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Toad Hall Rifleshop & ye

Yeller Tom Cat Forge


Bookie & George

Blatantly stolen Ken Guy photo!

  Building since 1974!

    Toad Hall Rifleshop and the Yeller Tom Cat Forge are located amid the rolling and fertile fields of central Iowa. We fondly call this part of Iowa, “Corn Patch”.   Yes, I’ve built almost 400 muzzle loaders over the past 40 years, but if you’re seeking information on building a muzzle loader, you’ll need to go elsewhere.  Now if you’re looking for information regarding my Toad Hall Rifleshop style/methods of barrel forging, boring, reaming, and rifling a muzzle loader barrel all by hand and with no electricity what-so-ever, you’ve come to the right place.  So, when it comes to rifling by my instructions and benches….well….

                 “If you have questions, I have answers.”


     I’ve rifled well over 130 barrels on my machines by hand over the years, so I believe I know what side’s up.  Who else can say they’ve rifled that many by hand on wooden benches?

Toad Hall Rifleshop style of wooden rifling bench.

     I’m long RETIRED from custom muzzle loading rifle building, but still like to mess around with my wooden riflers and boring benches. The site’s focus is now mainly concerned with hand rifling operations. The “how to build’em” websites are a dime a dozen, so find one you think will suit you.  This website will be periodically revised and updated in an effort to share my understanding of the arts & mysteries of my style of rifling and it’s related facets. Caveat: I often type in my “Iowegian” dialect….just like I talk! For you folks in Scandinavia, there are a few pages or articles skrevet i Dansk og Norsk.

     You’ll find that several of the subjects listed above will have more than one page for you to check out. Go ahead and explore the site. Lots’a copyrighted photos for you to take a look at. Just “click” on any photo to get an enlarged view unless the photo is full size already.. There are some “Big Honkin’ “ pages on this site covering 40 years of my experience, so please be patient if some of the pages load slowly. Often there are more photos & videos per page than what the program recommends. BUT….the wait will be worth it. The site will be updated on an irregular basis…like when I get around to it, but if the site ain’t working correctly or the articles not helpful, drop me a line and let me know, please.  One piece of free advice for you, my personal motto as a gun builder, and you can quote me:

“Be known for the rifles YOU make.  Not for copies of dead men’s guns!”


Steve2004 midsize

—Steve Bookout, Master of the shop

“In a few more decades all the mountain rifle smiths will have passed on to the better world, and they will be only a memory like the pioneer, the buffalo and passenger pigeon, and the world will have lost more of the old-time geniuses.” Capt. Ned Roberts


Bookie was awarded the

Contemporary Longrifles Association’s 

 Pioneer Award! 



Last Updated: 9 July, 2016

Issue: #99b

The Toad Hall News

DSC05917  Cropped 2 - Copy

Well, we’ve been at it again.  Here it is ONLY 11:30 in the morning and looky what I have.  I hate getting up early any longer, but guys come from all over to pound iron.  We’ve been busier’n all get out, but it’s ready to clean up in preparation for boring.  Tim “Von Swab” needs to get cracking on his tube or these guys’ll have this one completed afore he does!  Gonna have to go get us a couple more bags of coal now.  Got any old wagon wheel rims not too pitted from rust?


     Durty Nelly has found a new home.  After all these years, ol’ Nelly found someone who couldn’t live without her and has moved back East.  Yeah, I miss her, but she has moved on to bigger and better things.  Good luck to her new care taker.  She’s served me well.

Have a new page for your reading pleasure.  It’s a few paragraphs concerning my mentor, the late Robin C, Hale.

    Anyone have a Maryland or Delaware car plate to trade?  Denmark, Scotland, or ?????

    Fellers, my black smith shop is looking for some used car plates from Canada, MA, DE, CT, D.C., and RI to cover up a few more cracks.  Got one from Alaska recently.  Here’s my offer:  Let me know what you have and if I can use what your offering, let’s make a straight across trade.  You send your plate to me and in return, I’ll send you a DVD of my “Notes From A Small Iowa Rifleshop“.  Sound like a fair trade to you?  I’ll even consider plates from around the world.  


Just got two plates from France!

Got an old trailer plate from Wales!


Got several from New England states recently.


You have a plate you want to trade?  Let me know.  The old black smith shop could use a little more class.



Book Cover


It’s back!!


Notes CD - sm

This very popular little book is back in print–but on CD or DVD!!  It has it’s own page listed on the menu, so if you’ve a hankerin’ for a copy, git’em while they’re hot!

*** ***

The rifling FAQs are still being answered and posted. If you’re building one of my rifling benches, read through them and see if you can pick up a couple of pointers.

One of my rifles was shipped to Europe and a photograph was returned to Toad Hall showing how it must be transported to the shooting range!
European Cars


A recent American Rifleman TV program features a segment covering the Kentucky Rifle. Featured are the three House brothers, Hershel, Frank, & John, displaying some of their craft and the all hand-crafted rifle they made for the CLA. It’s a beautiful example of their “Woodbury School” style of long rifle. There are a couple of scenes of brother Frank using one of my Toad Hall riflers to rifle that barrel! I do feel honored.


Always Wanted: I’ve been studying articles about, and the letters & articles written by, the late Hacker Martin for several years now. There’s quite a bit of material in my file from about 1940 to date, but am always on the lookout for other paper and artifacts that I do not have. Please contact me if you have something that may be of interest to me.


Toad Hall Rifleshop

1600 W. 14th St. S.
Newton, Iowa 50208 USA
(641) 792-2941


No calls after 9 PM CST, or Sundays & Holidays, PLEASE!
Site first published: 14 APR 00   Receiving 131, 065 hits!
Site Rehosted 10 FEB 11
I reserve the moral right to be known as the author of what’s on this website unless indicated differently. Some material is COPYRIGHTED. Should you desire to use something from my website, please ask me!