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MAKING a TANEGASHIMA DOUGANE ( STOCK RING )


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For those not familiar with the Japanese nomenclature of Matchlock parts ... the DOUGANE is the brass ( usually brass ) stock ring that is present on virtually all Japanese matchlocks at least the rear stock ring but occasionally also further up the stock nearer the muzzle. I will not spend too much time going into the fabrication of the rear stock ring as these can usually be fashioned by bending a correct shaped piece of brass stock around the wood stock and then silver soldering the ends where they meet under the stock. A couple of things to remember is : the brass that is available commercially is usually terribly hard and therefore requires annealing ( heating to a dull red with a propane torch and then immediately immersing in cold water ) to soften. Where each bend in the band goes the brass should also be scored on the inside using a triangular file deep enough to aid in the bending ( trial and error ). Once the two ends are joined by silver solder any final fitting can be accomplished using a flat file to get a nice snug brass to stock fit.

Now then, ... the front barrel band ( dougane ) is somewhat more difficult as you are fitting the brass not only around the stock but also the barrel of your matchlock. The difficulty here lies in the slight stock ridge protruding on either side of the barrel. Since this forms a right angle to the barrel and therefore causing the brass to make a sharp slight perpendicular bend before bending vertically downward to continue around the outside of the stock it is difficult to get a nice snug metal to metal ( barrel ) to wood fit particularly if the dogane is rounded rather than flat. A thin flat dougane can often be bent to shape by hand ... see first photograph for a thin flat front dougane, BUT a dougane of greater thickness will be virtually impossible to fit by hand. This is the reason for this short instructional article.

Most ( other than the thin flat dougane ) are made from a round brass stock ( rod ) ... quite often 1/4 inch ( 6mm ) or possibly 3/16 ( 5mm )

 

diameter which must be cut in half to make a half circle. This is accomplished by laying a slightly LONGER than required piece of round stock in your bench vise and allowing half to stick up above the vise jaws. Then using a hacksaw and using the top of the vise jaws to act as your guide ... you make your cut. When finished you should end up with the brass round stock cut nice and straight and the top half THE WIDTH of your saw blade smaller than the bottom half. The top half is the piece we make our stock ring from.

 

Now, ... take the brass half circle you have made and at the center point bend ( remember to have annealed the brass ) it snugly around the portion of the barrel where the dogane is to fit ( some barrels are slightly tapered ) so this is important. Now allowing for a slight error in measuring ... mark ( using a pencil ) each side of the brass about where each side will come in contact with the stock lip. Use your hacksaw to make the cuts. You now have three pieces of brass half round stock. A top and two sides. Try fitting the top piece of the dougane to the barrel to see how much too long you have cut it and mark these points with a pencil. Set aside ... and fit each of the other halves and bend to go around the stock ( having left about 1/8 inch protruding above the stock lip ( this is why we always cut the brass slightly longer when preparing the half round from the original round rod ). Now hopefully as you bend around each piece of brass around the stock on it's final bend before the two halves meet at the bottom side of the stock you will have left enough brass that they are going to overlap slightly. The excess we will worry about later during the final fitting and before we solder these two ends together.

 

Using two small C-Clamps join ( one side at a time ) to our rounded barrel piece of brass with the side pieces overlapping the rounded piece as in the drawings I have provided. This should then be silver soldered. Repeat with the other side. Once cooled ... we now have a single piece of brass and WITHOUT having silver soldered the bottom joint together, .... we try fitting to the matchlock, ... noting how much of the rounder piece must be filed away on each side ( on the inside ) to get a nice snug fit around the barrel butting up on the stock lip. File until this rounded piece of brass fits snugly around the barrel and just touches the stock lip Now we file the outside excess overlap away until it just nicely meets the sides of the rounded portion .... see drawings.

 

Once I am fairly satisfied, I mark off the brass stock at the underside of the stock so that they butt up against one another. This can then be silver soldered together. There we now have our front dougane which of course will need a little more filing to get a perfect fit. Once you are satisfied the brass may be polished ... although a few tiny dints need not be removed as these will lend age to the dougane. The whole may then be patinated to the right colour. Remember, ... I should have mentioned this before you may have to gently use a dull chisel and hammer to get that nice fit at the lip section of the srock where barrel meets wood in the final fitting.

 

The almost completed dogane I picture still needed a little fitting before perfect as shown in my last photograph of the finished dougane in place on the matchlock. Some may say, ... well doesn't the silver solder detract from the brass ?? The answer is no, ... not if you are careful as silver solder takes on the appearance of brass rather than a silver colour.

 

These front dougane are the more difficult to make compared with the breach end dougane ... and others may have a different way of fashioning a replacement, ... but I assure you I've made several and putting things back to original condition is a most satisfying reward. I wish you luck and patience.

 

As always any errors or omissions are mine alone.

