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Old 12-20-2012, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to build an AR variant lower from a hunk of metal

Ok, I may as well start it now this thread will be dictated to making AR variant lowers from everything from an 80% lower to a solid chunk of.....whatever The first part of this thread will be references, links and valuable information. It will also be recommended and required tools with the best/cheapest places to get them.

The first bunch of posts in this thread will be heavily edited over the next week or so and the thread may be deleted and restarted for cleanup while retaining the information.

So lets start it off and add info you think would be important

Also, for your information, a nonlicensee may manufacture a semiautomatic rifle for his or her own personal use. As long as the firearm remains in the custody f the person who manufactured it, the firearm need not be marked with a serial number or name and location of the manufacturer. However, if the firearm is transferred to another party at some point in the future the firearm must be marked in accordance with the provisions set forth in 27 CFR § 478.92 (formerly 178.92)

Just to be clear, 80% is a marketing term, not a legal one. ATF recognizes "is a firearm" and "is not a firearm", and the difference is a judgement call on their part and can change at any time either way.



Most billet AR type lowers are 6061. 6063 is also common but not as strong. 2024 and 7075 are less common and stronger than 6061. Both are also harder and tend to chip rather than curl when machining in experience. If you will be machining dry (not recommended) try to get one of them as 6061 tends to gum up tools more easily for novice machinists. However, 6061 is readily weld repairable, 2024 and 7075 are not. So if you're expecting to screw up bad enough to need to weld it back together, get 6061.

Instructionals:

video:
How to and tips for milling an AR lower from an 80% - YouTube

Doing it with a router
More how to and tips for milling an 80% AR lower...without a mill! - YouTube

This threads milling an 80% lower http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/outdo...l#post15160523

Ray's 'Machining the AR15 Lower Receiver Forging' is the bible on a full milling process, but that of course includes the fire control pocket, rear takedown pocket and trigger slots. I've included several different sites in case you can't get to one. I would HIGHLY recommend downloading, saving and printing all the instructionals, diagrams and blueprints:
Index of /ar15
ar-15 lower receiver step-by-step_machining
http://www.lecreg.com/P4x4/ARblank.pdf
URarms 80% on the mini-mill
Machining an AR-15 Lower
Discussion of that one here:
Machining an AR lower from a forging - pic heavy - Maryland Shooters
COLFAX fire control pocket with a DRO
COLFAX fire control pocket with a drill press
Vader Spade’s 80% AR-15 build - Milling, Etching, & Anodizing - AR15.COM
CNCGUNSMITHING - www.cncguns.com - AR15

Blueprints:

CNCGUNSMITHING - www.cncguns.com - Downloads
AR-15 CAD Files
Feds Raid Sabre Defence - Page 9 - AR15.COM
http://www.weaponeer.net/uploads/fil...eiver_Plan.pdf
Firearm Files: AR15
Weaponeer Forums: AR 15 & AR 10 Prints Rev 24 Oct 2011

This one is perfect for standard print paper:
http://www.weaponeer.net/uploads/fil...own_Origin.pdf
Weaponeer also has bolt, upper, AR10 prints
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket flier View Post
Colfax crapped out their links {in the OP}, these are current:

Fire control pocket with jig
http://www.colfaxtactical.com/docs/J...20tutorial.pdf

Fire control pocket with DRO
http://www.colfaxtactical.com/docs/F...%20a%20DRO.pdf

Found this one for the AR10
Finishing the 10% CNC10 lower on a CNC Guns jig - Calguns.net

Threw this together to show just what's needed:
Videos:
80% ar 15 lower receivers PART 2 - YouTube

Anodizing:

Engineering Hobbyist
Anodizing at Home - WARPIG
Home anodizing-Truths from the experts?

Tools:

http://www.harborfreight.com/
http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRHM
CDCO Machinery Corp.
Victor Machinery - Metalworking tools and supplies
pirate vendor http://www.roarksupply.com
http://www.cdcotools.com/
www.mcmaster.com
www.grainger.com
www.travers.com
www.mscindustrial.com

Techniques and machining knowledge:

edge finder or a link to the paper method.
Projects In Metal, LLC » Forum
Which is the most versatile edge finder?

Found this while looking for the edge finder links:
http://rick.sparber.org/LTEEF.pdf

If any of the original posters and or creators of any of the links provided find their way back here and have any issues with us sending traffic your way or using any of your material please let us know ASAP and we will remove it, thanks !
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't think this is out of line, how about legiality of 80 % lowers in the future?

