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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The first firearm I ever owned, in my early teens, was a Stevens 9478 single shot, break action .410 shotgun. It was a Christmas present from my parents. Back then, it did a lot of woods roaming with me. Then, a few years later, I got a single shot 12 gauge (also a Christmas present from my parents) and the little .410 began seeing a lot less action. As the years went on, the .410 became more and more a nostalgic reminder of younger days and was rarely fired. One of the few times I did get it out, there was a mishap which ended with the buttplate being cracked and a sizable chunk being broken off of the buttstock.

I glued the buttstock back together. It held fine but the line where it was glued was obvious. I also glued the buttplate back together but it would not hold. I really didn't want to spend the $$$ to put a new buttstock on it since after it was glued it was structurally sound so I put one of those rubber slip-on recoil pads on it to cover the crack and so that the busted buttplate wouldn't hurt my shoulder when firing it. I was never really satisfied with that solution, however. Despite the fact that I rarely used it, I just felt that my old friend deserved better.

Recently, my mom decided - due to physical issues - to go with a .410 pump for her general use/defensive shotgun. This renewed my interest in my little .410 and spurred me to work on a better solution for the cracked buttstock/buttplate problem.

I have seen 'frontier' type guns that had leather appointments, particularly leather buttcuffs, and decided that the 'look' of my old single would work well with that style of buttcuff. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that something matching on the forestock would look nice, too. Well, after making a pattern, doing some punching, sewing and lacing, this is what I ended up with:







Well, I thought that looked okay but wasn't entirely satisfied. I wondered if it wouldn't look better if the forestock cover was a little shorter, allowing some of the wood of the forestock to be exposed. I also decided to wrap the forestock area in plastic wrap to protect he barrel from moisture so I could wet mold that forestock cover to the forestock/barrel a little more. I did that, let the leather dry, loosened the forestock cover, removed the plastic wrap and then tightened the forestock cover back into place. I decided to do a braid hanging from the forestock and remove the extra lengths of thong/lacing from the buttstock

I also decided to color the leather. I like the idea of using 'natural' stains, etc. and have used coffee to stain a leather holster. I tried coffee on these leather pieces but wasn't happy with the results I was getting. I then started thinking about how the outer hulls on fresh walnuts (not the shells but the hulls outside the shells) can stain things, including your hands. There were some walnuts left over from last year that still had at least parts of that hull attached. I soaked a few in water and rubbed them directly onto the leather. I got a nice color but unfortunately didn't realize just how abrasive walnuts are. I knew they were rough but, despite being careful, the walnuts put quite a few scratches onto the leather, especially on the buttcuff. Lesson learned. Anyhow, then I had this - the color/stain on the leather coming entirely from those walnuts:



During the course of all this, I decided that I want to return that old single to its previously held position of 'woods walking shotgun'. I like that this little Stevens is so light and handy - plus there is the nostalgia factor. The largest threat I would commonly be worried about in the woods around the house would be a coyote and, honestly, the most likely threat would be copperheads. I would still carry a sidearm so I think a single shot .410 with a selection of a couple of ammo types will fill that role for me just fine.

Now, I know that single shot shotguns are almost 'perfect' for just carrying in the hand but I started thinking that, for woods walking, I might sometimes want/need the use of both hands. I was also trying to think of a way to carry a few, extra rounds on the gun and didn't really want to add shell loops to the buttcuff, itself. All this made me decide to make a sling with an incorporated shell holder. I did that by simply braiding the same type of leather thongs I had used for the lacing. I braided them in three pairs of two so that the sling would be wider/flatter. I also made a shell holder out of leather. I had left some of the walnuts sitting in a bowl of water for a few days. The walnuts had absorbed some water while shedding small particles from their hulls. The result was kind of a dark, thin 'sludge'. I used that 'sludge' to color/stain the shell holder by applying it with a sponge. I also used the sponge to apply some of the 'sludge' to the buttstock cuff and the forestock cover to try and make them a little darker. This process worked much better than rubbing the walnuts directly on the leather and I will be using that method again in the future. I haven't yet stained the sling and don't know if I will decide to do so or not - the leather thongs were already darker than the pre-stained leather, anyhow.. Otherwise, the finished product looks like this:







