Paisley resident Mark Douglas has started a gunsmithing business — Cinnabar Gunworks — specializing in vintage firearms of the Old West era.
Douglas, who was the Paisley School track and field coach for decades before retiring in 2021, is a Winchester collector, while his wife, Erin, is a Colt collector. Erin assists with the business’s books but work on the guns is a one-man show. Douglas does all the work on firearms he receives from customers — some from across the country in New York and New Jersey — from repairing to refinishing to restoring.
Over a year ago, Douglas started a YouTube channel called The Cinnabar on which he discusses and shoots vintage guns. After posting a video on the channel about his new business venture, he said there are likely more people outside of Oregon who are aware of Cinnabar Gunworks than people locally. The video he posted announcing Cinnabar Gunworks is open for business has racked up for than 38,000 views.
Douglas and Erin have collected and worked on their own guns for years. About six years ago, Douglas began taking gunsmithing classes in the summer at Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. In 2019, he began taking the classes full time.
Because Douglas and his wife are active in the gun community, they have met some people along the way from whom Douglas has been learning as well. Two of them are retired gunsmiths with whom Douglas has been studying — one is a Colt gunsmith and the other is a Winchester gunsmith. Douglas is himself the vice president of the Winchester Arms Collectors Association.
Now, Douglas said, “I’ve turned a hobby I enjoy into a profession.” Some of the guns customers send in for work haven’t been fired in 100 years, he said, like those that were passed down from one generation to the next and have sat in a closet or gun safe for decades.
Depending on the job, he may charge by the job or by the hour. A good portion of the work he performs is fixing worn out, broken, or missing parts. Other jobs may involve a complete restoration, which can take 40 or 50 hours.
Asked what sets Cinnabar Gunworks apart from other gunsmithing businesses, Douglas explained that he makes a point to restore vintage or antique firearms using the same processes that would have been used in the factory when they were built. Some gunsmiths use modern techniques, which often means the finish on the gun won’t look right, he said.
Douglas noted that one of the most challenging parts of the job is the variety of guns and the lack of parts. Some parts have to be handmade and there are no schematics to go by, he explained. “I’ve had people send me parts to use as a template,” he said. Other parts require a welding technique to rebuild.
The Cinnabar Gunworks shop sits on Douglas’ property. He encourages locals who would like work done on a gun to call ahead to be sure he’ll be at the shop. Cinnabar Gunworks also has a small selection of older firearms for sale.
To learn more, see The Cinnabar on YouTube or visit www.cinnabargunworks.com. Douglas can be reached at 541-219-0394.