And Sometimes Startling Designs


THE TIME BETWEEN SHOOTING seasons passes rapidly if we can find some excuse to work, or rather play, with our collection of firearms. Many sportsmen are perfectly satisfied with the fine action that the arms people build into their guns. They would not change these actions, even if they found themselves capable, yet they welcome an excuse to spend a few long evenings doing something with their guns other than cleaning and looking at them. You can find this excuse by inlaying the wood parts with different colored woods and mother of pearl. You will find that this can be a great deal of fun, kill a good many long hours and enhance your guns without in the least impairing their fine shooting qualities.

If you have even a modest background in home-workshop wood-crafting, the photos here will provide most of the information you will need. A few steps, however, need some additional explanation.

Although several different inlaid patterns on various guns are shown, the procedure is quite similar in most cases. For this reason a detailed explanation will only be given of the work on the 16 gauge shotgun.

First of all, in order to remove the old finish, the varnish remover is painted thickly on the stock with a brush or rag. Allow this to remain for about two minutes and then wash the finish off with fine steel wool, saturated with denatured alcohol. This method is very efficient for removing varnish or paint from gun stocks, and other articles as well, in case you have furniture that needs refinishing.

After the varnish has been removed, the largest of the inlaid pieces is clamped securely to the gun stock. Trace around it with a sharp, fine pointed knife. This step should be done with a great deal of care, for the line thus formed is the finished edge of the inlaid pattern. Press the knife blade hard against the sides of the pattern so that the recessed place in the stock will not be larger than the inlay. "Exact-O" knives are good for this kind of cutting.

After a clear, deep, knife mark has been made around the entire piece to be inlaid, the piece can be removed. The chiseling out of the recessed portion is the next step. Little difficulty is encountered here if the knife cut is, from time to time, made deeper than the center chiseling. Do not try to remove too much wood at one time. Chatter-mark the work several times, before trying to chisel it down to a flat, relatively smooth surface. The shallowest part of this recess should be at least y§-inch deep.

The method of gluing the first part is shown quite clearly. Use a good grade of hot or cold hide glue. If hot glue is used it is perhaps best to heat the woods slightly before the glue is applied. This keeps the glue thin while the clamps are being adjusted and set. Undoubtedly there are adhesives on the market which will serve the purpose equally as well as hot glue. The author, however, prefers the hot glue because the wood naturally swells a bit when the glue is applied and thus insures a tighter fit and invisible hairline joints.

After the first insert of inlay has been allowed to dry for at least twelve hours, the same process in scribing around and cutting out is repeated except the next smaller section of the pattern is used. Each section should be about one-fourth inch thick to start with, and should be cut into the preceding section about one-eighth of an inch. This method builds up the stock so it can be worked down to its original shape.

When all members are glued into place, the stock is then worked down with a plane or scraper and then sandpapered to a perfect surface.

In applying the finish to inlaid work, you should first use a coat of natural wood filler and then build up the finish with the desired number of coats of shellac or varnish. Rub down each coat with steel wool or rotten stone and oil in order to build up a smooth, lasting finish. Reliable instructions for a rubbed shellac or varnish can be found in most any book or magazine article on the subject of wood finishing. An oil finish should not be used, for it darkens the light colored woods used in the pattern to contrast with the usual walnut gun stocks. yj^

Cleaned stock with varnish off is outlined for inlay cut. Pattern is clamped to butt and blade cuts shape into wood.

Stock is gouged out to receive the first contrasting inlay, and successive inlays are dropped into first. Cabinet maker's clamps will give firm pressure during gluing, but vise or weights can be used.

Jazzy inlays in many patterns can improve value and looks of standard guns.

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