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Link Posted: 3/22/2010 10:50:24 AM EDT
[#1]
How did you make your lettering for the stencils?  Did you draw them by hand or use some other way to make your letting/designs crisp, neat, and uniform?
Link Posted: 3/22/2010 11:37:25 AM EDT
[#2]
The first couple I did by hand, and they didn’t turn out too bad, but I wanted to go smaller so bought a vinyl cutter from http://www.uscutter.com/
Link Posted: 3/22/2010 1:54:25 PM EDT
[#3]
WOW so very cool, you are an inspiration for the rest of us : )
Link Posted: 3/30/2010 10:56:02 AM EDT
[#4]
Very nice! Thanks for the write up. I am going to pick up a 80% for an office desk peice. Cool to see how the finish out.
Link Posted: 3/31/2010 5:04:19 PM EDT
[#5]
Im impressed. Keep up the great work.
Link Posted: 4/4/2010 11:10:48 PM EDT
[#6]
Very nice work, if you want a few more tricks on your ano work, give me a shout. www.gruntbull.com
Link Posted: 4/23/2010 11:08:07 PM EDT
[#7]
Just want to confirm that I can legally give a finished receiver to my brother as a gift. I'm finally going to put the mill half of my Grizzly lath/mill combo to work.
Link Posted: 4/23/2010 11:24:14 PM EDT
[#8]
My understanding is that your brother needs to be involved in making the lower. Everyone agrees that you can’t make them for sale, and I have read you can’t give them away. So to be on the safe side just get together and help him build it.
Link Posted: 5/9/2010 1:37:26 PM EDT
[#9]
VaderSpade:

Would you mind posting the model number of the cutter you purchased? I see that there are a LOT of models at US Cutter alone ... not to mention the CriCut models (but the CriCuts don't seem to do well with small fonts). I bought some calendered vinyl and was hoping to be able to cut the stencils by hand, but I quickly learned that I don't have that talent! I guess the thing to do is get a cutter.

Thanks for the great documentation on this project!!

Saands
Link Posted: 5/9/2010 8:42:40 PM EDT
[#10]
U.S. Cutter MH-721, I bought it off of eBay. I waited for one with no bids, and stole it at the last second.

http://www.uscutter.com/USCutter-MH-series-Vinyl-Cutter-_p_25.html
Link Posted: 5/10/2010 1:13:31 AM EDT
[#11]
VaderSpade-

I was looking on the internet for a 12V battery charger and ran accross this site, which describes how to convert an old PC power supply into a 12V regulated lab supply.

12V ATX Lab Power Supply

Do you think something like this would work for etching and/or anodizing?

Thanks,
-2t0ner
Link Posted: 5/10/2010 10:04:36 AM EDT
[#12]
If the specs shown are right (12v 12Amps) It should work fine.
Link Posted: 5/10/2010 11:56:16 AM EDT
[#13]
I was curious about how to cut very small stencils, and since I am probably only going to do one lower, I figured that buying a plotter type of cutter was a bit out of my league.  I called the guy who did the tinting on my car, and he told me he can cut the template for a few bucks on his plotter.  I figure when the time comes, I will let him know what I want, and go from there.

Just a thought about how to get professional looking results without breaking the bank.

Ron

...Semper Fidelis...
Link Posted: 5/26/2010 9:51:13 PM EDT
[#14]
Originally Posted By VaderSpade:
Unfortunately neither Yellow Logic nor Quentin Defense billet lowers will fit into the Tactical Machining jig.
The magazine flare is just too wide, I don’t know about the one’s you have. I would love to see and know where you got the AR15 lower by Utratech.
I believe any lower from a mil spec forging will work in the Tactical Machining jig, but some need more work than the jig is made for.


YES YOU CAN USE NON MIL SPEC LOWERS WITH A LITTLE WORK.
You can modify the TM jig to fit over the Ultratech lowers, it requires FIRST removing the rear take down alignment pins from the TM jig and milling off a small nibble so the jig wont hit on the UT lower as the buffer tower is just slightly wider, an easy modification, Just look to see where the jig is hitting, its not much of a cut and could be done with a file but the second mod requires a mill.   Then tap the pins back into the jig to the original depth.

SECOND, lay the jig on flat and put the lower on the pins, the mag well flare will be laying on the jig, simply scribe the outline of the contact area, remove the lower and place the jig in your mill vise set at 10 degrees. Check the scribe by running a trial pass with a 3/8 endmill to be sure it's going to take off the area the flare was hitting. I took off roughly 50 thousandths on each half of the jig to clear the flare's and it was a simple set up from there to do the normal pocket work. It leaves a slightly thicker wall on the lower but works just fine.

