Barrel Fluting - Best Practices?
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    Default Barrel Fluting - Best Practices?

    Just a shout-out to guys who flute a lot, or even a few, barrels. Like to hear your process, particularly for spiral fluting. Any special advice, tips, tricks?

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?

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    I have done it a new-fangled way that is not at all 'traditional' but got very nice results and made a lot of customers very happy. I admire the old fashioned ways and appreciate the work that goes into it, but have no desire to duplicate it myself.

    I used ball end mills on a CNC vertical mill with a 4th axis rotary and tailstock setup with protection for critical surfaces as required.

    Now, technically speaking, ER Shaw has a patent on spiral/helical fluting barrels. That 'pattern' is apparently patented to them. I don't know that they defend the patent at all, as you will find all sorts of people offering the service, and I've done it for personal firearms and friends.

    There are all kinds of trendy patterns nowadays that look ridiculous, imo. Like the 'tribal tattoo' craze and "XTREME" shit... that sort of flavor. From the hex 'fluted' barrels to aggressive diamond patterns. I've seen some where stainless barrels were bead blasted to a smooth-matte finish, then the flutes milled in, to reveal the shiny raw stainless. Some of it is more tasteful than others.

    Regardless, imo, the most efficient, consistent, controllable way was using a rotary and tailstock in a VMC. Typical setup wisdom applies in regards to support/rigidity, cutting forces, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNieman View Post
    I have done it a new-fangled way that is not at all 'traditional' but got very nice results and made a lot of customers very happy. I admire the old fashioned ways and appreciate the work that goes into it, but have no desire to duplicate it myself.

    I used ball end mills on a CNC vertical mill with a 4th axis rotary and tailstock setup with protection for critical surfaces as required.

    Now, technically speaking, ER Shaw has a patent on spiral/helical fluting barrels. That 'pattern' is apparently patented to them. I don't know that they defend the patent at all, as you will find all sorts of people offering the service, and I've done it for personal firearms and friends.

    There are all kinds of trendy patterns nowadays that look ridiculous, imo. Like the 'tribal tattoo' craze and "XTREME" shit... that sort of flavor. From the hex 'fluted' barrels to aggressive diamond patterns. I've seen some where stainless barrels were bead blasted to a smooth-matte finish, then the flutes milled in, to reveal the shiny raw stainless. Some of it is more tasteful than others.

    Regardless, imo, the most efficient, consistent, controllable way was using a rotary and tailstock in a VMC. Typical setup wisdom applies in regards to support/rigidity, cutting forces, etc.
    The "new fangled" approach is for sure, the way to go. Wish I had the coin to lay in a Haas VMC, but alas...I do not. It could make sense where a very high-volume shop having an substantial Internet marketing budget provides fluting and other services to keep the VMC busy. But man, it would take a LOT of volume to make it pay.

    So, aside from basic, straight-ahead fluting (which in my view is the best) the smallish shop will need to farm the orders they do get out to the guy with the VMC.

    Good point about "Helical". Its patented or trademarked - not sure which, but somebody owns it.

    Thanks your input!

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?



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    Patented.

    ER Shaw. The # is referenced somewhere on their website, I'm sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNieman View Post
    Patented.

    ER Shaw. The # is referenced somewhere on their website, I'm sure.
    JNeiman's remarks about the sometimes wildly aggressive diamond, "helical" fluting and interrupted patterns causes me to wonder -- how much of the market involves this kind of design as opposed to plain fluting? I'm retired now, so I don't really know what customer demand looks like nowadays. I cannot recall anyone ever asking me to do anything but plain fluting when I was still working. Course, by the end of my career I specialized in double shotguns and Smith revolvers, so I wasn't the guy doing most of that work.

    Squire

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    Depends on the market you cater to.

    People that shoot competitively in action-type sports tend to gravitate toward the more flashy shit.

    People who buy ARs and Kriss Vectors and 'modernized' AKs, and sub-guns, and spend a shit ton of money on parts and accessories (but never on training) tend to get whiz bang stuff, or want to try the "latest and greatest" no matter how many times they have to buy a new handguard, attachment style, optic mount, quick-detach-everything, lightening-already-lightweight-stuff, and improving the performance of shit that isn't remotely bottle-necking their actual shooting performance.

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    "If it don't go, chrome it"

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    Most of the really fancy stuff is done on CNC equipment for sure, but you can certainly do spiral flutes or even diamond flutes on a Bridgeport or Bridgeport clone by using a universal dividing head geared to the table and just the standard power feed. The flutes will be just as nice and the only limiting factor is the gear set up that you have and to change from one style to another requires more thought for sure than a CNC does.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by glbreil View Post
    Most of the really fancy stuff is done on CNC equipment for sure, but you can certainly do spiral flutes or even diamond flutes on a Bridgeport or Bridgeport clone by using a universal dividing head geared to the table and just the standard power feed. The flutes will be just as nice and the only limiting factor is the gear set up that you have and to change from one style to another requires more thought for sure than a CNC does.

