A family’s generations with rimfire rifles.
Around 1918 my grandfather, with help from neighbors, built a big hip-roof barn on the family farm. Grandpa was a highly skilled carpenter. There was no “contractor” involved. He wouldn’t have known what a contractor was.
It’s just another barn, not at all unusual for its era, but to take a closer look at the quality of materials and workmanship is to marvel. The rafters are of seasoned fir, straight as a rifle barrel and about as hard.
Wood joints (all hand cut, there was no electricity on the farm then) fit together seamlessly. Nails were driven with hammers, not nail guns, and you’ll look long and hard to find any “owl eyes” around the nail heads.
A decade ago, when it came time to reshingle the barn, my wife and I decided to spend the money once and use steel. When the contractor had finished the installation he said, “That is the straightest building we’ve ever roofed. We didn’t have to make a single adjustment as we went along, and the last sheet lined up as perfectly as the first.”
While Grandpa was building his barn, workers at the Savage Arms factory in Utica, N.Y., were making a Model 1914 pump-action .22 rifle. Their skills were different, but their approach was the same. “Do it once — do it right.” It was how they did things back then.
By Dave Anderson
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