Saturday, February 13, 2016

Attending an SCI convention has its perks

While at the SCI Convention last week I took some time to walk over to the Lewis Drake booth to visit with Stephen Alexander. Steve is gifted with inexhaustible talent. Self taught at a very early age and then taken under the wing of the late engraver Lynton Mckenzie Steve's formative years grounded him in the art of Gun Making disciplines that have been developed over centuries. Historical fabrication and restoration is his specialty and there seems to be no task to difficult to undertake.

The first time we were introduced was also at a SCI Convention over two decades ago and I have followed his career as best as I could ever since. I believe Steve can replicate any firearm or related article from any period he chose as long as the original materials were made up of steel and wood. While more than competent in the use of a modern manual shop equipment few of us if challenged, could forge a part, file it into shape, make the springs required then fit these parts seamlessly into walnut. Then insure all these parts worked to perfection, engrave what was required, checker and then tie the results together to make a functional firearm with the use of only hand tools.

I like to think I can talk a pretty good game yet I am always humbled in the presence of this kind of ability.

The Mortimer 8 bore double rifle he is holding below was the subject of an earlier Blog post. I played a very small part in the project that involved duplicating the original stock. Duplicator ! surely not, you say.  I forgot to mention another skill Steve processes is the knowledge to know a good thing when he sees it. Time is money after all and having the choice to use modern technology when available is also a skill set in itself. It was a pleasure to see the Mortimer almost complete, now lacking only the checkering.

Before anyone decides to make a call to Steve to inquire about any possible work it must be noted that Steve works exclusively for Lewis Drake and does no free lance work at all. This arrangement has work well for both parties as the work is always steady and very diversified. 

It doesn't happen often but when I receive as stock to machine for Steve the pattern is going to likely be a couple 2x4's screwed together with a glass bedded impression of the metal work on one end of the lash up. The instructions are always very clear and concise "Machine this close as close as you can, thanks, Steve". 

I always chuckle when I unwrap a package from Steve, as I never know what's in store for the day.

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