This is a picture of the gun barrel with the tang screwed into the barrel. The tang is a plug, essentially, that resists the pressures of the gunpowder igniting. Since the explosion cannot come out of the plugged end of the barrel, it must go out the other end, pushing the rifle ball ahead of it. The tang also serves as a point of attachment for the barrel. Note the countersunk screw hole… a screw goes through the hole, through the stock, and into the trigger plate on the underside of the stock.

The barrel of this gun started as a plain swamped barrel. Swamped is a term for a barrel that is thick at the breech, then tapers thin in the middle, and flares out again at the muzzle.

The engraved lines will be filled with silver and gold wires, and then polished flush with the barrel. The barrel will then be fire blued, which will make the gold and silver glory in a rich blue background.

Here is the muzzle of the rifle. The engraved design will be filled with gold wire, and some of the leaves and flowers will have line engraving to accent their shapes. The riflings, or grooves, in the bore, have been filed out to make the rifling look really deep.

A preliminary sketch in magic marker helps me conceptualize the design. Gold in green, and silver in black marker.

Next is the breech section of the rifle barrel. This, too, has engraving that will be filled with silver and gold wire. When the barrel has been completely inlaid with the precious metals, polished and finish engraved, I will then fire blue it. The steel will turn a deep blue and the silver and gold will remain bright. It should be stunning.

Now I am starting to inlay the gold into the barrel decorative engraving. Each engraved line will have gold wire beaten into it. For the wire to stay in place, there must be burrs and undercuts down inside the engraving. I am using 24 carat gold, which is so very soft, it acts like putty, filling every little line and recess in the engraving. The view below shows the wire in the process of being hammered into the grooves. Note, too, that there are little reflections down in the engraving. Those are the undercuts, formed with a punch. In the large areas there are little hooks, raised with a graver, which will bite into the gold when it’s pounded into the cavity. Click on the picture for a larger view.

The gold then must be filed off flush with the surface of the barrel, and polished. This really changes the appearance from ‘blobby’ to a finished smooth look. The quality of line shows up at this stage. If I was not aware of my line quality earlier, I’d be noticing it now. The top flat of the barrel still needs to be filled.