Virginia Applied Tip Powder Horns

Applied tip powder horns, as the name implies, have turned horn, antler, or bone tips that either screw onto or are pinned to the powder horn body.  These are professionally made horns that had turned butt plugs as well, and sometimes turned horn bands. Screw-tip powder horns were made as early as the French and Indian War in Philadelphia and spread west into Pennsylvania and south into Virginia and North Carolina.   The best supported explanation for the purpose of screw-tip powder horns, as presented by Art DeCamp, is that the turned screw-tips (and other applied tips ) allowed for the mass production of powder horns where each step of the manufacturing process could be handled by one person.    Turned horn bands and turned wood base plugs served the same purpose.   By turning all these parts,  a fancy powder horn could be made quickly by professional horners.

I performed all the steps myself for the screw-tip powder horns displayed below.   Each is an example of a Virginia screw-tip powder horn.   The single turned band is the defining feature of a Virginia powder horn.   The shape of the base plug is characteristic of powder horns from the middle portion of the Valley of Virginia.   As with most southern screw-tip powder horns, the screw-tips on the powder horns below have an internal thread.   The powder horn bodies have an external thread.  Both these horns have turned walnut stoppers.   Both screw-tips are dyed to match the base plugs and stoppers   The band on Horn #5 below is also dyed horn.   The base plug on Horn #5 is maple stained with aqua fortis.   The base plug on Horn #6 is walnut.   Both powder horns are stained with aqua fortis and aged.

I will make any banded, screw-tip powder horn, with a turned base plug like the ones shown here for $200 plus shipping. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work.

Horn #5 - Outside curve of small Virginia screw-tip powder horn with single band.
Horn #5 - 13 1/2" outside curve , 2 1/4" dia. base plug
Horn #5 - Top of small Virginia  screw-tip powder horn with band.
Horn #5 - Top
top of single banded, screw-tip powder horn
Horn #6 - Top
Side view of single banded, screw-tip powder horn
Horn #6 - 15" outside curve , 2 3/4" dia. base plug
 Horn #26 - A slightly smaller version of Horn #6 - 15" around the outside curve, 2 3/8" dia. base plug
Horn #26 – A slightly smaller version of Horn #6 – 15″ around the outside curve, 2 3/8″ dia. base plug
Horn #21 - A slightly different banded, screw-tip horn - 14 1/2" outside curve,  2 3/8" base plug
Horn #21 – A slightly different banded, screw-tip horn – 14 1/2″ outside curve, 2 3/8″ dia. base plug


Below is another kind of applied tip powder horn. This one is based on an early Virginia horn documented in Jay Hopkins book;
Bone Tipped & Banded Horns, Vol 1; pp. 138-9. This horn has a pinned turned antler tip. The butt plug and stopper are turned curly maple. The wood, horn, and antler were stained with aqua fortis (iron nitrate). The butt plug and tip were pinned with steel (iron on the original) wire pins.

Horn #20 - 16" outside curve, 13" tip to tip, 2.5&quot dia. butt plug
Horn #20 – 16″ outside curve, 13″ tip to tip, 2 1/2″ dia. butt plug

I will make a similar pinned tip horn with a turned base plug for $175 plus shipping. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work.

If I can make a powder horn for you, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

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U.S. Rifleman Powder Horn

This project is really unusual. I was asked to produce a powder horn appropriate for for an U.S. issue 1803 rifleman’s pouch. You don’t see very many military issue powder horns as most muzzle loading military weapons used paper cartridges. However, a rifle that shoots a patched round ball requires a powder horn or flask.

I was able to find a couple of original arsenal issued rifleman’s horns. They have base plugs like the one in the example shown here, that are dished out to form a funnel around the removable filler plug hole.

There are some differences between the original and the horn shown here. First, the strap was attached to the filler plug on the original via a groove turned in the filler plug. However, the customer wanted loops for the strap attachment. Hence the wire loops in this horn.

Second, the original horn had a metal tip with a spring loaded valve. At the time I was making this horn, I could not acquire a reproduction metal tip, and the customer did not want to pay for me to fabricate one. So, I decided to use a plain screw-tip as a plausible period replacement for the metal tip.

I hope you like the result.

