These course descriptions included a brief biography of
Jack Brooks has been a full-time gun maker since 1976,
dividing his time between new custom work and the restoration of antique
American longrifles. A resident of Englewood, CO, this will be Jack’s
thirteenth year as an instructor at the seminar where he has taught a
variety of gun stocking classes from long rifles to pistols and trade
Stocking a Rifle in the Style of Beyer — (9-day class)
New for 2005— Jack will lead the students through stocking up a
flintlock rifle in the style of a relief carved rifle by Nicholas Beyer
in his early years. The example Jack has chosen is similar to the one
shown in plate 91 (on page 35) of Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its
Golden Age. Since only the butt stock of Jack’s example survives,
student will incorporate details from other related antique rifles.
Students will also decide whether they want to learn to hand inlet the
barrel or start with a blank where the barrel is pre-inlet and the
ramrod hole drilled. Class limited to eight.
Materials fee: Approximately $500.
Gary Brumfield started in the Colonial Williamsburg
Gunsmith shop as a summer helper in 1965 and was master gunsmith for
Foundation from 1974 to 1990. He continues at the foundation in a
management position and works part time as a rifle maker in his home
shop. He has been either an instructor or the seminar coordinator since
Making Sheet Brass Mounts — (6-day class)
Introduction to forging and shaping patchboxes, thimbles, nose caps, and
the techniques for filing and finishing mounts. This class is for the
builder who is interested in having more control of the style and
quality of his work by making, instead of purchasing, the sheet brass
parts of the rifle. After the class most attendees will have made a set
of sheet brass mounts for the next rifle they build. Casting of a
trigger guard and buttplate will be demonstrated. Class limited to
Materials fee: Approximately $30
Jim Chambers, Jr. has been involved with custom arms for
forty years and has become a very important contributor to the trade by
supplying a variety of high quality locks. A resident of Candler, NC,
Jim has taught at the seminar for four years in either carving or lock
Modifying and Tuning the Flintlock— (6-day class)
Students in this class will start with one of his "Generic" lock kits,
the one with the square plate, and go completely through the assembly
process, then move on the fine tuning both the form and function of the
lock. A lot of the quality can be built in during the basic assembly
process if the correct drills, reamers, etc. are used. Some students may
also want to modify the lock to be more appropriate for a particular gun
they plan to build. The materials fee will cover both the lock parts and
a proper set of drills, taps and reamers. Class limited to eight.
Material fee: Approximately $90.
Fred Dimke & Bob Elka will combine their life-long
experience in metal and wood working to teach a special mini-course
during the first three evening of the seminar.
Proper Use of Hand Tools — (3 two-hour evening sessions)
New for 2005—Fred and Bob have attended this seminar for over a
decade and have often commented on the need for some basis instruction
in the selection, maintenance and use of hand tools. In three two-hour
sessions, scheduled from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 1-3, they will show
students how make the best of the tools the students have brought and
also allow them to experience working with properly sharpened, quality
tools from the instructors’ toolboxes. Having the right tools and using
them properly will make every aspect of gunsmithing easier and every
hour at the bench more productive. Class is limited to twelve.
Ron Ehlert has been a full-time gun maker for more than
twenty years. Early in his career he attended this seminar as student in
an engraving class taught by the late Lynton McKenzie. Ron has taught at
the seminar for nine years and for 2005 he is offering a class that will
touch on many subjects.
Advanced Firearms Decoration — (9-day class)
New for 2005—Ron plans to teach the students in this class how to do a
variety of special artistic details often found on German Jaegers. Class
projects will range from an ivory and ebony hunter star for a cheek
piece and a wood patchbox lid overlaid with brass to a silver signature
plate for the barrel and a horn nose cap. Jaeger style relief carving on
a practice stock will also be included. Class limited to eight.
Materials fee: Approximately $120
Wallace Gusler produced his first muzzleloader at age
fourteen. He established the Colonial Williamsburg gunsmith shop in 1963
and was master until 1972. Retired from the gun shop, Wallace is
currently completing a book on Virginia gunsmiths and building rifles
part-time. He has taught at this seminar many times since helping start
it in 1981.