The TM jig wont have the selector hole to guide you on some lowers but if you can read a blue print it's an easy layout to mark and drill for a 3/8 drill or even better install a drill bushing like TM has for the trigger and hammer holes and you have a versatile jig that can work on several type lowers.    
Maybe TM will eventually do the selector hole in their jig and just add 5 bucks to the jig cost.  Nathan are you listening ?

NO IT's NOT CHEAPER, IT's AN INVESTMENT IN HIGH QUALITY HOME BUILDS. It's a personal thing to see how tight you can hold tolerances.

Link Posted: 6/23/2010 7:14:47 PM EDT
[#15]
I must say your Pirate markings on for the Safety selector made me excessively happy!
Link Posted: 7/21/2010 11:52:39 PM EDT
[#16]
I have recently completed an 80% reciever and will be finishing it with Duracoat.  

Instead of blasting or sanding to prep the receiver for the Duracoat, would alkaline etching in sodium
hydroxide prep the surface for Duracoat to stick well?  Do you think this process would be more troublesome than preparing the receiver with 600 grit paper?

Link Posted: 7/22/2010 10:48:51 AM EDT
[#17]
Beautiful!  I wish I had the equipment and machinery to make my own lower.
Link Posted: 7/22/2010 6:40:52 PM EDT
[#18]
Originally Posted By RoninRider:
I have recently completed an 80% reciever and will be finishing it with Duracoat.  

Instead of blasting or sanding to prep the receiver for the Duracoat, would alkaline etching in sodium
hydroxide prep the surface for Duracoat to stick well?  Do you think this process would be more troublesome than preparing the receiver with 600 grit paper?



I don't really know anything about Duracoat, but alkaline etching in sodium hydroxide, and a good rinse would make anything stick.
Link Posted: 7/25/2010 9:14:43 PM EDT
[#19]
So let me share my experience so far....
Ok, so I tried to find Sodium Hydroxide, no luck.  Then even tried the Drano crystal yada, yada yada method..... to much of fumes and didn't feel like killing the whole household on my project.  

I used the etching technique that VaderSpade used to etch.  I used plain electrical tape and it worked perfect.  My ratio was 10 Vinegar : 0.7 Salt.  Etching gave desired results with nice lines.  

Next instead of hunting Sodium Hydroxide, I used the same solution ratio as my electrolyte to experiment on a piece of aluminum.  I wrapped tape around the middle to see the difference of a couple of minutes.    About 2.5 ~ 3 minutes is enough to get the finish I think.  We'll see how it works on receiver vs. my scrape aluminum.  

Hopfully if it doesn't rain tomorrow I will dip the receiver and then apply the duracoat to see how the process looks finished compared to the other anodized receivers.  Either way, it beats sanding in all the nooks and crannies to get the duracoat the adhere properly.
Link Posted: 11/5/2010 4:46:11 PM EDT
[#20]
That is really cool VS.

LOT of work huh?  Very rewarding though I'm sure.

Did you serialize the lowers of was that pre-done for you?

Link Posted: 11/6/2010 12:47:42 PM EDT
[#21]
Did you serialize the lowers or was that pre-done for you?

I did that myself. All my serial numbers start with my birthday, that’s part of what’s so fun about building your own guns. They are totally custom.
Link Posted: 11/29/2010 8:52:14 PM EDT
[#22]
WOW thank you so much for sharing that.   Now jsut let me know when the house nexst door coems up for sale because I wnat to be your neighbor.  You know borrow tools and things or jsut stand and drool while I watch you work.  Awesome job.
Link Posted: 12/1/2010 4:44:13 PM EDT
[#23]
Originally Posted By BamBamBam22:
WOW thank you so much for sharing that.   Now jsut let me know when the house nexst door coems up for sale because I wnat to be your neighbor.  You know borrow tools and things or jsut stand and drool while I watch you work.  Awesome job.


Thanks,
I’m actually thinking of selling the house where my shop is now. If you were to buy it I wouldn’t need to move my equipment.
Link Posted: 12/1/2010 5:14:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: Sig_Prude] [#24]
I sometimes ponder buying a CNC mill with a 4th axis and getting into the AR parts business.  The thing is though, the AR-15 aftermarket is absolutely, positively SATURATED at the present time.
Link Posted: 12/6/2010 9:38:40 PM EDT
[#25]
Spade,
outstanding post especially with the etching. I wish I had seen this post when I was doing my 80% Yellow logic lower (for a 6.5 Grendel Build). Which I had a local Trophy Shop do my lettering. They did not get quite deep enough so when I duracoat the Lower a Lot of the detail went away I would have preferred your method as the etching look quite a bit deeper.