To order a horn like the one shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work. The availability of any particular design depends on my inventory of unfinished horns.

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Gun #18 – In the Style of Alfred Gross

Shown here is an iron mounted rifle based on several rifles made by Alfred Gross of East Tennessee. At one end of the spectrum is that famous silver mounted (silver over iron) rifle by Alfred Gross, and on the other end are completely plain iron mounted rifles. This rifle is in the middle with thirteen sterling silver inlays. The mounts are pretty much the same on all the iron mounted rifles made by Alfred Gross, particularly the trigger guard. I worked very hard to match the Alfred Gross trigger guard on this rifle. I am pretty sure that I made three or four guards before I got to the one I used.

I never really know how to finish an iron mounted rifle. We only know what they look like now, at about 200 years old. We only have vague clues about what they looked like new. Consequently, I really have to age iron mounted rifles to some extent to look something like what they look like today. On this rifle, I went almost to that point and then scrubbed off the black glaze so that you could still see the outstanding figure.

Like most of the southern iron mounted rifles, this one is very heavy at 11 lbs, 5 ozs. This barrel is based on the one on the over the top silver mounted rifle by Alfred Gross and is actually larger at the muzzle than at the breech. The muzzle is a little over 1″. At 47″ long in 45 caliber, it is a heavy barrel with makes for a heavy rifle. The rifle was almost certainly built for target shooting from a rest.

The length of pull is approximately 14″ to the front trigger. The drop is a little more than 3″ and the cast off is about .25″.

This is the last rifle for a customer. From now on, the gun projects are for me.

The technical details:

Stock: Very curly, stump cut, quartersawn, Red Maple
Lock: L&R Late English
Barrel: Custom Ed Rayl barrel; 47″, 45 caliber
Trigger: Davis double set triggers
Mounts: Hand forged mild steel butt piece and trigger guard with other mounts made from steel sheet

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Lehigh County PA Screw-Tip Horn

Shown here is something a little new for me. It is a screw-tip, but the tip has an external screw that screws into the collar. This horn is patterned after the LeHigh County horn shown on page 128 of Powder Horns: Documents of History by Tom Grinslade. My horn is slightly different from the original horns. The horn shown here has a threaded collar into which the tip screws. However, the original horn would have had a collar that slid over the throat of the horn with the threading to accept the tip in the throat of the horn itself.

To order a horn like the one shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work. The availability of any particular design depends on my inventory of unfinished horns.

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Early Virginia Shot Pouch & Powder Horn

Early VA shot pouch and powder horn
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Full Front (Click for larger image)

Shown here is an outfit that I made for myself consisting of an early Virginia shot pouch and a Virginia banded, screw-tip powder horn. Most of the shot pouches made these days are relatively complicated affairs using designs from the early to middle 19th century. If you want a shot pouch that is proper for the 18th century, take a close look at this shot pouch and powder horn.  I put together an outfit that I felt would be proper for 1775 on the Virginia frontier.

There are very few examples of shot pouches from the 18th century.  So, I was fortunate to be able to study an original early Virginia shot pouch that matches the size and construction of another published (Clash of Empires exhibition catalog, p. 30) pouch known to date to the period of the French and Indian War.  This original Virginia shot pouch was documented by Wallace Gusler in the December 2009 Muzzle Blasts(pp. 4-8).

The original one piece pouch is square at the bottom (although the corners look rounded due to use) and stitched up the sides with a very fine stitch very close to the edge. A divider that is open at the bottom serves as a welt between the front and the back of the bag. A pewter flap button is anchored to a stag horn button on the inside of the pouch. The stag horn button was covered by a round piece of leather that served to prevent the user’s hand from catching on the button. The flap extends approximately halfway down the front of the bag and has a slight beaver tail shape with a welted edge.

Early VA Shot Pouch & Powder Horn
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Front (Click for larger image)

The original bag did not have a strap attached and was missing part of the leather at one attachment point. However, there was evidence of a strap stitched to one side and a button hole on the other side. Actually, it was just a rough cut hole through which two buttons might have been tied to each other. Wallace Gusler indicated in his article that he believed two linked buttons (as in a cufflink) connected the strap to the bag using the button hole. The hole on the original pouch went through the welt and front of the bag as the back was torn away at that spot. I believe, the button was originally placed on the inside of the back and eventually pulled through tearing the back. That is why I did not run the button hole all the way through all three layers of leather on my recreation of the pouch.

