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S&W-Smithing Maintenance, Repair, and Enhancement of Smith & Wesson and Other Firearms.


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Old 11-20-2020, 08:01 PM
MG-70 MG-70 is offline
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Default Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies

Hi guys! I'm a mid to advanced level tinkerer, have been fixing things including cars for over 30 years, and am planning on trying to improve triggers, and possibly lockup and timing, on various personal guns to include S&W J, K, and L frames, as well as Ruger SP and GP, and maybe even troubleshooting an older Python.

The objective of this post is to ask for recommendations on specialized tools for working on the above; things like files, stones, and whatever else that's required. I already have the screwdriver with a multitude of bits, Dremel tool with a bunch of accessories, trigger scale, pliers, picks, cleaning rods with proper jags, brushes, cleaners, oils, polishing and buffing compounds, etc. It doesn't have to be the absolute best professional tool, but I rather buy only once.

I've created another thread asking for suggestions on good written sources for performing the above-mentioned gunsmithing work.

If you have any suggestions for good quality gunsmithing tools, please list below.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:08 PM
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Brownell's gunsmith supply has everything you will ever need to work on guns. Others will be along shortly to provide a laundry list of which ones.
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protocall_Design View Post
Brownell's gunsmith supply has everything you will ever need to work on guns. Others will be along shortly to provide a laundry list of which ones.
Excellent! I always seem to have a WTB list at Brownells, just waiting to reach that amount at which a coupon can be applied.

Thanks for the quick reply!
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:25 PM
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For screwdrivers, Iíve always liked the feel of the Grace wooden handles, and I have a large selection of those, but...a couple of years ago I bought the Chapman Master set (there are several different sets), and at least so far they have worked perfectly for every job, nice set.

A little expensive, but nice, and like you implied, buy once, cry once, and enjoy the benefits.
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:31 PM
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I've found an armorer's block (I think that's what they're called) and a good roll pin punch set to be pretty useful, especially if you plan to work on semi-autos. They came in real useful when swapping out decockers on my 92 and PX4. A small hammer, as well.

For working with revolvers, I like the extractor rod "wrenches(?)" that clamp onto the extractor rod for loosening and tightening are handy.

A good set of hollow-ground gunsmithing screwdrivers are pretty much essential. I like the ones with a driver and multiple bits. A bit for installing and removing rebound springs is really useful, or a separate tool if you can't find the bit.

All of these can be found at Brownell's.

Also, apologies if I got any of the terminology wrong. I don't work on my guns very often, and am self-taught.
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:45 PM
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Something similar to the Wessinger tool, a device for tightening the extractor rod which sometimes tends to loosen up under recoil. I have the 'Vicesmith' which resembles a set of vise grips.

I used it to tighten the extractor rod on my 986.

Gunsmither Tools Visesmith Extractor Rod Tool S&W J K L N Frame
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Old 11-20-2020, 09:52 PM
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Brownell's is a good source. Good fine Arkansas stone. I leave my Dremel tool on the shelf and out of reach. There are various methods to remove the extractor rods but I purchased the Power Custom tool (see photo). Also, the shop manuals for S&W and Colt revolvers by Jerry Kuhnhausen are essential. Be careful with the old Python since those actions can be a bit temperamental and Python parts are difficult to find.
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Old 11-20-2020, 10:55 PM
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I'm taking note of all this.

Please let me know if you have suggestions for small file and stone sets for working on triggers, etc. I forgot to mention, I'll also be working on some 10/22 (until I can better afford the Kidd kits) and Glock triggers.

Thanks for the quick replies and a good weekend to all!
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Old 11-20-2020, 11:08 PM
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If you really want to spend some money do yourself a favor and order a paper copy of the Brownells catalog. You never knew you needed that many tools.

That combined with the "direct stock entry" method of ordering on the Brownells website is one of the quickest ways I know of to empty a bank account.