I understand there is no way to prove when the receiver is manufactured, but will 80 percent receivers still be legal to buy and sell? What did the law say in the last ban?




As far as the true tech, I'm curious to see how easy it can be. Clearly it's a bit more difficult than an ak build.

I'd especially like to see what it takes to build one with a drill press and jig as well as how well the finished product will look using that method.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runnerboyy View Post
I don't think this is out of line, how about legiality of 80 % lowers in the future?

I understand there is no way to prove when the receiver is manufactured, but will 80 percent receivers still be legal to buy and sell? What did the law say in the last ban?




As far as the true tech, I'm curious to see how easy it can be. Clearly it's a bit more difficult than an ak build.

I'd especially like to see what it takes to build one with a drill press and jig as well as how well the finished product will look using that method.
we will cross that road when we come to it. we may be building a semi-automatic rifle that is HK416 magazine compatible with a gas siphoning operating system with modular configuration capabilities. The Bushwhacker Model 1776

but we will adjust as according.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Just to be clear, 80% is a marketing term, not a legal one. ATF recognizes "is a firearm" and "is not a firearm", and the difference is a judgement call on their part. I submitted a sample of an AR10 variant a while back, got back "not a firearm". I submitted another with a different magwell, at the exact same level of completion, got back "is a firearm".

My point here being, any coming ban will likely address firearms. It would be ridiculous to legislate any chunk of aluminum larger than 5x8x1.5, those are merely blocks of metal. Anything not completed into a firearm is just a chunk of material.

If a ban addresses when certain items may no longer be made, or under what conditions they may be made, that can be addressed then, but I can't see spending a bunch of time designing up something for the express purpose of working around a ban with unknown terms.

To try to contribute actual useful info... most billet AR type lowers are 6061. 6063 is also common but not as strong. 2024 and 7075 are less common and stronger than 6061. Both are also harder and tend to chip rather than curl when machining in my experience. If you will be machining dry (not recommended) try to get one of them as 6061 tends to gum up tools more easily for novice machinists. However, 6061 is readily weld repairable, 2024 and 7075 are not. So if you're expecting to screw up bad enough to need to weld it back together, get 6061.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Grab that tool list and throw it in there. Add edge finder or a link to the paper method.
Projects In Metal, LLC » Forum
Which is the most versatile edge finder?

Found this while looking for the edge finder links:
http://rick.sparber.org/LTEEF.pdf


Suppliers:
McMaster-Carr
Grainger Industrial Supply - MRO Supplies, MRO Equipment, Tools & Solutions

I've had an order arrive from mcmaster the day after I ordered it. Not like you'd break a mill or drill bit,...
Grainger is probably in every town. If you're not associated with a business, figure out the largest company in town and they likely have an employee account.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Scott,
Is there simple lubes or techniques to prevent gumming of tools with 6061 or any aluminum for that matter such as:
spray bottle full of cutting lube (kind)
dribbling lube or oil (kind)
air cooling/blowing away chips
misters
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Keep it going guys, and as you can see I go an add/edit in the information you provide so please give it a little title so it makes it easier for me such as

hey here are some other tool places: wwww,wwww.wwww

and the like.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Scott,
Is there simple lubes or techniques to prevent gumming of tools with 6061 or any aluminum for that matter such as:
spray bottle full of cutting lube (kind)
dribbling lube or oil (kind)
air cooling/blowing away chips
misters
I'm not a fan of mist coolant because of the mess it tends to make, I much prefer flood coolant. Problem is, it's also messy and tends to be expensive and a pain to set up, but once you have it, you'll love it.

You may be able to pick up a used flood coolant setup for cheap though, so worth looking around. Edit: I scored one for free some years back that needed a little bit of work, but if you know what's happening inside an automotive water pump, you can probably figure out a coolant pump.

For cutting oil, I use a water soluble oil, specifically, Ultracut 250 currently. Probably not ideal for all materials, but acceptable for many. Not sure what you can get in home shop quantities though, I dilute it about a cup of oil to a gallon of water, so the 5 gallon bucket I last bought of the stuff is a lifetime supply for most hobbyists.

