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Monthly Archives: June 2009

American and German rifles of the 17th and 18th Centuries frequently were built with a ‘patchbox’, that is, a small compartment on the side of the buttstock. This small box might contain bullets, or patches to wrap the bullet in, or the cavity was often filled with tallow to lubricate the patch.

Here is a rifle with a wooden patchbox. The dovetailed wooden cover slides to the rear when the catch is operated.

lock and butt114_1452

This plane is inspired by the old fashioned wooden planes. This one is a special purpose plane, just for cutting dovetails.

Below is a picture of the complete plane, with a rough patchbox lid in position to be planed. I used maple for the body, and poplar for the wedge.


The knobs tighten the cutter body to the main body, to adjust the depth of the dovetail.


Various views of the parts


Click on each below to download a PDF plan of the plane parts. Format: legal size paper.

These little carbines are Civil War vintage, made in Worcester MA. Invented by Charles Ballard, they were manufactured by Ball and Williams. These rifles are very popular with the North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) for their carbine matches. The internals are high quality, well fitted and very functional. Easy to clean and maintain. This action was one of the most successful Civil War era breechloaders.

Originally chambered for .42 rimfire, these guns cannot be used until converted to a more modern cartridge. These are a natural for the .44-40, an old blackpowder centerfire shell, as it is a low pressure cartridge, and bullets and brass are readily available.


This is the substance of my conversion design: a firing pin, a return spring and a retaining screw. A special screwdriver bit is needed to span the firing pin. The breechblock is shown with the parts in sequence of assembly.


Two receivers of different manufacture, but of the same Ballard design. Note the pin under the forestock… a manual extractor.


The breech is opened by the lever, which makes the block drop, and slide backwards. I’d call this a ‘wedging style action’. You can only operate the extractor while the block is down. Pretty neat.


I will only perform this on safe and reliable actions in good condition. This conversion removes very little metal, so the breechblock strength is not compromised.

Designed for carousel horse carving, this substantial vise/platform is built like a truck. The work position is easily changed by releasing the clamp(with red handle). The work can then rotate, swivel, angled, etc for presenting the most convenient work attitude.

The sturdy work platform is on the upper left, with a handy bolt pattern for attaching the carving. The slotted workplate  is most useful for quick changeout when you work on a series of carvings..


The vise bolts to your benchtop through the four bolt holes provided. The baseplates are 1/2″ thick steel. This is built to last a lifetime. The heart of the swivel is a steel ball, as seen in the right hand photo.


Much of my machine shop work involves making a tool for a specific application, and no machine is known to exist for such. So I work with my customer to determine what is needed, and through brainstorming and sketching, testing, etc, we can come up with a machine to fill the requirement.

The Band Gage

The machine below is what I have termed a “Band Gage”. It is used to measure the circumference of parts to compare their diameters with a known ‘master’ diameter. If your molded parts need to stay within certain specifications, this machine will help you determine which parts fall within specifications, and those that do not.


The band is a thin steel strip which surrounds the part, and is tightened on the part with the red handle on the left of the picture.