something halfscale will suffice for 99% of the work. Get a lathe with at least 36" between centers and well tooled. Spend that CNC money on good chucks, steady and follower rests, etc.

:Look to some of the non-machinery tools: Forrester drill-tap fixture, barrel vise, action wrenches. All these add up.

Lastly, keep power woodworking tools in a serarate room from the machinery unless you have a superior dust collection system. The dust gets all over the machines and makes them very hard to keep clean and sludge free.

Good luck on your venture! (been there and done that!) ~Andy

11-04-2002, 04:16 PM
The smithy mills have some really tight tolerances but yeah i could see where it would be a problem. That and they are kinda spendy for a new one. Ive looked at several online warehouses but the shipping would just about kill me on that kind of weight. Used equipment in Nebraska is very hard to come by. I passed up a nice lathe a few months ago. Older mid 60s (forget brand name) with a half dozen different chucks and loads of tooling but it was dropped out of a truck unloading it. It did crack the gear case. I just didnt know if the table was tweaked or not. So i passed. Ill keep looking.