Back on 29 July, 2015, a magnificent rifle by Jim Chambers was posted on the Contemporary Makers site. Here is the link
I thought the rifle was particularly beautiful and I asked Jim, via an ALR post, if he would mind if I attempted a copy of it. Jim graciously told me to go ahead, so I asked him for all of the specifics (caliber, barrel length, etc.) Not a month or two before Jim's rifle showed up, I had decided to build another rifle using the many spare parts I had lying around. I also decided that I wanted to build a small caliber rifle this time as everything else I had built recently was .50 or larger. I didn't want to go as small as a .32 so I had purchased a 42 inch, .36 caliber swamped barrel from Rice and had it sitting on the shelf. I also had a maple stock blank that I had purchased more than 25 years ago from Golden Age Arms and that had now been in the garage rafters for nearly three decades. Since all the other parts I had available seemed close enough to Jim's rifle, I thought it would be OK to use them and just duplicate the feel and style of Jim's rifle, as best I could, with what I had rather than trying to make an exact copy.
The stock blank turned out to be about 3/8 inch too narrow for the butt plate I wanted to use and for the depth of the cheek piece I wanted. So, I had decided that I would add as much material as I needed in the cheek piece area. At first I was considering brass.....then ivory.....then horn.......then black horn.......wait, how about ebony? Ebony it was. It looked a little nutty in the unfinished state, with the stark contrast between the maple and the ebony, but once the maple was stained, I liked it.
This time I tried the scraping and burnishing method of final finishing on the wood. Not as "slick" as some other methods, but I like the overall look and, since the 18th century gunsmiths could not run down to the auto parts store to get sandpaper in various grits, it probably looks more like their rifles originally did. While no one would mistake this rifle for Jim's original, I learned a lot by just trying to emulate Jim's style.....and the pictures are not even as good. I took them with a cell phone under rainy skies. Overcast is good....rainy, not so good.
Copy and photos supplied by David Crisalli.