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topic 5176

Finish for Black Powder Cannon

A discussion started in 2000 and continuing to 2006.
Add your Q. or A. to restore it to the "Current Topics" discussions.


I build small black powder cannon as a hobby. I am currently bead blasting and painting the steel parts. This has mixed results when firing. The paint sometimes gets scratched in handling or recoil. I want a more durable black finish that looks authentic(not too shiny) and that I apply myself.

Thanks for your help!

Joel White
- Goldsboro, North Carolina USA


Black Oxide is the finish that would be best for your application. The down side would be that you should have a reputable job shop perform the service and not attempt it yourself due to safety and environmental issues.


Tom Walen
Springfield, Massachusetts

thumbs up sign  Probably true, Tom. But it does strike me as rather ironic that it's considered okay today to build and fire cannons ... but dangerous to apply the black finish :-)


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


? What metal are you using?

Cast or machined?

Generic or true replica cannon?

What size?

Any good web sites for getting dimensional plans for say a 24 pounder?

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

To minimize your searching efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined some threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.

Black powder cannon internal bore


Q. I am writing to ask about the black powder cannons. Is it essential for the inner bore to be completely smooth?

James Munday
- Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


A. No, if you are not firing any objects out of the cannon the bore does not have to be smooth,
if you are how ever firing something out of it, it should be smooth enough that the projectile does not catch in any spot of the bore

Erik Johansen
- Danvers, Massachusetts U.S.A.


A. A smooth bore is a happy bore. Not to be Boring, but; a smooth bore is safer because it allows you to completely lubricate and it ensures all burning embers are extinguished. Safe shooting. Peace. S.B.

James Scott Brown
M.R.U. - ElDorado, Arkansas, U.S.A.


Having done Revolutionary War Re-enacting with a full size 6 pound cannon the best way to go is with a smooth bore. It will allow you to extinguish any and all material still alive in the bore after you fire the cannon. Also, wrap your powder charge in an aluminum foil sabot, there is nothing to burn afterward and it is easily removed with a worm. Always do a double tube sponge and cleaning. Never, ever, rush. A pre-mature firing will hurt the rammer, badly. If the rammer is lucky he would only lose half his hand, unlucky, his arm. Real cannons are not a toy.

Guy Perram
- Medina, Ohio, USA

To minimize your searching efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined some threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.


Q. Hi,

I am currently constructing a black powder cannon and have managed to get everything perfect except for the internal bore. Due to the vibrations involved when using a boring bar on a metal lathe there are little grooves all along the internal bore. Is it important to have a perfectly smooth bore, due to the grooves is it likely to explode? The cannon is made of 64 mm diameter mild steel and the bore is 1 inch in diameter, it would be greatly appreciated if any one could give me any relative information on this subject or could tell me a method of smoothing internal bores, not to difficult though.

Thank you,

James Munday
- Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


A. You can smooth the bore with a flap wheel sander or slower, but better, use a hone. Get about three different grades of abrasive sizes or it will be terribly slow. Option is to start with the coarsest one you can find. If the finish is fine after that, quit. If not, go to a finer stone.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. The grooves won't endanger anything.

If you still want the interior perfectly smooth, go to an auto parts store and ask for a brake cylinder hone. The gadget will usually have 3 or 4 spring-loaded arms with a polishing stone at the ends. Run this up and down your bore with an electric drill a few times to take the grooves out.

64 mm OD and 1 inch ID is safe enough for salutes and very light projectiles like wood targeting balls. Anything heavier, consult a serious black powder outfit. Pyrodex in particular can tell you all about safe pressures.

Dave Fitz
- Ogallala, Nebraska, USA


A. Cannon builder: don't think the grooves will hurt a thing, but if you want a smooth bore then you might want to use a 1 inch or a 1-1/16th ream. A hone will also do the job as the other two responses noted. Got any pics of that jewel?

Mark Jackson
- Charleston, West Virginia



Valhalla's Pirates - Pt Pleasant, New Jersey

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