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First Homemade Gun(under construction)

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
First Homemade Gun...finished

The gun is a 39" midhandle stock. It is comprised of three laminates of douglas fir that have been fiberglassed w/ 6 oz roven woxen and epoxy. The gun tapers from the handle to the muzzle. It is being designed around a 1/4" shaft for 2x 5/8", but with the capacity to take four bands and a 5/16th shaft. The gun still needs two pieces of hardware install. After the installation the gun will recieve a final sealing coat of epoxy and then be primed and painted. As of now, even with the fiberglass layer, the gun weights 2lbs and I anticipate the need to add lead once finished.

I've already posted pictures of the gun in the sheepslayer post where John is showing pics of his new toy. I wanted to put up a few more pictures of the homemade handle and two abalone inlays: a pushrod 'retainer' and a decrative striped bass (Morone saxatilis...incase any of you were wondering).

The pink color you see in the photos is bondo. This has been used to fill that were taken out to aid w/ construction. I've got a limited shop so most detail has been done by hand. Since the gun has been glassed the surface is flat, and once painted no one will be able to tell.


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So much free time... when are you getting a job? ;)

jk, nice job Chris. Looking nice. You dremel all the abalone inlays.
Guess this means you paid your cable bill ? :hmm

jk, copping saw. Got out on monday, great conditions. We'll hit the water soon.
I noticed that Gimansub use douglas for the Labrax range.

Could you tell me a bit about Douglas fir and why you chose it ? (properties etc)

I am tempted to make a small 80cm woodie and thought Douglas fir cos it is available here and not too expensive (can also get teak at not too bad a price - pros and cons of teak over douglas fir ? )

When choosing the stock what is a good thing to look for in the wood ? tight straight grain ?

Also - why glass it ? From dealing with glass in the past I would imagine that there would be the chance of spoiling the wood once water get in ? (Coming from surfboard shaping).

Cheers if you can answer - gaining knowledge s l o w l y !
Portinfer, I think you've got the hang of it. I went with the douglas fir b/c it's cheap. That was biggest factor. The second best quality is a compression strength of 1700 psi. This is very high for a wood indiginous to the States (the oak family is in the neghborhood of 1400 psi for comparison). Spearguns have load in only one direction so the weaker flexural strenghth is of little concern esp. w/ the glass job.

The fiberglassing and cross doweling was done as a substitute for aging the wood. I wasn't removing too much and the orignial stock was kiln dried so hopefully it won't be warping. I let you guys know in a few months! The grains were reversed so any tendensy to warp should be countered by the opposite laminate.

Since Doug fir is a soft wood, and this is a short gun, I thought the glass would be nice to give a really tuff scratch resistant finish. A lot of guys, for better or for worse, are finishing their guns w/ epoxy. This step, with or without the roven woven, will lead to the potential failure of the wood due to rot. Any gap or deep gouge that exposes the wood estabilishes an avenue to the bare wood. Since water is adhesive (sticks to stuff) and cohesive (sticks to self) if the gouge is not fixed the gun will, eventually, be ruined.

The last reason I chose to fiberglass was b/c of the ease of finish. Since you have experience with glass you know how easy it is to fix and finish. This allowed me to make mistakes on the gun or severely damage the gun in the future, and still be able to restore a proper finish. It offers excellent hiding characteristics.

I just couldn't bring myself to use nice oiled wood for a gun that will be shoved into rocky holes on the bottom. I, obviously, think a case can be made for "inferior" woods in short gun building. However I really wouldn't suggest using a wood other than teak. It's a fair amount of work and if you want the gun to be there in 15yrs there's no other tried and true way. There are countless other woods to 'experiment' with if your so inclinded.

When selecting teak it's long straight grain w/ out warping. No knots or blemishes or checking. Tighter grain the better, also heavier/denser wood is best. Actually another benifit to fir and glass is that it's kinder on your tools than teak which, with it's high silica content, is hard on router bits, blades, drills etc.

