Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jeremy Chan: Student Gunsmith

Gunsmithing Student Jeremy Chan and Trinidad State Junior College Gunsmithing Program!
© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
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Jeremy Chan: Gunsmithing Student, Locavore, Blogger

Fellow sporting enthusiasts!

I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to a young man who is now studying to become a gunsmith at Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado. Jeremy Chan is now immersed in the famous gunmithing program started by none other than PO Ackley, famous writer, gunsmith, and wildcatter. I think we will be seeing some great things from him in the future, and I want you, my fellow sportsmen, shooters, tinkerers, and students to be the first to get to know him!

I bumped into his blog serendipitously. Actually Blake did, and forwarded the link to me. But let me tell you I was really taken by some of the work this fellow is already doing with only a few semesters under his belt.

Chronicles Interviews: Jeremy Chan

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Jeremy, thanks for joining my readers and I here on The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles!
Jeremy Chan: It's a pleasure!

TROC: Let's get started then! What did you used to do, and what made you decide become a gunsmith?
JC: I have always been in a lead or management position in every job I have had since joining the working world. I am currently working part time as a Customer Service Manager at Wal-Mart while going to school to help finance my academic studies. My last job I was a Receiving Manager for a warehouse in Montana, I was responsible for all the inbound freight and managing the stocking team. We supplied convenience stores and restaurants for western Montana, parts of Wyoming and Idaho. I made pretty good money there but I wasn't very happy doing it, I always felt that I should be doing something else with my life. After hitting a breaking point, I decided to follow my love of guns and move to Trinidad and attend Trinidad State College. I would rather be broke and happy than rich and unhappy!

TROC: What's it like at Trinidad State College? I understand that it's in a picturesque town in the mountains, awy from big city type civilization.
JC: Picturesque, yes. But Trinidad is a SMALL town. Something I'm still struggling to get used to. There isn't a lot to do around here... But that is probably a good thing since there will be less distractions and I can focus on school more.

TROC: Jeremy, I'm sure many of the readers would like to know what courses you've taken, and what the experience was like. Lots of us tinker, and few more actually do some of their own work. I'm certain that many have thought about attending Trinidad or one of the other gunsmithing schools.  I know I'm curious, actually, more than curious...
JC:I have taken several courses now, and I have to be honest, I have learned something in each and every one, plus i have enjoyed myself immensely! Let me list them for you:

Image Credit: Jeremy Chan
Bench Metal Class- The main focus of Bench Metal Class is on learning to use hand tools, learning how to polish and how to work with metal.
Metal Finishing - Hot bluing, rust bluing, parkerizing, nitre bluing, and little bit on nickeling.
Firearms Conversions - Converting a military rifle into a sporterized rifle, as an adjunct you also learn how to tig weld.
Machine Class 1 and 2 - Involves learning to use the lathe and mill, probably the two most important tools a gunsmith will use. We get introduced to makeing tools and tooling, and the art/ skill of turning a barrel from a blank
Custom Pistol Smithing (elective) - Converting a factory 1911 into a competitive firearm. That's been lots of fun!
Checkering (elective) - Checkering stocks and metal.
Tools and Fixtures (Elective) - Making tools and fixtures for gunsmithing

I have been lucky enough to maintain a 4.0 GPA so far; at first Bench Metal and Machine class was difficult for me because I had never seen a lathe or mill before coming here, nor had I ever used any hand tools before coming to the gunsmithing program. About half way through first semester I really took off, once I got the hang of what I was doing and my confidence was up I started doing a lot better.

TROC: I want to show our readers a little side project you did for your brother. Jeremy, that is some beautiful color case hardening you did there! What facet of gunsmithing appeals to you most?
JC: I like the machining side of it most. I really enjoy seeing something take shape before my eyes, and I get real satisfaction when it works too. Most of our projects have a +/- 0.005" tolerance that we are allowed to be in. My last 2 projects (one of them being the barrel I turned from a blank) I have hit all of my dimensions to a 0.0005". I was very pleased with myself.