Like you have mentioned this route is not cheaper by a long shot personally for me was to control the tolerance and the pride of doing it myself. With this being said can't wait to do another. with that being said could you assist with doing a couple sets from your cutter nothing fancy just text. Thanks and again Kudos for your post.
Link Posted: 12/7/2010 11:55:53 AM EDT
[#26]
Originally Posted By sgt_mike:
Spade,
outstanding post especially with the etching. I wish I had seen this post when I was doing my 80% Yellow logic lower (for a 6.5 Grendel Build). Which I had a local Trophy Shop do my lettering. They did not get quite deep enough so when I duracoat the Lower a Lot of the detail went away I would have preferred your method as the etching look quite a bit deeper.

Like you have mentioned this route is not cheaper by a long shot personally for me was to control the tolerance and the pride of doing it myself. With this being said can't wait to do another. with that being said could you assist with doing a couple sets from your cutter nothing fancy just text. Thanks and again Kudos for your post.


PM sent
Link Posted: 12/8/2010 5:32:42 PM EDT
[#27]
There is an alternative for vinyl stencil for etching.

You can use method that is used for making printed circuit boards (PCBs)
All you need is laser printer and glossy paper.

More details here and pictures are here:
http://www.riccibitti.com/pcb/pcb.htm

Idea of the method is that regular laser printers actually prints with some kind of plastic but not ink.
Print "stencil" on glossy paper, then transfer the it to the receiver.
Heat receiver to 350-380F, then press paper with image into it.
Cool down, put in water, carefully rub away paper, you'll get "stencil" melted onto receiver.

I didn't try it on lower itself, but I tried it on other aluminum part and it worked.
Link Posted: 12/13/2010 10:03:48 PM EDT
[#28]
I have a question or two someone can hopefully answer:



(1)  I see that TM and others are now selling pre-anodized 80% lowers.  So if one was to mill out one of these, do they need to be re-coated/protected somehow on the newly milled portion or are they GTG once the milling is done?



(2)  What is the best way to mark as your own a pre-anodized 80% lower?



Link Posted: 12/14/2010 6:06:31 AM EDT
[#29]
Originally Posted By futuremodal:
I have a question or two someone can hopefully answer:

(1)  I see that TM and others are now selling pre-anodized 80% lowers.  So if one was to mill out one of these, do they need to be re-coated/protected somehow on the newly milled portion or are they GTG once the milling is done?

(2)  What is the best way to mark as your own a pre-anodized 80% lower?




What would be the point of a pre-anodized 80% lower? It just would put more wear on the cutting tools, and you might want to re-anodize it later anyway.

Link Posted: 12/14/2010 8:35:10 PM EDT
[#30]




Originally Posted By Tomtbo:



Originally Posted By futuremodal:

I have a question or two someone can hopefully answer:



(1) I see that TM and others are now selling pre-anodized 80% lowers. So if one was to mill out one of these, do they need to be re-coated/protected somehow on the newly milled portion or are they GTG once the milling is done?



(2) What is the best way to mark as your own a pre-anodized 80% lower?









What would be the point of a pre-anodized 80% lower? It just would put more wear on the cutting tools, and you might want to re-anodize it later anyway.







Not sure, that's why I asked.  There must be a reason - TM is currently out of stock of their pre-anodized 80%'ers.
Link Posted: 12/15/2010 9:49:59 AM EDT
[#31]
Originally Posted By Tomtbo:
Originally Posted By futuremodal:
I have a question or two someone can hopefully answer:

(1)  I see that TM and others are now selling pre-anodized 80% lowers.  So if one was to mill out one of these, do they need to be re-coated/protected somehow on the newly milled portion or are they GTG once the milling is done?

(2)  What is the best way to mark as your own a pre-anodized 80% lower?




What would be the point of a pre-anodized 80% lower? It just would put more wear on the cutting tools, and you might want to re-anodize it later anyway.



machining through anodize puts very very little extra wear on the tooling. its negligible infact.

I just recently finished one of the pre anodized lowers. it turned out great., one of these days I'll set up and re anodize it, probably not until I have to engrave it for the SBR paperwork. it looks great without it. since it is 7075 it will corrode, so I'll keep the inside well protected.

Link Posted: 12/18/2010 12:29:19 PM EDT
[#32]
A quick review of the different 80% lowers I've finished.

