Over the past decade or so I've come across "retro" turnscrew sets here and there for sale. Can anyone recommend any that they may have bought? And just what/how many turnscrews are to be considered essential, that is, most used in basic maintenance of our beloved vintage guns?
Get yourself a "thin bit" set from Brownell's. It will fit most of the fine slotted screws found on continental guns. If you find you need thicker blades most any other gunsmithing set will accommodate those screws. Brownell's and Midway offer a good selection.
I use wooden and bone handled hand made turnscrews here in the UK. I've got 6 of different sizes and I use a fine table based hand grinder to make them fit each gun as I restore them...
KK, to do it right, the screwdriver blades must fit exactly the screws of your gun for thickness, width, and depth. If your are mechanically inclined, it is not difficult to buy driver bits and custom grind them for specific guns. Likewise, you can buy fancy turnscrews and custom grind. The chance are low of buying a set and having them fit properly. The chances of damaging screw slots with improperly fitting drivers is high. Proper fitting blades seriously trumps fancy handles.
I read you loud and clear, Rocketman, and I'm with you.
I've got a Wheeler set, they're very extensive and will fit about any screw you're likely to come across. The problem isn't grinding a blank down to fit a slot, the BIG problem is tempering it so it won't break. And scratch your shotgun.
If you grind and temper all the time you can probably do it by eyeballing, but if not, you're in for an experience.
I'll vote for the Brownells Magna-tips. In a former life (the one with a lot of spare time) I would custom grind blades to fit the job. They fit well enough but the fine blades frequently broke. The Brownells make life easier and less scary. They come in small increments of widths and thicknesses, can be ground a bit thinner/narrower if absolutely necessary. And they're tough. Regardless of which brand or type you prefer, the sooner you suck it up, toss the Craftmans, and invest in good screwdrivers the better off you will be.
I've got a set of Brownells and a set of Wheeler Engr. screwdrivers that I'm pretty happy with. I bought a used set of Bonanza that had a couple with broken tips that I had to regrind. The Bonanza set is definitely more brittle and would not be my first choice with a very stubborn screw. I've also reground many common screwdrivers to a hollow ground tip to fit gun screws with mixed results depending on the quality of the steel. If you don't overheat the tip while grinding and draw the temper, retempering shouldn't be necessary. None of mine are of the rosewood handled turnscrew variety you asked about. The other guys who responded are apparently choosing functionality over appearance as well, although it is certainly possible to have both. That could get pretty costly though to have a large selection to cover a variety of different makes of guns. Personally, I'd rather have a utilitarian set of Brownells' and apply the savings to buying another gun.
I'll go with the guys on the Brownells sets. I'd add too the bit holding gizmo for the grinding that is sure to happen sometime. I know you can do it freehand and I have, but the gizmo is just the really proper way to do it -
Of course if you really want to do it the old way, get a couple leaf springs from the auto wrecking yard and start cutting. Recommended method in an old Limey gunsmithing book I have.
I've got a set I bought from Midway about a decade ago that I keep in a shooting bag. The bits cover a lot, but I must admit they've been used more for handguns and centerfire rifles than fine old doubles. Actually they've NEVER been used on any of my doubles. The bits are pretty good, the number of them is pretty comprehensive, but they're shakey-snakey in the driver. Basically this is what prompted the interest in solid blade/handle drivers. But the Magna-tips from Brownell's look good, and I'm guessing they're solid once in the drive handle or I'm sure you guys would have mentioned it. So what about it? Here's your last chance to tell me all the aspects of what make these the best econaomical choice. Many Thanks - Marc
I'm not familiar with Midway's sets so I won't knock them. Brownells has a wide range of bit sizes, including a thin-slot set, so they've got you covered. They've pretty much eliminated the need to grind a tip for each project/screw. That's a big plus in my book. There's a wide selection of handles. The bits are tough - you'll have to work pretty hard to booger one up. I think Brownells even guarantees them.
I do some Colonial era re-enacting. It's not PC, but I throw a short handle and two or three selected bits in my bag and with them I can keep the gun running indefitely. The Brownells are handy like that. Take a handle and a few bits to the deer camp or duck blind. They're so compact.
They're only shaky if you have a cheap driver........A good Craftsman 'ratchet' driver (reversable magnetic) or the Brownells driver and there is no slop.....
Actually I use Chapmans (I think they are) but the Brownells gismo works for them too
Sent away for the Brownells super-duper magna tip set. I forgot to also pick up the thin slot set, so I guess I'll have to see how much I miss it. Also the "gizmo" or "gismo" - What in heck does Brownell's call it because it seems like a good thing to have.