Friday, February 12, 2016

Dremels are Hard

That little gyroscope writhes like a snake in your hands.  Even knowing best practices and the safest techniques learned from long experience, it is a difficult device to master

EVERYONE knows the conventional wisdom that the Dremel is where amatuer gunsmiths go wrong and really mess up their gun.  Best not use it. 

But there are things you use it on that there really no better tool you can use!  You can't just swap it out for a file or something. 

Where do you HAVE to use it?

The lugs under the barrel.  The barrel ramp.  The frame to barrel ramp transition. 

"But wait!  Why use that dremel tool for the bottom lugs? Just use a barrel lug cutter."  That was a comment in a previous post.

Thing is... I did. We do. We use a barrel lug cutter.  They are vital.  But they don't take you all the way. 

The first cutter hogs off a bunch.  You better turn the cutter the correct direction or you will round over the cutting teeth.  Always use plenty of oil.  Man does it cut away little slivers of metal.  That cutter measures 0.185" or 0.186".  After that cut, you switch to the bigger cutter for the 'finish' cut.  0.195" or 0.196" depending on who you get it from.

But this isn't really the finish cut.  This section contacts the slide release.  What is the diameter of the slide pin?  0.20 inches, give or take a tough or two.  More than 0.196 inches at any rate.  A cutter that measures 0.2 or even 0.198 won't fit in the slide release pin hole in the frame.  0.185, then 0.196, then....  nothing available.  So you gotta use your Sharpie smoke-lamp and fit the lugs to the slide release.  To get at most 0.005 inches of metal removed in the right places.  And the only real tool for this is a Dremel with a carbide bit.  I WISH there was a way to so this with a hand tool 

This, is hard.  It's hard for the gunsmith, and he has done thousands of these.  Even he messes up and has to start over on occasion.   


Charles Lee Scudder said...

Could you clarify on this bit of the process? I am not sure but the way you described it makes me think there might be a hand tool for this.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

The little curvy part on the bottom of the barrel. Without the link in place. You want this to make good contact with the slide release while the gun is in lockup. While cycling this part can't hand up on the slide release. Tolerance have to be pretty tight for best performance.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Remember, this area is build oversize and you HAVE to grind away metal to get everything to work together. And if you screw up you get to add metal and start from scratch.

Anonymous said...

So what did gunsmiths do before the invention of the Dremel? (It dates to the 30s.) Does the 1911 not have this issue?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I hope... files. But I don't know anyone that teaches that technique, and I am wary of the finish a double cut small rat tail file.

Maybe I need to take a watch making class....

Charles Lee Scudder said...

There is the option of using a progression of diamond needle files, then various grit sand papers wrapped around metal rods to finish out. Lot more controlled metal removal and surface finish