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Thread: whats your favorite gunsmithing tool brand and tool source

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    whats your favorite gunsmithing tool brand and tool source

    I'm hoping to start a gunsmithing program this fall. I will be required to have some basic tools and a quite a few books . Im trying to reduce my costs as much as possable as well as spread school costs out a bit I also understand a good tool that is taken care of can last a lifetime, Below is a few of the tools I need, If you can recomend a better version or sourrce for any of these I'm all ears !!Thanks for looking

    55/60 Degree Center Gauge MSC Sweden 650-924-21
    0-6” Vernier Caliper SATCO General MG6001DC
    0-1” Micrometer SATCO Starrett T436XEL-1
    India Stone Combination SATCO Norton 85560
    ¾” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C24
    ¼” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C8
    ⅛” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C4
    American Screw Pitch Gauge SATCO General 252
    Metric Screw Pitch Gauge SATCO General 255mm
    Bonanza Screw Driver Set Brownell’s 319-120-000
    Drive Pin Punch Set SATCO Starrett S565PC
    Needle File Set SATCO Warrensville 40142
    12” Lathe File SATCO Nicholson 07688

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Why stop there when you can spend the rest of your life getting tools. On the 6" caliper I buy the least expensive, that way I'm not out a bunch of money when it gets dropped on the floor and I can have several backup ones around the shop.
    John Taylor, Taylor Machine, gunsmith

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post
    Why stop there when you can spend the rest of your life getting tools.
    Ive been collecting tools as long as i can remember, this is a list of some i need to have and dont yet, for the first day of class.
    Thanks for the tip on calipers , exactly the incite i hope to learn here !

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Try CDCO for the best pricing on the cheaper tools. Also watch E Bay for machine tools I have a set of Brown and Sharp mikes 1-2 and 3 that I got for 40 bucks with a year old factory certification letter.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    While it might be nice to have name brand tools you don't need to spend that much when there are other brands that will do the job just as well and not hurt the pocket book as much. Most people shun the Harbor freight stuff but I have several of their tools that get used a lot. Yard sales sometimes have some great buy. Most pawn shops ask to much for name brand tools. You can also check out http://www.wttool.com/ and drillsandcutters.com. Try to stay away from tools made in India, most I have had do not hold up.
    John Taylor, Taylor Machine, gunsmith

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy Hdskip's Avatar
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    John it's good to hear someone speak with common sense about tools. I worked almos 45 years in machining and collected manty tools. very few were purchased new. top of the line is nice but it also depends on the use the tool will be put too. Good comments

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    This might sound goofy, but one of my best gunsmithing tools is a hand-held belt sander. I lay it on its side and use it for situations where I need to grind with lots of control (such as grinding the bottom of a sight blade to get the height I want). The flat surface grinds a controlled flat profile much better than a grinding wheel. Also, by changing the type of sandpaper you can control how aggressive the grinding is.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by zymguy View Post
    Below is a few of the tools I need, If you can recomend a better version or sourrce for any of these I'm all ears !!Thanks for looking

    55/60 Degree Center Gauge MSC Sweden 650-924-21
    0-6” Vernier Caliper SATCO General MG6001DC
    0-1” Micrometer SATCO Starrett T436XEL-1
    India Stone Combination SATCO Norton 85560
    ¾” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C24
    ¼” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C8
    ⅛” Double Ended HSS, 2 Flute SATCO Republic CR50C4
    American Screw Pitch Gauge SATCO General 252
    Metric Screw Pitch Gauge SATCO General 255mm
    Bonanza Screw Driver Set Brownell’s 319-120-000
    Drive Pin Punch Set SATCO Starrett S565PC
    Needle File Set SATCO Warrensville 40142
    12” Lathe File SATCO Nicholson 07688
    I would ebay all that I could that is decent quality. India made mill cutters and machine tools are quite good and very affordable.

    0-1" Mitutoyo Digimatic mic that reads in .0001" for $45 or so is my daily user mic, but the best part of the mic is the $11 stand that holds it so I have both hands free.

    6" Mitutoyo Digimatic vernier caliper works great, ebayed for about the price of a new China made POS from Lowe's or Home Depot. Can't go wrong.
    Got a .22 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  9. #9
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGuy View Post
    I would ebay all that I could that is decent quality.
    ill look into/buy the caliper and mic you refrenced. I'm trying to find out whats decent and whats hype without buying them both,,, with this thread =)
    thanks guys keep em'coming

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    Measurement and cutting tools, I would recommend checking Ebay for used units, as they will be a fraction of the cost of the new ones for quality American/European units. Used standards will also be inexpensive and help you calibrate units you might be suspicious of (although I have yet to find a micrometer/caliper that has been off that I have not personally refurbished).

    My first mic was a Tumico bought at a flea market, and it is basically as accurate as the Mitutoyo digital units that I have now. Precision made and lightly used/not abused measurement instruments are all over now that American manufacturing is dead. You might even find some decent local deals on Craigslist.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I have a slightly different philosophy. I buy the very best quality measuring tools I can afford even if it means saving my nickels to do it. My reasoning is twofold: 1) when working to barest minimum tolerances I like to eliminate as many niggling doubts about the tool's accuracy, plus 2) I tend to be much more careful with a tool if I spent my grocery money on it. Example: I bought a 0-6" Helios dial caliper 40 years ago which I seriously could not afford but I wanted the best. I have never dropped it on the floor, and it retains dead nuts accuracy despite having been used a bazillion times. I can't say the same of some no-name cheapies I bought along the way.

    I would rather spend $150 once in my life rather than $50 six or eight times.

