Step 3 Slide the square along the table to the length of pull, less the pad dimensions and mark or scribe the stock. Recheck before cutting.
tain a chemical that eliminates the need for washing or rinsing the stock after the stripper has done its job. All of the paint strippers that contain this chemical will have a sentence on the can reading "does not require washing or rinsing after application." Look for this instead of a certain brand name. A pint of stripper will be more than enough for several stocks.
When buying the paint stripper, pick up a cheap two-inch paint brush, a pack of double ought (00) steel wool, and a pack of triple ought (000) steel wool. The more oughts (0) in the designation, the finer the steel wool and the finer the cut it will make. After the ought designations you move up through the coarser grades of steel wool designated as 1, 2, 3 and so on. Grades coarser than No. 2 are of little practical use around a gun shop and are used, I suspect, mainly to clean the hides of elephants. Four ought (0000) steel wool is seldom used on stock work but is good to have around the shop to remove rust. In a tight spot, you can use it for stock work and eliminate the triple ought (000).
Paint stripper is safe to handle and use as long as you do not try to make a cocktail out of the stuff and provided you follow the manufacturer's directions. It is best to use it outdoors, for any spatter will do an excellent job of removing the finish from your furniture. This is sure to bring some smart remark from your wife.
It is a good idea to pour a small amount into a dish and place some old newspaper under the dish to soak up the overflow. The actual application of the stripper to the stock is better done with the cheap paint brush than any attempt to dip the stock.
Paint stripper will cause some people to break out in a small rash where it touches their skin, and will crack the skin of others as it removes all of the oil from the surface. If you have extra-tender skin, wear rubber gloves when working with the stripper. If your skin just cracks, this can be corrected with a good hand lotion containing lanolin, but regardless of whether you wear gloves, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Your eyes always should be protected with some type of safety glasses or goggles, since a
Left: Drawing is courtesy of Pachmayr Gun Works. (Below) Using dean steel wool, wipe old finish off with one dean stroke. Do not make a backstroke, as this will simply wipe old finish back onto the stock, into pores.
speck of stripper in your eye can cause some extra fancy foot work and cussing, even if no permanent damage is done. There is no need to fear paint stripper, but treat it with respect.
With the stock removed from the metal receiver and its butt standing flat on a piece of newspaper, hold the stock with one hand and pick up the paint brush with the other. Dip the brush in the dish containing the paint stripper and, with long unbroken strokes, start painting the stock with the stripper. This is not the place to be stingy, so get it on the stock good and heavy, being sure to cover every part of the outside of the stock. Once you have the stock completely covered, stand it up against something and allow the stripper to do its work. Usually about fifteen minutes will be sufficient, but check the directions on the can and follow the manufacturer's directions if more time is recommended. Do not rub the stock while the stripper is working.
After the correct amount of time has elapsed, you will see that the old finish has puckered up somewhat like a prune, and the dirt and grime in the stock will have been brought to the surface and appear as loose mud. When it has reached this stage and the old finish and grime are loose, it can be wiped from the stock. Rags can be used for this, but a piece of double ought steel wool about the size of an orange will do a much better job. Make your stroke in one direction only and do not break the stroke. Do not make a back stroke, for to do so will just wipe the muck back on the stock and press it down into the grain of the wood compounding the problem of getting it off. The pad of steel wool will clog up, so rotate it in your hand and always present a clean section for each wipe. The steel wool can be washed clean of the residue and used over and over.
Go over the stock thoroughly until all of the muck has been removed, then take a piece of old bath towel and rub the stock in a one way continuous stroke. Keep repeating this with a clean piece of cloth until there is no lingering trace of the old muck and grime. Finish up by giving the stock a thorough and hard rubbing with a clean piece of towel, this time, in all directions. Your stock now should be clean as a hound's tooth.
Stock dents are raised by using moist blotter or a gun patch, hot metal rod pressed against it. The water turns to steam, which raises the compressed wood fibers in the dent Rod shown is quarter-inch copper with dowel handle.
Stand the stock up, preferably in the sunshine, and allow it to dry by itself without applying any heat, such as a torch. This will give you time to repeat the same procedure on the forearm. After the stock is dry, you will notice that it not only is clean but somewhat faded in color. The sanding will go past this fading and expose the regular wood color underneath. If you are re finishing a good sound stock that will not require repairs, quite often you can give the stock a mild sanding or hard scrubbing with the double ought steel wool and go right into the refinishing process.
