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A chiseled relief pistol barrel made with rifflers

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  • A chiseled relief pistol barrel made with rifflers

    Some have asked what I did with the rifflers. This is a chiseled relief pistol barrel I never finished because I decided that wrought iron was really the correct material to use. Once I got hold of some of the real metal,I switched over. This was practice,then. They never made horse pistols from brass. Only Naval weapons were brass usually,though George Washington had a pair of brass barreled pistols(one with a burst barrel) that can be seen at Mount Vernon.

    High relief chiseling reached its zenith in about 1680. The long barrel enabled early black powder to burn more thoroughly. And,in battle,these made good clubs. No time to reload!!

    A horse pistol is not for shooting horses. They were long pistols carried in pairs in holsters on the front area of saddles. Sometimes the holsters were velvet,or other fancy materials.

    Only the very rich could commission pistols with decoration such as this. It took about a month to do one figure,and there are 3. In addition,there would have been acanthus leaves chiseled into the ogee of the moldings at the breech of the gun. Further engraving would have been done in the spaces above the 2 side figures,and a coat of arms above the central figure.

    These represent a Rome (the soldier),having conquered Europe,which looks back defiantly from his chains. On the other side is Africa,kneeling down.Africa is unfinished because I switched to wrought iron.

    To make these figures,I chiseled them with miniature hammer driven engraving chisels,also known today as die sinker's chisels.Then,the rifflers would have been used to smooth out the surfaces and the background.Finally,little boxwood sticks with polishing compound were used to polish the surfaces.

    Traces of Dykem blue can be seen here and there,from laying out the work.

    The barrel is about 14" long and 60 cal. smooth bore. I made a "D" bit to bore the barrel,using a 10" Jet lathe. It came out only .002" off center at the other end. Then,I reamed the barrel with a straight,square reamer made from a square file,and backed with a rounded strip of wood. Paper slips placed between the wood and the reamer allowed progressively fine cuts to be made. I did that at the Williamsburg gunsmith shop,using their 18th.C. style,hand cranked machine.

    In the 17th.C.,the period of this particular style of pistol,actually about 75 different specialists would have been involved in making a gun like this. Trades were very tightly regulated so that each piece was made by a specialist. Breech plugs were only forged by a breech plug forger,etc.. There was even a "screwer together" who assembled locks.

    There is no breech plug on this barrel. The plug seen was just to support it in the lathe when I was taper turning the barrel earlier in its making.

    On the actual gun,you can see the links in the prisoner's chains.
    Last edited by gwilson; 10-02-2011, 08:49 PM.

  • #2

    An overall view of the barrel. The entire area above the central ring of moldings would have been engraved. I was very bad about getting around to making pictures of my work years ago,and have no pictures of such a gun finished to show. I do have a dueling pistol I can show at some point. There is a nicer pistol I have on slides,but I need to get the slides put onto a disc. Lots and lots of slides,as I used to get paid to give presentations,and made slides rather than photos.
    Last edited by gwilson; 10-02-2011, 08:41 PM.


    • #3
      beautiful, got a pic of the finished gun?
      "Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment" R.M.Brown

      My shop tour


      • #4
        Please read the info in picture #2. It's all explained. I might have been posting the 2nd. picture when you read the first.And thank you for looking.


        • #5
          GWilson ,Is there a reason your posts are so large I have to scroll right and left to view them, or am I missing something? Love your work otherwise. Bob.


          • #6
            I don't know. Are the pictures too large? I have a wide screen Mac,and don't have that problem. These pictures are large to show detail.


            • #7

              Forgot to show Africa(unfinished).


              • #8
                Thanks for posting, that is gorgeous work.


                • #9
                  Ya, didn't have second post, nice anyway
                  "Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment" R.M.Brown

                  My shop tour


                  • #10
                    Nice job. Brass isn't as easy as steel to work. Good job on the proportions.

