|The Making of Damascus Barrels
A 1925 Documentary Film
By 1924, a once thriving industry was coming to an end. Just 20 years before the
production of side by side shotgun barrels had reached over 150,000 barrels a year in
Belgium. A documentary film maker was contracted to produce a 2 reeler ( a 24 minute
silent movie ) so that the skill, craft and art of nearly 300 years would not be lost to the ages.
The high production volume depended on the mechanization of many steps. The film takes
us back to an even earlier time when all the steps were accomplished by hand.
The playing time is approximately 23 minutes. The film has been digitally enhanced to
bring out some of the details that were lost in the shadows. A sound track has been added
to provide background music. Subtitles have been added to help the viewer understand
what the barrel makers are doing.
The film begins with a visual survey of the small barrel making shops of Nessonvaux.
Then we are taken to meet the actual barrel makers. We watch with fascination as the
skilled workers using the most basic of tools twist the billets to create a pattern. Slowly the
riband is formed. They then wrap the riband around a mandrel to form a rough tube. Once
this is completed, we leave their forge and are taken to a second forge. In this shop, the
rough tube is heated and shaped with numerous trips to the anvil. Finally a barrel emerges!
Our next stop is the grinding shop. At this point, the film maker shows only the most
elementary steps. Then we are shown the barrel being etched with sulfuric acid. This was
mostly like done only to match barrel patterns between similar tubes, as finishing with
sulfuric was not a permanent finish.
There are some close up views of various patterns, including a barrel with the name
Zenobe Gramme ( a Belgian Engineer who invented the electric motor ) woven into the
barrel. We have an opportunity to see Delcour-Dupont and his son. Finally, we are taken
on a short visual tour of the now abandoned industrial park.
When viewing the film, it is amazing to watch skill of the barrel smiths. They waste not a
strike of the hammer nor turn of the mandrel.
We realize that not all the steps could have been included in a short documentary. We
wish we could have witnessed the barrel honing process. We wish we could have seen the
highly mechanized production methods that we know had been developed. After viewing
this documentary we find a myriad of questions are answered about Damascus barrel
produced in the tradition manner. You will find yourself speaking with a new authority about
Damascus barrel fabrication.
We are already working on the next film....
PURCHASING THE FILM
The film has been converted to digital format. It has been professionally reproduced as a
DVD in NTSC format. It comes in a vinyl DVD holder and will be shipped via USPS. We
only accept on-line payment. You can pay on-line via PayPal, Visa, Master Card, American
Express or Discover. When you log-in to PayPal, your transaction will be securely
The cost is $45.00 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling within the US. Once an order is
received it will shipped within 48 hours. We will only ship to the same address as your
PayPal account or your credit card. We thank you in advance for your order. We know you
will appreciate this film.