Many old stocks have the front section soaked in oil which must be removed as the stock finish will not stick to such a surface. There are dozens of ways to go about removing this oil with perhaps the simplest being, just hold the wood near a heat source and wipe away the oil as it thins and comes up. The only thing wrong with this method is that it is as slow as a tax refund and does not completely remove all of the oil. The best method that I have found so far is to use household bleach which is applied in full strength to the stock with a paint brush, similar to the method used with the paint stripper. The stock then is hung in the sunshine and allowed to dry.
The wood will turn white on the surface but this is easily cut down to the normal colored wood underneath with a little sanding. The oil in the stock brought to the surface is virtually dissolved. If you have a heavily oil-soaked stock, try the heat method first, then follow up with the household bleach. These two combined usually get the job done completely. Occasionally you will find a real stubborn stock and will have to make two applications of the bleach. In the event two applications fail, forget it and live with the oil; continued bleaching will require quite a bit of sanding and lose the lines of the stock.
With the old finish and the oil removed, our next problem is the dents in the stock and forearm. Sanding down past these dents will require the removal of too much wood, so we will raise the dents back level with the surface of the stock! This has its limitations, however, as you cannot raise a dent, if the fibers of the wood down in the dent have been broken. Dents such as these can be helped by the process but they will not be removed completely. Those dents where the wood has not been broken can be removed, usually without a trace remaining.
To raise the dent we will need two pieces of simple equipment, both of which are probably already available in your home. The first is some form of heated metal such as an electric soldering iron, but even this is not an absolute necessity as almost any kind of metal can be used. Even one of your wife's old tablespoons will work. If you use a spoon, grind the handle down to a point and drive on a piece of wood as a handle to protect your paws when the metal is hot. Another similar tool can be made by driving a piece of copper tubing up into a common file handle, give it a slight bend and hammering the exposed end flat. The second piece of equipment is a piece of common ink blotter or you can substitute a gun patch or similar cloth.
To remove the dent, heat your piece of metal over the kitchen stove, if you are not using an electric soldering iron. The metal should be only slightly hot, about like your wife's clothes iron; excessive heat will only burn the wood. Next, wet the blotter or gun patch with clean water and lay it directly over the dent. Apply the heated metal to the wet blotter or patch. The water will be condensed quickly into steam which will, in turn, flow into the bent fibers of wood and swell them.
The wood fibers in the dent then take the path of least resistance and return to their original shape and your dent is gone. One application usually is sufficient, but some stub born dents will take two or even more applications before they are level with the rest of the surface of the stock. Be sure to use a new piece of wet blotter or wet patch with each steaming.
If the wood fibers have been broken and the dent is small, it probably will be best to try to sand the stock down enough to eliminate it this way. Should the dent be too deep or perhaps a piece of wood is gouged out, it will have to be filled or patched. Patching the stock should be a last resort, as it is difficult to match perfectly the grain and color of two pieces of wood. Rather than try to hide the defect by blending in a similarly colored piece of wood, some gunsmiths prefer to patch it with a piece of contrasting wood. Either way, cut the gouge out to the shape of a diamond about one-eighth inch deep. Now, make a patch to match the diamond and glue it into the recess leaving a little sticking up over the surface of the stock. After drying, the patch-diamond is sanded even with the surface of the stock.
Some find it easier to make the diamond replacement first, then cut the gouged stock out to match the pre-cut diamond patch. If you wish, there is a wide variety of manufactured plastic and pre-cut wood diamonds that you can purchase from gunsmith supply houses. Any contrasting color always should be located in a position on the stock that will add to the appearance rather than just be placed in some odd section of the stock. Personally, I have never taken a liking to the Buck Rogers inspired multicolored plastic inserts. In my opinion, they cheapen a stock.
