Dave’s Tips

Be careful: I know I tend to be a tiresome nag about firearm safety. The rules of firearm safety apply at the workbench just as much as at the range. Familiarity may not always breed contempt but it can breed complacency. I knew a gunsmith who spent the last years of his life in a wheelchair after shooting himself in the hip while working on a .30-06 rifle.

Do no harm: Or to put it another way, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. A mistake might result in nothing worse than a scratch, but at worst, it might get you or someone else killed.

Know your limitations: Some jobs require skill in the use of precision tools such as milling machines and lathes. These are not skills picked up overnight. Precision machine work also requires a high level of patience and discipline. If you’re easily distracted by a squirrel, step away from the milling machine!

Buy quality tools: You don’t need a lot of tools to get started, and a few screwdrivers, pin punches, pin block and plastic-head mallet may be all you ever need. Quality tools will last longer, work better and are less likely to damage your guns.

Buy the right tools: Although I love Red Green the comedian, not all (maybe none?) of his advice should be taken literally. In particular don’t believe Red when he says, “Any tool can be the right tool.” An old nail and a carpenter hammer are poor substitutes for proper pin punches and a plastic-head mallet.