Calguns.net  

Home My iTrader Join the NRA Donate to CGSSA Sponsors CGN Google Search
CA Semiauto Ban(AW)ID Flowchart CA Handgun Ban ID Flowchart CA Shotgun Ban ID Flowchart
Go Back   Calguns.net > GENERAL DISCUSSION > General gun discussions
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Mark Forums Read

General gun discussions This is a place to lounge and discuss firearm related topics with other forum members.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-02-2013, 9:29 PM
Phil3's Avatar
Phil3 Phil3 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Ramon - CA
Posts: 2,015
iTrader: 0 / 0%
Default Gunsmith Machinist Demands?

I am but a few years from retirement, and wanted to do something of interest to me. I was just wondering do you think there is a shortage of machinists to build rifles or parts for firearms. It seems from my limited exposure there is.

I have some experience with lathes and mills (having both in my garage), and thought it might bring in some extra bucks to do some of this work. I would need a bigger mill and lathe, but that is not a problem. From what I have seen, it sure does seem like gunsmiths who chamber and crown barrels, fine tune actions, etc., are in heavy demand or severely backed up. Just asking because I might consider doing some of this work (with skills up to par) and investing in the best equipment to do so.

Phil
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 03-03-2013, 12:29 AM
9mmepiphany's Avatar
9mmepiphany 9mmepiphany is offline
Calguns Addict
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: River City
Posts: 7,406
iTrader: 1 / 100%
Default

You'd find a much larger market if you had superior welding skills. Most gunsmiths, not part swappers, I have known have a background in machining and are reluctant to farm it out. I also know racing and engine shops who do the same work.

But a talented welder is like a good bass guitarist, when a gun smith finds one they don't let go. I know a couple of top end 1911 builders who won't even tell you the name of their welder...they'll hardly even admit to having one
__________________
...because the journey is the worthier part...The Shepherd's Tale
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-03-2013, 9:33 AM
ar15barrels's Avatar
ar15barrels ar15barrels is offline
I need a LIFE!!
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Van Nuys
Posts: 38,271
iTrader: 88 / 100%
Default

The only gunsmiths that are truly months or years backlogged are the big name specialists.
The rest of them are just waiting for parts, or slow and want to make the customers THINK that they are in such demand to justify charging higher prices...

I have been pretty successful in working on a different business model.
I get the customer to gather all the parts.
Then I do the work immediately.
This way, I don't keep my storage shelves clogged up with dozens of jobs sitting here waiting for parts.
Also, I don't have to spend my time sourcing, ordering and inventorying parts.
My customers are happy because they get their work done quickly.

Get a good tig welder and get proficient with it.

You will do better to come at Gunsmithing with a machinists and welders background and learning the gun assembly/function side of the job than you will to learn the assembly/function side before the metalworking side like the gunsmith/armorer schools all teach.
No video can teach you what it feels like to run a mill or lathe and know when the cutter is working right...
__________________
Randall Rausch

AR work: www.ar15barrels.com
Bolt actions: www.700barrels.com
Foreign Semi Autos: www.akbarrels.com
Glock, XD and M&P pistols, Benelli and Remington shotguns: barrel, sight, trigger and receiver work.
Most work performed while-you-wait, evening and weekend appointments available.
Founding member of the CAPRC

Last edited by ar15barrels; 03-03-2013 at 11:45 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-03-2013, 9:59 AM
LeadSlinger585's Avatar
LeadSlinger585 LeadSlinger585 is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Northern California
Posts: 917
iTrader: 11 / 100%
Default

Tag
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-07-2013, 7:57 PM
Phil3's Avatar
Phil3 Phil3 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Ramon - CA
Posts: 2,015
iTrader: 0 / 0%
Default

Randall,

Thanks for this note. I would agree that having the customer go through the effort of obtaining all the parts makes good business sense. After all, your skills are in the machining and fitting of parts.

I am a bit surprised on the TIG welder recommendation. I had not this would be used much in working with firearms. I agree that hands-on experience with a lathe or mill is a must. My lathe is just a Southbend 9" but have used a 14". My own mill is a very rare small knee mill from the 50s, but is heavily built. In a way, the smaller equipment has forced me to better understand the foibles of both, forcing me to make corrections that a bigger more robust machine might not need.

It is obvious one needs a mentor to learn this stuff, a difficult thing to find nowadays.