If you have trouble with inletted patches, there is another simple and easy way to get rid of the gouges. This is accomplished first by cleaning out the gouge, removing all loose fibers as well as any lingering dirt and grease. The next step is to mix up a batch of good glue such as epoxy and dump in a spoonful of sawdust from the stock you are working on. This is stirred until the sawdust mixes completely with the glue taking on the appearance of putty. The material then is pressed down into the recess until the gouge is filled and slightly overflowing. With a flat piece of metal such as a common dinner knife, press hard on the mixture working it in firmly and expelling any trapped air.
When sanding the stock, always sand with the wood grain and never across it. Sanding block shown is inexpensive commercial model. It is available at hardware stores.
Add more mixture as needed and pile on a little afterwards over the filled gouge to allow for shrinkage.
Set the stock aside and allow the mixture to dry thoroughly. The final step is to sand the mound down even with the surrounding stock surface and your gouge will be as invisible as it is possible to obtain. If you are using glass bedding material, this can be substituted for the mixture of glue and sawdust, but most gouges filled with glass will be slightly darker in color than one using the glue and sawdust.
We now have our stock stripped of the old finish, grease and dirt, the dents have been duly raised and the gouges filled or hidden. We now are ready to tackle the major repair of the stock, which as you will remember, is a section of the toe of the stock broken off and a broken butt plate. We also have a large crack in the stock up at the front where it joins the receiver. Normally you would make both of these repairs at the same time, but for clarity, we will treat each as a separate repair. Let's tackle the crack first, then come back to the broken toe.
There must be a thousand or more different types of glue that can be used to repair gunstocks and the majority of them will do a good job. Many oldtime gunsmiths swear by such ill-smelling home concoctions as hide glue, all of which are mixed with glee at midnight over a smoking pot. This is. a double-barrel mixture that will glue things together and open up the clogged sinus of a dead man. My nasal passages need no clearing and all I want is a glue that is easy to mix and that will bond things together with as little fragrance as possible. I feel that all glues for gun stocks became obsolete with the invention of epoxy.
Epoxy comes in two separate tubes, one the resin and the other the hardner. When the two are mixed and applied correctly to a stock, the resulting bond is much stronger than the wood surrounding it! An added advantage is that the glue does not depend on outside heat for hardening, it makes its own heat by chemical action. This may not seem much of an advantage, until you have worked with it during extreme temperature conditions and still get a terrific bond where other glues would fail.
About the only mistake you can make with epoxy is not mixing it in equal parts or not stirring the two parts until they turn to a cream color. It is best to mix the glue on a
In selecting a piece of wood for replacing the broken toe of a stock, try to match the color and grain, as here.
piece of paper or aluminum foil that can be discarded when you are finished, for it is next to impossible to remove any left-over epoxy from a container.
Our cracked stock is prepared first by flushing the crack with a few drops of lighter fluid or alcohol. Care should be taken when using such fluids, as both are highly flammable and you can end up with a mighty charred stock or gunsmith. It's about like the old joke that ducks have flat feet from stamping out flaming forest fires and elephants have flat feet from stamping out flaming ducks. Such fluids can prove quite useful around a gunshop but must be treated with the necessary respect and caution.
Allow the fluid to evaporate completely and repeat this a couple of times to be sure you have flushed away any oil in the crack, as oil is the enemy of epoxy. If any oil is present on the surface of the wood, the epoxy will not stick to the wood no matter how much or how carefully you apply the glue.
Mix up a batch of epoxy and fill the crack until it is overflowing. Then light a large kitchen match and hold it for a moment or two about an inch above the glue. This warming of the glue does not effect its hardening or binding, but it does thin the glue and allows it to flow down deep into the crack covering the exposed wood completely. If the crack soaks up all of the glue, repeat the whole process including the match trick; keep repeating it until the crack has absorbed all of the glue it can. If possible, squeeze the crack together, with a C-clamp or a large rubber band for a good tight joint. The glue will dry completely in a few hours and the excess can be sanded away leaving an almost invisible joint.
To repair the split toe of the stock we will first have to prepare it to receive a new piece of wood by cutting the ragged break smooth and even. A plane works best for this, but it can be done with a wood rasp or even a pocket knife. Of course, since I use planes, which are a necessity in stock-making and stock repairing, I guess this is as good a place as any to stop and discuss the different types of planes available, their uses and also make a few recommendations as to choice.
