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Discussion Starter #1
So I've posted a few times about wanting to get a small game gun. I had been thinking .36 caliber rifle, but I already have one of those that my dad built, so I have really been thinking fowler instead. I don't want anything with an extremely long barrel, and I found that Sitting Fox sells an Appalachian barn gun kit / built gun in a 12 gauge with a 28" barrel. I know that they probably aren't the most historically accurate pieces, but honestly I just want something I can carry for rabbits, shoot a few, and not worry too much about finish and swinging a 44" barrel past trees. Anyone have any experience with their kit guns? If I do get one, I'm considering ordering it in the white so that there's less messing around and I can just apply a finish then take it to the woods. I think it would depend mostly on how close to finished their guns come. I know that they start at $600, and you can have most of the major inletting done for another $150. Opinions?
 

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my North West Trade gun that I have had for 30 years has killed a ton of game. I have shot everything in PA except a bear and never got the chance. shot several ducks and geese with steel shot. it is a 20 gauge/.62 cal. with a 31" barrel. the plus side to a m/l is you can load it right up if you want, it just kick like a mule.
 

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Last year I built a Leman from TOTW. I know I have at least 350 hours in the build. I purchased a pre-carve (not a pre-inletted) stock to start with. It's a .54 caliber and one very accurate rifle and a good looking one. For the cost, I have about $650 in it.....plus $40 for the book "The Gunsmith of Grenville." Don't build one unless you have a "how to" build like "Grenville."

The gun builder\gun kit maker Jim Kibler https://www.jimkibler.net makes a flinter kit for about $1,000 that requires very little inletting and fitting and the wood is quality....but requires final finish sanding, whiskering, and the finish of your liking.

If you do the math you can finish one of his quality rifles in about 50 or 60 hours. So....do the math. If it saves you 300 hours of labor and your final rifle is likely better than a scratch build....what's that worth?
 

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I agree with you about doing the math Steeltrap, but that brings me to a question. Why do you choose scratch build over kit guns? I have to guess the math works out the same for all of us, so what is it that made you choose the kit over in the white? I feel like the question comes across a bit short, but it really isn't; I'm genuinely curious about it.

Blackpowder, did you buy a kit gun with the 31" barrel, or did you do some work on the barrel to shorten it up and do something custom?
 

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I bought the "pieces" many years ago and built it. the barrel is a north Star, which was and still is a quality barrel. it was that length when I got it, but I believe they are available in that range. it also is a very good rb shooter.
 

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My squirrel rifle has a 38" barrel. I'd be good with another few inches on there, too, to be honest.

Don't be afraid of longer rifles. They handle nicely.
 

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I went with the TOTW kit as I wanted to tackle the build task. I'm retired and have the time to do it. To get a build right, there is a lot of thought that goes into it, obtaining the right tools, keeping carving tools "strop sharp" and measure....measure....measure.

I'm very happy with how the rifle came out. But I don't know if....at least right now....I'd be up to build another one from such a kit.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah that was my worry too, time concerns with work and kid and dogs... just too much right now I think. I have the woodworking skills to do it, but I don't really have a ton of tools at the moment so I would be making an additional investment on top of the kit just to get started. There is an excellent series of videos on YouTube about building a Fusil de chasse and a Tennessee longrifle that I have been following and it looks like a load of fun to do, but so very time consuming and exact. My main worry is that I would be able to be patient in the early stages, but as the gun was closer to ready to fire I would rush things to get it done and mess something up. I am definitely thinking more in the white now. Thanks for the input everyone!

Edit: Steeltrap, I would be very happy myself if I had a rifle come out looking like that one does. That is a beautiful gun, and it's pretty much exactly the style I would like in a small caliber rifle. Good looking deer too :D
 

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I had an older Curley Gostomski Northstar trade gun in 24 ga which is 58 caliber. I could load shot with wads or a patched ball. I had the longest barrel and it was a little much to swing for wing shooting, but did fine on rabbits and squirrels. I had a 12 ga trade gun earlier and it was just too much barrel though the barrel was only about 36 inches. If I ever do it over again, I would go with a 20 ga. but I would stick with a 36 inch barrel for sight radius with patched balls.
 