I have made a number of hunting pouches based on this original. I have generally maintained the size and shape but varied the construction (i.e. external vs. internal stitching), the type of strap (i.e. leather vs. woven) and the type of attachment (i.e. location and number of buttons) for the strap. The original pouch actually appears to have rounded corners due to wear, and I made several copies that way before I realized that it was an optical illusion. Even in this very close copy, I still rounded the corners slightly in order to give the bag a finished look.

Not having Russia leather (a thin, textured, red dyed leather commercially available in the 18th century for upholstery work) which was most likely used to create the original, I created my copy of the original using 3-4 oz (may use 2-3 oz) vegetable tanned cowhide which I stained using aqua fortis to give a dark brown color.  I normally use vinegar and iron as a stain on my bags which usually gives more of a blue-black color. This bag is approximately the same size as the original at about 7″ square.  Just like the original, this pouch has a center divider as the welt and is stitched up the sides. In Bag #10, I rolled and hemmed the edge of the flap instead of using a welted edge. I now make these bags using a welted flap just like the original. I maintained the same flap button attachment as the original with an internal horn button used as an anchor for the external pewter flap button.    A leather cover is sewn over the internal button to prevent the hand from catching on it.

Bag #10, Horn #6 - Back
Bag #10, Horn #6 – Back (Click for larger image)

As for the strap, I attached it in a manner as close to the original as I could ascertain. One end of the strap is stitched to the right side (as worn on the right side), and the other end is attached to
the bag using a single small pewter button anchored to another small pewter button on the inside of the pouch. The strap may then be seasonally adjusted using buttonholes in the end of the strap. I usually only cut one set (strap and powder horn hangers) of button holes for the requested strap length, but more holes can be cut as required to adjust the strap.

Early VA shot pouch front panel decoration
Bag #10 – Front Decoration (Click for larger image)

The original pouch was decorated with stamped stars, some forming the initials of the owner. Consequently, I made a matching stamp to decorate my pouch. However, I decided to get a little fancier with a more refined design. I added diagonal lines reminiscent of English checkering patterns. On the bags shown below, I used the same stamp to create the owners initials and to do a Sun, Moon, and stars motif. In fact, I liked the Sun, Moon, and stars design so much, I used it on two bags, one of them is shown below.

Early VA banded, screw-tip powder horn
Early VA banded, screw-tip powder horn; Horn #6 (Click for larger image)

I attached to the bag a Virginia single banded screw-tip horn that is similar to an original dated 1774.  The horn is approximately 15″ around the outside curve with a 2 3/4″ base plug. The base plug and stopper are turned walnut with the base plug attached with wooden pegs. The screw-tip and band are horn. The screw-tip is dyed to match the walnut. Hand forged staples are installed in the the base plug and throat for the attachment of the hangers. The hangers are attached to the bag strap with buttons just as the strap is attached to the bag. This attachment method is purely conjecture on my part, but I think it makes sense to be able to adjust the hanger attachment location as the strap length is adjusted. The horn is dyed yellow with aqua fortis and appropriately aged.

I distress the leather on most of my pouches to give them a used appearance. That means adding wrinkles, scuffs and scratches as well as a coat of black shoe polish to simulate a little dirt and grime. I try not to overdue it so that the function of the bag is compromised. I don’t generally distress the leather to be used on a bag that is to be highly tooled.

You might think that this bag is too small at about 7″ square.  I can assure you that it is not.   Period documentation indicates that most longhunters carried hunting pouches of this size.  They would just carry what they needed to shoot the gun. This generally meant a bullet mold, some bullets, patches, tow, and a wiper. A powder horn and powder measure with a vent pick and brush were generally hung from the strap.

In my bag, I keep some tow, a strip of pre-lubricated pillow ticking for shooting patches, five balls, two flints wrapped in leather, and a turn screw of a type typically used with muskets.  A turn screw would not have normally been found in an original hunting pouch as a longhunter would most likely have used their knife to turn the screws on their gun. However, being a gunsmith, I just can’t bring myself to risk tearing up my screw heads like that. All that said, this bag is plenty big for the listed items. I hang a pan brush, vent pick, and powder measure from either the pouch strap or powder horn hanger.  I made those from recycled tin plated steel from a cookie tin. I have attached small knife to the back of the pouch to use as a patch knife. The period longhunters would most likely have just carried a store bought butcher knife in their belt.  This is certainly all you need for a day of hunting and more than you need to carry to the line when shooting at the range.