TROC: High accuracy in machining is a hallmark of not only good execution, but of craftmanship. What other skills have you acquired?
JC:On the machining side, I'm pretty good at it. Fitting parts and fabricating them is a skill I am competent in. I can build 1911's, convert a Mauser military action to a sporter, but I am still working on metal finishing... I think I could use some improvement in my polishing. Other than that I feel pretty confident in everything I have learned so far. I'm always willing to learn, and anything you give me, I give it my all.

TROC: Great attitude! A good attitude will get you much further along, and with less gray hair!With everything you're learning, what are your plans for the future?
JC:  When I graduate I would like to work for someone for a couple years and continue learning more about the trade and how a shop runs. Eventually I would like to open my own business.

TROC: You were already interested in gunsmiting when you applied and entered Trinidad, but what have you learned about yourself and your interests?
JC: I came to the school with a main interest in target and varmint rifles. I am very interested in accurate rifles. After taking the custom pistol smithing class, I found that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The next year I will be taking Stockmaking 1and 2, Repair 1 and 2 as well as Machine 3. This summer I will be taking a class on tuning cowboy action guns, and I hope to be able to take an elective on revolver-smithing. I wonder what else I may find that I like doing.

I am enjoying every minute I am at the school, It doesn't even feel like work when I am there, even when I am doing a tedious task it doesn't seem like I'm working.
TROC: What is it they say? Work at something you love, and you will never work a day in your life! I should look into that myself... Anyway, tell our readers about some of your other interests, what outdoor pursuits are you interested in?
JC: I enjoy hunting and fishing. While I was in Montana I tried to live off of only what I could hunt and kill for 2 years. No commercial meats, really gets you motivated to fill that freezer, I picked up bow hunting (unsuccessfully) to extend my hunting seasons, but it was fun to learn and get out into nature. I also lost a lot of weight doing it. I love to be on the rivers with a fishing pole in my hands.

TROC: A little Locavore action?
JC: umm lets see... I guess it started with my growing dissatisfaction with the local meat market at the time, simultaneously, I had been really getting into hunting. My tv was permanently fixed on the outdoors channel and hunting shows all the time. I saw Ted Nugent and he was talking about his "kill it to grill it "philosophy. It was like a light bulb went off in my head; I said that I should give it a try. It was hard at first, giving up chicken, pork and beef, but the motivation to go out and hunt went through the roof.

It was rough, but once I started filling my freezer, things started to get easier. It changed my whole mind set, everything became about "what can I do to fill my freezer" and "what can I do so that I'm not eating deer all the time". I started doing more bird hunting and fishing. During the summer I would be on the river with my canoe 2-3 times a week, and I never had any trouble filling my bag. I would stockpile my freezer and when it got full I would take them to my friend and have her smoke them for me. I did some bear hunting and harvested a black bear that had been feeding off of an apple orchard. The meat was great. I tried to take up bow hunting to extend my hunting season but after a few failed attempts at turkey hunting I gave it up. I had maintained this life style for 2 years until I moved here to Trinidad for school. My busy schedule between school and work, and lack of knowledge of the surrounding area forced me to revert back to commercial meats. I lost a lot of weight during those 2 years, probably the best physical condition I had been in since highschool. I enjoyed the lifestyle and fully intend to do it when I settle down again.

TROC: Jeremy, that's great! If more people did as you have, we would see a an upswell and determination to protect and nurture our wild areas for the benefit of all. I have to say, that bowhunting for turkey is probably one of the toughest hunts you could have chosen!
As if your plate wasn't full enough, you started blogging. What possessed you to do so?
JC: The reason I started blogging was when a classmate told me about a student from the Pennsylvania gunsmith school who had a blog up, WillsWorkBench I think it's called. (TROC: Will'sWorkBench was deleted by the author.) I never could find it, or it might have been taken down when I tried looking for it. Anyways after hearing about the blog I decided to give it a try, mainly so that my family and friends could see the stuff that I'm doing. Also hopefully a potential employer could look and see what I can do, kinda like a work portfolio.