When I first finished the original buttcuff/forestock setup, I took the gun to mom's house to show her as I know she likes the 'look' of such things, too. She liked it so much, in fact, that she wanted me to do her .410 the same way. I told her that I couldn't do the forestock cuff on hers since it is a pump and the forestock piece would get in the way. As part of her Mother's Day present, though, I did make a piece for the buttstock on hers. I haven't put a stain/color on hers, yet, and will let her decide if she wants it stained or just left natural after she sees how mine has turned out. The buttstock piece on hers turned out like this:





I decided to leave the braid on the forestock piece. Partly this is because I just like the way it looks but I found it also serves a functional purpose. If I wrap that braid around my hand a few times while shouldering the shotgun, it helps me hold the gun a lot more steady. I know the sling could be used in a similar fashion but using the braid seems quicker/easier.
 

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Looks good. Good job.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

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Ill take one please .;)

Thats creative as heck, and well done.:cool:

I LIKE.:D

Jim
 

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I agree that it looks good. Great fix to a minor problem on a old gun and it doesn't cost too much :)
 

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The barrel is going to rust badly under the leather eventually, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

rc
 

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Nice job.

I have that same model shotgun. I got mine as a boy for Christmas too. Its still my preferred squirrel gun.

It is the very first gun I ever worked on. The spur broke off the hammer. I bought one from Numrich back before my accident and fixed it myself.
 

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The barrel is going to rust badly under the leather eventually, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

rc
That's "quite the statement" Maybe JAB removes the leather from time to time and inspects his firearm. Maybe add a protective layer of oil. I'm sure a gunsmith can provide a answer to any rust problems he may have.
One of my favorite pistols has resided in a leather holster for over 35 years. A bit of blueing wear, but no rust.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the comments, guys. As for rust, yeah, I know I will probably have to loosen the leather and clean/oil/Johnson's paste wax the barrel every now and again. Of course, I live in East Tennessee. The area is literally considered to be a temperate rain forest. I've seen stainless steel knife blades get tiny rust spots on them while lying unused in a drawer in this enviroment - I honestly don't think a little leather is going to make things any worse.
 

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Nicely done project! I don't have the patience to do that sort of thing but I do appreciate the craftsmanship. Good job.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Nicely done project! I don't have the patience to do that sort of thing but I do appreciate the craftsmanship. Good job.
Thanks. Honestly, compared to other leather projects I have undertaken, this one was pretty simple, straight-forward and didn't require much patience. Making a molded holster can be a lot more nerve-wracking.

Now my next project, on the other hand, might be a little more demanding. I'm making an EDC bag for myself that is sort of a combination in design between a briefcase/portfolio, small messenger bag and some of the old possibles bags or hunting bags. There will be a main compartment with a smaller compartment on the front of it. Both compartments will have flaps to cover them and I will attach a shoulder strap using some method that is yet to be fully determined (I have a few, different approaches in mind.)

I started wet molding the leather for the two compartments last night (the leather was unstained at this point but looks darker because it is still wet.)

Main compartment



Smaller compartment


This morning, I stained what will be the exterior surfaces of these pieces with the 'walnut and water' stain that I used on the .410. This evening, if they are dry enough to be set, I will stain the interior surfaces and maybe start cutting out/staining the other pieces I will need to assemble the final product. Here is what the main pieces look like with some of the natural stain on them:

Main compartment


Smaller compartment:


So that is a preview of my next project. I'll start another thread (probably in Accessories) about this project when it is finished (and I am being optimistic and assuming that I will, eventually, finish it.)
 
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