Speerchucker - fitting a wood stock?
When you went to CST, did you learn how to carve a stock from scratch?
I am nearing completion of 'adjusting' (I'm not sure you can call it "fitting") a Boyd's 'semi-inlet' stock for a Mauser (the very first time I've ever tried this), and though it is not a masterpiece, it's not too bad for a first-timer. I bought my little jar of Jerro's inletting black and a few small Flexicut chisels and cut a surprisingly nice bolt handle relief and free floated the barrel, and machined a couple of aluminum sleeves (pillars) and Marine Tex bedded it.
I am curious as ****, how in the hell someone could carve a stock from scratch? I've looked for books online (Amazon etc. and Brownell's) but there really aren't any books on a step-by-step carve a stock from scratch. I've always preferred the look of Walnut over Fiberglas, but Boyd's stock, as nice as it actually looks and feels for the low price (I paid extra for hand select), was just a little whack in some areas of the inletting - like too big here and too small there...
I screwed up a little here and there, but fortunately, not in any areas that would glare out at you. I could do better next time! But I want to know how to do it from scratch.
Any books or other resources you would recommend?
It's not easy, but once you understand what you're aiming for, it's not prohibitive in complexity. Carving a rifle stock from a blank is a lot like fitting a barreled action into a semi-inlet and the finishing is pretty much the same. The difference is that the semi-inlet stocks remove many of your options. Many choices you could make if you were starting from a blank were made by the pattern stock used by the semi-inlet maker. You typically lose most of your choices about cast, toe out, drop, etc. You won't have the option of a palm swell on the grip. You don't have much say about how long the forearm is going to be, and if the semi-inlet has a forearm tip, you might not like the length of that tip vs. the overall forearm length. Most semi-inlets won't accommodate custom bottom metal (eg, drop-box magazines).
There's rather a lot of things that semi-inlet stocks won't let you do, typically.
How to start?
Well, first you'd better start looking at a lot of custom rifle stocks. Take note of the geometry of the stock. Look at where lines start, where they go... extend lines and planes on the stock to see how dimensions and angles are arrived at. If you don't look at good custom rifle stocks, you'll be lacking a notion of where you're going. Starting in a vacuum, you could carve any one of a number of different types of stocks.
Find a stock blank that's fairly cheap to start with - like $100 to $200. Black walnut is often cheap[er], but it tends to be softer wood - you'll need to be careful when you're working it. Thin shelled (English) walnut holds details really nicely. Don't bother with more expensive blanks. You're going to make mistakes. Make them cheaply.
You'll need a good set of rasps. A hoof trimming rasp (get them down to the feed or tack store) is good for removing a lot of wood, but isn't absolutely necessary. The Nicholson 49 and 50 cabinetmaker's rasps are essential, then a barrette file or two, a needle file, a chainsaw file, a pillar file... a straightedge at least 12" long, some jump gauges (which you'll most likely make yourself out of sheet metal), a good belt sander (for flattening the butt of the stock). A good, solid bandsaw can remove a lot of material close to your final side and top profiles if you're skilled in using a bandsaw.
Using a mill for the roughing out of the barrel channel and action area helps quite a bit. If you're willing to make fixtures for holding a stock blank (and you true one side and the top line of the stock in the forearm area), you can get rather a lot done by using a mill. You can rough out the action/barrel channel, then the magazine well. Some stocks will have little "gotcha" issues - eg, the rear tang screw on a 1903/A3 action isn't straight up & down. A Mauser 98 action doesn't have a lot of recoil bearing surfaces, so you kinda need those "lung" areas at the rear of the action.
You'll need a good selection of small chisels, gouges and scrapers to do a full wood/metal inlet job. You need, oh, at least three gouges - the smallest of which you can make from 3/32 drill rod and which is good for getting into the areas where you don't want to round out a corner. A 1/4 gouge and then a 1/2" gouge do a lot of the big removal. A 1/8" wide chisel gets used quite a bit. A 1/2" wide chisel is useful, especially for cutting "run stops" to prevent grain from picking up a cut and running it away from where you wanted it to go.
A "foot" chisel is used for working out the area where the recoil lug goes. You can make the narrow chisels out of screwdrivers. Heck, you can make the foot chisel out of a narrow screwdriver.
The gouges you can forge yourself from O-1 drill rod. Sharpen them with the bevel on the top side, not the bottom side of the gouge.
The easiest "nice rifle" action to inlet into a blank (without cheating by hogging out a lot of material and then slopping in a bunch of bedding compound) is the Model 70. The 1903/A3 and Mauser have much more in the way of features you have to worry about that burn up a lot of time the first time you do them.
