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So the crusty-old gunsmith at on of my local shops stated the following. "Hand lapping a barrel with 000 steel wool was how we did it back in the day."

WHA?! Anyone tried this? Heard of this? BTW, he is a dam good smith.
 

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Anybody worth their salt in smithing or machining knows 000 steel wool is too abrasive to truly 'lap' something. It may have been the first step in polishing after the initial stones were involved, but not for a final lapped product. To truly lap something requires a grit in suspension (frequently these days it's industrial diamond/ruby/silica in either a thin grease or oil) which will wear on the parts as they rub against one another.

I know 0000 steel wool is used in some refinishing and is occasionally still used in moldmaking by the real old school guys, though it has been pretty much replaced by resin bonded grit stones of comparable and even finer mesh.
 
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