Every individual bench at Westley Richards has its own unique pile of well worn tools, files, turnscrews, small hammers, punches and an assortment of other things. Every pile is individual, but every pile has something in common, handles worn and polished over time by constant years of use. There is much talk about CNC machines and clever engineering but the real backbone of our craft lies in the use of these piles of tools which a gunmaker will add to constantly over the years, making some, inheriting some. If you can’t use these hand tools, you can’t make a best gun, it is as simple as that.
Last week I was explaining to two of our young gunmakers who are taking over the filing up of our actions, that whilst I expect them to adhere to the traditional Westley Richards shapes, I also expect them to be constantly competing to find the most beautiful and subtle shapes to the fences, action and parts, to create a signature of their own they are proud of. I want to be able to pick up a gun and know who filed it up, know that a person filed it up, not a CNC machine.