A few other guns made from Doug. fir are the picasso pacific century, and omersub america. I didn't know about the Gimansub.
Wow excellent thread you guys!

A lot of great information so far!

Defofthecrown: How much band stretch did you achieve with your design? I guess what I'm asking is what's the measurement between the band hole at the muzzle and the shaft tabs when the shaft is loaded?
Also: What shaft length / tab configuration are you planning to use with the gun?

On the subject of re-sealing nicks and gouges in an epoxy only protected barrel: I've found that the thin type super glue works well to seal/ re-seal breaches in the epoxy barrier. Let the wood dry out before saturating the unprotected wood.

Fish tale: In a classic example of putting the cart before the horse I designed the gun around the shaft! I went on a spearfishing trip through Florida last Christmas holiday and saw a 1/4" 44" riffe shaft on sale for $5. I mean I'm cheap, and I didn't even have a Riffe gun, but how can you pass that up?

One of the most popular guns in the mid-atlantic is the MT-1. Seeing as I had the shaft and a cheap Riffe trigger I decided to put two and two together, literally.

Since it's a light shaft I'm only going to pull two 5/8ths bands for starters. The length form the end of the band slot to the farthest notch on the shaft is 31", one inch longer than the metal tech 1 and 'bottom'. The only reason it's longer is b/c I left myself a little extra lumber in case of mistakes which I didn't need. The shaft has two tabs, so the bands can be loaded in any configuration. I then ground a point onto the shaft and added a 3" flopper.
IMO designing the gun around the shaft (projectile) makes good sense. The projectile is ultimately what gets the job done.

If I understand the advantages of long band pull, your design should be a very fast gun in it's size class!
defofthecrown said:
Fish tale: In a classic example of putting the cart before the horse I designed the gun around the shaft! I went on a spearfishing trip through Florida last Christmas holiday and saw a 1/4" 44" riffe shaft on sale for $5. I mean I'm cheap, and I didn't even have a Riffe gun, but how can you pass that up?

Thats strange. You must have went to the same dive shop I went to. They had a 1/4 riffe shaft marked as 9/32 and it was marked down .I passed it up
for a 5/16 at another store. I decided to go with making a mold for the fiberglass tube and used epoxy and glass fibers and micro ballons to fill it up.
I was going to send the pic in a pm but forgot I can't.So here it is.

Its upside down by the way.


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Aj- That looks really good. Remember micro ballons are for filling and fairing. The glass your using is what gives it the strength. That's going to look great when you put it on the gun barrel.

The dive shop wasn't in your neck of the woods. I think it was in Key Largo. Oh, and the next time you find any $5 Riffe shaft give a heads up to though of us w/out a dive shop on every block!
Next time I see some riffe shafts i'll pick them up.I used 1/32 milled fibers for the reinforcement and put one strip of 6oz glass on the bottom.I bought a quart of system three resin and hardener for $36 dollars including the pumps.I was a bit worried because I got the fast hardener and after 20 minutes it didn't start to go off,
I thought I was gonna have to start over.I think it took so long because it was 44 degrees yesterday and the store wasn't to warm inside.I'm keeping the epoxy inside so it should work better now. I was watching ship shape tv and a commercial came on for bristal finish.That seems to be the best stuff to use for finishing spearguns ,You can apply as many as 5 coats in one day
with no prep between coats.Gotta get some to try.
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Here's a little more detail on the handle fabrication. This is a second block before shaping for a friends gun.


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...and here's the finished paint job. This is loosely based on early 20th century 'Dazzle' camouflage.


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Chris,We need a plastic handle desighn that can be put on any gun without alot of work,any ideas? I have an aimrite like Johns' and it's ok but we need another alternative.
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yeah no doubt...them things are not cheap at 50 bux a pop...i"m almost considering chopping mine in 1/2 to make a mold.

cant bring myself to do it...
what wood are your gun handles made from? is the trigger guard fragile?
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