Wooden toy rifles with spring steel actions were popular in the late fifties. With a stock made from a chunk of 2-inch by 4-inch wood and a broom handle barrel, spring steel action toy rifles make a noise guaranteed to scare off the most determined bad guy.
This article assumes that the reader is an experienced woodworker, who is familiar with the correct and safe use of power tools, including mortise and tenon jigs, power drills, sanders, grinders and jig saws. Remember to use wrap-around eye protection and a dust mask when grinding, sanding or cutting wood. For safety’s sake, use fluorescent orange and yellow paint. This prevents the gun from being mistaken for a real weapon and causing a potential tragedy.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Wrap-around eye protection, dust mask
- Sabre saw or jig saw
- Belt sander
- Coarse, medium, fine and extra fine sanding belts
- 2-inch by 4-inch by 2 1/2-feet piece of stock pine
- 2 feet of wooden broom handle or 2 feet of 1-inch diameter dowel rod for gun barrel
- 1 piece of 1/2-inch by 1/16-inch by 2-inch spring steel
- 5-inch diameter by 1/2-inch thick circle of oak wood for trigger mechanism
- 1/4-inch diameter, 2-1/2 inch long piece of dowel rod
- Two 3/4-inch brass wood screws
- Power drill, 1/4-inch diameter bit, 1/8-inch diameter bit
- Countersink bit
- 1/4-inch diameter by 4-inch length of allthread
- Fluorescent orange, yellow or green paint
- Silver paint
- Clear acrylic coating
Lay out your rifle profile on the 2-inch by 4-inch by 3-feet stock pine, excluding the barrel. Cut a 3/4-inch wide by 6-inch long by 4-inch deep mortise through the gun stock from the top of the 2-inch side to the bottom, all the way through the wood. Square all the corners of the mortise.
Drill a 2-inch deep, 1/4-inch diameter hole in the exact centre of the barrel end of the gun stock. Apply 5-minute epoxy to one end of the allthread and insert into the hole. Drill a matching 2-inch deep, 1/4-inch diameter hole in the exact centre of one end of the gun barrel. Apply 5-minute epoxy to that end of the barrel, around the allthread. Screw the allthread into place.
Use the coarse sanding belt to rough grind the stock into shape. The butt of the gun should be slightly fan shaped, and all edges should be smoothed from the sharp angles of the 2-inch by 4-inch by 3-feet wood to rounded contours.
Cut a 5-inch diameter circle of 1/2-inch thick oak. Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the centre. Sand the wood circle smooth and paint it silver. Allow the paint to dry.
Drill two 1/8-inch diameter, 1/2-inch long pilot holes in the positions indicated in the diagram that accompanies this step. Countersink the holes. Drill matching holes in one end of the piece of 1/2-inch by 1/16-inch by 2-inch piece of spring steel. Attach the spring steel to the gun stock using 3/4-inch long brass wood screws.
Sand the gun smooth all over using medium, fine and extra fine sanding belts in that order. Paint the entire gun fluorescent orange, yellow or green. This is to avoid the potential tragedy of having your gun mistaken for the real thing.
Drill a 1/4-inch diameter hole through the 4-inch side of the gun stock in the position indicated on the diagram that accompanies this step. Slide the 1/4-inch diameter dowel partway through the hole. Position the silver-painted oak circle so that the dowel will go through it. Coat one end of the dowel with 5-minute epoxy. Push dowel through the hole until about 1/2–inch sticks out the other side. Coat that end with epoxy as well.
Push the dowel flush with both sides of the gun stock and allow the epoxy to dry. Make sure that the silver-painted trigger mechanism is still able to move freely. Pull the trigger several times to test the sound. The trigger mechanism should snap against the spring steel, making a loud crack. If the trigger does not snap against the steel, remove the screws and reposition the steel until the noise is loud enough and the trigger pulls with just a slight effort.
Tips and warnings
- Remember to use wrap-around eye protection and a dust mask when grinding, sanding or cutting wood.
- For safety’s sake, use fluorescent orange and yellow paint. This prevents the gun from being mistaken for a real weapon and causing a potential tragedy.
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