Professional Stockmaking, by David L. Wesbrook gives some good overview and lots of photos.
Look for any books you can find by Alvin Linden. They're classics - but often quite expensive in the out-of-print book market.
Brownells sells wall-hanging prints by Jerry Fisher for Mauser and Model 70 stocks. Those prints give you some dimensions and ideas of proportions to use in making a stock.
And to add to Rod's point about "it's not numbers, it's hand and eye" -- to do a stock well, you need to develop a 'feel' for contours and profiles. When you're rounding the forearm, you want to not have "slab" sides or "corners" on it. The only way you really know you're done is to pick up the rifle as if you were going to mount it, then twist it back and forth in your left hand (assuming you're a right-handed shooter) as you glide your left hand up/down the forearm. It's a visceral sense that the stock has the correct shape up front, and then again, the sense of how you mount it and how it fits you (or the client) is what has to guide you in the buttstock. One tool that helps get shapes identical from side to side is a contour gauge, sorta like this:
This gets you close to getting the side-to-side contours the same. You get all the pins straight, you push it down over the bottom of the stock (while the rifle is held upside-down in a vise) and then you "sink" the gauge most of the way down. Don't bottom out the pins. Carefully pick up the gauge, reverse it and very gently start lowering it onto the stock with the mark you're using as the centerline consistent with where you had it first. You'll see where you need to match up the contours.
When you look at Rod's tool collection there, yes, that's a lot of tools, but I'll bet some of Rod's tools there have ONE purpose. He probably made or modified some of those chisels/gouges/scrapers/etc when he got into a situation where he was cussing the tools he had, so he stopped and created or modified a tool to solve that ONE problem on the spot. That's how stock making goes. There's times you get into a corner (literally) when you're cussing a blue streak and you can see that nothing you have at hand is going to do anything but make a mess. You know if you make a mess, you likely won't be able to make it look right to get back out of it.
So you stop stock making and commence to making a tool to solve that one situation. You put it into the rack after you're done and then it's onto the next thing... There is NO woodworking supplier or shop who sells all the tools you need for high-level stock making. Most all woodworking tools are sharpened with the bevel on the bottom, not on the top of the tool, so they're "backwards" from what I like, and I'll knock off the edge and then re-grind the bevel on the top side of a gouge, etc.
Brownells or Midway won't have all the tools you need, either. Just get comfortable with making tools from O-1, heat treating them properly and sharpening them, because if you're going to do a nice job, the odds are nearly 100% certain that you're going to need a cutting tool you don't have and can't buy.
Last edited by wyop; 04-05-2013 at 10:09 AM.
Reason: Additional info
Outside of what wyop said. You can't really be taught stockmaking. You can be taught the dimensions and the approach but the actual learning that gives you clean sharp inletting, good checkering and that "eye for a line, curve and flat" you get with patients and practice. Some people just don't have the "artsy fartsy" gene and never do pick it up.
You need a couple chisels. Flats, angles, slips gouges, spoons and stubby s. Many you will end up making. For that you need drill rod up to 1/2 inch, oxyacetylene, hammer, anvil, files and a belt sander. 1 or 2 sharpening stones. These days diamond up to 1200. Checkering tools. I had an MMC but sold it a couple years back and I'm currently looking for another one. Hand tools, dembart or gunline are fine. Stock guide pins. Inletting black and a kerosene burner to black for final inletting. A good belt sander 2x48 or 2x72 is almost a must. You also need no less than a million rasps, rifflers and files. What you see in the photo is about 1/4 of my stock making tools.
Roughing from a blank is really easy if you have a mill with a 50 inch or larger table. Just put a long nosed edge finder in it and clamp the stock you want to duplicate down to the table and map it out the same way you would copy a metal part. Then lay the stock blank in and cut the rough dimensions. Establish your tang screw holes and drill them and rough the inletting on the mill. After that it's black, spot and cut. Patients patients patients.
I have made 40 or 50 stocks over the 32 years I have been doing this, though not much in the last 10 years because no one wants that stuff anymore and no one wants to pay for it. I'm no Kennedy, Bison, Lindon or Fisher but I have personally handled and studied their work and I do know what a well made stock should look like and I have made a few that were very hard for me to turn over to the customers after completion. Wood work is not like metal work. With metal you work to numbers, its all math and only an idiot can screw that up. With wood its hand and eye. Some guys got it and some guys don't. And then there are a bunch of guys like me in the middle that get by OK but will never get famous.
