Hi Rocketman, welcome aboard! I for one will certainly welcome another weaponsmith to the forum.
Thanks for the shout out @AdamC!
To respond to your first question regarding tools - the short answer is that is is really up to you. It will come down to your own skill set and how often you will plan to use them. If you are only doing 1-2 basic weapon mods, you really won’t need many tools and can get away with a very basic set. However, if you plan to do a lot or more detailed modifications, you will likely want more tools. Here is a list of some of the tools that I use regularly. I do a lot of mods, so the investment in all of these tools was worth it for me. However, while you are starting out, I would recommend that you just focus on building a basic kit with the tools I have highlighted in BOLD. You can also get more as you go…
HOBBY KNIFE. I prefer the types with interchangeable blades for fine work, although you could also get away with a standard box cutter type for most purposes.
TWEEZERS. I have a large selection as I use them often, but to start with, get 1-2 basic versions.
FINE-BLADED HOBBY SAW. Hobby stores sell a range of very fine bladed saws. These are great for when your knives won’t get the job done.
SIDE CUTTERS. Typically used by scale model makers to remove the model spares from the sprue tree. Arguably the easiest way to chop a barrel when modifying 1/6 scale guns.
FINE FILES. Jewellers or modellers files are fine grained, although they can still show scoring marks. I like to use small metal nail files as the grain on these is much finer and does not leave marks the same way that regular files do.
SANDPAPER. Get various different grades. Very fine ‘wet and dry’ paper is great for removing any marks left from cutting or filing.
- FINE-POINTED PROBE. Whenever I any working on a custom weapon, I always dismantle it as far as possible. For M4 type rifles, this is done by pushing out the pins in the receiver to all ow it to be dismantled. A fine probe comes in very handy for this. Similar approaches are used for other weapons as well - but they are all different. Alternatively, you can you a pair of fine-pointed tweezers for this.
SUPERGLUE. Various different types are available - some very thin and runny, and others are quite thick. Very fast drying time.
- MODELLING GLUE. Standard hobby glue only works on styrene. Not as strong as superglue. Dries much slower and allows you much more room for error.
- STYRENE SHEETS AND STRIPS. Comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. Probably won’t be used during basic modifications, but indispensable when getting a little more creative.
- MILLIPUT. A 2-part modellers epoxy clay. I use this to build new shapes in some of my more adventurous projects. Can be shaped and sanded.
- MODELLERS PUTTY. Good for filling gaps. Can be shaped and sanded.
- ROTARY TOOL. Dremel or similar. I use a small Japanese battery powered rotary tool for grinding and carving.
PIN VICE. Small had-held drill for drill small holes. You will be surprised how often you will use this.
PAINTS. Get a selection of hobby paints. Focus on some of the more common colours associated with weapons: metallic greys and metallic black for metal parts; black, tan, green, and khaki for plastic parts.
PAINTBRUSHES. You will need a range of different modelling paintbrushes to cover up and surgery done during your mods or when adding new paint jobs to weapons. Very fine brushes are good for bringing out small details.
- AIRBRUSH. If you go down the road of giving your custom weapons new paint jobs, an airbrush is highly recommended. It gives a much smoother finish than painting with brushes. I initially used modelling spray paint, but found the colour choices limited before graduating to an airbrush. The airbrush is far easier to control the paint flow, is much less wasteful, and gives you the option to mix your own paint to get the exact colour you want.
MASKING TAPE. Comes in very handy when painting (especially when spray painting) to protect parts of the weapon from over-spray.
- LIQUID MASKING SOLUTION. This stuff is really cool - you just paint it on the areas you want to mask and wait for it to dry. When it is dry you can spray paint all over it. Then once the paint is dry you simply peel it off to reveal the unpainted areas beneath.
I don’t worry about clamps. The drying time for superglue is very fast, so you can often get away with just holding the part in place for 10-20 seconds until it dries (being careful not to glue it to your fingers in the process - don’t laugh: you would be surprised how easy it is to do).
To shorten the barrel on the L119A1, I agree with what @chpo and @AdamC have already said: 1) chop the barrel off the the desired length; 2) use you pin vice to drill small holes in the end of the barrel pieces to be glued together; 3) insert a short length of pin or wire into the holes to help align the barrel and strengthen the bond; 4) add superglue and hold in place until it is dry. Again, don’t worry about using clamps - just eyeball it in.
If using wire as a pin to align the 2 halves of the barrel, I would suggest drilling a slightly larger diameter hole than the wire so that you have a little room to maneuver in case your holes are not perfectly in the middle.
I hope this helps. I look forward to seeing your mods. Please share them here with us. Cheers!