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Like was said, not all kits are created equal. Many on the market are precarved stocks with some inletting started and a bag of parts. The stock will need a lot of work as will the parts. Many are largely oversized and require a deal of wood removal and shaping. The parts are typically "as cast"...locks, triggers and furniture. They will need filing and polishing. Depending on the source, some castings are better than others.

That type of work requires a good bit of tools...

Some places will do some work like cut dovetails into the barrel and such addi g to the cost.

Then you can run into issues with stuff aligning properly. Because the inlets are started, you are somewhat stuck with certain things being where they are.

They can turn into great guns. But many assume because it's a "kit" it's easy. They should be called part kits.


Jim Chambers kits are supposed to be pretty dang nice and not require AS much work and refinement.

The best kit on the market like was said is Kiblers. I recently put together one of his Colonial Kits. I have maybe 6-8hrs into it to get it "in the white". I can shoot it as is. Needs finishing of the brass and wood. That was my 4th project so I'd assume it'd take a new builder a bit longer. I think I could have done it all with 1 or 2 chisels and a dovetail file. A couple drill bits and a tap was required as well. And a file to draw file the barrel.


Why build from scratch??? Most kits and precarves are generic shapes. Many don't allow much room for personalization or room to modify. Many are generic and not specific to a known original rifle.


Aside from Kiblers kits, a lot of the other stuff on the market or scratch builds require a good bit of tools and knowledge. You can probably get by with less but a variety of chisels and gouges, files and rasps etc make the work easier and faster and the end result better IMO. Plus a bench, vise, lighting, drill bits etc etc.


Really have to decide what YOU want. And then figure out how to obtain it. You would be smart to inquire to specific suppliers on their definition of a "kit" or "in the white" as the terms often vary...

I have a good bit invested in tools and resources (books, DVDs, plans etc). I didn't plan to build 1 gun. I'm still upgrading and buying more etc and I have #3 and #4 on the bench nearing the final details and finishing. Absolutely no way I'd spend the time and money into it for 1 build. I'd commission the build to a good builder and have the gun I wanted built for me.

Look at some of my pics for an idea of the tools on my bench. Those pics don't even show it all...

Kiblers kits change that a bit because they don't require near as much. Seriously I was blown away at how little work was required. For the mediums (wood, brass and steel) it's crazy how close he can get it. A few parts literally popped right in place.


Lots of options out there. Take my advice and continue to do the research before committing to anything.

Long story, but I started building by mistake. I always WANTED to. But didn't have tools or knowledge. At the time, I wanted a fast twist 50cal with a better lock than what is on most factory guns. I found all the parts to basically put together a TC with a fast twist green mountain barrel. Wooo!

The stock and parts came and I was shocked. The parts were nasty steel. The "replacement" stock was like a 2x6. Nothing actually fit into the inlets. I had no idea what to do. I had a good bit of money spent to a few different suppliers.

At that time I decided to jump in. I learned as I went. I was ordering tools and parts as I needed them.


After that I was in love. I'm shaping my 3rd build, my first plank build...when I'm done shaping it, I will work on it and the Kibler side by side and do the detail work, carving and finishing.

Have the next plank in the closet ready to go. I probably won't build any more kits or precarved stocks unless i get them cheap and they meet certain requirements and I plan to sell them.

The plank build IMO was actually easier than my previous 2 precarves. I had to learn to shape it...but that's not a huge deal.
 

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Kibler and a CNC machine makes the "big hard work" unnecessary.

Wood removal on a pre-carve (not a pre-inlet) will give you the chance to remove about 50% of the wood that is there when you 1st buy it. I know it doesn't appear that way......but you will.





