Category Archives: AK Smithing / BIY

For posts about building, repairing and tuning AK Rifles and Pistols

How to Remove Old Cosmoline and Grease or Even Free Up Rusty Parts The Easy Way

We’ve all had parts come in with really dried out preservative on it such as grease or cosmoline.  I bought some 100 year old khukuri blades that were coated in dried out grease and realized this was a great time to take some photos.  There’s a way to get all this crud off very easily – most will practically wipe off!

I learned the following trick years ago after a friend was worried I would blow myself up using gas, brake cleaner, etc.  In hindsight I must admit it was risky but I rationalized it because I needed to get the parts clean – this is not only effective but also way safer.

Take a 5 gallon pail with a sealable lid on it.  In the photos you see a basic Ace Hardware plastic bucket with it’s lid that has a waterproof gasket.

I first learned about this years ago for firearms and it is a cleaner known as Ed’s Red and I’ve used it ever since.  The formula was developed and shared by a gentleman named “Ed Harris” and it works great for dissolving grease, cosmoline and even penetrating rusty parts.

The basic formula is:

  • 1 part Dexron III or better
  • 1 part deodorized kerosene
  • 1 part mineral spirits
  • 1 part acetone

I use it over and over, which is why I recommended the lid.  I’ve been using this bucket for probably 3-5 years now.  If it gets really gross or seems to stop working then I will change it but it’s fine so far.

So, I set the blades in the ATF and liberally coated the sides and let it sit.  I periodically would reverse the blades so they could be immersed.  If they were smaller parts, I’d drop them in there and let them sit for a few days.

What I wold so each time when I turned them was to rub the blades down and try and get the softened/dissolved grease off.  A lot of it would wipe right off with no scrubbing.

So here they are a couple of days later simply wiped down.  I left a thin film of ATF on them to reduce the odds of rust but all the old dried grease is gone.

When I am done, I put the lid back on and move the pail out of the way.  I do keep wet parts out of the cleaner as I don’t want to contaminate it with water but other than that, I’ve soaked all kinds of greasy, oily, rusty, dirty parts in this.  The crud settles to the bottom of the pail over time.  I’ve learned that if I stir it up there is a lot of debris.  If it gets too bad, it will be time for a new batch.

I mentioned it in passing but this is also great for penetrating rusty parts so you can take them apart.  I can’t begin to guess what all I have soaked in this bucket over the years but it sure includes gun parts, blades, rusty car parts, etc.  It’s a huge time saver and I hope it helps you out as well.

P.S.  If you want to read more on Ed’s formula, click here for his original article that is in the public domain.


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Yes, 922r Does Apply to Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs)

Please note that I am not an attorney and this does not constitute legal advice.

The topic of 922r compliance and parts counts came up the other day as whether it applies to Short Barreled Rifles (SBR). In reading the conflicting ATF documentation, the last guidance given in technical branch letters from 2009 and 2010, the ATF does say it applies.  I put it this was as you should look at the trend over time which does seem to point towards 922r being applicable.

I am a very conservative guy and always try to stay on the safe side of legal issues so I would recommend ensuring your SBR is compliant with the 922r parts count requirements.  If you do this then you do not need to worry about it and I am sure there are folks who would disagree with me.

Here is the 2009 letter:

Here is the three page 2010 letter:

Again, please let me stress that I am not an attorney.  If you have any questions on this, I would recommend doing your own research and/or retaining legal counsel.

 


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A Chaos Rail on a FM-AK47-21 Vepr Rocks!

When the government announced they were going to ban the further import of Molot firearms, I jumped and bought one of the Fime FM-AK47-21 side folding AK-47 Veprs.

The rifle was absolutely awesome except for one regard – I really did not like the ribbed RPK handguard. Now this is the handguard on the Russian RPks and the ribs help with cooling and moving the hand away from the surface of the handguard — the design is genuinely thought out … but I do not like the feel. It’s as simple as that.

With that in mind, I started digging on options. On one hand I could make a new polymer set based on a mint RPK handguard set I picked up along the way. After a while, I changed my mind as the time and cost to create the molds didn’t make a lot of business sense as the Veprs weren’t going to be imported and demand would presumably be low and I would not recover the investment.

So, I researched other options and a firm I didn’t know much about kept popping up – Chaos, Inc. They made a well regarded handguard that looked great to me and reports on the feel and quality were very good. An important design point is that it connects like a handguard and doesn’t clamp anything on the barrel to transfer heat. That was a beef I had with the Midwest Industries rail design I tried years ago. It required the installation of a clamp on the barrel.

