For the last several days, I've been working on shaping and polishing hardware on the 17th century fowling piece introduced in the last post. Some of the hardware was copied from an original gun by Herman Bongarde of Dusseldorf, Germany and some is my own design created from masters I produced. In this segment, I will show some of the steps relating to finishing a cast guard with relief decoration.
Filing and polishing standard hardware void of relief decoration is pretty standard fare and doesn't require a lot of special consideration. It of course requires filing and then polishing with successively finer abrasives. These abrasives can be in the form of paper, stones or loose particles. With relief work, the process becomes a bit more challenging. Background must be carefully worked with small files, stones or special purpose bent files or riflers. The first choice is always a standard file, but these will only access certain areas. If these aren't suitable, stones or special purpose tools must be used. After the background is cleaned up, attention is paid to the actual relief decoration.
In order to re-cut the relief designs, gravers and die-sinker chisels of various shapes are used. Squares, flats and several different radius bottomed tools. The process is very similar to carving in wood, only different material removal techniques must be used.
After chiseling, some areas can be cleaned up with fine files and in other areas stones must be used. After stoning, loose pumice can be used as well as woven abrasives such as Scotch-Brite. Finally the entire piece is darkened with cold blue and then re-polished to darken low spots and accentuate the forms.
The guard shown will be engraved with borders and perhaps some additional work on the grip rail and forward extension.
As always, if there are any question or comments I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for all that have subscribed to follow these posts.
UPDATE: There have been a couple of questions that I'll talk about. The gray stuff shown in the above photo is a plastic that softens with temperature. It can be heated and formed around parts to hold them in place. In this case it's around the guard and a piece of wood clamped in the vise. For chisel work, it's important that the piece be held pretty solid.
The little stones shown in the blog post are used quite a bit for polishing after chiseling. I bought mine from Congress Tools, though Geiswensells similar products. Some of my favorites are the "Y-oil", "regular" and "supersoft". I also have some brown ones with a reinforcing fiber that work well. Can't remember their name. They sell some called "super ceramic" that I would like to try. I've heard very good things about them.
The relief work on the Bongarde guard was not exactly what I wanted, so I decided to reshape things to some degree. The original decoration was rather weak in definition and I couldn't help but to get the feeling some of it might have been formed with forging dies.
Jim Kibler--maker of flintlock rifles.