Last week, an old gunsmith who did work on my beloved 1911 pistol offered to teach me the way he does things. Now he might just be the most humble man I have spoken with in a while saying things like “This is just the way I do it, but you should keep an open mind because there is probably something better out there”. Larry is 71 years old, with 45 years of gunsmith work to draw from.
Monday morning I went over to his shop and he taught me how to prepare rifles and pistols for bluing. This is the nice shiny black finish you will see on some new guns and most old ones. The process is very involved and I think the 160 dollars he charges for it is very fair. There is at least an hour worth of setup, some waiting for the chemicals to work and then another hour or so of tear down and clean up.
Yesterday, Larry showed me how he does a trigger job on the 80 series 1911 pistols; these are stupid lawyer guns and Great Grandpa Browning would not be happy to know that some companies have bastardized his perfect creation. Well, after that gun was done, we moved on to something that is a pit fall for many new gunsmiths. The process of glass bedding a rifle stock is something that helps accuracy and also allows for adding strength and minimal weight.
As we prepared the stock, mixed the epoxy and taped off surfaces, we spoke about what it meant to be happy. The most enthralling part of the learning came from that of the time where we waited between steps. Not wanting to make small talk, we spoke about very poignant and remarkable things of Larry’s life. He has been married for 49 or 50 years this coming Friday.
There are more things to write about with this, but it has been such a dramatically wonderful experience for me to learn from someone that knows this trade better than anyone I’ve ever met. I saw the stock that he bedded and subsequently ruined when he was 19 years old; I am happy to see and hear about these stories in hopes that I can avoid these things. I will certainly make errors, but that is only human.
I spent a shit ton of money on supplies today, but I should make it all back with these three jobs that I’m doing tomorrow. Anyway, it has been awesome and will only get better.