But you will have the coolest tool box in town.
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Old 11-21-2020, 12:41 AM
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Brownells makes good screwdriver bits. I like their LE handle over the regular handle.
Grace makes good punches and hammers. I think they actually make some of the Brownells labeled tools.
A bench block is necessary, but you can also just drill a hole in a short piece of 2x4.
For storage and organization, I use this toolbox: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20...303B/203206053
And don't forget good light!
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Old 11-21-2020, 12:14 PM
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For fixing timing issues and filing long ratches a barrette file is handy
APEX TOOL GROUP SWISS PATTERN BARRETTE FILES | Brownells

If you want a lighter SA trigger, the Power Custom Stoning fixture is a must since you must alter the angle on the sear nose on the trigger.
POWER CUSTOM SERIES I STONING FIXTURE | Brownells

I have 3 stones that I use.
NORTON 6" X 1/2" X 1/2" INDIA STONE | Brownells

BROWNELLS 6" X 1/2" X 1/2" CERAMIC STONES | Brownells
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Old 11-21-2020, 12:58 PM
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For safety's sake, if you are going to be doing action and repair work, I would also suggest a good quality pull gauge. I use the digital one by Wheeler Engineering. There are other brands available.


Professional Digital Trigger Gauge | Wheeler
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:09 PM
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I'd suggest learning to grind your own screw drivers.
There's plenty of hi quality US made 20th century stuff still around. They may be old and have worn handles of various shapes and some names you don't recognize, but the steel is first rate.

Regrinding these to suit your needs not only gives you just that but also the expertise in using a Belt Grinder (must better suited to this than a Bench grinder).

Yes you'll need a belt grinder but it's time to start accumulating some machinery too.
Most of your polishing can be done on a belt grinder. You'll never need a 'buffer'.
A 4x48" belt is a good machine and takes up little space, but does a lot of work.

Done this way your screw driver 'set' won't match & they won't be a cute set of replaceable tip tools in a clear window lid box to set on the shelf.

They'll just be good, correctly ground screw drivers that you made up.
..And don't pass up all the worn out old Phillips head screwdrivers.
Grind the + tip off and make them a standard slotted drive.
They're still the same great old tools.

(Re)Grind punches, drifts, chisels,,all sorts of small tools you'll need on the belt grinder.

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Old 11-21-2020, 03:02 PM
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Since most of the bases have been covered ^^^^^^ let me just add a few hints.....

Don't be afraid to modify or grind your own custom screwdriver bits! Even if you buy a complete Master set from Brownell's (Magna-tips are the best IMHO) there are still some times you need to modify one to fit properly. Replacement bits are cheap - don't try and use what you think is "good enough" because replacing most gun screws are a lot more expensive than replacing a Magna-tip bit!

Before just jumping in - make SURE you know all the little details for a specific job or task. Example: removing an ejector rod on a S&W Revolver requires at least every other chamber be loaded with EMPTY Cartridges to insure nothing bends or breaks. This is something many will forget to mention when telling how to do something and researching all the details BEFORE doing a job can and will save you grief and money.

Never try and do a GSing job in a limited amount of time! If you don't have the time - wait until you do.

Unless you are experienced and know exactly what yo are doing, do NOT use a Dremel, Belt Sander or Grinder on guns or parts! they remove way too much way too fast. Yes - they are useful down the road after you have gained experience and knowledge - but in the beginning, forget you own them (if you do).

If when doing a job you are unsure - STOP and ASK. Better to take longer and do it right the first time. There are many knowledgeable people here on the Forum. While there are a few good YouTube video guys out there, there are also many "Bubba basement hammer mechanics"who grab a camera and post a video when they themselves are not really qualified to do so.

When buying tools, it is better to buy less at a time and buy higher quality. Stay away from most Chinese tools. Ebay is your friend when it comes to quality Starrett, Brown & Sharp, etc. precision tools and punches and you can buy almost new tools (or very lightly used) for about the same price as new Chinese and imported tools cost in retail stores.
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Old 11-21-2020, 03:09 PM
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I always find a flat ******* file and ball peen hammer are handy. LOL
2152hq offers some good advice about grinding your own screwdrivers, the only thing is you need to not overheat the metal when grinding.
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:10 PM
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Please keep the awesome suggestions coming!

I have quite a few of these bases covered, but am definitely adding to my WTB list. I prefer and have bought older, used, quality hand tools to newer Chinese ****, even if they carry US names.

My trigger gauge is a digital Lyman (donít remember the Wheeler being around at the time), my Brownells screwdriver uses the little internal c-clip, instead of the magnetic base, my armorerís block is either a piece of hardwood with various size holes or an old hockey puck, and my vise is an old, trusty, Columbian. Iíve reground old screwdrivers, as well as bits, with a Dremel, and managed to obtain decent results.