AR-15 plus (Vida Rica) the ones I finished were the old style (open pocket) and not that great, I’m not sure what they are selling now but I paid WAY too much at the time. I just checked and I see they still want too much money.

Yellow Logic, Great lowers but you pay for the quality, milled from 7075 billet, I’m not sure if they are still making lowers? If money is no object check these out.

Quentin Defense very good quality milled from 6061, a little more money but worth it for a special build.  

Kevin’s lowers, these lowers were way out of spec, when I called Kevin on it he said I was an idiot and would only screw them up anyway. In the end he replaced them, but to this day these lowers have upper fit problems. I just dedicated uppers to them and ground the pins to fit. I would avoid at all cost.

Tactical Machining, I have watched their quality improve as they worked out any bugs they had. Probably the best lower for the money, great people with great customer support.

Colfax Tactical, These lowers are very nice, a little more money that Tactical Machining, BUT you are supporting a small family business from California. I like that the takedown pocket is done this is the toughest area to get to. They also have a nice hand finish, a little warmer look. Also great people with great customer support.    

After all the lowers I have built I will continue to support both Tactical Machining, and Colfax Tactical. I think they are the best out there.
Link Posted: 12/18/2010 1:09:43 PM EDT
[#33]




Originally Posted By VaderSpade:

A quick review of the different 80% lowers I've finished.



AR-15 plus (Vida Rica) the ones I finished were the old style (open pocket) and not that great, I’m not sure what they are selling now but I paid WAY too much at the time. I just checked and I see they still want too much money.



Yellow Logic, Great lowers but you pay for the quality, milled from 7075 billet, I’m not sure if they are still making lowers? If money is no object check these out.



Quentin Defense very good quality milled from 6061, a little more money but worth it for a special build.



Kevin’s lowers, these lowers were way out of spec, when I called Kevin on it he said I was an idiot and would only screw them up anyway. In the end he replaced them, but to this day these lowers have upper fit problems. I just dedicated uppers to them and ground the pins to fit. I would avoid at all cost.



Tactical Machining, I have watched their quality improve as they worked out any bugs they had. Probably the best lower for the money, great people with great customer support.



Colfax Tactical, These lowers are very nice, a little more money that Tactical Machining, BUT you are supporting a small family business from California. I like that the takedown pocket is done this is the toughest area to get to. They also have a nice hand finish, a little warmer look. Also great people with great customer support.



After all the lowers I have built I will continue to support both Tactical Machining, and Colfax Tactical. I think they are the best out there.



Thanks.



Looks like I made the right choice going with Colfax and TM.

Link Posted: 12/18/2010 11:21:37 PM EDT
[#34]
Originally Posted By VaderSpade:
A quick review of the different 80% lowers I've finished.

AR-15 plus (Vida Rica) the ones I finished were the old style (open pocket) and not that great, I’m not sure what they are selling now but I paid WAY too much at the time. I just checked and I see they still want too much money.

Yellow Logic, Great lowers but you pay for the quality, milled from 7075 billet, I’m not sure if they are still making lowers? If money is no object check these out.

Quentin Defense very good quality milled from 6061, a little more money but worth it for a special build.  

Kevin’s lowers, these lowers were way out of spec, when I called Kevin on it he said I was an idiot and would only screw them up anyway. In the end he replaced them, but to this day these lowers have upper fit problems. I just dedicated uppers to them and ground the pins to fit. I would avoid at all cost.

Tactical Machining, I have watched their quality improve as they worked out any bugs they had. Probably the best lower for the money, great people with great customer support.

Colfax Tactical, These lowers are very nice, a little more money that Tactical Machining, BUT you are supporting a small family business from California. I like that the takedown pocket is done this is the toughest area to get to. They also have a nice hand finish, a little warmer look. Also great people with great customer support.    

After all the lowers I have built I will continue to support both Tactical Machining, and Colfax Tactical. I think they are the best out there.


Yellow Logic is a beautiful lower, but it's really expensive.
Link Posted: 12/27/2010 10:47:37 AM EDT
[#35]
Vader-

I'm getting close to being able to try my luck an some anodizing.  However, I've got a couple questions about the anodizing process:
What voltage is the power supply/batt charger you're using for this?
Also, what kind of current draw do you have when anodizing an AR-15 lower?
What about an AR-10 lower?
Finally, about how thick of an oxidation layer are you going for?

