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Stocks are made from one piece of wood.

Stocks are made from one piece of wood.

A gunsmith performs detail work on the stock of an American long rifle.

A gunsmith’s trade demands precision.

Close work requires a steady hand.

Close work requires a steady hand.

Many trade skills required for gunsmith

Colonial gunsmithing required the skills of a blacksmith, whitesmith, founder, and woodworker to build a gun. A finished weapon required fine detail work on iron and steel, the carving of decorative designs, hammering and casting brass and silver into complex shapes, and engraving hard and soft metals. These skills were usually learned in an apprenticeship lasting five to seven years. A male youth began his apprenticeship between the ages of 12 and 14 years and completed it by the time he was 21.

Colonial gunsmiths mainly performed repair work

Because imported firearms were cheaper than those made in Williamsburg – typical of many goods in colonial America – the gunsmith mainly repaired arms and other objects. Gunsmiths often repaired axes and other items made by blacksmiths, cast shoe buckles and other items like bells, and sometimes repaired silver objects.

Today in the Historic Area

Today the gunsmiths carry on their trade at the Ayscough house using the same technologies as their 18th-century predecessors.