                    Here's a photo tip. Instead of pouring direct light onto the brass, point the light a white sheet. The light you pickup off the metal will be a reflection of white. If shooting a molded or round item paint a black stripe around the middle of your white card and its reflection will trace the form. Good luck.
                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                    Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                    It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


                    • #11
                      THIS brass was tough as blazes. A propeller shaft. I had to resharpen my chisel nearly EVERY cut. Steel would have been easier. But,I can tell you that wrought iron(at least the stuff we can scrounge up today) is miserably tough,gnarly,and generally miserable to chisel. It's not as good as the more refined iron they used for gun barrels back then,which was more wrought,to remove more of the inclusions. What we can get today,is a cheaper grade,full of silicon,and made specially to resist rusting because of the amount of silicon inclusions in it. I have worked old wrought iron gun barrels,and they cut much "drier" than this stuff we can get today from old fences,light house hardware,bridges,etc..

                      These photos WERE taken out of doors.


                      • #12
                        GWilson ,Is there a reason your posts are so large I have to scroll right and left to view them, or am I missing something? Love your work otherwise. Bob.
                        Check your screen resolution. It must be set pretty low. The images are 1024 pixels wide which on a 1024 pixel screen resolution will result in a small amount of scrolling.

                        If you can, resize your images to 800 or 900 pixels wide and it should fit nearly all screens currently in use.
                        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bob Fisher
                          GWilson ,Is there a reason your posts are so large I have to scroll right and left to view them, or am I missing something? Love your work otherwise. Bob.
                          If you have to scroll left and right it is probably due to the photo being wider, as measured in pixels, than the window you are viewing it in allows for. The bulletin board software automatically sets the text width to the same as the width of the photos or other graphics on the page, so everything is as wide as the widest photo on that page. This is a real PITA and the suggested rules for posting photos in the sticky post make recommendations for avoiding this when posting photo links. Generally, if you want to avoid causing this problem for all viewers you should restrict the width to 800 or fewer pixels. Even this may not be small enough for some older monitors.

                          One quick and free fix may be to maximize the browser window when trying to view these photos.

                          Further info: The web browsers, like IE, do NOT rescale photos in all/most instances so they retain the original width in pixels. This width allowance starts with the horizontal resolution you have your computer monitor set to. Different monitors have different maximum settings and many people choose even smaller ones in order to make most things an appropriate size to view. For instance, a 2 or 3 inch wide screen, as a cell phone may have, would make most things too hard to read if it had a horizontal setting of 2000 pixels. You would need a microscope to see things like type. So smaller monitors are generally set to smaller numbers of pixels. You can change this setting, usually by going to the Control Panel or by right clicking on the desktop and them Properties or Screen Resolution or something like that. Be careful to remember the original setting and make small changes until you are sure of what you are doing.

                          But then, the web browser and the bulletin board software limits the amount of screen width (in pixels) that a photo can occupy so this will be somewhat less than the maximum width of your screen. So to display a photo that is 1000 pixels wide in the bulletin board, a screen setting or 1100 or 1200 pixels would be needed.

                          Modern cameras are an important element in this problem. A camera that has a 8, 10, 12, or higher number of Mega Pixels of resolution will make a picture that has a width of 3000, 4000, or even more pixels. No common monitor will display such a picture at full resolution on it's screen at once. These pictures must be reduced in resolution before posting them or everybody will have to scroll not only horizontally, but vertically also.

                          I believe Photobucket automatically reduces the size of larger photos that are uploaded. But this is to reduce the storage space used, and does not necessarily make them small enough for display in BBs like this one. You can manually reduce them using software as simple as Microsoft's Paint or with more advanced programs like Photoshop. Your camera may have some software included with it that reduces the resolution of photos.
                          Paul A.
                          SE Texas

                          And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                          You will find that it has discrete steps.


                          • #14
                            I guess I don't understand the fuss about photo size. On all the Web browsers I've used the Web page can be resized by holding down the Control key while operating the scrolling roller between the mouse buttons. By doing this I can make the photo fit the screen regardless of its resolution.

                            George, the pictures are in sharp focus, some of the best you've posted.

                            So many projects. So little time.


                            • #15
                              Sorry,guys. I am not a computer person,and do not know how to handle all these problems. Sorry that this thread has turned into a complaint about the size of the pictures.

                              Edit: O.K.,I went to photobucket and saw how to resize pictures. I have a wide screen,and the pictures are not too large on my screen. I did not know they were too wide for yours. I will try to resize them in future.

                              I hope the discussion will cease to be about the size of the photos rather than about the work.
                              Last edited by gwilson; 10-03-2011, 12:21 AM.