    Gary
    Yeah Gary, you're certainly right. I think you touch on the a big issue for the smaller shop. I think doing the occasional fluting job, even the more complicated designs, for one's best customers is probably a good business decision. I know that I almost never farmed out work to others, except color case-hardening. Customers get nervous about their guns being shipped here and there. The work can absolutely be done on a Bridgeport. But if you get into any real volume, I think ya gotta go CNC. Heck, how much can you really charge for fluting? $150 bucks maybe? $200 if it's really complicated? I'm thinking a shop offering general gunsmithing services can knock-out three C&O's at $55 a throw in the time it takes to plan and set-up a complex fluting pattern. Think of the time to do the interrupted cut stuff? They could do the C &Os, collect $165 and roll on, never having to buy tooling for those jobs. True, the cost ain't much, but it's something. Time is even more critical to profitability.

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?

    Sent Using Tapatalk - Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Tahlequah OK
    Last edited by OldSquier; 05-09-2017 at 05:43 AM.

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    I agree with you completely about the time and convenience. Even set up for straight flutes in a CNC is greatly simplified since you program to the barrel taper instead of having to set the barrel taper up square to the mill table.

    I was really just saying if you have a Bridgeport you can do the spiral stuff without going to a huge expense. Especially if you want to pick a certain twist and stay with it.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by glbreil View Post
    I agree with you completely about the time and convenience. Even set up for straight flutes in a CNC is greatly simplified since you program to the barrel taper instead of having to set the barrel taper up square to the mill table.

    I was really just saying if you have a Bridgeport you can do the spiral stuff without going to a huge expense. Especially if you want to pick a certain twist and stay with it.

    Gary
    Yup. Your right too. No CNC in my future. I'll just have to work with what I've got. Must admit I'm looking forward to doing my first spiral, albeit manually.

    Squire

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    You might consider Pete Pieper if not investing in a CNC mill.

    http://www.precisionbarrelwork.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butch Lambert View Post
    You might consider Pete Pieper if not investing in a CNC mill.

    http://www.precisionbarrelwork.com/
    Thanks for the info. Nice photos on his site. Looks like a good shop for the fancier fluting. I'm surprised that he openly advertises to do "Helical" fluting. Maybe he's got a license from Shaw to do it.

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldSquier View Post
    I'm surprised that he openly advertises to do "Helical" fluting. Maybe he's got a license from Shaw to do it.
    lol I doubt it. I know a lot of people do it and either have no idea there's a patent, or don't care. Like I said, I don't even know if ER Shaw enforces it.

    I only heard of the patent when a guy brought in his LWRC carbine and wanted his barrel fluted just like the ones on some higher-end LWRC carbine that had more bells and whistles. He, being the brand whore he is, (a friend) knew all the reasons LWRC is "better" than the rest and told me. Checked up on it and he was right. Otherwise I'd never have known.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldSquier View Post
    Thanks for the info. Nice photos on his site. Looks like a good shop for the fancier fluting. I'm surprised that he openly advertises to do "Helical" fluting. Maybe he's got a license from Shaw to do it.

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?

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    I've known Pete for 30yrs. He is a fine young man. He did a few barrels for me in the old days.

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    Shaw shows the following two patents (U.S. Patents DES. 426,611 & USG. 324,780B1) for their helical fluting. The first was issued in 2000 and may have expired by now; the second does not get a match at the USPTO.

    In any event, I think that prior art should cause the first one to be vacated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGaskill View Post
    Shaw shows the following two patents (U.S. Patents DES. 426,611 & USG. 324,780B1) for their helical fluting. The first was issued in 2000 and may have expired by now; the second does not get a match at the USPTO.

    In any event, I think that prior art should cause the first one to be vacated.
    GGaskill,

    Thanks for that information.

    I've been looking at websites for companies who offer fluting services. I found but one that mentions Shaw's patent on "helical" fluting. "McGowan Precision Barrel" of Kalispell, MT, says they cannot provide Helical Fluting because "another company" holds a patent on it.

    I'm just naturally a little afraid of being sued, so before I would offer helical fluting for profit, I would find out if the patent is still in-force, or no. People are taking theft of intellectual property rights and trade secrets very seriously nowadays. Fines can be huge - up to 5 Million USD or 3 times the value of the property in question. Someone may tell me I'm wrong, but it's what I recollect that I read somewhere.

    SquireBarrel Fluting - Best Practices?

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    We just finished up such a fluting project on a 93 Mauser action in 257 Roberts. A very good shooting gun, but heavier than the owner wanted to carry around in the Idaho hills. Using an old Bridgeport J-head, indexing head and 1/4" ball nose end mill we removed just about 15 ounces of weight from the heavy medium couture. Now to the parkerizing tank!

    img_1706.jpgimg_1707.jpgimg_1708.jpgimg_20170506_175850168-1-.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gos View Post
    We just finished up such a fluting project on a 93 Mauser action in 257 Roberts. A very good shooting gun, but heavier than the owner wanted to carry around in the Idaho hills. Using an old Bridgeport J-head, indexing head and 1/4" ball nose end mill we removed just about 15 ounces of weight ...


    Very nice work Gos! Just out of curiosity, how long did it take?

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    That's a little embarrassing but it took the better part of a full day, 7+ hours.


    Quote Originally Posted by OldSquier View Post
    Very nice work Gos! Just out of curiosity, how long did it take?

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