 

 

 

... Ron Watson

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Most envious that you are able to do this work, Ron, and thanks for your explanation as to how you did it. It shames me to admit that in the past I have had to ask someone else to do such work for me on a gun with no Mekugi or Mekugi-ana. The finished article there really looks good.

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Dear Piers,

This one took some time mostly because of the tiny chip missing from the stock lip just ahead of the fitted dougane. I didn't notice it before I started and although tiny, ... it created headaches when I wanted a perfect fit. Anyway, ... it turned out not bad. I ran across two American Matchlock collectors. One in particular has at least 25 matchlocks. He has not bothered to translate a single signature. He obviously has more money than the average collector by far, ... but I don't get the idea of simply accumulating without study :dunno: ! I have known him for years but the other just passed away and his collection was held basically in secret. It is in the process of being liquidated. Sad really as he had a few rare pieces but no intention of sharing with others his knowledge or even communicating for the purpose of learning about what he had.

 

... Ron Watson

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Yeah, I hear you Ron....I ran into this older fellow at a gun show about 20 years ago- I was reading the mei on a sword and he came up next to me. He struck up a conversation and asked if I would come by and see his collection and maybe read some mei for him....I said sure and we set a date. Turned out he had over 200 swords and couldn't read a single kanji....Could not believe it...

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Dear Chris,

Although we have had differing opinions on occasion, ... I have grown to appreciate the fact I cannot match you on your sword knowledge or many of our other members for that matter. What I especially respect you for however is your unwavering assistance and advice freely given. It is thru the sharing of knowledge ( and on occasion being corrected ) that I derive the greatest pleasure. as I believe you do. It is indeed sad that both the collectors I mentioned have/had amassed impressive collections ( with the occasional bad choice ) but failed to participate with others with the same interests. They simply hung their treasures in their Den and admired them without the least interest in their study or their history or their sharing with others ??

 

... Ron Watson

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Great tutorial Ron. I can talk from experience having just finished my trigger guard and retaining plate/pin after a few weeks worth.

I am very happy, having had to do it at least 3 times before I was satisfied.

Modern brass is a #$#!@ to work with. Especially trying to get the annealing done right when you are colour blind and see diminished red :lol:

It doesn't take much working the brass before it is hard again, and you have to keep annealing.

Do not be tempted to bend the piece just a little more without the hassle of annealing. It will crack.

I will post pics of my guard in the appropriate thread this weekend. Would be hard to tell it wasn't original.

 

A few tips here: As Ron said, no not polish everything totally smooth and bright. Leave a few bumps/scratches as these patinate nicely and give it age. Make sure you own some decent files and tools. I just about restocked my workshop in making the trigger guard.

 

Patination: With a bit of internet research and some great advice from Ford. Put some fine wood chips in a plastic or glass tub, and pour in a few tablespoons of household ammonia and mix. Suspend the part above the chips either on a wooden block or piece of string etc. Close the lid, and leave for a few hours to a day. When comes out is a beautiful antique patina.

Of course before you put the piece in, make sure you clean it totally of any oils etc. Wash properly and dry it. Beware of the fumes.

 

Downside: Brazing/soldering will look exactly like brass and once filed, merges perfectly with the rest of the piece so that you cannot see there was ever a join there. Until you patinate. :(

The join did not patinate like the rest of the brass, so my join is visible on inspection. Not sure if there is a way to patinate that the same. Will have to ask Ford.

 

It is great to get stuck in and do these things yourself. The end result is very rewarding.

 

Brian

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Dear Brian,

Congratulations on completing your trigger guard ( yuojintetsu ). Now you see why I caution the overuse of Japanese terminology when an English word is more precise and understandable for now. I look forward to seeing your photos. When silver soldering one should have as tight a fit as possible ( the solder will still penetrate ) and if possible solder from the side away from the viewer. This eliminates most of the tell tale join when patinating, ... BUT not all. You are right though it is the chemical reaction to the two lookalike but different metals that causes the grief. I would be interested to hear what Ford's thoughts or solutions are to this problem. Personally I try to disguise it with a slightly darker patina in that particular area. Hard to explain, but I imitate a natural ( as much as possible ) stain somewhat larger than the join area. The only other way of getting around this would be to cast the barrel band ( dougane ) which few of us have the expertise or equipment necessary. I wish Ford would join in here with his thoughts as I am but a clutz whereas he is an artist. On a slight tangent, ... I used to have 20/15 vision ( exceptional eyesight ) and although my distance vision is excellent I now need reading glasses which makes restoration work more difficult since so much of it is fine detail work. Also I appreciate your noting that the odd dint or slight gouge or scratch it expected on a 100 - 400 piece to give it the feeling of age, ... a real NO NO is leaving file marks. File marks MUST all be removed ( speaking of items other than swords here folks ).

... Ron Watson

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