    Aside from tool quality, an equally important purchase is a means to safely store them. Gerstner tool chests are ungodly expensive (but used ones can be found reasonably cheaply) but will last a lifetime and beyond, and there's a reason all the old time machinists used them- they work efficiently, not because they're cool looking. There are lower cost alternatives such as Kennedy steel chests (if they still make them), and any number of other alternatives. My point is don't overlook that aspect of the trade; you don't want to throw your stuff in a shoe box or Tupperware container. (Your future clients will run the other way if they see you mis-treating your tools, thinking if that's how it is then how will he treat my gun?)
    Last edited by gnoahhh; 07-20-2017 at 08:00 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    It is very hard to verify that a used (whatever) on ebay is still serviceable. You are gambling with each purchase you make. Overall you may come out ok but some purchases may be lost money.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I find that for most purposes the cheaper (usually Chinese) tools give me what I need in accuracy and strength for basic machine classes, but as I was taking the classes I was adding nice used measuring tools as I found them priced reasonably. I've got Starrett mics from 0-1" through 5-6" as well as a Mitutoyo 6" dial caliper for work at home as well as some other higher grade measuring as well as cutting tools that stay at home in the little Gerstner chest and are used when I want to do my very best. Since you are going into gunsmithing, your box will be different from mine. Some of the tools on your list are going to be indistinguishable as to price, but in most cases they will be used pretty heavily, so I would go for the "name brand" stuff since wear and precision retention will be a consideration. Screw drivers and to a greater degree drill bits, cutters, and reamers, etc are consumables, but cheaping out on them will come back to bite you. Don't skimp here.

    Froggie
    "It aint easy being green!"

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    A good retailer, with good prices and great selection, not really nationally known, but they are opening up with mail order, is Production Tool Supply http://www.pts-tools.com/cgi/CGP2HOME . They have gotten a lot of business from me over the years, and will continue to get more.

    I found a nice old X Y drill press vice at an estate sale that needs a new dial knob, and they carry those too..

  15. #15
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Von Dingo View Post
    A good retailer, with good prices and great selection, not really nationally known, but they are opening up with mail order, is Production Tool Supply http://www.pts-tools.com/cgi/CGP2HOME . They have gotten a lot of business from me over the years, and will continue to get more.

    I found a nice old X Y drill press vice at an estate sale that needs a new dial knob, and they carry those too..
    thanks !!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master





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    Don't go digital IMHO they will not repeat like a dial can and they will break first time you drop them on the cement floor.

    I will take the cheap version of 6 inch calipers from MSC dial ones over any. You will screw them up.
    For micrometers I am still using Starret's my father gave me 40+ years ago along with the wrench to adjust them.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master rondog's Avatar
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    Get a set of gunsmithing stones from Boride Engineered Abrasives. I have their Action Set, and they're marvelous!

    Also, small files are invaluable, I have several sets. Small ballpien hammer, small brass hammer, small plastic hammer. I buy a lot of tools at Harbor Freight that are just dandy for gunsmithing use. Yeah, I know all about the dislike people have for HF, but if you choose carefully you can find a LOT of things that are great for light duty or delicate work. Good prices too. Bulk packs of disposable brushes are great for cleaning, applying grease, applying finishes, etc. Use once and toss.

    Also can't say enough about a Dremel tool with a large selection of stones and buffs. A good speed control is very valuable too. Used with care, a Dremel can be your best friend. Used recklessly, it can be your worst nightmare. Top speed is best avoided.
    Last edited by rondog; 07-23-2017 at 04:59 PM.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post
    Why stop there when you can spend the rest of your life getting tools. On the 6" caliper I buy the least expensive, that way I'm not out a bunch of money when it gets dropped on the floor and I can have several backup ones around the shop.
    +1
    My precision measurements are done with a mike. Chinese from Lyman, but as accurate as the $125 Mititoyo I checked it against when I bought it years ago.

    Shiloh
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  19. #19
    Boolit Man
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    How about the toolbox ? In my current life i live in an apt. I rent a semi trailer that functions as my tool storage. I usually grab all the tools i think ill need for a task in 5 gallon buckets , buckets dividers on the inside and holsters/skirts on the outside as the task requirs. I have a couple clasic tool boxes with sockets but i try to keep them light enough i can lift them. When im in school i imagine ill need some sort of portable nearly secureable tool box, any suggestions?

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Kennedy makes a good tool box

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	200542 This is the most common 20" machinist chest

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ID:	200543 This is the most common 26" machinist chest

    They are very expensive but a used one should be $75 to $150 in good condition.


    For a good micrometer Scherr-Tumico 0-1 mikes are easily found for $15 to $20 in like new condition. Most of them are US govt surplus from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. You can find them on ebay all the time.

    I collect mikes mostly high quality 0-1 and 1-2.
    For use by even the most skilled workers ordinary but quality brands are more than adequate for a life time of use.


    Top quality mikes include Tesa (Swiss made), Etalon (Swiss made - same mike thimble as the Tesa with a different shape frame, Mahr (German made) and some fat thimble mikes made by Mitutoyo.

    Middle of the road to very good quality (this is the quality used by most tool makers and machinists. They are better than what is needed by a home gunsmith. Brown and Sharp (US made) (the Swiss made Brown and Sharp belong with Tesa above) Mitutoyo standard design mikes, Scherr-Tumico, There are many mikes in this category, Just be sure to buy one in very good to like new condition.

    Older brands that are out of production are ok if you are able to check the calibration first.
    Those brands include Slocomb, Scherr, Tumico, Reed, these were all names that were combined to make Scherr-Tumico.
    Sears Craftsman mikes are usually Scherr-Tumico but Sears brand without the Craftsman brand are usually junk. Same for Monkey Wards.

    Stay away from the bottom of the barrel die cast mikes made by General and others.
    Last edited by EDG; 07-26-2017 at 06:34 PM.
    EDG

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