Monday, July 18, 2011

New England Flintlock Rifle

My current project is a half-stock New England Flintlock Rifle from the 1820s. I am building it with smooth and rifled barrels including a hooked breach for easy barrel changes. The reasons I decided to build this style of rifle are that Tony Montoya, a very fine woodworker in Chico, CA, gave me a nice piece of Claro Walnut and I had seen an original rifle and thought it'd be cool to make. This style of rifle has a hickory under rib instead of the metal under ribs like the Hawkins or 1806 Harper's Ferry rifles. For most of the rifle parts I needed, excluding the wood for the stock, I purchased from David Price at the Flintlock Shop in Contoocook, NH (

This photo shows the hunk of Clarno Walnut, one of the barrels, the lock, trigger, and brass triggerguard, butt plate and ramrod ferrules. The walnut was 2"x16''x33" and yielded blanks for the rifle and a pistol. I selected the best part of the wood with the most character for the rifle stock blank. To make the stock blank I printed a photo of a NE Rifle and using an overhead projector I traced the photo onto white butcher paper which I then transferred to Plexiglas to make the pattern. I then cut the Plexiglas pattern out using a band saw, traced out the stock using the Plexiglas pattern , and finally cut out the stock blank using the same band saw. A lot of work.

This photo shows the lock after it has been inlet into the blank.

The barrel and breach plug are inlet first then the lock. The lock a L.R. Maslin from L&R Lock Co., considered a small Durrs Egg Lock.

The rifle as it has taken shape. It weighs about 6 pounds and has a nice feel to it with a 32" .54 caliber rifled barrel and 32" 28 guage smooth bore barrel. Since the rifle was at this stage I have inlet a star (not shown) into the cheek piece using Australian Cypress and ubber dense African Blackwood. The African Blackwood was used as the nose cap instead of horn.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Fintlock Rifle Photographs

Here is an image of the sideplate, somewhat of my own design.

For what's it worth, my next project will be a Hawkins rifle using a piece of Claro Walnut that a friend (Tony Montoya) of mine gave me. There is enough wood for a Hawkins rifle stock and two pistols (flintlock). At this point in time I rather doubt I'll do another flintlock rifle as I've finally built what I want.

The rifle barrel, end cap, and ramrod. This also shows the nice curl to the maple and finished color of the wood after the application of Nitric Acid, Potassium Permanganate and Alkanet Root.

These images show: The Delux Siler lock with an original flint from the period; the possible bag, powder measure, pan brush and vent pick, and Buffalo powder horn that I made a year or so ago; and the incised carving on the butt of the rifle. I didn't remember to take photographs of the barrel browning process nor cutting the slots for the sights and barrel lugs. For me this is a comfortable and rather lightweight rifle that will be fun to shoot.

Completed Flintlock Rifle

This shows the sliding wooden patch box being shaped and inlet into the butt. I decided against a brass patch box as it didn't have the heart to hide the beauty of the wood. The stock is a nice piece of stump cut maple with a lot of curl and character.

An image showing the finished sliding wooden patchbox with its brass plate inlet into the butt and brass butt plate.

This image shows the stained maple stock. I treated the wood with a
dilute solution of nitric acid then heated it with an electric heat gun. The stock will turn a rich reddish/golden color.
I then painted on several coats of potassium permanganate dissolved in water. I did this until it was almost black. Where upon I rubbed it out with '000' steel wool and linseed oil. It makes for a very nice finish although labor intensive.
Now the rifle is almost finished. I applied some Alkanet Root dissolved in mineral spirits mixed with Damar varnish and linseed oil over the stock as well. It helps to seal the grain of the wood and lend an ever so very slight red tone to the finish. Every few days I will continue to rub linseed oil into the stock with the palm of my hand. This ads a deep luster to the finish on the stock.