At any rate, I decided on the Chaos Apollo FM11L Keymod handguard. By the way, Chaos does not list on their website that this FM11L will fit the FM-AK47-21 side folder so I called them. The guy I talked to said they would take a return if it didn’t fit and I didn’t beat it up. I was pretty sure it would fit so I went ahead and ordered it.

The rail arrived about a week later and decided to install it when time permitted. The following is a quick overview of the steps required:

1] Make sure your rifle is unloaded! I can’t stress this enough.

2] Push in the dust cover retainer at the rear and remove the cover.

3] Remove the operating rod and the bolt carrier group.

4] You will need to rotate the gas tube retaining lever to remove the gas tube. Now this thing is on incredibly tight. I thought Zastava had very tight levers but they have nothing on Molot. You will either need non-marring pliers or a polymer or wood punch to swing the lever up clockwise until the gas tube assembly can lift out.

5] On the right side of the lower handguard retainer, you will see a small lever laying parallel with the barrel. It will need to be rotated 180 degrees towards the muzzle and this is another incredibly tight fit. I had to use stout needle nose pliers in order to rotate it. Once rotated, you can slide the handguard retainer forward. You may find you need to tap it a bit with a rubber mallet – I did.

6] Now, you need to remove the gas tube cover and this is one of the questions I get asked most frequently. The cover is a semi-circle and rotates out of the semi-circular shaped retainers. Clamp the forged steel end (not the tubular end or you will crush it) and firmly rotate the cover. You may find it turns easier clockwise or counter-clockwise and either way is fine. Rotate it 180 degrees either way and then you can pull it away from the tube.

7] Next up is to install the Apollo FM11 lower. This is where their engineering prowess really shows. Their rail is two parts so remove the three hex screws from each side and set the upper half to the side for the moment.

8] Now unscrew the bottom screws and slide the internal aluminum part backwards out of the way. This part will actually slide into the handguard retainer and lock the unit into place. This is why there is a slot for the retainer. Look at the fitment of the parts – they thought this out. Be sure to screw in the set screws also to lock things in place.

9] For the next part, you install the lower by putting the rear tab into the front of the receiver just the same as any AK-style handguard. Now the front requires you to get the retainer in the right place to nestle into the lower. Get the angle right and slide the internal aluminum retainer part into the handguard retainer and screw the internal part back together. The angle must be right so if you can’t get that internal insert to slide into place, move the handguard’s front up and down until it does. Then swing the handguard retainer lever back into position – it will be a tight fit so tap it into place with a rubber mallet. It would not take a ton of pressure – if it does, check fitment. Over the years I have read guys put a ton of pressure on the levers and snap them – the pressure required is firm and you should see movement as you tap the lever into place. They key is tapping and not trying to do one big “mongo smash” hit to rotate the lever. Once done, the lower should be absolutely rock solid – mine sure is.

10] I then installed the gas tube. Nothing attaches to the gas tube so you can remove or install it as needed. I then used my rubber mallet to tap the catch lever back into position.

11] I then installed the gas tube cover by lining up the holes and installing the screws.

At this point it is done. I installed a Vortex Sparc II nice and low on the rail. I like the cheekweld when I rotate the cheekpiece into position. It does NOT co-witness with the iron sights but I really didn’t care about that – I can remove the sight real fast if I ever need to.

I really, really like the fit and feel of this rail. My side folder can lock folded. I did not need to change anything to support the folder.

Here is the end result:

I hope this helps you out!


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Zastava PAP M70 and Military M70 Buttstocks and Recoil Pads No Longer Match

Hello everyone,

We make a recoil pad for the military Yugo M70, M72 and M76 rifles [click here for the listing]. The original was rubber over a steel pad and was often very beat up when guys bought kits or rifles made from kits.  So, I hunted down pristine original recoil pads and made molds to cast rubber replacements.