Phil

Quote:
Originally Posted by ar15barrels View Post
The only gunsmiths that are truly months or years backlogged are the big name specialists.
The rest of them are just waiting for parts, or slow and want to make the customers THINK that they are in such demand to justify charging higher prices...

I have been pretty successful in working on a different business model.
I get the customer to gather all the parts.
Then I do the work immediately.
This way, I don't keep my storage shelves clogged up with dozens of jobs sitting here waiting for parts.
Also, I don't have to spend my time sourcing, ordering and inventorying parts.
My customers are happy because they get their work done quickly.

Get a good tig welder and get proficient with it.

You will do better to come at Gunsmithing with a machinists and welders background and learning the gun assembly/function side of the job than you will to learn the assembly/function side before the metalworking side like the gunsmith/armorer schools all teach.
No video can teach you what it feels like to run a mill or lathe and know when the cutter is working right...
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-07-2013, 9:09 PM
ar15barrels's Avatar
ar15barrels ar15barrels is offline
I need a LIFE!!
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Van Nuys
Posts: 38,271
iTrader: 88 / 100%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil3 View Post
I am a bit surprised on the TIG welder recommendation. I had not this would be used much in working with firearms.
It depends on what sort of work you expect to be doing.
A tig welder is super handy for putting metal ON a part so that you can take it back off to a specific dimension.

I'm an AR and 700 specialist.
Most of my tig welding is in doing permanent attach jobs on AR's or welding threaded studs into 700 bolt handles or welding bolt handles to bolt bodies.
I also put fitting pads on the bottom of glock barrels to tighten the frame-barrel fit and on 700 bolt handles to correct striker-to-bolt timing problems.
I also end up making my own fixtures and tooling that often require welding parts together.
A tig welder is sorta like a surface grinder.
You won't realize all the uses it has until you have it and start using it.
__________________
Randall Rausch

AR work: www.ar15barrels.com
Bolt actions: www.700barrels.com
Foreign Semi Autos: www.akbarrels.com
Glock, XD and M&P pistols, Benelli and Remington shotguns: barrel, sight, trigger and receiver work.
Most work performed while-you-wait, evening and weekend appointments available.
Founding member of the CAPRC

Last edited by ar15barrels; 03-07-2013 at 9:14 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-08-2013, 12:26 AM
9mmepiphany's Avatar
9mmepiphany 9mmepiphany is offline
Calguns Addict
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: River City
Posts: 7,406
iTrader: 1 / 100%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil3 View Post
I am a bit surprised on the TIG welder recommendation. I had not this would be used much in working with firearms.
Just as a common example, the only way to fit a 1911 grip safety to the frame well is to weld it up first
__________________
...because the journey is the worthier part...The Shepherd's Tale
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-08-2013, 5:50 AM
dieselpower's Avatar
dieselpower dieselpower is offline
I need a LIFE!!
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Ventura
Posts: 10,386
iTrader: 11 / 100%
Default

There isn't a shortage of applicants for jobs that's for sure. I was told Stag received over 12,000 replies for 3 openings in less then 1 week.

If you can focus on a few common jobs and advertise, I bet you could stay busy.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-08-2013, 8:41 AM
klewan klewan is offline
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,044
iTrader: 3 / 100%
Default

Guy I bought my 13"x39" lathe from, was an aspiring gunsmith. He also had a brand new mill. He checked about liability insurance and it was $5k a year. This was in the mid '80s, when the insurance industry went nuts about insuring anything where there might be a claim; they wouldn't do it. So all the tooling was being sold.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-08-2013, 7:48 PM
Irv's Avatar
Irv Irv is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 278
iTrader: 1 / 100%
Default

A good little mill will be a Bridgeport with a Proto Trac x,y readout controller.
Small for garage and can do other parts for cars also. Just have to learn a little bit of G codes.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-08-2013, 9:46 PM
MattyB MattyB is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Orangevale, CA
Posts: 350
iTrader: 2 / 100%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irv View Post
A good little mill will be a Bridgeport with a Proto Trac x,y readout controller.
Small for garage and can do other parts for cars also. Just have to learn a little bit of G codes.
^^ Truth^^

Being in the customer car world myself, I can tell you that finding a quality quick turn around machinist is an in demand job.

Also, knowing how to TIG and MIG at a professional level has its uses beyond what you would think. Randall made a good point about making your own tooling. Why carve out a huge hunk of billet for a jig when you can weld smaller parts together?

