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I took a couple of shop classes a very long time ago, way back in high school. We even had a great teacher, a retired engineer from Caterpillar. Unfortunately, I paid no attention whatsoever as none of it interested me at the time. Nowadays, however, I wish that I had. With my ever-expanding interest in all things rifles, I have read posts from great many of members whom I guess are the "old pros" on here talk about the importance of machining experience when it comes to gunsmithing.

Aside from taking some machine shop classes at a community college, which I just might someday consider, what books would anyone recommend for the absolute novice?

You know what... What gunsmithing books do folks here recommend?
 

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Hard to say what books might be good for you as I haven't picked up one of those books since I took Tool & Die Making 20+ years ago....

Books are good for the basic rules of thumb, but where you're really going to learn to be a good machinist is on the job (which it sounds like you're not headed in that direction) or maybe you have a good friend who's a machinist and can teach you some things...

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Self-study can get you a long way. An artist friend of mine bought a small endmill and lathe, and begin teaching himself how to make some sculptural elements he wanted. Nowadays, he still does the sculptures, but also does some beautiful gun work for himself and a very few (like, 2) close friends -- sometimes. If I can show him what I need, and talk him in to it -- and that might take months!-- he can make whatever I need.
 

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You can get some information thru books, but all mine was taught by on the job training from some of the old Craftmen. What I learned from them was priceless and something that I would have never picked up from just reading about it.
First lesson they taught me was to never wear gloves or long sleeved shirts.
 
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Moondoggie hit on the number one lesson. Safety. It can be done but it sure is easier to seek at least basic instruction before starting. I can turn, bore, face on a lathe but that about it. My stuff always served as purposed but I was a better fabricator than machinest (wink).

Hopefully Swany will jump in here and give some of his expertise.
 

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Books are good for the basic rules of thumb, but where you're really going to learn to be a good machinist is on the job
I can vouch for that. I was part of a "class" getting apprentice training as a millwright many moons ago in Utah. Part of the training was instruction by the tool and die makers. After we thought we knew enough the toolmaker GG (yep that was his name) gave us a simple test - take a piece of tool steel and make him a perfect cubic inch - complete with heat treating to a Rockwell hardness of 58. Suffice to say it let us know where our weak spots were...
 

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Go to school and talk to the instructor aboutd what you want to do. I completed an machinist apprenticeship in a power plant and got a machine job about once a year afterwards.. They taught me enough to know when I was in over my head! Good instruction is the start and then it is a matter of running the machines and honing your skills.

Zen Buddhism uses koans...stories like parables in the bible. A young japanese man was on the verge of disgrace because of his failure as a samurai. He went to visit a retired master of the sword and was reluctantly accepted as a disciple with the conditions of no discussion on when he would receive instruction and he must do household work. He followed the rules for months doing menial jobs and no instruction. He wanted to quit, but continued for "one more day." While cooking on an outdoor fire, the master attacked him with a wooden sword. As days followed, the master attacked with the wooden sword constantly, waking or sleeping, whatever. Finally, while the student was cooking, the master attacked and the student deflected the wooden sword by a fractional inch with the pot lid. The master then gave him an antique sword and a certificate of achievement. Kinda the long way around, but the way to learn machine work is to watch the masters while you are sweeping the shop and quietly observe...then practice and hone your skills.
 

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LGG, for books on machine shop work check with Lindsey publications, they list lots of old books which will have invaluable information. Having been a machinist years ago I agree with others, get an old pro and have him mentor you, that is the best way to learn machining. Hands on maching work is the best school you can get. Your hands eyes and ears will tell you what the machine tools are doing much better than a book, take care. Just keep on keeping on, John.
 

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My favorite gunsmithing book is Gunsmithing by Roy Dunlap, its old but it has a lot of good info. Amazon has it now for around $25.00 plus shipping. Amazon has a lot of good gunsmithing and machining books. Machinists textbooks are usually pretty good and geared toward the beginner. Check out Youtube and MidwayUSA's website for gunsmithing videos. These will give you an idea of the skills and tools required to do gunsmithing but hands-on with a good instructor really is the best way to learn, you'll avoid a lot of expensive and painful mistakes. If you know anyone who is a gunsmith or machinist talk to them and see if they'll teach you, if that isn't an option a comm. college class would be good.
 
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