Shown below are four more pouch and horn outfits very similar to the bag shown above.   They are of the same basic design with different tooling. The bottom two outfits have a different type of early Virginia horn. Horn #21 was made to the client’s specification and is not based on a particular original. They all have a welted flap just like the original, and I am currently making all these style bags that way.

Bag #17, Horn #16
Bag #17, Horn #16; This bag is tooled with the initials of the owner.
Bag #18, Horn #17 with Sun, Moon & Stars motif.
Bag #18, Horn #17 with Sun, Moon & Stars motif.
Pouch #20 with Horn #20 - Early VA style shot pouch with an early VA style powder horn with a turned antler tip and turned base plug
Pouch #20 with Horn #20 – Early VA style shot pouch with an early VA style powder horn with a turned antler tip and turned base plug
Bag #21, Horn #21, with just flap tooling and a completely custom powder
Bag #21, Horn #21, with just flap tooling and a powder horn with a screw-tip and a turned base plug with a band .

You can obtain your very own pouch and horn outfit like the ones shown above for the following prices:

  • Plain Early Virginia Shot Pouch (as shown above but without tooling) – $165 plus shipping
  • Powder Horn Hangers for Early Virginia Shot Pouch – $15(Option with a pouch order)
  • Decorative Tooling on Early Virginia Shot Pouch – $20(Option with a pouch order)
  • Virginia Banded, Screw-tip Powder Horn – $200 plus shipping
  • Virginia applied tip Powder Horn – $175 plus shipping
  • Tin Powder Measure, Brush and Pick set – $50

Priority shipping and insurance on a single item is $15. Shipping on an outfit is $20. I will collect VA Sales Tax for items shipping to VA residents.

To order a pouch or horn like the ones shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

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Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouches

Heart shaped southern mountain shot pouch and powder horn
Bag #11, Horn #7 – Full Front
Heart shaped southern mountain shot pouch and powder horn
Bag #11, Horn #7 – Full Back

The southern heart shaped shot pouches shown on this page were copied from pages 18-19 of Jim Webb’s Sketches of Hunting Pouches, Powder Horns, and Accoutrements of Southern Appalachia.  I made the shot pouches exactly as shown, approximately 7.5″wide x 7.5″ high, using 3-4oz  (may use 2-3 oz) vegetable tanned cowhide and linen thread.This shot pouch design consists of a one piece back and flap with a front panel attached via a 1″ gusset that goes around the entire pouch and attaches to the strap.

Back of heart shaped southern mountain shot pouch
Bag #11, Horn #7 – Back

The shot pouch is assembled such that the flesh sides are stitched together without a welt, and the bag is not turned. This results in the gusset folding inward. It is an unusual arrangement, but that is how the original was constructed. I used an iron buckle on the strap to allow for seasonal adjustment. The leather was stained with vinegar and iron. The strap is about 60″ and can be shortened as much as necessary just by punching new holes for the buckle.

Southern mountain shot pouch and powder horn
Bag #11, Horn #7 – Front

The attached powder horn is based on several original powder horns from Southwest Virginia. It is about 13″ around the outside curve with a 2 1/2″ base plug. It is hand scraped and filed with a turned walnut base plug attached using hand forged nails. A turned walnut stopper finishes the horn. The horn is dyed yellow with aquafortis and appropriately aged.

Below is a heart shaped pouch with a slightly different horn.  This horn has an applied turned collar instead of integral rings and is based on the horn on pages 228-229 in Jay Hopkins book Bone Tipped and Banded Horns.    It is about 12 1/2″ around the outside curve with a 2 1/4″ base plug.   

Bag #24, Horn #24 – applied turned collar

As with all my recreated shot pouches and horns, I try to made them look used. That means adding wrinkles, puckers, a few cracks, some stains and blemishes, and a bit of dirt and oil. I try not to overdue it so that the function of the bag is compromised.