There are five basic types of planes, the largest being the fore plane which is about eighteen inches long and is used mainly by carpenters and cabinet makers to plane long straight surfaces, making it about useless in stock work. Next in length is the jack plane, about a foot long and the basic plane of all carpenters. Again, due to its length, little practical use will be found for it in stock work. The third type looks like a bob-tailed jack plane. About eight or nine inches long, it is known as the bench plane or smooth plane. This is the one for the stockmaker to choose for the heavy stock work. It is short enough to get into close places that the fore or jack plane cannot reach, yet it is long enough to keep the surfaces of the stock smooth and is rugged enough to remove a mountain of wood in a hurry. Next in length is the block plane which, unlike the other planes, is designed to be held with one hand. Its best use is in the finish work on a stock, but if finances dictate, it can be substituted for the bench plane and will accomplish the same work in a longer span of time.
The smallest of the five is the model makers plane which is about three inches long, usually costing only a couple of dollars. It is worth ten times this amount to the gunsmith as it will get down into the tiny spaces that the other planes will not reach and can be used to take that final hair-thin cut from the stock.
Getting back to the split-off toe of our stock; we first remove the broken butt plate and closely examine the remaining wood of the stock as well as the roughness of the break. Most split-off stock toes are rough and ragged which eliminates any chance of trying to match pieces of wood to this surface.
With the stock held firmly in a vise, we begin to carefully plane the rough surfaces away and remove a chunk of the entire toe of the stock. Go slowly, removing only a little wood at a time and continue until the rough surface has been eliminated and the surface of the cut is absolutely smooth and level. To check the accuracy of your cut, lay a flat-edged ruler or piece of metal on the planed surface and hold it up to eye level against a strong light. Any dips or waves in your work will be detected instantly. Additional strokes of the plane will get the surface smooth and level as needed. Once this is accomplished,\ lay the stock aside, being careful not to get the newly prepared surface contaminated with grease and dirt.
The stock surface prepared, we can begin our patch to take the place of the section of the stock we removed, as well as the part that was broken off. First, however, we must look closely at the lines of a good stock of similar design, preferably with the stock in our hands, but a photo is better than nothing. Notice that the line of the bottom of the stock is straight from the pistol grip right down to the toe of the butt plate. Our job will be to make our patch blend with the same bottom line of our stock. With what the finished stock should look like firmly in our mind, we select a piece of wood that matches the color and grain as closely as possible.
If you intend to work on many stocks in the future, now is the time to start saving every piece of walnut, maple and similar stock wood that you can lay your hands on. Old broken stocks usually have plenty of good solid wood left on them for repairing other stocks and the age of the old stock will match more closely a used stock being repaired than new wood. In addition, many broken stocks have beautiful sections of wood in them that can be made into pistol grips, shotgun and rifle grip caps, forend tips and even butt plates.
With a handsaw, cut off a big chunk of wood and with your plane make a piece about the same basic size as the missing toe section of our stock. The surface of the replacement piece that will match the prepared surface of our stock must be as flat and level as our stock. It is a good idea to leave the replacement piece about an eighth or even a quarter of an inch larger on all sides to allow for final shaping. Any excess can be rasped or planed off until the patch blends into the lines of the stock. If you make the mistake of cutting the replacement too small to begin with, then you are up the proverbial creek. With the replacement shaped and ready, mix up a batch of epoxy glue and, using a small piece of clean wood as an applicator, smear the glue on the prepared surface of the replacement wood that will be joined to the stock. These two joining surfaces must be covered completely with glue. To assure this coverage, press the two glue-covered surfaces firmly together and slide them back and forth to be sure both surfaces are covered completely. Align the replacement piece with the stock correctly and press the two together firmly and wipe away any excess glue that is squeezed from the joint.
Clamps can be used to hold the two pieces together while the glue is drying, but due to the angle of the stock and the patch, this is usually not a simple job. A much easier method is to use two large rubber bands which are rolled together, then stretched over the stock and the patch. If the patch joint is a long one, use two or three sets of the rubber bands to exert pressure equally. If the patch has a tendency to slip while the rubber bands are in place, it can be secured with several strips of tape which can be almost any kind that is available, including plain masking tape.
