Introduction: Lever Action Rifle Prop

About: I'm an actor/tech/IT/graphics/editor/writer kind of guy. I do a fair share of voice over work and have the full time gig at Bard College at Simon's Rock. While waiting for machines to do things, I hit the wo…

I first want to give full credit to InspiredWood for his design, without it, I wouldn't have even started this project on time!

Here's the deal. We're doing the show "Annie Get Your Gun" and the theater has strict rules about stage props, no real or decommissioned weapons.

Buying a prop isn't often in the budget, so lets make some!

Step 1: The Pattern.

So this is patterned after a Henry repeating rifle, something that would of been around in 1860. Now I know that Annie Oakley preferred a different style rifle, I KNOW!. However, this thing reads as old west, and just looks right.

I've attached a .pdf of the pattern. Which I cut out and glued to a piece of scrap luan.

The reason for making a hard pattern, is that I'll be making several of these. Three working 'hero' versions, (one for Frank Butler, two for Annie. A shiny new one, and the old and busted one.)

Then there will be 4 more that will be static props. non working action.

Step 2: Transfer the Pattern and Start Cutting.

First draw your shapes and be as efficient as possible.

I then do a rough cut on the bandsaw, to give me smaller pieces to work with. I'm using 5/8" plywood.

The side pieces to give extra thickness to the stock are cut out of 1/4" luan. That is the extra stock patterns, one per side, and the receiver pattern, one per side.

Step 3: Cut Holes and Sand.

For the lever action. I drilled a hole, then used a jig saw to cut out the interior. Then a sander to smooth out the inside.

A belt sander was used to get closer to the pencil marks of the final shape.

Step 4: Barrels

For the hero props, I wanted steel barrels. They just look right. So I used some conduit and cut them to length.

Then I glued up the stocks and one side of the receiver mechanism.

I then glued them in using epoxy. To make that work, without creating a huge mess, I attached the back side to the rifle first. This also helped strengthen the rifle stock, as the cutout for the rubber band is a weak point. (ask me how I know...)

Step 5: More Sanding.

Once everthing is dry, I sanded the stocks to shape using a belt sander. The one side of the receiver is just screwed on, not glued. So I could access the interior to put in the rubber band, and pivot for the lever.

Step 6: Paint and Stain.

I recommend using the same brand paint for primer and color. I used a simple Rustoleum® from the local hardware. Primed first, let it dry, taped off various areas and painted.

For the old and busted rifle that Annie starts with, I stained the stock. Then painted the side plates a copper color. The lever and hammer were painted black.

Step 7: "Gunsmithing"

Once everything was painted up and dry, I started assembly. For the lever action pin I used an aluminum self threaded thingy. (for the life of me I can't remember what it's called.)

Since I used 5/8 Plywood and 1/4 inch luan, I found the right size that fit pretty well. It wasn't a snug fit, but we don't want it snug. We want things to pivot smoothly.

To drill the hole, I assembled everything and drilled through the center.

The "Gunsmithing" happened next. Since I used a screw to hold the rubber band in place on the lever, I needed a channel for that band and screw to ride in. Out came the Dremel® and a few seconds later, I had smooth action.

The other side of the rubber band is held with a screw from the topside. Drill a pilot hole first, the partially put the screw in, catch the rubber band an finish screwing in the screw. Then put the lever over the pin and assemble.

Step 8: Finished!

I think they came out pretty well and read real well from the audience, and so far seem durable in the hands of gun slinging actors. They can use the lever action and the rim shot from the drummer makes for a good "bang"