Learning How to Look — (3-day class)
Focusing primarily on early rifles, this class will introduce students
to the process of studying longrifles for the purpose of dating them and
attributing them to a particular “school” or regional style. Both
construction and artist elements will be discussed. It will also give
students an overview of the design elements in 18th century longrifle
art and provide them the opportunity to learn how to draw carving and
engraving designs for their own work. Students will need to bring a
sketchbook and drawing implements. Gary Brumfield will be helping
Wallace teach this class. Class limited to 16.
Relief Carving — (6-day class)
Learn to carve by working on a machine shaped longrifle butt stock that
will go home with you as study piece and reference. (Because the
students will be experimenting with various tools and methods they will
not work on a real gun.) Pick any style of carving. Topics covered will
include selecting and sharpening tools, various methods of backgrounding
and sculpting, etc. Although beginners are welcome, this class in
traditional carving techniques best serves those who have some
experience. Class limited to eight.
Material fee: Approximately $100.
Hershel House has been a full-time gun maker since 1967
and he has been the pioneer in reviving interest in iron-mounted rifles.
A resident of nearby ¬¬¬Morgantown, Hershel has taught at the seminar
many times since he helped begin it in 1981. The continued popularity of
this class has lead to the use of a lottery system for admission. See
the registration information for details.
Forging Iron Gun Mounts and Stocking the Southern Mountain Rifle
— Hershel & John House (9-day class)
This hands-on class will begin on Wednesday at Hershel’s shop (10 miles
from Bowling Green) where several forges will be set up. Forge and file
the correct butt plate, trigger guard, etc. for the style of southern
mountain rifle you will build. Blacksmithing experience is not required.
The mount-making portion of the class will end about mid-day on
On Sunday morning the class will resume at W.K.U. where students will
begin stocking the rifle. Variations include: Appalachian, East Tenn.,
North Carolina, Southwestern Virginia, and early Virginia styles — flint
or percussion, straight or swamped barrel, stock of maple or walnut.
With the desire to send the student home with as close to a complete
rifle as possible, Hershel and John teach their efficient workman like
methods to show how to attain a quality product with a minimum of tools.
Barrel will be pre-inlet and the ramrod hole drilled. Class limited to
Materials fee: Approximately $500.
Mark Silver started as a hobbyist in 1972, became a
full-time gunmaker in 1976, and trained with John Bivins in 1978-9. Mark
is a resident of Chassell, MI and has taught at this seminar since 1983
on subjects ranging from engraving and carving to lock assembly.
Traditional Stock Finishing and Preparation — (3-day class)
Using 18th century woodworking techniques for final shaping and
preparation, learn to achieve the coveted warmth and aesthetics of true
authenticity. Experiment on practice pieces of maple, American, and
English walnut preparing planing, scraping, staining, and finishing with
both traditional and modern formulas. Participants may choose to use a
practice stock from a previous class or finish an actual stock of their
own. Bear in mind that it is often best to gain experience with a
variety of materials and then move on to your new rifle.
Participants taking this three-day course may drop in throughout the
remainder of the seminar to add finish and complete their project. This
will alleviate the problem of delays from the drying time of succeeding
coats of finish. Class limited to eight.
Materials fee: Approximately $25.
Beginning and Intermediate Engraving — (6-day class)
This course is meant for the student with little or no engraving
experience who wants to improve their understanding of and ability to
execute, the styles of engraving used on American longrifles and
fowlers. It is also for those who have already had at least one course
in engraving and wish to work with British or continental styles.
The class will explore the elements used on patchboxes, side plates and
mounts, including types of borders, scrolls, volutes, and leafage. Most
of the class time will be spent in intensive practice repeating the
basic elements of these types of engraving. Intermediate students will
be introduced to and practice lettering of various styles, and the
engraving forms found on sporting arms from Britain and Europe,
including, if they wish, relief chiseling of sculpted foliage and
borders. Class limited to eight.
Materials fee: Approximately $20
Email me your photos from the 2005 seminar!
Wallace makes a point as Mark and Eve look on [Jim Kibler
Hank visiting on a break from Ron's class. (Mitch and Ron to the right.)
[Jim Kibler photo].
Ron helping Beverly with the box lid [Vickie Swank photo].
Joe fitting the metal overlay on the box lid [Vickie
Peter fitting the box lid as Hank looks on. [Vickie Swank
Mark in the stock staining and finishing class [Vickie