Here are the approximate measures for the stock this pad fits on:

  • Screwhole centers are about 3.25″ apart
  • From top inside lip of butt of the stock to bottom inside lip is: 4.20″
  • Top to bottom of the butt outside or overall height is 4.48″
  • Left to right inside lip edge of the butt at the widest point s 1.29″
  • Outside edge left to right at the widest point is 1.63″
  • The lip that the recoil pad sits on all the way around is about 0.17″

Starting in mid-2017 we started getting word from our customers that our military-sized pads were not fitting the new commercial PAP M70 rifles being imported into the US.  It would appear that Zastava has changed the buttstock — presumably to cut cost.  It is smaller and the telltale for consumers is that it has a solid steel stamped butt plate.  The following photo is of an original Yugo M70 military-style recoil pad next to the new commercial PAP steel butt plate:

This next photo just shows an edge view – the white box is just propping them up:

Bottom line is that the stocks are different and our recoil pad will not fit the PAP M70.  I’m hoping to get the word out to reduce confusion.

Please note that at this time, I do not have plans to make a commercial PAP-sized recoil pad as there has not been sufficient demand thus far.


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The Custom Yugo M72 Carbine and Vepr FM-AK47-21 Meet

Okay, I had them both out to shoot photos so I had to take some side by side photos.  In case you want to read the blog posts about each rifle, click here for the Yugo M72 Carbine or here for the Vepr FM-AK47-21.


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Custom Built Yugo M72B1 Carbine By Two Rivers Arms

I have always liked Yugo AK rifles.  One of my favorites is the M72B1 RPK.  It’s a big rifle and really overkill for me with the long barrel and bipod.  For quite some time I wanted to either build or buy a carbine length RPK.  I was talking to Tim at Two Rivers Arms one day and he said he could absolutely make one and custom fabricate a side rail to boot.  That was just what I wanted so I sent him my parts and then waited my turn in the build line as those guys are so busy.  After a few months Tim called and said it was ready and he shipped it to my FFL, Scott Igert at Modern Antique Firearms in the Fall of 2015.

Seriously, this rifle shoots like a dream but I didn’t get a chance to take some decent photos until now.  The most telling difference is that this is a 16″ cut down Green Mountain barrel vs. the normal 21.3″.  It has a 1:9.5″ twist and not chrome lined – I’m going to keep it clean and will not be burning through tons of mag dumps so I wasn’t really worried about the chrome.

Here’s a run down of the parts:

  • Yugo M72B1 kit from Apex with a new Green Mountain barrel [cut down]
  • Nodak Spud NDS-9 receiver
  • Magpul Zhukov-S Folding Buttstock with 3/4″ riser
  • Ronin’s Grips M72 handguard set 
  • Ronin’s Grips ARM-9 Grip
  • Tapco G2 FCG
  • Falcon Arms replacement spring set
  • RSA FCG retainer plate (I hate the shepherd hooks)
  • Real Yugo BHO Magazine and you’ll also see it with a Romanian 75 round back-loading drum.
  • RS!Regulate scope mount system – 303 Base and Picatinny rail top
  • Low profile UTG rings
  • Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x scope (it’s awesome on this rifle)
  • Severe-Duty M11 Compensator – takes recoil almost to zero and makes your hair move 🙂

The result is the following rifle that shoots about 1/2″ at 50 yards using Golden Tiger FMJ ammo.

 


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Precision Armament Severe Duty Compensator:  http://precisionarmament.com/product/m4-72-ak-47-compensator/

Magpul Zhukov-S Stock:  https://www.magpul.com/products/zhukov-s-stock-yugo

Falcon Arms Springs:  http://www.falconarms.com/ak47/ak-spring-kit.html


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Additional Images:



Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope – V-Brite Illuminated Reticle (MOA)


Features: The 1-4×24 Crossfire II riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line. The V-Brite reticle uses the V-Plex format with battery-powered electronics to illuminate the center dot for hunters/shooters during extra-low light conditions., With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you’ll be able to quickly get a sight picture and acquire your target. The fast focus eyepiece allows quick and easy reticle focusing., Anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses provide bright and clear views for the user., Capped reset turrets are finger adjustable with MOA clicks that can be reset to zero after sighting in., A single piece tube constructed from aircraft grade aluminum ensures strength and shockproof performance. O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, the Crossfire II delivers waterproof and fogproof performance.