I will tell you this, dont try to do it all. Find a niche and get VERY good at it. Specialists are the gold of the fabricating world. I cant tell you how poor the jack-of-all-trades shops tend to be. They never spend enough time perfecting a certain skill so all aspects tend to be less than stellar. Think Joes Auto Lube and Tune that claims to do everything vs Joes House of Japanese Transmissions. Who do you think is going to build a Honda trans better? Same goes for fabricators and machinists.

Randall does AR15 barrels, I do ONLY automotive electrical work ect, and we are successful in our trades because we only do one thing but we do it so often we can do it faster and way better because of that.

Sit down and think of what you can do and what you are best at. If you have built a ton of AKs but have never played with 1911's, you might want to focus on AKs only. Then rom there you may find that you are pretty damn good at populating AK barrell's, that may be what you want to focus on and get really good at it. If you can roll them out with consistent quality that is above average and advertise yourself properly, you will have enough work to get you through the first and hardest year of being in business.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-04-2013, 4:07 PM
Phil3's Avatar
Phil3 Phil3 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Ramon - CA
Posts: 2,015
iTrader: 0 / 0%
Default

Ok, I see how the TIG welder can be useful. Just how much practice (in hours) would it take to become very proficient with it? I am not sure how the TIG welder could be like a surface grinder. ??? Randall, how did you become as proficient as you are with all that you do, or perhaps more to the point, how did you get to that point? You didn’t pop out of the womb knowing all this stuff!

I have a small lathe (9”) and old 1950s small mill, so getting machining practice, but know the Bridgeport is really needed for serious work. And a bigger lathe. The sale of parts and insurance (to cover liability if parts fail?) is something I have to explore.

Understood on becoming the specialist. I am not sure what that would be for me, but do have an interest in very accurate barrels and action blueprinting.

I would like to know how TIG welding would have more uses than I would think. Answers to that may push me toward that purchases sooner than I expected.

Thanks much for your wisdom and experience on this.

Phil
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-04-2013, 4:17 PM
M1NM's Avatar
M1NM M1NM is offline
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: West Covina
Posts: 4,153
iTrader: 41 / 100%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil3 View Post
....h it? I am not sure how the TIG welder could be like a surface grinder. ???
He was saying that once you have either you'll discover how useful they can be - not that they were similar tools.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-04-2013, 5:16 PM
9mmepiphany's Avatar
9mmepiphany 9mmepiphany is offline
Calguns Addict
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: River City
Posts: 7,406
iTrader: 1 / 100%
Default

There was a thread on another forum by a member who had his slide buggered up when a hack had install his sight in the dovetails.

A very good gunsmith offered to fix the dents/gouges in the slide for him...it is done by welding and filing
__________________
...because the journey is the worthier part...The Shepherd's Tale
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-04-2013, 6:04 PM
Phil3's Avatar
Phil3 Phil3 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Ramon - CA
Posts: 2,015
iTrader: 0 / 0%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by M1NM View Post
He was saying that once you have either you'll discover how useful they can be - not that they were similar tools.
Got it. Surface grinders are nice to have. I just need room to fit one.

Phil
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 04-04-2013, 7:26 PM
ar15barrels's Avatar
ar15barrels ar15barrels is offline
I need a LIFE!!
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Van Nuys
Posts: 38,271
iTrader: 88 / 100%
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil3 View Post
Ok, I see how the TIG welder can be useful. Just how much practice (in hours) would it take to become very proficient with it? I am not sure how the TIG welder could be like a surface grinder. ??? Randall, how did you become as proficient as you are with all that you do, or perhaps more to the point, how did you get to that point? You didnít pop out of the womb knowing all this stuff!
You could be "dangerous" in 5 hours of welding, "useful" in 25 hours of welding and profecient in 100hrs of welding.

Besides welding, which I have formal schooling in, I learned machining by just doing it...
__________________
Randall Rausch

AR work: www.ar15barrels.com
Bolt actions: www.700barrels.com
Foreign Semi Autos: www.akbarrels.com
Glock, XD and M&P pistols, Benelli and Remington shotguns: barrel, sight, trigger and receiver work.
Most work performed while-you-wait, evening and weekend appointments available.
Founding member of the CAPRC
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 2:09 PM.




Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Proudly hosted by GeoVario the Premier 2A host.
Calguns.net, the 'Calguns' name and all associated variants and logos are ® Trademark and © Copyright 2002-2016, Calguns.net an Incorporated Company All Rights Reserved.