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Tools for the Amateur Riflesmith

Page 6

Firearms use some pretty rare threads, and require odd and hard to find taps. Of course Brownells has them all, either individually or in various kits.

The kit shown above Ý Ý Ý contains a good assortment of taps, each size tap is supplied as a 3-piece set, taper, plug and bottoming and comes with a tap and clearance drill. Now, carbon steel taps went out with the Curved Dash Olds, being replaced with HiSpeed steel alloy taps that give faster threads and longer life. BUT, when you break a HiSpeed tap in a $500 receiver, it's a bitch to remove. So, in the 'smithing world, carbon steel taps are put to good use, and Brownells supplies carbon steel taps in most sizes. The CS taps wear out faster, but at $1.50 each, the ease of removal out weighs the increased life of the HSS taps.

Here is a selection of tap handles, Ý Ý Ý the two at the top are "tee" style, these are available in fixed (sliding handle) and ratcheting, for most firearm work the fixed style are fine, and are also easier to use. The two at the bottom are straight handles, used for taps or chambering reamers. 

In addition to the drills used with taps, drills are used for a wide variety of other work. The most common drills are called "jobbers" length and come in fractional sizes (3/32, 1/2, 13/16, 27/64) starting at 1/64-inch and going to 1/2-inch and bigger. The entire body of the bit (drill) is the size of the bit, and the larger in diameter the bit, the longer it is. Fractional bits come in 1/64-inch increments. In order to "fill-in" the gaps in the fractional sizes, additional sizes are available, starting at #80 (the smallest) and increasing in size to #1, called "number drills", and then starting at "A" and increasing in size to "Z". These come in a variety packaging and styles of storage cases. Wholesale Tool and Brownells will sell individual bits while Enco sells in "packages", usually 12 each.

One of the packages sold is a drill and tap set Ý Ý Ý containing the popular tap sizes and the drill that works with the tap. These are not available in the "smithing popular sizes" (to my knowledge).

This Ý Ý Ý is a set of all fractional drills 1/16 to 1/2 inch, all letter drills, A to Z, and number drills 1 to 60. 115 drills in all. The gold coating is TiN, I think thatís titanium nitride, a coating that inhibits clogging and decreases friction. This (Chinese) set is about $50 from Wholesale.

Above are some miscellaneous drills. In the upper left is a 5-piece set of center drills, about $6 from Wholesale, used for starting holes, countersinking and center drilling on the lathe. To their right are two countersinks, used to bevel the edge of a drilled hole. The countersink to the right is a "zero flute" style, used in the aircraft trade. This design won't chatter when sinking. The two lower drills are both 1/4-inch, the upper is a common "jobbers length" bit and the one below is a "spotting" drill. When held in a drill press chuck, the spotting drill is much stiffer, and less inclined to bend. This link shows some more styles of drills.

This is a collection of "Socket Head, Cap Screw Counterbores". These allow making a hole such that a "Allen" head screw can have its' head sunk flush, or below, the surface of a piece to be held. Like those holes in a scope base. I guess a picture is worth a 1000 words, LIKE THIS. These counterbores are about $9 each.

Any time your drilling or tapping, some kind of cutting lubricant IS REQUIRED. On the left is Brownells "Do-Drill", and excellent oil, in the middle something on sale from Wholesale, and on the right, "Tap Magic". All three cost $4-$6 a pint and work very well.

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