Anybody like cutting old top break revolvers?

KevinCunningham

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Howdy

I’m a very green engraver but an experienced firearms enthusiast. So far I’ve done a few rock island slides that show I have a long way to go but didn’t need to be melted before anybody saw.

I’ve been kinda dismayed that gunshops are so cleaned out that there is no affordable cool junk to buy to practice on. I know I can make steel plates and copper pipe and stuff but I like the pressure of a live canvas. Been tattooing 25 years maybe that’s why. But I for darn sure am not gonna start chewing up colts for another year or two.

Anyway I am in the process of aquiring my 01 FFL but I already have an 03 and I hit the cool junk jackpot today- five old top breaks in 38 and 32 S&W. 2 Iver Johnson, one hammerless, 2 H&R, and one US revolver co, all for $50/$60 each with no transfer fees on the C&R licence.

So I’m gonna have some fun doing surface prep, cutting, refinishing, maybe learn some inlaying. They should be great canvasses with challenging shapes, little fluted cylinders, big hinge screws to flower out, and hopefully nice soft steel all over.

Anybody here have any tips or are you a fan or hater of the old low power top breaks for cutting? Got pics of any good ones for inspiration? It would make sense if I can’t find many examples of good work on them- kind of getting ready to polish some you know whats here. Couldn’t see anybody paying for good engraving on a cheap gun.

Mostly I’m just excited to try my hand at some really challenging wheelgun shapes for small money and no pressure to ruin $ or historical values!

Kevin



A7588A86-47A7-45ED-B5C1-5B5169D11643.jpeg
 
Last edited:

BCan

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Sep 16, 2020
Messages
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Location
Montana
Hello Kevin,
The only thing more painful than having to buy a firearm to engrave, is having to buy a customer's firearm, after you engraved it. (Insert smiley face here).

Although they are not as inexpensive as they were before 'inflation' set-in, there are a few low-end .22 LR single action revolvers, (like Ciappa and Heritage Rough Rider), that are cheap enough for first attempts. I've found them as loss-leaders in some of the big national stores, for as low as $119.00.

And although these inexpensive revolvers are usually a combination of aluminum and steel, they do offer an opportunity to remove a finish, cut the metal, and then re-blue or anodize, or both.

And if your work doesn't meet your expectations, you'll always have a few good tackle box or truck guns.
Hope this helps.
B
 

Philip Montarsi

New Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
4
Hello Kevin,
The only thing more painful than having to buy a firearm to engrave, is having to buy a customer's firearm, after you engraved it. (Insert smiley face here).

Although they are not as inexpensive as they were before 'inflation' set-in, there are a few low-end .22 LR single action revolvers, (like Ciappa and Heritage Rough Rider), that are cheap enough for first attempts. I've found them as loss-leaders in some of the big national stores, for as low as $119.00.

And although these inexpensive revolvers are usually a combination of aluminum and steel, they do offer an opportunity to remove a finish, cut the metal, and then re-blue or anodize, or both.

And if your work doesn't meet your expectations, you'll always have a few good tackle box or truck guns.
Hope this helps.
B
Howdy

I’m a very green engraver but an experienced firearms enthusiast. So far I’ve done a few rock island slides that show I have a long way to go but didn’t need to be melted before anybody saw.

I’ve been kinda dismayed that gunshops are so cleaned out that there is no affordable cool junk to buy to practice on. I know I can make steel plates and copper pipe and stuff but I like the pressure of a live canvas. Been tattooing 25 years maybe that’s why. But I for darn sure am not gonna start chewing up colts for another year or two.

Anyway I am in the process of aquiring my 01 FFL but I already have an 03 and I hit the cool junk jackpot today- five old top breaks in 38 and 32 S&W. 2 Iver Johnson, one hammerless, 2 H&R, and one US revolver co, all for $50/$60 each with no transfer fees on the C&R licence.

So I’m gonna have some fun doing surface prep, cutting, refinishing, maybe learn some inlaying. They should be great canvasses with challenging shapes, little fluted cylinders, big hinge screws to flower out, and hopefully nice soft steel all over.

Anybody here have any tips or are you a fan or hater of the old low power top breaks for cutting? Got pics of any good ones for inspiration? It would make sense if I can’t find many examples of good work on them- kind of getting ready to polish some you know whats here. Couldn’t see anybody paying for good engraving on a cheap gun.

Mostly I’m just excited to try my hand at some really challenging wheelgun shapes for small money and no pressure to ruin $ or historical values!

Kevin



View attachment 49775
I guess the bottom line, all guns are going to be more expensive than they used to be. But one downside to a lot of the top breaks as they are plated. And in order to do the job right just be prepared to spend a lot of time eliminating that plating. There are companies that can do it, that is reverse the plating process. But then you’re spending money to have that done. If you can find some blued ones I guess that would be fine. The problem that you run into is after you put all that work into a top break and engrave it it’s going to be difficult to find a market for it. If I had to do it all over again I would probably start with zippo lighters . They aren’t costly and you can really go to town with different designs that people might be interested in. And there is a market. Just a thought.
 

KevinCunningham

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Thanks for the replies! I’m also a knife maker and amateur gunsmith so while a little nickel is a challenge it’s not a big deal. I’m mostly interested in practicing on cylinders and the challenge of irregular shapes offered by the little card table guns. The next step up I guess would be colt black powder repros then smokeless italian colt copies. Some day I hope to be good enough to take customer revolvers!

I only own one SAA and it’s a 1908 with a smooth plum patina so that’ll NEVER get cut. Being into them for $50-60 each I shouldn’t have a problem selling them later if I want.
 

Roger Bleile

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FWIW, I feel that I should point out that the gun pictured in the link I posted is not the work of L. D. Nimschke even though the auction house attributed the work to Nimschke. There are many tell-tales in the engraving of that gun that rule it out as an authentic Nimschke. It is, however, period engraved.

Here is a link to another revolver in the same auction that is correctly identified as the work of Nimschke,
Nimschke Engraved Smith & Wesson Number 1 1/2 2nd Issue Revolver | Rock Island Auction
 

Matthew Evans

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Jul 8, 2017
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Northwest florida
FWIW, I feel that I should point out that the gun pictured in the link I posted is not the work of L. D. Nimschke even though the auction house attributed the work to Nimschke. There are many tell-tales in the engraving of that gun that rule it out as an authentic Nimschke. It is, however, period engraved.

Here is a link to another revolver in the same auction that is correctly identified as the work of Nimschke,
Nimschke Engraved Smith & Wesson Number 1 1/2 2nd Issue Revolver | Rock Island Auction
Ever so slight differences make it obvious to the trained eye. Good call, I saw the earlier one and didn’t think it looked like it.
 

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