This is a follow-up to our previous post on this general subject, which was cleverly titled Ghost Gunner Tips & Tricks #1. This post is the second in what we expect to be an ongoing series.
We have the GG sitting on a rolling tool cart. Here is what is good and bad about that.
- Good: it’s easily rolled around, and plugged into the gunsmithing workshop computer, or disconnected and rolled out of the way, because the same computer is also used as the book scanning computer and station with the Fujitsu SV600 scanner. It provides a single location for the machine and its ancillary stuff from USB cable to jigs and fixtures and some manuals and instructions. We can even keep workpieces waiting to be run in one of the drawers.
- Bad: The GG generates a good bit of force when its axes are running, and so it has a tendency to make the base move. But if you lock the locking casters of the tool cart, it actually walks on the rubber mat atop the cart. We’re thinking a thick pad from Tractor Supply will put this to a stop, but we fear the moving cart will have an effect on finish quality,
The cart itself is a WorkSmart model that we bought, on sale, from MSC Direct. We have tool boxes from Craftsman Professional, Snap-On, Craftsman (import), and other makers as well. You may have noticed that there is a wide range of prices for what superficially seem to be very similar boxes. In our experience, the difference between them comes down to several things, all of which favor the name-brand box over the cheap Chinese stuff.
- The better the box, ceteris paribus, the thicker gage the metal is.
- The better the box, the better the drawer slides are.
- The better the box, the more readily repairable it is and the more available spares are.
- The better the box, the better prepared the metal was before painting. This affects durability, but it also affects the comfort and safety of the user, as Chinese Slave Labor Factory Nº 76214 tends not to de-burr metal, and instead leaves sharp edges on everything.
- The better the box, the more likely you get extras like drawer liners.
However, if your budget only extends to cheap Chinese, there’s a few things you can do to get closer to the $4000-box experience. For example, being aggressive with abrasives and touch-up paper can keep rust from gaining a toehold on your toolbox. (So can dehumidifying the working environment). Likewise, patience, red ScotchBrite, and touch-up paint can correct for lack of deburring at the factory. Don’y hesitate to get a rubbery (and contrasting) drawer liner material; this will keep the bare insides of your el cheapo box from getting all beat up, and save your tools some scars along the way. And you can hunt for used or estate sale boxes. One day ours will be for sale this way!
Our intent is to have the Ghost Gunner related tools in the top drawer and the tooling (jigs/fixtures and fasteners) in the second drawer. Since we’re currently just using the factory AR-15 jigs, and the top drawer is full of cables and pulleys for another project, everything’s in the second drawer.
Clockwise from 12 o’clock, the tools are:
- 12-3:00: The white tray is a separator we had handy, not our ideal one, and its contents are extra M4 fasteners. We keep duplicates of all the standard jig fasteners: M4-20, M4-45, and appropriate nuts and washers (it was pretty inexpensive to buy all of these). We also have some M4-50s that are used with a bunch of washers to create an M4-51 equivalent when the M4-45 doesn’t quite reach. The Fastenal bolts are made in Taiwan and the washers and nuts in China, and they come with lot numbers for tracking, which is not required for our purposes.
- 3-4:00: We have some manuals tucked in here. And an extra box of M4-20s just for GPs.
- 5:00: A Sharpie, a small magnetic wand, and a nut driver set up for the M4 nuts (that’s a 7mm socket).
- 6:00: The bolts for the two standard setups on the AR-15 milling process.
- 7:00: More jig bolts. One of these is the above-mentioned M4-50 with extra washers, and one has a small printed nubbin that shows that it is the bolt that goes through the pivot pin holes.
- 8:00: Appropriate Allen keys (3mm) for the M4 bolts, drill bit and end mill, ER-11 collets.
- 9-11:00: Mallet and assorted open end wrenches. The shop’s lousy with mallets and wrenches, so we probably didn’t need to put these in here, but it’s a timesaver to have extras in here, and it’s not like they’re our only ones.
- 12:00 and Down to the Center: The three-component plastic jig for working on the AR lower receiver to the right of the simple rubber-headed mallet mentioned above. As they’re black on a black drawer liner they might be hard to see.
Stay tuned for further reporting on this remarkable tool. Happy building!
Note: the GhostGunner is a simple, compact CNC mill developed as an open-source project by Defense Distributed. The long-term plan is for it to be at the center of an ecosystem of technology, information, and shared files. That is currently suspended due to a legal attack by anti-gun appointees in the State Department.