This is the completed rifle patterned after the rifles produced by Herman Rupp from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. It has a .50 caliber swamped barrel, overall length of 59 1/4 inches and weighing about 7 pounds .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flintlock Rifles

These are three flintlock rifles that I have built or in the process of building. The pelt for the bear rug was donated by a Black bear who was shot in Northern California in 2009. I didn't shot the bear but the person who did had no use for the pelt so I paid to have it tanned and ruggified. It used to reside in the living room but the wife didn't approve so it's now in the wine cellar. The rifles from top to bottom are the styles from Lancaster Co., Penn. (Federal period); York Co., Penn, (Colonial period); and Lehigh Valley, Penn. (1800).

This is the Lehigh Valley rifle after a few months of part-time work. It has a .50 caliber swamped barrel with a stump cut very nice piece of curly maple. This is also the first rifle I have built where I starting with a hunk of lumber. The fellow from whom I purchased the wood (Ronald Scott) and I band sawed out the rough shape. To my eye the Lehigh/Allentown style of rifle is the most pleasing and this one is following the general character of the type built by Herman Rupp.

A closer view from the sideplate
towards the butt. The carving style is the incised style of the period Lehigh Valley rifles. I plan on using a sliding wood patch box. Primarily because I feel a brass patchbox would hide to much of the wood's character.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sensitive Lands in Lake Oswego, Oregon

I am a resident of Lake Oswego and member of the Lake Oswego Planning Commission living in a divisive and antagonistic city. Recent political decisions have only amplified the discord and I see little willingness or ability of certain members of the City Council to rectify the situation. The December 13, 2010 Lake Oswego City Council hearing on sensitive lands fostered neither mutual trust nor friendly civil discourse. I witnessed a disregard of legitimate citizen concerns, disingenousness by city leadership, and our city treated as a private fiefdom. None of this bodes well for trust in government nor a unified citizenry. Fortunately January 4, 2011 will usher in a threefold increase in prudence, common sense, and fiscal awareness on the Lake Oswego City Council.

Our City Council produces a lot of talk and policies regarding sensitive lands, but their actions go counter to their expressed ideals. One of the conclusions from the Second Look Task Force is a city that leads by example with city owned open space and sensitive lands. That hasn't resonated with a majority of the council. The September 14, 2010 City Council special meeting is a case in point as it illustrated duplicity and hypocrisy at its finest. With 10.8% of the residents of Lake Oswego encumbered by the Sensitive Lands Ordinance our City Council interprets open space and sensitive lands on city owned property to encompass an indoor tennis facility on rural lands in the Stafford area. Is it prudent for the city to spend $4.8-$5.9 million to erect a tin shed on steroids masquerading as a indoor tennis facility on the Rassekh Property? Does it foster trust and respect for the city to disrupt sensitive lands and a riparian area to bring utilities to that tennis facility while its hands are gripping the private property owner's throat? This sort of self-serving decision making only fuels the schism I currently observe in our community. A city truly serious about sensitive lands would create wildlife habitat stepping stones on Stevens Meadows, Luscher Farm, Fir Lane, Rassekh and Brock Properties not a tennis facility, a potential driving range, or potential ball fields. Not to mention developing North Stafford which further stresses our infrastructure all the while prohibiting responsible stewardship on private property. Has the city even involved the Stafford Hamlet or the residents in Atherton Heights in any North Stafford scenario?

The Sensitive Lands Overlay is a series of individual private properties daisy chained together punitively treated in isolation. The city exempts itself while acquiescing to Metro's 'no net loss' of sensitive lands within the UGB by penalizing 206 acres of private land. Why is the largest feature of our city, the lake, left out of the equation? Any reasonable sensitive lands ordinance must exhibit common sense, a comprehensive watershed approach, across the board citizen support, and a buy-in from property owners. Sensitive lands must become a financial benefit to property owners no a financial burden. Right or wrong our city is perceived as long zealotry with a draconian ordinance and short on fairness. Quelling the "mob's" angst is accomplished by a well reasoned comprehensive citywide approach to sensitive lands not the apparent expedient applications of 'mitigation trading credits'.

(Photo taken during Audrey Mattison's creek restoration August 2010).