With long eye relief, a fast-focus eyepiece, fully multi-coated lenses and resettable MOA turrets, there’s no compromising on the CrossFire II. Clear, tough and bright, this riflescope hands other value-priced riflescopes their hat. The hard anodized single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tube is Nitrogen Purged and o-ring sealed for waterproof/fogproof performance.
List Price: $249.00 USD
New From: $248.00 USD In Stock

Finally got a Russian Vepr 7.62x39mm Side Folder – The FM-AK47-21

Well, the when I heard the Treasury Department blocked further importation of Veprs, I jumped and bought the FM-AK47-21 that FIME imported.  I’ve owned a number of Molot Veprs over the years so I knew I would be getting a quality rifle.  I’d not bought one earlier because I didn’t see the need to rush – then the Treasury blocked them and that caused me to pull the trigger.  So, I rushed and ordered one from Classic Firearms and had it delivered to my FFL, Scott Igert of Modern Antique Firearms.  Here’s what showed up:

It’s one solid rifle.  As usual, Molot did a great job – fitment is excellent, heavy 1.5mm RPK receiver, heavy barrel, RPK recoil spring guide rod, pretty good trigger and cool folding stock.  Things I don’t like – the folder hinge is going to make installing an optic rail interesting, the grip is way too small for my hands (Gee, I know a guy who makes grips that will fit).  I’m also not a huge fan of the ribbed RPK handguard.  I get that it would help with insulation on a full-auto RPK but I find the ribs annoying.  I may make a polymer version of the Russian wood originals – it’s something I’ll need to think about.

It shipped with a tiny 5 round magazine but at least it is a double stack.  I’ll replace it with normal AK mags.  I bought a bunch of rock solid Romanian steel mags years ago and that’s my go-to magazine for reliability and looks.  I used a Romy for the photos in this post.

So, I decided to go ahead and make some changes right up front.  I wanted a good muzzle brake so I reached out to Justin McMillion at JMac Customs.  We talked about my desire for a good brake and he recommended his RRD-4C which comes with the required 14mm x 1mm left hand thread.  He shipped fast and the quality of the machining and finish are excellent.  I like the way the porting is done.  With the top opened up, the gasses will vent up pushing the barrel down.

To install it, I pushed the spring loaded detent to release the muzzle nut and then turned it clock wise for removal – AKs are reverse threaded so you do the opposite to remove or install them.  I then threaded the RRD-4C on and was done in just a few minutes.

 

Next, I cast, drilled and finished a black Molot Generation II grip for the rifle.  I thought about using a Bulgarian ARM-9 but decided a Russian designed grip made more sense on a Russian gun – or at least it made sense to me.  I may yet go to the ARM-9 but the Molot Gen II feels pretty good.  To install it, I then removed the dust cover (you will need to hold the grip nut in place later), took out the recoil spring assembly, unscrewed the original grip and removed it.  I then held the grip nut in place with one hand and installed the Molot Gen II using one of my heavy duty grip screws (they have a bigger head and are an alloy hardened to 12.9) to secure the grip.

So here is the rifle at this point.  I’ll decide about the optics later.  I may well go with a RS!Regulate mount and Vortex Strike Eagle but that is a project for a later date.


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Review: TEKTON Gunsmithing 18-Piece Punch Set #66564 is Pretty Nice

I have a lot of fun experimenting with stuff.  I tend to need punches fairly regularly and what I had was a mishmash of sizes and models from Craftsman, Astro, Harbor Freight and who knows what else.  I was working the other day and had stuff laying everywhere and thought to myself that there must be a more organized approach plus some of my punches were looking pretty abused (I’ve bent the crap out of some of the real small ones trying to start pins) so I started digging on Amazon.  Interestingly enough, TEKTON makes an 18-piece gunsmith punch set that gets very good reviews on Amazon – 4.6 stars with 181 reviews is pretty remarkable.  So, I ordered it and was pleasantly surprised at what arrived – it was very well done.

 

The set was well packed and includes a walnut bench block that is laser etched with what punch is to go in what hole.  Now for a slob like me, that is a God-send.

The punches have a nice heft, feel good, are well finished and have worked fine so far.  TEKTON claims they are high carbon heat treated steel and seem to be holding up just fine.

The set includes the following punches:

  • (7) pin punches: 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4 inch
  • (8) roll pin punches: 1/16, 5/64, 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4 inch
  • (2) solid punches: 1/16, 3/32 inch
  • (1) center punch: 5/16 inch

I have it sitting to the side of my bench and now I can move the whole set right to where I need it vs. digging for whatever punch I need.

So if you are shopping for punches with a stand, take a look at this set.  It is a great deal when you look at the cost relative to the quality you get.