Luckily, I know my limits, am not afraid to ask for help, try to use the correct tools, and stop when a tool isnít working as it should, or I hoped it would. Other than the vise, my best additions to the workbench were a 5í LED overhead light bar, and a very long power strip. Iím thinking about buying one of those clamp-on magnifying lamps, but for now make do with a couple of headband magnifiers; one with a light.

Iím no noob to spending money on things I didnít know I ďneededĒ that were found on printed catalogs from Brownells, Sinclairís, Champions Choice, etc., way before such companies decided to market using Al Goreís internet.

Iím limited to a 5 1/2í Long X 19 1/2Ē Wide workbench that sits unbolted to a carpeted floor on the second floor of a suburban townhouse (unfortunately, with neighbors on the other side of the wall). Is there even a decent bench grinder thatíll work in such conditions?

Thanks again for the feedback!
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:11 PM
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As far as stones go, for fine polishing get
a Norton fine Arkansas set Part # 86839 :

norton arkansas file set , 86839 - Google Search

And a set of good needle files:

glardon vallorbe files - Google Search

The stuff's not cheap, good tools never are.
And the stones are fragile.

But they did allow me to barrel a few J&G Sales
Barrel less Model 10's that are floating around:

Smith & Wesson 10 Revolver, 38 Special, No Barrel, Round Butt, GSS, CAI Mark, Used, S&W.
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Old 11-21-2020, 05:44 PM
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There's this image of a gunsmith standing over a milling machine or lathe making a complex part.
The truth is, most of a gunsmiths time is spent sitting at a bench using screwdrivers, punches, and fine stones working on a small assembly or part.

To that end, you need a good bench light that can be positioned where you need it. A good office light will do fine. You can't have too much light.

You need to be able to see what you're doing so a good magnifier visor is necessary.
Don't cheat on this, buy a good one like the Donigon Opti-Visor.
To determine what focus you need, just position a part at a comfortable distance and measure to your eye and buy that focus length.
You can also buy different focus lenses for the visor and accessory jeweler's loupes that attach.

Have a comfortable seat, and cover the fine work area of your bench in some material that's easy on your eyes.
I had a bench covered with pale Green non-shine Formica.

Have several good vises.
You'll need a big one for big projects and several small ones for holding small parts.
The more adjustable they are the better.
A good standard for a bigger vise is the Multi-Vise. There's also copies made in China.
Brownell's sell the good grade and a Chinese version.....

BROWNELLS MULTI-VISE™ | Brownells

For small parts, I found a surprisingly good Chinese vise sold by Harbor Freight.
It needs a few alterations, but is a very good small tool.........

Table Swivel Vise

Forget the small "Pana-Vise" types that mount with a vacuum bottom to the bench.
These seldom stay put and they're made of aluminum.
These are okay for model railroading but just don't have it for gunsmithing.

An excellent, very high quality vise for doing delicate trigger or small parts work is the expensive Forster "Swiv-O-Ling" vise.........

Swiv-O-Ling Vise - Forster Products

Small tools like jewelers tweezers, pliers, and Swiss needle files can be bought from online watchmaker and jeweler supply house like Otto Frei and Jules Borel.

Last, don't buy a lot of tooling until you know you'll actually need it.
Like most craftsmen, you'll wind up making some of your own specialty tools.
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Old 11-21-2020, 07:08 PM
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I'd like to mention something I forgot to above......

A great method of removing burrs, removing small amounts of metal and tweaking guns is to use a fine Arkansas Stone instead of a file or sand paper. The fine stone will remove metal at a much slower rate and will sort of give you a bit of insurance you don't go too far too fast! The other plus us that unlike when using a file or heavier grit abrasive, you will not need to smooth tool marks out because an Arkansas Stone doesn't leave any because it is so fine to begin with. YES - the AK stone is slower - but that's actually a good thing when you are just starting out.
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:22 AM
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Quote:
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I'd like to mention something I forgot to above......

