Gunsmithing is a lucrative career that involves many different skills. Because firearm manufacturers frequently seek gunsmiths, a combination of gun design and mechanics is required. What does a gunsmith do exactly? Building and repairing pistols, military rifles, and hunting rifles are just part of gunsmithing. This career is rewarding in many different ways.
What Does a Gunsmith Do?
Gunsmiths are trained to understand the mechanics and design of firearms. They renovate, build, and modify many different kinds of firearms. When wondering, what does a gunsmith do, the answer is not strictly mechanical. Although technical skill is required, creativity is a large part of gunsmithing.
The 5 Skills Needed to Master Gunsmithing
When making a career choice that best fits an individual's brain, broad traits such as creativity or attention to detail are often applied. In addition to character traits, a gunsmith must understand certain skills that will be taught before completing the trade program. Although gunsmithing is a broad category that includes many different tasks, these 5 skills are necessary for a successful career.
- 1Metalworking - This process involves working with various different types of metal to form individual parts or large-scale structures. Several categories like cutting, joining, and forming metal are all parts of metalwork. Not only is it used in gunsmithing, but it's also handy if working on large ships or bridges.
- 2Woodworking - Woodworking is an activity that is also important for many different types of trades such as cabinetmaking and carpentry. Knowing which types of wood work well for a variety of projects is helpful when understanding how to gunsmith.
- 3Parts fabrication - Not all guns have available parts for remodeling or restoration. Learning how to fabricate non-available parts for assembly is key when modifying certain guns.
- 4Mathematics - What does a gunsmith do with math? Measuring. Precise cutting requires perfect calculation. Algebra and other types of technical math are also helpful for gunsmiths.
- 5Chemistry - Because of the need for metalworking, chemistry must be used to modify or alter the metal surfaces of a firearm.
What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Gunsmith
Because gunsmiths know how to handle firearms and have the ability to alter them, they are responsible for operating the equipment properly and safely. All of the guns must be inspected for deficiencies.
Gun Safety Checklist
A broad list of performance features to help ensure safety include:
- 1Check the assembly of each firearm. There should be no missing parts or damage to the structure.
- 2Look for cracks. Even small cracks can be hazardous for a final product.
- 3Align all parts with careful precision. Misalignment can be dangerous and is easily avoidable with a thorough inspection.
- 4Understand timing. Timing problems that arise from firearms need to be taken seriously.
- 5Inspect the firing pin. Any fire pin deformities can be dangerous if overlooked.
What Else Does Gunsmithing Entail?
Gunsmithing is not just about building firearms. More often than not, gunsmiths perform duties that require understanding already manufactured firearms.
What Does a Gun Smith Do in Addition to Building Firearms?
A gunsmith must understand how to properly assemble and disassemble a firearm. Once each part can be located and removed, a gunsmith can inspect and lubricate the firearm. In addition to a regular firearm cleaning, gunsmiths remove corrosion from all the metal parts inside a gun. Repairs and restoration can be performed easily once the firearm can be taken apart and examined.
What Types of Restoration Might a Firearm Need?
Daily Tools of a Gunsmith
Gunsmiths use a variety of different tools when working with firearms. To understand how to safely put these tools to use, gunsmiths must practice.
Commonly Used Tools
You might wonder, what does a gunsmith do with all these tools? While the list may seem complicated, a gunsmith gains plenty of practice with each tool.
A lathe is a machine used for shaping different types of material such as wood or metal. A rotating drive turns the material against different tools while performing various operations. A lathe can help cut, sand, knurl or drill. To safely use a lathe, it is recommended not to change spindle speeds until the lathe is completely stopped. It is also advised that you wear goggles or some other form of protective eye gear. Knowing how to use a lathe is extremely important when doing metalwork or woodworking.
Grinding wheels are used for metal removal by cutting finished metals. This is similar to a milling cutter because it is made from bonded grains. Several differenttypes of grinding wheels include the straight wheel, the cylinder or wheel ring, and the tapered wheel. Centerless grinders work well because of their unique design that allows them to feed the work with two wheels instead of one. The larger wheel is the grinding wheel, while the smaller one is considered a regulating wheel.
Milling Machines can be used for many different things, but usually they are used for flat surfaces. They can drill or cut gears as well as create slots. The most common type of milling machine is a vertical spindle machine. These machines are especially great for working with large, metal plates. Vertical milling machines are often described as simpler than horizontal mills because the inside of the machine is less complex. In addition to the simplicity of a vertical milling machine, they are often more affordable than horizontal milling machines.
A Dykem is used for staining or painting metal. It is also commonly referred to as Marking blue or layout stain. This is made by mixing methylated spirits with gentian violet and shellac. There are many differenttypes of tools that use this method, but each type of layout stain costs a different amount. For those who do not want to pay top dollar, some gunsmiths even use a simple sharpie marker.
Gunsmithing screwdrivers are unique because, unlike regular screwdrivers found at the local hardware store, these screwdrivers won't damage finish or screw edges. Because of their specialized beveled heads, gunsmithing screwdrivers can fit into any screw slot, regardless of the gun type.
Bench Vises for gunsmithing hold the firearms still when repairing or restoring guns. What does a gunsmith do with many differenttypes of bench vises? Depending on whether the gunsmith wants to fasten them to a workbench or wood, different bench types can be used both horizontally and vertically. This is especially useful when working multiple different types of jobs.
Bench blocks stabilize specific parts of the firearm so they won't roll or move during pin driving. Bench blocks are especially nice for using when work is detailed and requires attention to detail. Different shapes and sizes are available for bench blocks, and some are even based off a specific type of gun model. An added bonus about bench blocks is that they do not damage a firearm's surface.
Gunsmith hammers are designed to hit accurately without leaving a chipped surface on the gun. Most gunsmith hammers are brass because brass metal will not damage steel. For especially difficult pins, brass hammers are often used by gunsmiths. Ball-peen hammers are another option because they allow the gunsmith more control during detailed work. These specific hammers also have maximum striking force when properly used. The rawhide mallets can also be a staple for gunsmiths when picking out a hammer that works best for them. Rawhide mallets, like Ball-peen mallets, are precise, but they also protect pins and soft areas of the gun. Rawhide mallets are less likely to damage wood or metal than regular hammers.
Design-Oriented Gunsmithing Specializations
There are several sections within gunsmithing that form a more focused career. Both stockmakers and engravers are successful and creative gunsmiths.
What does a gunsmith do with a specialized focus in stockmaking? Many things. They can carve rifle stocks, shotgun stocks, and pistol grips with just this one specialty. For creative gunsmiths, design and precision are key. Stockmakers use woodworking to create stocks or pistol grips out of specialty wood.
In the engraving field, gunsmiths can also use their creative skills for design. They do not, however, use saws. Files and chisels are also used less frequently.
Conclusion - Gunsmithing as a Career
What does a gunsmith do? Gunsmiths create firearms, restore weapons, and make money. By creating a business, gunsmiths can choose where and when they want to work. Since the firearm trade is needed in every state, gunsmithing can afford a sense of freedom that not many other jobs can. Whether working for a sporting goods store, the military, or independently, gunsmithing is perfect for those who enjoy hands-on, creative work.