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How to get what you want from epoxy – for me it is long life, shock resistance and strength

 

Folks, I work a lot with epoxy and reply on it as a structural adhesive to both fill gaps and bond parts together.  I’ve done everything from fixing car parts, wood furniture, tools, rifle bedding, scope mount bedding, custom knife handles and much more with epoxy.  It is incredibly versatile but you need to do some planning to really get what you want out of it predictably.

In case you didn’t know it, “epoxy” is a general term for a wide range of cured polyepoxide resins glues with different physical characteristics such as how long they cure, strength, temperature resistance and so forth (click here if you want to learn more about the chemistry).   There are a ton of options out there as quality manufacturers experiment with different resin and hardener formulations.  In short, not all epoxies are the same and for people concerned with the quality of what they are building, they need to think things through.  For quite some time I’ve wanted to write down a series of tips for folks to get strong reliable results so here they are:

Buy a quality brand epoxy to begin with

What I have found over the years is that not all epoxies are created equal so spend the money and buy quality epoxy.  There can be a huge difference in how well the epoxy will last over time and/or how strong it really is.  Do not buy the bargain basement junk.  In general, if the maker lists all the physical properties then it is a well thought out and executed formula.  I have three epoxies that I use the most in order are Brownell’s AcraGlas liquid (not the gel), Locite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel.  Once in a while if I need a fast cure epoxy, I will get a retail blister pack of some five minute epoxy and I’ll explain more in a moment.

Strongly consider what your application is

Epoxy comes in many formulations.  They can vary the chemistry of the resin, the hardener and the filler to behave differently.  Consider the following example characteristics:

  • Liquid, Gel/Paste or Putty/Bar — The liquid can seep into pores and fibers plus it can be spread but it can run into places you do not want.  Gels and pastes tend to stay put better but do not seep in as well.  The really thick puttys and bars are great for filling space or creating an impromptu clamp or to seal a hole but they definite don’t sink in much.
  • Temperature – you need to think both about the temperature when you are mixing and applying the epoxy as some will not set up at all if too cold.  You also need to think about the heat when in operation because many epoxies soften and lose their bond the hotter they get.   For example, you may apply epoxy to an exhaust manifold but it will blow off when it gets hot.
  • Pot life – this is how long you can still apply it before it starts to thicken.  Some folks will refer to this as working time.  You need to mix the two parts together, apply the epoxy, position and clamp the work before you run out of time.  Keep this in mind.
  • Cure time – this is how long until the epoxy reaches full strength
  • Color – you can get epoxies in different colors
  • Ratio / mixing – some are by volume or by weight.  The easy consumer stuff is usually 1:1 by volume but when you get into the more sophisticated epoxies the volumes vary or a digital scale is needed
  • Heat resistance – some epoxies resist heat better than others before they soften and “let go”
  • Shock resistance – some formulations hold up better than others before they start the break apart and “sugar”.  Sugaring refers to the powdery look epoxy gets as it breaks apart.  Brownell’s AcraGlas, Loctite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel have all held up very well for me under shocks.  My go-to epoxy for most work is Acra-Glas liquid because it holds up so very well.
  • Others – there are other factors that may matter to you but the important thing is to think through your application

Go with as long of a curing time as you can for maximum strength

What many people do not know is that the faster an epoxy cures, the weaker it is.  Conversely, the longer the formulation takes to cure, the stronger it is.  All things being equal, a 24 hour curing epoxy will be stronger than 90-second, 5-minute, 30-minute and so forth epoxies.  Now there is a time and a place where speed is needed and also situations where strength is paramount.  When I make khukuri hands and other things where strength is critical, I always use a 24 hour epoxy.

Use the Proper Ratios

Be sure to carefully follow the mixing ratios.  For volume ratio work, I use 10cc or larger syringes without the needles on them to meter liquid resin and hardener.  For example, I like AcraGlas and it is 4 parts resin to 1 part hardener.  I keep two syringes separated that I re-use over and over.  With the syringe in the holding cup labeled “resin”, I use it to draw 4 cubic centimeters (CCs) of resin out and squirt it into a mixing cup.  With the hardener syringe, I meter out 1 CC of hardener into the cup.  Now you can vary that.  If you need a smaller about, meter out 2 CC of resin and 1/2CC of hardener.  The syringes really help.  If you are doing larger volumes then either use bigger syringes or disposable cups that have measurements printed on the side.  Also note how I pour from the bulk container into the smaller intermediary containers that are easy to work with plus I avoid contamination, dropping a big bottle, etc.