A great method of removing burrs, removing small amounts of metal and tweaking guns is to use a fine Arkansas Stone instead of a file or sand paper. The fine stone will remove metal at a much slower rate and will sort of give you a bit of insurance you don't go too far too fast! The other plus us that unlike when using a file or heavier grit abrasive, you will not need to smooth tool marks out because an Arkansas Stone doesn't leave any because it is so fine to begin with. YES - the AK stone is slower - but that's actually a good thing when you are just starting out.
Very good information from chief38. I might add a word of caution before using abrasive tools; IMO a proper and smooth action is not really so much about polishing surfaces to a mirror finish but more about how well the parts fit and work together. At most, a couple of light strokes with a hard Arkansas stone on contact points is sufficient, if at all. Better .... simply slightly breaking sharp edges or knocking off a sharp corner; proper fit of hand/ratchet; proper clearance/let out angle of the double action sear, etc. Good spring tension "balance" between mainspring and rebound spring weights.
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:11 AM
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Buy a good vise and vise jaw pads . I have the Brownells multi-vise but I bought a used Wilton machinist vise ( looks like a torpedo). Wish I would have bought the Wilton twenty years ago. The 4Ē Wilton new is about $750 but you can find a good used one for a lot less. Good screwdrivers. Punches and starter punches. Alignment pin/punches come in handy when reassembling guns. The AGI gunsmith DVDís and kuhnhanson shop manuals are also a good investment.
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:50 PM
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Also good manuals for any gun you want to work on and before you take something apart see how somebody else does it on youtube so you can see what works and in the case of youtube how not to mess something up. Brownells is a great resource.
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Old 11-24-2020, 08:36 PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions! The simpler of the visors I have is the Donegan and I recommend it without reservations. It's lightweight and allows for the magnification to be changed. Maybe an LED would make it better, but at the expense of the added weight.

That's a great suggestion to only buy the tools when you know you'll be needing them. I had a friend who had more money than common sense, and on more than one occasion witnessed him buying tools that he later discovered already had stored, unused, in his garage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
For small parts, I found a surprisingly good Chinese vise sold by Harbor Freight.
It needs a few alterations, but is a very good small tool.........

Table Swivel Vise
dfariswheel, unfortunately, I think right now the Forster vise is out of the question for me, but how do you recommend altering the HFT vise? I was thinking about adding a small drill press type vise, for using with hand tools, but the one you linked is more adjustable and can also be screwed to the bench.

Cheers
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Old 11-25-2020, 07:47 PM
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I'll have to also recommend two ceramic stones sold by Brownell's. I wish they had offered them long ago, as they are really great for final polishing, particularly on 1911 sear and hammer contact surfaces, (and others) especially when using sear jigs. The Norton India stones are great for prep and shaping work, and for repairing push off, but these stones give a mirror finish when it is required.

They are 6" X 1/2" X 1/2", which makes them easy to handle, and are very hard. Also custom ground in order to have sharp 90į edges. Clean up with soap and water, no oil needed.

Relatively expensive, but they last a long time.....as long as you don't drop them.

BROWNELLS 6" X 1/2" X 1/2" CERAMIC STONES | Brownells

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Old Yesterday, 09:19 AM
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Here is my list.

For a bench mat – get a cheap rubber door mat from Home Depot.
Magnetic parts tray – Brownell’s or Harbor freight.
Small cross-peen gunsmith’s hammer – Brownell’s or Midway.
Plano fishing tackle box for tool and parts storage – Cabelas or Basspro.
Rebound spring tool – make it yourself. There are many examples on this forum.
Punches – make them yourself from Allen wrenches or masonry nails.
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Once you assemble your core collection of hand tools it then becomes absolutely necessary that your train and learn proper selection and use of files then stones. If you watch a master mechanic like Ron Power work or could walk into Pachmayrís shop and view the rows of benches and skilled gunsmiths the one tool youíll see the most is files. When Ron Power needs to remove and fit up parts from .002 - .004Ē quickly and accurately he does it with hand files the stones and he makes it look easy to hold 90į and truly flat. Harry Pope could take a ball bearing or steel ball and square it to a perfect cube repeatedly and quite fast. This was a common test years ago for training gunsmiths and bicycle makers. Anyway get good quality files and condition your hands and forearms to use them accurately and your on your way to high quality work.

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Location: Deming and Columbus, NM
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A good hammer


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DwayneV DwayneV is offline
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Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies Would appreciate suggestions for decent Gunsmithing tools and supplies  
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Louisiana
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gargler is correct on the use of files.

The file is a unique tool. It is the only tool that can reproduce itself. With a file you can cut a chisel. With a chisel you can cut another file. How about that?
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