Thanks
-2t0ner
Link Posted: 12/27/2010 2:16:21 PM EDT
[#36]
We just had a small build party last week (8 lowers), when it was time to anodize we set up three buckets each with its own battery charger. They all seemed to work just fine. We set them on the 12 V 10 amp settings. The two that had gauges showed a draw of about 7 amps to start. I watch my gauge climb from about 7 amps to about 10 amps. Shortly after it reaches 10 or 11 amps it starts to drop a little. This takes an hour to an hour and a half.
From what I have read when the amps start to drop you have reached maximum thickness and are starting to eat away aluminum, but it can be very hard to notice. Others have done the math as to amp hours and it works out to about the same amount of time.
I have read that an AR-15 lower has about .58 surface feet of aluminum. I don’t have the exact formula as to amp hours per foot, but I’m getting good results.
If you don’t get thick anodizing you won’t get good results when dyeing. I lost my connection once and experienced this first hand.
In the end I’m just making an educated guess, but it’s been working well.
Link Posted: 1/16/2011 3:14:49 AM EDT
[#37]
Outstanding writeup!!

Thanks.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 11:45:57 AM EDT
[#38]
More 80% etching, or Why I build my own guns.

I had a build party recently and it got me going on a couple more builds. One of the guys (Scott) really wanted to go all out with his artwork, this lead to learning more about my vinyl cutter and how to get the artwork turned into stencils. That lead to even more artwork, at some point we will be covering every square inch with something.
Anyway my buddy Scott put elk on one side of his .308 and mule deer on the other and anodized it bronze. I swore I took a picture but I can’t find it. At some point I’ll get it up, in the meantime here’s a couple I’ve done.


When I was growing up the family business was raising honeybees, so I put the old business name and trademark along with our brand # on the AR-15. I plan to anodize it honeybee yellow.


I plan to build a target rifle from this .308 lower and anodize it candy apple red. The feather will of course be white.



I’m getting quite a collection!

A little fill work.

Link Posted: 1/24/2011 12:40:24 PM EDT
[#39]
Wow.. nice!
Wish I could go to one of your parties.
Link Posted: 1/26/2011 10:14:30 PM EDT
[#40]
thats an awesome talent you have there spade.. great post.
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 10:36:50 AM EDT
[#41]
Vader what font are you using and what size font are u using on the ar15 lower if ya don't mind me asking? and also what are u using to color them in because it looks like you wiped the excess white off the side of the one or is that just the way the picture turned out. Really great job one this write up I wish I was as skilled
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 2:31:25 PM EDT
[#42]
Font is GungsuhChe, the size of the letters is between 1/8 and 1/4 depending where I want it to fit. 1/8 inch is about as small as you can go.

I used white testers model paint, and I do get lazy when wiping it off and cleaning it up. It will clean up better than that.
Link Posted: 1/29/2011 12:29:48 PM EDT
[#43]
ok thanks alot man
Link Posted: 1/29/2011 6:25:10 PM EDT
[#44]
Hi All,
Randy AWESOME!!! You are my Hero! I thank you so much for all the explaining that you have done!! In my book, there isn't anything better you can do in this life time that beats offering your knowledge to help others!
First thing Monday I am going to place my order with Tactical Machining so I will be ready to start on it as soon as the weather warms up!
Have a nice weekend.
Ace
Link Posted: 2/3/2011 8:22:04 AM EDT
[#45]
Ok im inspired and want to try this for myself.  I do have one question though...

How do you do the contrast coloring on the letters and symbols after anealing?  Are they just filled in with paint?  If so what kind?

Those guns look great and I want to build my own soon.  Need to get the money together to order the jigs and 80% lowers.
Link Posted: 2/3/2011 11:27:00 AM EDT
[#46]
I used testers model paint on the lettering. Fill the letters, let it dry, wipe off the excess with thinner.
Link Posted: 2/3/2011 11:59:14 AM EDT
[#47]
Originally Posted By VaderSpade:
I used testers model paint on the lettering. Fill the letters, let it dry, wipe off the excess with thinner.



Is the paint resistant to common gun lubes and cleaners?

Link Posted: 2/3/2011 1:29:51 PM EDT
[#48]
Not totally, I did soak a lower in WD when I wiped it down the paint came off. Normal oiling should not be a problem I wipe mine down all the time.
In the end it’s easy to take off and about as easy to put back, so when it gets looking a little weathered I just clean it off and redo it.
Link Posted: 2/3/2011 9:11:02 PM EDT
[#49]
Thanks sounds like a good plan.  Do you wipe with acetone before applying the paint?
Link Posted: 2/3/2011 9:26:54 PM EDT
[#50]
Yes, wipe it down with, acetone, paint thinner, lacquer thinner, alcohol, anything that will clean all the oil off.
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