 

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so, just to confuse you even more:grin2: the picture is of my work bench and the bulk of my tools. the only tools not pictured are a hack saw, coping saw, a few misc clamps, exacto knife, a small drill press and the sand paper. I don't have much and don't use much. I really don't find the building that difficult just time consuming. it really is something that most people could do with a few simple tools. most of the tools are not expensive and most people probably have the basics already. layout, look ahead for the next steps and be careful. baby steps if you are unsure and a lot of PATIENCE!!!!! I can't stress that enough! don't hurry it and don't work on it if you are not feeling it! people sell themselves short. there is so much info out there today to help anyone willing to give it try and learn. Good luck with whatever path you take.
 

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A good set of files and one or two good rasp make a world of difference in cutting through wood and steel in quick order. I ordered new files to start (and finish) my build. Really makes a difference in work.

FWIW
 

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Psycho, may want to go back and look at their guns again. The barn gun you referenced only has the option for the kit. That would be the kit that Blackpowder, Steel and the rest of us are used to. They didn't have any option listed for assembly or in the white. If you look at their other guns though there is a base price for the kit and an additional labor rate for in the white. The Poorboy rifle is listed at $600 for the kit and an additional $500 for in the white. If the labor rate holds, you're looking at $1100 for in the white. Be careful looking at prices online.

That's what got me started in building. Well, that and some advice from Blackpowder. I realized that without doing at least some of the work myself they cost well north of a grand. And now that I have some experience, those price tags are well worth it for finished or semi finished guns.
 

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I'd agree it definitely comes down to time vs money.


Build components alone run 600-800+. I have around $500 into a barrel inlet into a plank. $200 for a lock and another $150ish for furniture...if you make pipes and side plates you can save some but then you're investing more time and need more tools/supplies.


I'd agree you don't NEED a ton of tools and might have tools already....but like was just mentioned, good files and rasps are priceless...same with good chisels and gouges...plus sharpening equipment. I don't use my brass files on steel. I have a big lathe file for draw filing barrels...I have 3 or 4 knife files for properly slotting screw heads. I have various hand saws and now a band saw. I have a special file just for dovetails. I have a propane torch I use a good bit for soldering and annealing. I have a drill jig to drill accurate pin holes. I have 2 vises and a dedicated build bench... I could go on and on...

Needed? No. But all of it is VERY helpful. Once you learn what you need you can hunt for the right stuff...my chisels and gouges all are mostly old quality stuff...I bought a few Iwasaki rasps when they were on sale. I snagged a bucket of files from estate sales and learned to clean and sharpen them myself.



I built my first without a vise and with a cheap flexcut chisel set...my inletting isn't great. I shaped the stock with sandpaper and such because I didn't have good rasps. I didn't remove as much wood as I should have. filing the steel furniture was a nightmare because I didn't have much for files.

Most files on the market now are junk or super expensive...or worse.. expensive junk.


One of those things...if I knew more I could have done better... would have gotten proper tools and such from the start. But, for 1 build, I'd never do it. I'd commission the build or buy something in the white or a Kibler kit that doesn't require much for tools or knowledge.


I didn't know what I was getting into...I jumped in and bit off more than I could chew. Luckily I loved it and it hasn't been a waste...I will probably continue to build a gun or 2 every year now.
 

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one piece of equipment I forgot about is the bench grinder in the other room. I put a buffing wheel on the one side and that does speed up finishing brass parts.
 

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What kind of wheel do you use?? Do you use it just to polish or have you been successful cleaning up castings?

I've tried different Dremel wheels on the eggshell type finished wax castings without much luck. I did use the Dremel and sanding drums to clean up rough sand castings on my current build. There was sand embedded in the castings and it was near impossible to file...used the Dremel to remove the outer scale and embedded sand and the brass filed like butter.

Back to files and scraping lol.


I'd like to add a bench grinder and belt grinder to my work area in the near future. Both have a good bit of uses in a shop.
 

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I originally put the buffing wheel on when we were building hot rods for polishing aluminum and s.s. steel. I have "sticks" of compound that you put on the wheel while it is running and polish away. for wax cast, it will take it right down to a polished finish. for sand cast it will, but takes a bit of time and it is quicker to hit it with a file first. for wax cast, I would say you could do all the brass in one evening of buffing to get the final finish. a belt/disc sander is nice, I use mine a lot for priming horns, knives ect.
 
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