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Thread: Hiding file marks

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Hiding file marks

    I was recently trying to fill an empty dovetail slot in a rifle, what a job that is. I tried pre-made fillers that are big gaudy, ugly things, I even tried to make my own out of brass. I finally just gave up on trying to be fancy, and bought some dovetail slot blank filler from Brownells. After cutting it just wider than the slot, I found it to be a little bit of a sloppy fit in the slot. I decided that I wanted it semi-permanent, so I epoxied it with JB weld. After it cured, I taped 3 layers of masking tape around the blank, and started working with the file. Once I got close, I switched to a smaller file, and slowed down, I got right down the the end, and slipped, TWICE. At that point, I decided it was close enough, and pulled the tape. Underneath are two very noticeable, but not very deep scratches, about 1/8" wide by 3/8" long. Before pulling the tape, I finished the filler with some finer emery cloth, and went with the grain of the barrel. The filler doesn't look half bad besides the bluing not taking my first try. The dings don't blend in so well. I'm going to try a different touch-up bluing, but am wondering if I should try and sand the scratches to kind of feather it out, or just blue it and ignore it? Maybe somebody has a better idea? I should clarify that by "going with the grain," the barrel has a bit of a brushed finish, and by sanding with that, it really blends in. I just worry it may do more harm than good in this case.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You can feather them out working slowly and carefully. Another thing when you get close with the fine file go to a style of filing known as draw filing. This makes the file cut much more even and it dosnt dig in or grab. It also gives better control. Another plus is that on most barrels the draw file finish matches much closer. This will finish much finer and flatter.

    On a "slightly sloppy" dove tail filler f its slightly taller than the dovetail ( most are) place it on a hard flat surface and lightly tap on it with a small ball peen hammer ( 4oz-8oz) if the face is polished even better for this. The tapping will thin it and make it slightly wider and slightly longer as it thins. The light even tapping will thin and make it wider thus fitting the slot tightly. A small dia flat punch with a polished face can be used also. The flat on a vise works as does a heavy piece of flat stock on a solid bench, best is a anvil with a clean face.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    On a "slightly sloppy" dove tail filler f its slightly taller than the dovetail ( most are) place it on a hard flat surface and lightly tap on it with a small ball peen hammer ( 4oz-8oz) if the face is polished even better for this. The tapping will thin it and make it slightly wider and slightly longer as it thins. The light even tapping will thin and make it wider thus fitting the slot tightly. A small dia flat punch with a polished face can be used also. The flat on a vise works as does a heavy piece of flat stock on a solid bench, best is a anvil with a clean face.
    That's a great idea, I'll remember that for next time.

    As for the filing, I was draw filing, but I was also trying to do it while curving around the contour of the barrel. I may have been going at it too hard, but it happened. I'll be more careful next time, and will be using another kind of tape. I'll post pictures when done.

  4. #4
    This is hindsight, but if it is a barrel that isn't going to get very hot, you could fill the slot with epoxy mixed with lamp black, or Brownells epoxy black powder which may actually be lamp black. A little blade made of brass or copper hammered thin to harden it, and steel or bronze wool, are good enough to smooth it off without removing the bluing.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Steve Zihn, who is the most amazing craftsman with files I have ever seen, has a series of tutorial videos. A quick search just now did not find them, but a more dedicated perusal might turn them up. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Even leaving the most amazing craftsmen and most amazing work out of it, a lot of ordinarily-gifted people work a month or two of their lives to buy a machine to do what they could with files, if they would only spend a couple of hours learning.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    So true.

    Also, I once asked Steve where to buy good files, and he said "Don't. Go to Wal Mart and buy cheap ones." His logic is to treat them as consumables, wear them out and buy more.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    When draw filing use chalk on the file as most scratches are actually pinning in the file. Card often and set aside files for only draw filing on steel and others for brass. I have sections of old barrels with dovetails cut in them and screw backs just for working down fillers and sights. You do the grunt work on the old sections and then no scratches in the finished barrel.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    This goes against everything were told about keeping files dry and oil free. But a lot of the old timers when they wanted a smooth even finish would wet the area with oil heavy before draw filing. Chalk works good for this also. The oil does load the file faster but makes for a much smoother finish. Also not all chalk is the same some has an oil or wax in it that loads files also.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    FWIW, when I need to fill an empty rear barrel dovetail slot, if I don't have one in my scrounge box, I obtain an old/vintage longleaf rear open/iron sight from a gunsmith's scrounge box, and rework the male dovetail end as below.

    E-Z-Peazy







    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by pietro View Post
    .

    FWIW, when I need to fill an empty rear barrel dovetail slot, if I don't have one in my scrounge box, I obtain an old/vintage longleaf rear open/iron sight from a gunsmith's scrounge box, and rework the male dovetail end as below.

    E-Z-Peazy







    .
    I purchased one similar, but with engraving. This is just my opinion, but I think it is rather ugly. I took mine back out and thought the empty slot looked better. I thought the best looking was a guy who made a blank out of brass, and filed to fit the barrel contour perfect. Once polished, that was sweet looking. I tried to make one myself, but my dovetail making skills did not work out well. I came close, but decided to go steel in the end.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Use various cuts in files to work to a finished edge, then one file that has had the teeth dulled and wrap various pieces of silicon carbide paper may start out with 200,320, 400 and 600. Once I get to the 4&600 grits then the polishing has started. Before all this starts everything is masked off with duck tape or towards the polishing part will take that off and use painters tape.
    Frank

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
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