The Loctite E-120HP comes in a specialized dispenser tube that uses a gun and tip to do all the mixing.  It’s cool as can be for volume work where additional coloring or fillers are not needed.

For the Devcon Plastic Steel, I use my digital scale.

Here’s one thing not to do:  Some guys have heard that if they add more hardener it will cure faster.  This may be true but the resulting cured epoxy will be weaker.  Do not deviate from the manufacturer’s recommendations if you want the physical properties they report.

Mix thoroughly

Folks, I can’t stress this enough.   Mix the heck out of the two parts and combine them thoroughly.  If you are doing larger volumes, consider doing what is known as a double pour.  Pour the two parts into a first container, mix them thoroughly and then pour the combination into the middle of a second container and mix.  What a double pour does is avoid having unmixed materials that have stuck to the walls of the container come out when you are applying the epoxy.  Keep your pot life / working time in mind.

Most of the time I am using a generic 5oz plastic cup and plastic knife to do the mixing.  I buy them by the hundreds for Ronin’s Grips and they are cheap regardless.  Do not use styrofoam.

Prepare the surface

Whatever you want to bond epoxy to had better be clean and free of oils, greases, waxes, release agents and so forth.  Second, the more abraded the surface the better.  If you abrasive blast a surface not only can you double the surface area being bonded together but the irregular surface creates many opportunities for the epoxy to get “under” material to create a better grip.  If you can’t blast then at least sand the surface with 80-100 grit sand paper.

So here are two rules to bear in mind when it comes to the surface:

  1. Clean, clean, clean and wear gloves to not contaminate the surface with oil from your skin
  2. Shiny is bad.  A polished smooth surface will not give you anywhere near the bonding strength that a blasted or abraded surface will.  I blast everything that I can – metals, micarta, plastic and even wood.  It makes a world of difference – seriously.

The following is a bakelite handle from an electric griddle of my parents’.  The unit works great and has sentimental value so I cleaned it, blasted it, cut a quick cross hatch pattern to give even more grip and then cleaned it again.  It set up like a rock and we used it all Memorial Day morning to cook hundreds and hundreds of pancakes with no problem.\

Heating Epoxy

Heat can help you two ways.  First, by warming epoxy it tends to flow better.  If you need to to soak into wood or other surfaces, consider using a heat gun to blow/chase the epoxy into the wood.  Do not burn the epoxy – just warm it up.  Second, in general, warming epoxy up tends to make it cure faster.  Now there are limits and you need to either experiment or talk to the vendor before doing anything too radical.  I will often use a halogen light or other heat source to warm the surface up to 80-100F.  In chemistry, there is a formula known as the Arrhenius Equation that notes that for each additional 10 degrees Celsius added, a reaction rate doubles (click here for more info on the equation).  My experience is that you want the heat to penetrate and warm all of the epoxy and not just the surface and you also do not want to burn the epoxy.  In general, I do not exceed 100F but that is just me.  I found something that works good enough and have just stayed there.

Also pay attention to the minimum temperature requirements for curing.  Some epoxies will not do anything at all at freezing.  Some take forever to cure at 50F.  It just depends.  When in doubt, use a lamp or something to gently heat the part.

Coloring Epoxy

What many folks do not know is that you can actually color epoxy.  I have found two approaches that work.  First, use powdered tempera paint.  You can stir in a bit of black powder to get black epoxy.  Now I did this starting out and have since moved to using epoxy dyes so I am added less powder to the mix because I want to save the volume for glass fillers which we will talk about next.

Fillers

You can modify the physical strength of epoxy by adding a substrate or fillers.  For example, fiberglass is matted glass fiber that bonded together with epoxy made for that purpose.  Folks working with carbon fibers are using epoxy for bonding that together.  I add 1/32″ milled glass fibers to my epoxies to get more strength.  If I want more of a paste, I add more glass fiber and if I want it to be more of a liquid, I use less.  The exact volume of glass fiber depends on what you are trying to do.  Some vendors will give you recommendations and others will not.

Clamping / Work holding

In general, you want to apply the epoxy and then clamp everything together really well and then let it sit.   You may choose to use traditional clamps, vacuum, etc.  Bear in mind two things:

1.  Be careful that you secure the material and that it can’t shift while curing.  I can’t tell you how many times I have checked stuff and found out it moved and had to change my approach.  Figure this out before you apply the glue in case you need to make something, change your approach, etc.  Check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t shifted regardless.  Every time I think something can’t move – it does.