Alvin Linen, Monte Kennedy, Jerry Fisher are good work to follow. For Canadians Ron Proppe was probably our juke box hero. Any books on stockmaking are worth buying just for the styles that are possible and any copy of rifle magazing you can lay your hands on. Especially the old ones. They always had a custom gun of the month special with beautiful photos.
Accuratereloading.com and read everything from Les Brooks
He may have a CD or a book also.
A good duplicator can leave wood for cheek piece or extra wood
anyplace your little heart desires. extra cost of course. Kenny
If you want experience. Do one of Richards Microfit
Wow! That is a serious information download!
I'm going to have to read this a few times now damn it! If I knew a machinist that didn't take forever to get shit done and didn't whine incessantly about it, I could measure any action to have the semi-inlet CNC'd (1/16" under) and probably not do too bad from there... but how in the F you wind up with something that looks and feels good after the inlet, is the part I am lost on. Anyone know how to Tig wood back on where they took too much off? I didn't think so!
Damnit Speerchucker, write a fricken book already before you croak and all that information and wisdom is lost to eternity! You too wyop!
Thank you wyop, speerchucker, and sicero.
It has already been said
But I still have the handout on how to inlett a stock and such with Ed Shulen Stockmaking 101 from TSJC.
I still refer to them
A 1/10 HP die grinder with a ball cutter can rough up a stock for glass bedding quick.
Or, in the hands of a novice, make a complete mess of the project!
Originally Posted by Claude Wright
Airgun forum: Stock Making 101 - Sanding and Finishing
Can't be that hard, this guy can do it and take pictures too. ;-)
He has a photo post that shows putting up the blank, and roughing work on this same forum, but I couldn't find it.
Stockmaker show and tell - Topic
I wrote up how to make a stock from a blank without power tools, except for a 1/4 electric drill. This may be what you are looking for. I just happened over to this site tonight and found your post. Read all the pages and you can see how to make a hunting rifle without having $5000 in tools.
Some of you may have heard that I went back to Trinidad to take over when Ed Shulen retired. I had already retired and the school hired me to fill in until they found a younger person to take over. Dave Nolan was hired in 1994 and I believe he is still teaching today.
The other guys have posted some good info above. The only thing to remember is get started and don't say you can't do stock work.
Hope this helps,
Last edited by LBrooks; 04-07-2013 at 08:27 AM.
Reason: correct name
Originally Posted by LBrooks
Now THAT is what I'm talking about!
I am awed!
Last edited by Quick Karl; 04-06-2013 at 11:30 PM.
I, I, I don't know what to say - that thread is unbefrickenlievable. I'm speechless, and, anyone that knows me will tell you that is serious...
The only thing I must point out, if you will forgive me, is that, with utmost respect sir, everyone knows that Mausers can't shoot the kind of groups you've shown in that thread, most especially not in a stock made in the back of a pick up truck...
Don't mention the lathes used
I glad you didn't mention the type of lathes used barrelling that action. You can see I am not a machinist, but a dumb stockmaker working with any tool to get the job done. Any mention of old Atlas or small Chinese lathes is a no, no , no, over on this site. Maybe if I had a better lathe I could have tighten up the groups to .187 rather than the .300. Wait until you see my reloader kit and you will really flip. Ha Ha
Have a good day and I am glad to help anyone wanting to know how some of us worked for 50 plus years.
Les Brooks, TSJC 1963 and now roaming around in my RV looking for another large oak tree to start a project.
They tend to be a lot less strict about the no can openers rule here on the gunsmithing forum Brooks as most gunsmiths tend to have one mini lathe and a few Chinese machines in their shops these days. The Gunsmithing forum is sort of the 97th street of the Practical Machinist. A good place to keep us (riff raff) away from civilized society so to speak. The fact remains that very few professional gunsmiths could ever justify or pay for a $40,000 machine.
Originally Posted by LBrooks
Your thread on AR has to be the single most awe-inspiring gunsmith thing I've ever read - anywhere. I've always wanted a South Bend 9" lathe but...
I have always admired what true ingenuity can produce! It's a long forgotten art form.
Thank you, sir.
Here is another pictorial
means to achieve an end
A few pics of my first stock-fitting (it's not really 'fitting', it's more like adjusting) and finishing job. I still have a few things to do but I had to put it together and take pictures - it's also in my Douglas barrel thread but hey, I'm happy with it so I'm posting it here too! :-D
I have to admit, that Boyd's Prairie Hunter really feels nice!
Wish I had a little better lighting but this will have to do for today.
Photos look like Indonesia or maybe Philippines, I suspect somewhere in Indonesia....wherever it is it looks hot.
Originally Posted by CalG