Image Credit: Jeremy Chan

TROC: Let's get you Internet intell out there so people and sportsmen can contact you.
JC: Sure thing it's nerdgun (at) gmail (dot) com

TROC: Well Jeremy, I have to say I have enjoyed this chat very much! I look forward to seeing much more of your work both here on The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, and in other publications also. If I may prognosticate a little now, I can see many of my readers already wondering what they might have you do. I know I certainly have a few ideas that I may run by you and see what you think. Folks, look at his color case hardening and tell me you wouldn't love to see that on something you already own! Seriously, I really am looking forward to a continued relationship with you Jeremy, and hope that nothing but great things come your way!

My friends, once again I am indebted to you for the time spent with me here at The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles. Please remember I consider each and every one of you as my friend, and look forward to every time you visit!


Related Posts:
The Firearms Blog :Interview with Gunsmithing Student Jeremy Chan
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles:
AGI 1911 Armorer's Course
AGI M16 AR15 Armorer's Course
Best Regards,
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


Wild Ed said...

I grew up in West Texas with a quality Gunsmith shop where I could take any firearm for repair. If they did not have a part they made it, how many shops do that today? I never had to take a repair back to them to be redone which says it all in my mind. I did not realize at the time what a rare thing that was to be in my life. As a Shotgunning instructor and hunting guide I have sent a lot of firearms places to be repaired as there was not a real gunsmith to be had in the area. I learned early that hobby gunsmiths as a whole should not touch my firearms if the repair could affect the safety of the firearm. I had a student that had a shotgun repaired just the other day and it went off when the action was closed, if not for safe gun handling habits it could have been devastating. He had just gotten it back from a local gun repair shop. Learn well, do quality work, test your work before putting in the customer’s hands and the word will get out to the public. Be a gunsmith that people can trust. Under promise and over deliver, clients will seek you out as it is very rare to find true gunsmiths anymore. JMHO, Wild Ed
Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors

Cork @ Cork's Outdoors said...

What an excellent interview! ...And God knows with all the old smiths retiring and dying off, we need more fine gunsmiths to carry on the art: that 1911 is gorgeous...and he hunts, too!

Holly Heyser said...

Good lord, nice photography too! Jeremy obviously has a wide range of skills.

Michael Spinelli said...


Thank you for introducing us to this new up and comer. There are fewer and fewer smiths that do honest, quality work. If Jeremy's Mauser and 1911 are any indication, you have found a craftsman for us to watch for. I'm going to drop by his blog and leave him a quick note.

Mike S.

Pois said...

Now, I suffer from Gunsmith-envy! :)

Bob S said...

That's some mighty fine looking CC hardening. And that Mauser conversion is something to be proud of, that's for sure. I think you're right Albert, this is a young man to keep an eye on in the future!

Your friend,
Big Bob

Gun Slinger said...

Great interview, thnanks for sharing.

Shoot Straight!

Albert A Rasch said...


I appreciate everyone stopping by and leaving a word or two. As I said, I think Jeremy has a done a fantastic job, and I am looking forward to seeing his work unfold. With what we have seen so far, I don't doubt that we will see his name coming up frequently in the future!

Best regards,

Michael Lee said...

Wow! That's some very nice work! I especially like the color case hardening on the rings. I hope you will keep us posted on his work.

Thanks again!
Michael Lee
Stickbow Archery™
Michael Lee’s Stickbow Archery™ Blog

Matthew said...


A great read and excellent interview. Seeing him get his start in the gun world and knowing he may become the next Bill Wilson, Armand Swenson, Roy Dunlap is exciting. It reminds me when I was a teenager and there were ads in the gun magazines for this 1911 high capacity grip frame for $249.00. It was some little firm out of Canada called Para-Ordnance. Ya just never know.

Marian Ann Love said...

A nice post in Jeremy's favor of becoming a Gunsmith! The way he is going now he will be an expert in his field one day! Thanks for letting us know about him! :)
PS: I gave him a shout-out and a link! :)

Lauren said...

Wow. This really provides some great detail about the gunsmithing profession. Thanks for posting.

Unknown said...

My friend wants to go to school to become a gunsmith. What he has always loved working with guns. He enjoys shooting a lot. It has always been one of his favorite activities.
Gary Puntman | http://www.mialls.com.au/services/gunsmithing.html