Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

February 7, 2014

Gunsmith constructs flintlocks

Renfrow spares no detail in his creations

TAHLEQUAH — Aformer teacher and U.S. Navy serviceman is using his understanding of firearms to recreate small pieces of history at a Tahlequah shop.

Dean Renfrow, of Williams Shooting Supply, has built more than 50 vintage rifles and shotguns – mostly from scratch, and mostly of the sporting variety.

“I can blame my grandfather for getting me interested in older guns,” Renfrow said. “He grew up in Arkansas, was a sharecropper, fished and hunted, used a muzzleloader. He was also a storyteller. Listening to him tell stories and growing up in the country, I became interested, and it went from there.”

Renfrow’s creations are mostly percussion or flint guns. The list includes the Pennsylvania long rifle, Hawkens plains rifle, English bore rifle, southern squirrel rifle and double-barrel and single-barrel shotguns.

Though some of his parts are prefabricated, Renfrow fashions others himself, and he spares no detail.

A visitor to the shop may watch as Renfro brandishes the hammers on a double-barreled shotgun, one created by Renfrow’s own metalwork, and the other original. Renfrow’s hammer is darker and shows less wear, but otherwise the two are identical.

Renfrow also shows the shotgun’s replacement butt plate with a Remington Arms insignia, which he created after scratching a relief pattern into a piece of paper.

Most gunsmiths specialize in facets of firearms construction – engraving, stocks, or trigger assemblies. But Renfrow falls into the category of “general gunsmith,” which demands familiarity with all aspects of firearms.

General gunsmithing requires skills in metalworking, woodworking, ballistics, chemistry, math and tools. Renfrow uses “primitive” tools like chisels, gouges, a rasp and a spoke shave.

“I was an industrial arts teacher, so I have mechanical knowledge,” he said. “But I think I also have a bit of an artistic streak.”

Renfrow starts with a block of wood – usually walnut – to make the stock.

“I stick with traditional styles,” he said. “I create the basic shape, then create inlets for the metal, get everything fitted, then take away some more wood for the final shape.”

If he knows a single measurement on a firearm, he can extrapolate all other dimensions from a photo, using scaling.

“I just need to know the stock to trigger, or ‘depth of pull,’” he said. “Or if I know the length of the barrel or the measurement between the trigger and the butt of the stock, I can build the rifle.”

He also recreates the sighting mechanisms of the original rifles.

“Even though I know many of the rifles I create will have scopes, I still try to copy the sights exactly,” he said.

The rifles may have scopes because Renfrow may build a firearm on commission. His customers understand his desire for accuracy in his creations.

“Sometimes, I may be asked to adjust the length of the stock or something,” he said. “On some things, I just won’t compromise. There is a wide variance in what one of my rifles might cost, but a ballpark figure might be $1,000 to $1,500.”

Building a vintage firearm is a time-consuming and detail-oriented process, but Renfrow relishes the challenge. He wants to build a matchlock firearm someday.

“I’m always behind, but I don’t mind,” he said. “I enjoy building these rifles. I wouldn’t come in to work if I didn’t.”

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.

     

    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • jn-Suspect-1.jpg Officials: Images of suspects may help nab church burglars

    Cherokee County investigators hope surveillance footage captured around the Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Woodall helps lead to the suspects accused of breaking into the complex and setting fire to one building this week.
    According to Undersheriff Jason Chennault, cameras captured footage of two suspects on bicycles early Tuesday morning, July 22.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw-movie-night.jpg Local library hosts family movie night

    Nova Foreman and her two daughters were about to leave the Tahlequah Public Library Thursday, when they saw the Family Movie Night flyer.
    The three decided to stay and enjoy a movie they had not yet seen at the free, theater-like event.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Keys.jpg Grant to fund stepped-up Keys PE program

    Kair Ridenhour’s new office is filled with pedometers.
    Ridenhour officially started his new position as assistant elementary principal at Keys Public Schools on July 1.
    But his other role at the school – that of physical education project coordinator – prompted the influx of pedometers.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn cvbc fire.jpg Church catches fire after burglaries

    Authorities are looking for the person accused of breaking into the Crescent Valley Baptist Church two times this week and likely causing a fire that damaged the youth building early Wednesday morning.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw Humane photo.tif More volunteers needed to house strays, help with spay-and-neuter

    Furry friends may seem like the perfect addition to round out a family.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marijuana, seeds lead to four arrests

    Four people were arrested on marijuana related charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop on South Muskogee Avenue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sex offender found living in tent at river

    Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators arrested a convicted sex offender this week when they discovered he has been living in a tent along the river.

    July 24, 2014

  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Stocks