Building your own AK47 from two points of view

This is not intended to be a how to guide, it is an interesting comparison of two methods of home building the AK style rifle. This article / overview was taken from a discussion between two members of AKfourm.net, My-Rifle and Tapeo1.
They were both answering the question

“Am I going to be better off buying an underfolder or am I better off buying a parts kit?
I just want the underfolder to shoot, not collect”

How to Build an AK-47
Part Four of our series on US AK47 builders
Overview – Building your own AK47 from two points of view

This is not intended to be a how to guide, it is an interesting comparison of two methods of home building the AK style rifle. This article / overview was taken from a discussion between two members of AKfourm.net, My-Rifle and Tapeo1.
They were both answering the question

“Am I going to be better off buying an underfolder or am I better off buying a parts kit?
I just want the underfolder to shoot, not collect”

Building an AK costs about twice as much as buying one pre-built. The pre-built one will also be of higher quality (probably) than the first rifle you build from a parts kit. The reason the home-build costs so much more is that you have to accumulate about $500 worth of tools and jigs to shape and assemble the parts into a functioning gun. See GunsGutsAndGod.com and Surplusrifle.com for the best tutorials on building the receiver.
My-Rifle

Tapeo1
Uh, no you don’t. Ever hear of 100% receivers?
You can make your own rivet jigs/tools pretty inexpensively.
Here’s some tools that I made and bought that didn’t get me anywhere near the $500 you quoted…
We put these two points of view and building methods head to head for comparison

1) De-Milling the old parts kit.
You need a drill press ($75 delivered from HarborFreight)
about $30 worth of titanium or cobalt bits
as well as punches ($10)
hand files ($30)
maybe a bench grinder ($50 delivered from Homier).
Four hours of work with this stuff will get the old receiver parts off the recyclable parts. You’ll be grinding off the heads of rivets and punching them out with your punches. You will also need (I made do without, and it was tough) about $50 worth of jigs to hold the parts in place while you grind and punch them. The jigs will prevent you from damaging the parts as you apply tremendous force to small delicate parts. You’re also going to have to remove the barrel. This will allow you to work with the front trunnion. You’re going to have to get to the inside of the trunnion to rivet in the new receiver, and to do that you have to remove the barrel. First remove the barrel retaining pin. the punch and a small hammer should get it out. Next I used a 3-pound maul, a 1/2″ steel rod and a roll of pennies against the inside face of the trunnion to beat the barrel out of the trunnion.
OR

To remove barrel, use a $20 automotive pulley puller…

2) Bending the flat.
Flat ($20-delivered)
You’ll need a 12-ton shop press ($120 delivered from Homier)
And a bending jig around which you will bend the receiver flat, and some steel plate to help shape the upper receiver rails.

Ever hear of 100% receivers?
3) Heat-treating the receiver.
You’ll need a $40 MAPP torch
and about $20 worth of gas. This is probably the easiest step in the process.
Covered when you buy a 100% receiver
4) Trimming the rails.
You will use your hand files
bench-grinder
Dremel Tool kit ($50) to do this.
You will screw in place the front and rear trunnions (for fit) and use the dremel tool to cut out part of the rails, so the trunnions fit flush against the sides of the receiver. The trunnions, you see have grooves for the receiver rails, but they aren’t deep enough to accept the full 1/8″ rail, so you have to cut out about 1/2 the rail, so the groove is filled, but there is no excess space between the side of the trunnion and the inner side of the receiver. Next you cut out the notches for the bolt carrier and bolt to fit into the very rear of the receiver just in front of the rear trunnion. These notches should be exactly big enough to accept the carrier but no bigger. Any bigger, and the carrier will pop out after each shot. Once this is done, and the carrier fits into the receiver you will have to trim down and polish the rails, so the carrier travels freely.

Covered when you buy a 100% receiver
5) Welding the lower rails.
Included with the flat were two rails that you will have to weld inside the receiver.
You will have to buy a ($120) spot welder from Homier to do this.
Read about placing the rails, then weld them in place. Sounds easy? It’s not, and don’t screw up. Ever tried to undo a weld?
Covered when you buy a 100% receiver
6) The rivets.
Ah yes. The rivets.
Buy a 24″ pair of bolt cutters ($20).
Use the bench grinder to shape the jaws as shown on the GunsGutAndGod as well as SurplusRifle.com sites. This tool will get the rivets into the inside of your front trunnion. The back trunnion will require a bucking bar and a bucking plate (which you will make) to get the rivets in place. Your 3 pound maul and various pieces of scrap steel as well as your trusty drill press will serve you well in this step. This step may be the least expensive one as your tools are already in hand.
OR
For the front trunnion rivets use a modified bolt cutter and a divot plate (Total cost was about $10)… .

For the trigger guard rivets make a jig yourself outta some 1/4″ steel plate (total cost was only a few bucks)..

7) Pressing in the barrel.
Remember back in step one we took off the barrel?
Well now comes the hard part – getting it back in – straight.
You can use your new $120 Homier press to generate the force required to jam the barrel in.
I froze the barrel in the freezer for two hours, then I heated the trunnion and slid the barrel in. I have since discovered that this was a bad idea, as excessive heat damages the trunnion. Other solutions are a) polish the barrel with emery cloth, use grease, and beat the hell out of the end of the trunnion with the muzzle pressed into a block of wood. b) use a long threaded piece of steel run through the bore and capped at the muzzle end with a soft washer and nut, and inside the trunnion (Leave the bolt-carrier in place at the face of the trunnion and run the rod through it too.) use another washer and a nut, then tighten the nuts until the barrel draws into the trunnion.
OR

Here’s the modified plate to fit inside the receiver behind the bolt carrier for the allthread tool.

To reinstall the barrel, make yourself an all thread device. It cost me less than $5 to make one..

8) Trimming the lower rails.
Since the rails that you just welded in are designed for .223 ammo, they are too big for 7.62 mm ammo, and you’ll have to trim them down with your dremel tool until the bolt rides on them without difficulty and they actually eject rounds as they are supposed to do.
9) US-compliance parts
At this point you can buy all your US-compliance parts (about $60 – $80 worth) and put your rifle together. You can test the bolt’s headspace using your $70 go/no-go gauges, and if you’re lucky the headspace will be safe to fire and you can go to the range and fire the gun. Since you will have some adjustments to make (and you will know which ones they are, as you will be an AKM expert by then), you will have another few hours of work to do, and you will be finished.

Or you can cough up the $400 for a bought-made AK. By the way, do you like to work with tools and build things? Do you like to tinker with cars and such? If you don’t love it then buy the gun. On the other hand, once you accumulate the tools, you can crank out AKM’s for about $200, and they are yours, all yours!
My-Rifle
Tapeo1
The best thing you can do is find someone in your area that can assist you with your first build. Once someone shows you the ropes on building your first one, you can take it from there for build 2,3,4,5,….

My second build…
As you can see these guys build differently, but both end up with a quality rifle. Building the AK47 is a hobby, and you can see with their common answer to the question. It is a matter of working with tools more than assembiling a rifle. Building is no small task, but is you are up to it and you like it, it can be an affordable way to collect the AK47.

Thanks again to these guys from AKfourm.net, My-Rifle and Tapeo1. We posted this article with their permission, real good information and pictures guys. Feel free to leave comments and and ask questions. If you have something to add let us know we are always looking for more information to post.