I would suggest browsing both traverstool.com and mscindustrial.com for flood coolants and coolant setup pieces, both run periodic sales. I have a small setup that is basically just a pump mounted to a 5 gallon bucket lid, that I use on my drill press, works very well, could probably get into that for a hundy or so if you watch the sales.

If flood coolant is out of reach, the same water soluble oil mix can be used in a kitchen spray bottle, but it will make a hell of a mess. Aerosols (wd40, pb blaster, etc) will work, but it won't take long before you blow as much on consumables doing that as you would have spent on durables (flood coolant pump in a bucket) and not have a tool improvement at the end of the project. Flood coolant also runs hands free, a big plus if you're running a manual mill.

Getting long winded, especially for typing on my phone... gonna grab a drink and a laptop and revisit.

More edit to add:
Back again... so I've not used the air blower "coolant" setups that are basically just shop air blowing on your cutting tool. There are some inexpensive setups like that out there, and while I'd expect they'd make a mess of chips, it'd be a dry mess (unlike liquid coolant that can be a wet mess and much harder to clean up).

Feeling like a bit of a safety dweeb saying this (again) but if you're machining, particularly on an open machine and even more so with any coolant variant, some form of eye protection is a must. The potential for serious damage from flying chips and/or coolant is ever present, and the two in combination can make for a hot, sticky, sharp-edged combo of doom to vision.

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Old 12-20-2012, 07:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Completely out of left field... ut is it even remotely possible to make an lower out of flat steel, grinding, welding, drilling, threading?
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow thanks doc.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thank you for the reply. mind you I will be doing this as a "hobbyist" and will most likely not setup a flood system (although I did make my bench to handle it) or mist (even though I found a brand new Trico Spraymaster this week) just to make it "garage novice" friendly.

I also will be forgetting everything I know (as little as it is) about machining/measuring and keeping it simple
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Completely out of left field... ut is it even remotely possible to make an lower out of flat steel, grinding, welding, drilling, threading?
yes...and I may be trying that as well.
a mag box welded to a FCG box welded to a stock mounting ring.

But aluminum first
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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yes...and I may be trying that as well.
a mag box welded to a FCG box welded to a stock mounting ring.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Two flute coated end mills help a lot when you don't have coolant.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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For the size of tools we're going to be likely to be using, it's a little counterintuitive, but for end mills, we're going to want two flute end mills for machining in aluminum, four flute for machining in steel (generally).

A good way to think of it might be like tires--on very hard surfaces, you want a tire with very little void; softer ones, you want large voids. Aluminum tends to clog up four flute end mills and once clogged up, you get bad things happening.

For the hobbyist machinist, there is little to no benefit to anything more exotic than nitrided HSS cutting tools, and in aluminum, not even much benefit to nitrided cutters. If you were worried about production time or tool edge life, it's a different equation, but on the hobbyist side, tool breakage is much more likely to end a tool's life than dulling, so no point to spending lots on a cutter just to crash and shatter it.

Same couple of suggestions on tools as with coolant in my previous post, Metalworking Tools - Drills, End Mills, Taps, Machines, Measuring Tools, Abrasives, Power Tools and MRO Supplies | Travers Tool and MSC Industrial Supply Co. | Find Power Tools, Hand Tools, Machine Tools & More are good places to shop for cutting tools, will be fairly inexpensive, and a huge selection.

Edit: Wow, that's pretty interesting what Vertical Scope did with my links... I just put the urls in there, they imported the page title on their own. Wonder if they get paid to do that....

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Old 12-20-2012, 08:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I have been told that chips are more damaging to cutting tools than heat so keeping chips clear is more priority than "cooling".


And yes, eye pro IS needed when doing any milling because you will be staring at a sharp brittle mill at EYE LEVEL as you watch your shit.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:12 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott@Rockstomper View Post
For the size of tools we're going to be likely to be using, it's a little counterintuitive, but for end mills, we're going to want two flute end mills for machining in aluminum, four flute for machining in steel (generally).

A good way to think of it might be like tires--on very hard surfaces, you want a tire with very little void; softer ones, you want large voids. Aluminum tends to clog up four flute end mills and once clogged up, you get bad things happening.

For the hobbyist machinist, there is little to no benefit to anything more exotic than nitrided HSS cutting tools, and in aluminum, not even much benefit to nitrided cutters. If you were worried about production time or tool edge life, it's a different equation, but on the hobbyist side, tool breakage is much more likely to end a tool's life than dulling, so no point to spending lots on a cutter just to crash and shatter it.