Below is another heart shaped bag with a very plain horn that is much more typical of what you would find in the southern mountains. Linen cord and chain is used to attach all the accouterments much as it would have in the period. The last picture shows the inside of the pouch and gives you a better idea of the construction.

Horn #3 - Bag #8 -  A plain southern powder horn attached by linen cord to a Southern heart shaped shot pouch.
Horn #3 – Plain southern powder horn, Bag #8 – Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch

 

Bag #8 - Back of Southern heart shaped shot pouch.
Bag #8 – Back – Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch

 

Bag #8 - Inside of Southern heart shaped shot pouch.
Bag #8 – Inside – Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch

 

Pricing for items like the ones shown above is as follows:

  • Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch – $165 plus shipping
  • Leather Powder Horn Hangers – $15(Option with a pouch order)
  • Plain Southern Powder Horn (like #3) – $75 plus shipping
  • Southern Powder Horn with a Turned Base Plug and either integral rings (#7) or applied collar (#24) – $150 plus shipping
  • Tin Powder Measure, Whipped Brush and Pick set (as shown with Bag #11) – $50

Priority shipping and insurance on a single item is $15. Shipping on an outfit is $20. I will collect VA Sales Tax for items shipping to VA residents.

The bags and horns shown on this page can be made relatively quickly. If you would like something similar, or even something completely different, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

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Plain Southern Powder Horns

The vast majority of original powder horns were as plain as they could be and still be functional. That means a flat pine (or other softwood) base plug and little or no carving of the throat; just enough work to contain powder and attach a strap. Many times a screw was used to attach a strap to the base plug. A grooved or simply reduced throat is enough to tie a strap around it. The two powder horns shown just below are based on an original southwest Virginia horn and are a little fancier than most with a turned base plug and carved rings at the throat. Even so, it is still much plainer than the carved and engraved horns from the French and Indian War. This horn could also be made with a turned and applied collar instead of the integral rings. The horn would dictate how it is approached.

Horn #7 - Side
Horn #7 - A SW. VA style powder horn

Horn #19 - A SW. VA horn in the basic style of Horn #7.
Horn #19 – A SW. VA horn in the basic style of Horn #7.

Please note the raw linen cord used to attach the horn in the photo below.   Cord was often found on southern outfits.    The outfit show below is much more historically correct for a southern mountain rifle than many of the sophisticated shot pouches and powder horns being recreated today.    Most of the original powder horns and shot pouches were very simple affairs, well worn and patched together.   You will see horns completely covered in leather to patch a hole or holes rather than just throw it away.   Even something as simple as a plain powder horn could not be easily replaced in the southern mountains and was highly valued.

I will make any plain powder horn with a flat base plug and simply carved spout for $75 plus shipping. A horn like #7 with a turned base plug and either carved rings or an applied collar would cost $150 plus shipping

To order a powder horn or discuss any other project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on ordering custom work. The availability of any particular horn design depends on the availability of an appropriate unfinished horn in my inventory.

Horn #3 - Bag #8 -  A plain southern powder horn attached by linen cord to a Southern heart shaped shot pouch laying on a flat surface.
Horn #3 - Plain southern powder horn, Bag #8 - Southern Heart Shaped Shot Pouch

Horn #4 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 3/4" outside curve, 2 1/2" dia. base plug
Horn #4 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 3/4" outside curve, 2 1/2" dia. base plug

Horn #4 - Top of plain southern powder horn with a wedding ring carved at the end of a bell shaped tip.
Horn #4 - Top - Plain southern powder horn

Horn #8 - Top of a plain southern powder horn wiht a large wedding band carved a the beginning of a bell shaped tip just above the throat.
Horn #8 - Top - Plain southern powder horn

Horn #8 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 1/4" outside curve, 2 3/8" dia. base plug
Horn #8 - Plain southern powder horn, 10 1/4" outside curve, 2 3/8" dia. base plug

Plain southern powder horn with octagonal shaped tip.
Horn #9 - Plain Southern Powder Horn, 11" outside curve, 2 1/2" dia. base plug

Top view of plain southern powder horn with an octacgonal tip.
Horn #9 - Top - Plain southern powder horn





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Gun # 17 – Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Right Full