2.  The epoxy will run out of what you are working on.  Decide how you are going to deal with it.  Wax paper can protect your tools and table.  You can scrape the epoxy off after it has partially cured.  You can wipe things down with acetone when partially cured.  Just think it through otherwise you are going to glue stuff together really well that you do not want bonded – trust me.  It is a real headache so plan for seepage/dripping and how you will deal with it.

Patience

This is something I have gotten better at over the years – wait the recommended amount of time.  If they say 24 hours then wait 24 hours.  If you have questions about using the part sooner then ask the manufacturer.  For example, you might be able to assemble something after 10 hours but not actually put it under strain for 24 hours.  Factor in the temperature.  The colder it is then the longer it will take.  Remember what I said about the heat from lamps above.

Safety

Yeah, I had to add this.  Follow all guidance from the vendors.  The resins aren’t too bad but some of the hardeners are nasty.  Wear rubber gloves, use eye protection, work in a well ventilated area and wear a real good dust mask when sanding.  I use N99 masks now for everything.

I hope you found this general epoxy guidance helpful!


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Here are links to some of the stuff I use:

AcraGlas at Brownells.  As a reminder, I prefer and recommend the liquid, not the gel:
http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/stock-work-finishing/stock-bedding-adhesives/acraglas–prod1033.aspx

Loctite E-120HP [note that most sellers on Amazon charge a fortune for this so dig around at industrial supply houses such as McMaster, Zoro, MSC, etc.  Also, remember that you need the tube of glue, gun and disposable tips.  When the glue hardens in the tip, it protects the cartridge and you then replace the tip for your next work session but it does mean you need multiple tips.  I use this glue mostly for big projects like bonding together larger pieces of wood, etc.]
http://na.henkel-adhesives.com/product-search-1554.htm?nodeid=8797913677825

ITW Devcon Plastic Steel

JB KwikWeld – note that this is a thicker grey liquid.  I use it if I am in a rush and need an epoxy.  I’ve used it to bed rifles and repair stuff mainly.  I have not used it on knife handles.  Also, due to its grey color, you can go darker towards black but not lighter.

Now I have used a ton of their sticks to create clamps, fill voids, etc.  I typically have 2-4 sticks sitting in my supplies because when I need them, I need them.

Epoxy Dyes – there are a bunch on Amazon but I don’t know them.  In general, I use So-Strong dyes from SmoothOn when I need small amounts.  My black dye is bought by the pound in bulk containers.
https://www.smooth-on.com/product-line/strong/

10cc Syringes

Digital Scale – it will get filthy so buy something cheap but with good reviews.

Clamps – there are so many ways to clamp stuff together.  I use everything from woodworking vises to spring clips to C-clamps to the big heavy duty Irwin clamps that can do up to 600 pounds of pressure with one hand.

Wax paper

Plastic Cups – I’d recommend checking around.  You need to balance cost and quality.  Some cups are absurdly thin and you can’t use them for mixing.  I get mine from GFS and you can tell they have made them cheaper and cheaper over the years.  5oz is still good but 9 and 16oz cups aren’t so red hot any longer.

Plastic Knives – again, check around.  I get mine from GFS in a big box and they work just fine.

Heat gun – I have burned out a ton of them.  This DeWalt D26950 is the first one to last longer than a year.  I’d guess I’ve been using it for almost three now.

Dust Mask – I used Moldex 2310 N99 face masks now exclusively.  They hold up fairly well and aren’t hard to breath with.

Nitrile Gloves – the best deal I have found is from Harbor Freight for their 5mil gloves.  When they go on sale or you get a coupon for $5.99/box of 100 gloves, go get them.  They are thin and don’t hold up to tough use but to keep your hands clean and balancing off strength and cost, they are a pretty good deal.  Even at $7.99/box without shipping they are a pretty good deal.

 

Video: Building AK47 (AKM) with Definitive Arms by AK Operators Union, Local 47-74

          

Back in 2015, Rob Ski went to Definitive Arms to build an AK.  In this video, they really get into the details of building an AK and anyone regardless of experience level is bound to learn something.  You can watch in this 36:13 video as Rob builds his AK under the expert tutelage of the guys at Definitive Arms.

There are some great tips in here for riveting, getting the barrel blocks on square, etc.  Definitely worth your time.  After watching all these build videos, I really wish I had the time to build another.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.