Same couple of suggestions on tools as with coolant in my previous post, Metalworking Tools - Drills, End Mills, Taps, Machines, Measuring Tools, Abrasives, Power Tools and MRO Supplies | Travers Tool and MSC Industrial Supply Co. | Find Power Tools, Hand Tools, Machine Tools & More are good places to shop for cutting tools, will be fairly inexpensive, and a huge selection.

so would there be any problem with using a 4 flute if you are good about cleaning chips and taking your time? Mainly so that you have tools that are "multi use"
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:13 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Completely out of left field... ut is it even remotely possible to make an lower out of flat steel, grinding, welding, drilling, threading?
Yes, it's been done. Probably not still on the web, but some guy assembled a functioning lower out of plates and blocks and stuff. IIRC, he didn't even thread it except maybe for the pistol grip screw--for the buffer tube, I believe he just drilled it to clearance and JB Weld-ed the buffer tube in. It was hideously ugly, pretty hacktacular, but it worked.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Scott,
Is there simple lubes or techniques to prevent gumming of tools with 6061 or any aluminum for that matter such as:
spray bottle full of cutting lube (kind)
dribbling lube or oil (kind)
air cooling/blowing away chips
misters
Denatured Alcohol makes a great coolant for milling aluminum. Just use a squirt bottle and it evaporates away clean.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:25 PM   #20 (permalink)
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so would there be any problem with using a 4 flute if you are good about cleaning chips and taking your time? Mainly so that you have tools that are "multi use"
With flood coolant, higher RPM cutting (how high does your mill spindle go?), slow feed rates... yeah, you can. The fewer of those you have at your disposal, the more difficult it'll be. Better to use two flute end mills on steel once in a while than four flutes on aluminum, but depends on how much of each you plan.

IIRC, the most expensive end mill I used on my AR10 variant lower was around $25-30ish. That was an extra long (3"? flute length) 1/2" diameter two flute, for clearing out the magwell completely from one side. I did the whole FCG well with a 5/16" long reach (1.5" flute length I think), the mag release pocket with the same 5/16" long reach, and I think all the rest of it can be done with standard length tools. A two (or four) flute double ended 1/2" end mill is only around $10. The 1-1/8" countersink that I used to drill the buffer tower was a few bucks too, but that's not a "special" tool, I only used a countersink because it was short, rigid, and produced a very true, clean, round hole.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:27 PM   #21 (permalink)
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doc when i worked at a machine shop in highschool, we used a mixture of crisco and marvel brushed on the bit with an acid/small paint brush.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:37 PM   #22 (permalink)
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However, if the firearm is transferred to another party at some point in the future the firearm must be marked in accordance with the provisions set forth in 27 CFR § 478.92 (formerly 178.92)
This is not correct.

From the atf website:
ATF Online - Firearms - Frequently Asked Questions - Firearms Technology

"Also, the firearm should be identified as required in 27 CFR 478.92 if it is sold or otherwise lawfully transferred in the future."

They use the term 'should' in reference to a document that uses "SHALL" for requirements.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:46 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Completely out of left field... ut is it even remotely possible to make an lower out of flat steel, grinding, welding, drilling, threading?
Absolutely. In fact, I mistakenly posted a thread about "AR Flats" instead of "AK flats" and received a ration of shit about it. Which is good, because I thought "well, why the hell not?" I found blueprints (in the OP) and started buying metal. Initially tubing.

Then I thought "I can't be the only one" and sure nuff,

This guy did it:
iB::Topic::A take on the 0% lower: sheet metal!

As well as Bill Holmse:
bill holmes the ar15 m16

The metal place is near work so at lunch I also grabbed various thickness of sheet metal as well as a HF bender. I'm thinking thin before having to pressing 0.1".
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:07 AM   #24 (permalink)
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This is not correct.

From the atf website:
ATF Online - Firearms - Frequently Asked Questions - Firearms Technology

"Also, the firearm should be identified as required in 27 CFR 478.92 if it is sold or otherwise lawfully transferred in the future."

They use the term 'should' in reference to a document that uses "SHALL" for requirements.
please give me the FULL correct quote, I am not finding what you are talking about
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:18 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I built one of these from here as my first 80% build. If you don't have a mill it can be done with a hack saw or band saw (and I'm sure some grinding) pretty easily so I have been told. I do not have any build links.
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