Sketches of thimbles and other details.
Sketches of thimbles and other details.
This is a 1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge County, Virginia longrifle based on the two rifles documented by Wallace Gusler in the Journal of Historical Arms Making Technology, Volume II (JHAT II). The patchbox and its engraving is an original design extrapolated from the boxes on the guns documented in JHAT II as well as those by John Davidson. The lock is a Chambers Colonial, filed, polished and engraved in a manner typical of most imported English locks with heat blued screws. The 54 caliber, 44″ long, Dickert profile Rice barrel is polished amory bright.
Moulding termination details.
Moulding termination details.
A White Lightning liner is installed. The rifle has modified Davis double set triggers that have been heat blued. The butt piece and guard are neatly filed from yellow brass castings from Reeves Goehring. The rest of the mounts, including the one piece nose piece, are hand made from sheet brass. The stock is carved from a blank of very curly, stump cut, quartersawn, hard maple from Freddie Harrison. The barrel is hand inlet using gouges, period gunstock planes, and rasps. The stock is entirely scraped and burnished and the rifle is generally finished in a workman like manner.
Details of forearm moulding.
Details of forearm moulding.
The forearm moulding was cut with a custom made scratch stock in the original manner and show the characteristic ripple from scraping very curly wood. Period correct tools and techniques were used with files, rasps, chisels, and planes being used for most of the work. The stock is stained with aqua fortis and finished in oil. I have fitted the scraped hickory ramrod with a plain sheet steel ferrule on the breech end that accepts a hand turned wiper made for the rifle.

If you are interested in the templates and layout guide I used to create this rifle, they may downloaded on this page.

The length of pull is approximately 14″ to the front trigger. The drop is a little more than 3″ and the cast off is about .25″.

The technical details:

Stock: Very curly, stump cut, quartersawn, Surgar Maple
Lock: Chambers Colonial
Barrel: Rice Dickert, 44″, C-54 caliber with Chambers White Lightning liner
Trigger: Davis double set triggers
Mounts: Reeves Goehring sand cast yellow brass butt piece and guard, all other mounts made from brass sheet

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Left Full

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Top Full

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Bottom Full

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Right Half

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Left Half

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Top Half

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Bottom Half

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Lock

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Side Plate

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Tang

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Patchbox

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Cheek


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Early Virginia Longrifle Templates & Layout Guide

1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge Co. Virginia Longrifle Templates & Layout Guide

This offering is my attempt to help the beginning gunmaker by making some of my layout tools available to them. As the title indicates, this drawing has templates for my interpretation of the 1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge Co. Virginia longrifles documented by Wallace Gusler in the Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology (JHAT), Volume II.

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Right Full

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Left Full

This drawing contains my stock profile layout template for an Early Virginia longrifle along with my layout guidelines. The stock profile is basically the same as an early Lancaster, and I use this stock profile template for any colonial period longrifle. For a Pennsylvania longrifle, make the side walls of the lower forearm 1/8″ thick as opposed to 3/32″ for a Virginia longrifle. I have also included notes for the gunmaker describing the barrel pin placement for Virginia longrifles versus Pennsylvania rifles. Otherwise, basic stock layout and construction is the same.

Details of Early Virginia longrifle forearm moulding.
Details of Early Virginia longrifle forearm moulding
I have included templates for the gunmaker to cut out the brass blanks to make a patchbox (with two different finials) roughly in the style of the rifles documented in the JHAT II article. Additionally, a full size cross section is included for the gunmaker to create the lid/finial former as well as a hinge former, the rear thimble mandrel, and the rear thimble tang former with the notes required to make these items. There are templates for the brass blanks to make the thimbles and two sizes of nose pieces with details about the required mandrels as well as plans for the rear thimble mandrel and tang former. Some stock cross sectional profiles are included to help the beginning gunmaker. I have also included the details for the scratchstock to shape the upper forearm. The scratchstock blade template recreates the moulding unique to the unknown maker of the antique rifle documented in JHAT. That moulding is also used by John Davidson which is why many believe he was an apprentice to the unknown master gunmaker.

Gunmaker Instructions for Using the Templates & Layout Guide

All the templates and plans are actual size. You just need to glue the paper templates to stiff cardboard such as poster board or mat board, and cut out the templates with an Xacto knife. You should cut along the outside edge of the lines. I would suggest that you print two copies of the plans; one to use for templates and the other for continued reference.

gunmaker tools (templates & layout guide) for early 1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge Co. Virginia longrifle

The image above shows the drawing that you will receive. The full size drawing is approximately 24″ x 75″. You can download the plan here; Download Full Size Plan This is an .pdf file and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.Adobe Acrobat Reader Download

Augusta/Rockbridge Virginia Rifle - Right HalfI want to make it clear that this offering is NOT intended to be a full set of plans, notes, and instructions necessary to build a complete rifle. It is merely an offering of some of the gunmaker tools necessary to produce a similar rifle. If you like the work I did with my Rifle #17, this will just help you layout a similar rifle from a stock blank and make a similar patchbox, side plate, thimbles, one piece nose piece, and upper forearm moulding. Someone who is building their first rifle from a blank, may find my approach to layout informative.

Copyright & Printing Information

I used to offer this plan for sale, both as a finished print and download. It never sold as well as I had hoped; and given that I don’t want to go to the expense to make this site secure enough for continued online sales, I am offering it as a free download for personal use. I still hold the copyright and it may not be used for any commercial purposes. You should be able to get the drawing printed locally for about $10 a sheet on standard bond. I get mine printed at the local FedEx Office store. I send them the file electronically via their web site and then pickup the prints when they are ready.

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Charcoal Blueing a Barrel

Today, I was fortunate enough to be present for the charcoal bluing of a longrifle barrel. Richard Frazier, a former journeyman at the gunshop at Colonial Williamsburg, was charcoal bluing the barrel for his latest rifle. He was sharing the process that they used for years, and still use to blue gun barrels at the CW gunshop. Al Edge, a well respected gunmaker and restorer, was the host for this effort and his apprentice Corey Pheasant helped out with the setup, fire building, and some of the barrel handling.

I have documented the process in photos as shown below.

We started with a box constructed of 1/8″ thick steel sheet. It was approximately 8″x8″x50″ and set about 12″ off the ground on a pair of simple welded steel supports. The box was wired to the supports to keep it from moving around.

Below is the fire being started. It needs to be a big fire with plenty of firewood under and stacked around the box.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - starting the fire

Charcoal bluing a barrel - starting the fire

Here, the fire has just about burned down and the charcoal in the box is starting to turn white at the top. We were just about ready to go.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - just about ready to  insert the barrel

Here is a close up of the mandrel used to handle the barrel and place it in the charcoal. The short leg goes in the breech of the barrel. The long leg of the mandrel is used to handle the barrel.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - barrel mandrel

Charcoal bluing a barrel - barrel mandrel

Here is the rag and rottenstone used to rub down the barrel. The barrel is removed from the charcoal every 15 minutes and lightly rubbed on the top five flats.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - rag and rottenstone to rub the hot barrel

In the following photos, Richard is inserting the degreased barrel into the charcoal for the first time. The bore was NOT packed with charcoal.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - inserting the barrel in the charcoal

Charcoal bluing a barrel - inserting the barrel in the charcoal

Charcoal bluing a barrel - inserting the barrel in the charcoal

Charcoal bluing a barrel - inserting the barrel in the charcoal

Charcoal bluing a barrel - barrel in the hot charcoal

barrel_bluing-13

Here the barrel has been removed for the first time to be rubbed down with an old cloth dusted in rottenstone. We put the barrel in the charcoal three time for 15 minutes each; removing it twice to rub it down.

Charcoal bluing a barrel - barrel removed to rub down

Charcoal bluing a barrel - rubbing down the barrel with rottenstone

Once Richard was happy with the bluing job, the barrel was removed and the mandrel clamped in a post vise so that the barrel could be sprayed with WD-40 and rubbed down. The barrel was a splotchy blue gray when it came out of the charcoal. After rubbing it down a few minutes with the WD-40, it was a fairly even dark blue.

Richard noted that the charcoal might have been a bit hot, but it is hard to adjust that with the wood fire. You have to guess at the amount of fuel to add, and I am told that too little is worse than too much. They were aiming at about 1000F.

In case you were wondering, Richard case hardened the breech plug along with the lock plate and cock.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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