When applying the tape, start halfway on one of the sides of the stock, cross over the patch and prevent any movement. A couple of such layers of tape, one at each end, may be necessary for long patches. Make a final check
Section of wood matching grain of stock as closely as possible is glued to stock after surfaces have been planed to match. Epoxy is used, with rubber bands to hold the two sections together; tape prevents slipping.
and carefully lay the stock where it will not be bumped and allow the glue to dry overnight.
The next day the tape and rubber bands are removed and the patch checked to be sure that it still is in the correct position. It is a good idea to look at the lines of a similar stock again and compare it to your patched stock. Thus you determine how much of the wood must be removed from the patch and where it must come off to get the stock lines correct. The spliced-on piece of wood can be shaped fully with the plane and sandpaper, but a wood rasp will prove invaluable and eliminate a lot of sanding.
Rasps come in a wide variety of cuts, shapes and lengths, all of which can be used on gun stocks at one time or another. However, the beginner can buy one special rasp and do about seventy-five percent of the rasping required on gun stocks. There are two names for this special rasp, four-in-hand and shoe rasp. Regardless of which name you prefer, the rasp usually can be purchased at any hardware store for approximately two dollars in the eight-inch size.
It is, as the name implies, actually four different rasps in one. One side is flat and the other side is slightly rounded. The flat side is divided in half with one half being rough cut and the other half a smooth cut. The rounded side is made exactly the same with half of it a rough cut and the other a smooth cut. In use, the rasp is extremely fast, as it can be changed from rough to fine cut, either flat or round side with just a quick twist of the wrist. As there is no handle on the rasp, those with tender hands will find a light leather glove useful, until their hands toughen up a bit.
With your rasp and plane, slowly and carefully shape the spliced-on piece of wood until it is almost flush with the original lines of the stock and also, the surface of the stock. From there it is best to attack the remaining surplus wood with varying grades of sandpaper, finishing up with an extra fine grit. If you do your work well, the spliced-on wood will match perfectly with the old stock and only a hair line will be visible at the joint. If the shade of the new piece of wood is different from that of the stock, this can be corrected by applications of wood stain and bleach in varying degrees until the two pieces match closely.
Speaking of rasps, you will need to add a few as each new need presents itself. Always buyxthe best grade of rasp that your pocketbook will allow, for you will find that in rasps, quality usually goes hand-in-hand with price. One rasp often overlooked by the beginner is actually not a rasp at all, but a large metal file which allows you to work the surface of the stock down almost to the finish line, instead of doing it with sandpaper. Most machine shops throw away large metal files when they become dull for metal work and usually they are yours for the asking. Soak these in mineral spirits for a day and clean them thoroughly with a file card or steel wool to remove any ¡lingering rust and packed-in grease.
Wood hand-scrapers also will prove invaluable in stock work and can be either purchased or made from any good piece of flat steel not over a quarter of an inch thick. File the edge of your homemade scraper exactly level and square the sides, for the edge is what does the cutting. To use, the scraper is cocked at a slight angle and pulled toward you, allowing the sharp edge to cut a thin curl of wood. Some beginners use a piece of broken glass as a substitute, but this is not a good idea as broken glass can quickly slice your finger to the bone.
Sandpaper, another necessary tool in stock work, is nothing but fine particles of selected stone or artificial cutting compounds glued to stiff pieces of paper or cloth. There are three basic types of sandpaper used in stock work, any of which can be used for the entire job or you
Glue dried, rubber bands and tape are removed. Section is shaped with rasp to blend with shape of the original. Finish is with sandpaper decreasing in grit size until only the faint line of joining is evidence of the repair.
can use a combination, if you prefer. The least expensive is garnet paper but the most practical use for this paper is in the rough cuts, for it tends to clog quite easily in the finer grits. The second type, and a bit more expensive, is silicon carbide which will last much longer than garnet paper and does not clog as quickly. The third type and the best of them all is aluminum oxide which will last much longer than the other two, as well as resist clogging.
All three types usually are sold in hardware stores in coarse, fine and extra fine grades. This simplified system of grading the grit is fine for the average citizen who wants to sand the back door or the dog house, but too often each manufacturer decides what is coarse and what is fine with little or no comparison in grit to another manufacturer's products. Sometimes they will designate it as 3/0, 8/0 etc., which can be equally as confusing. The best method of identification is to buy the grit expressed in units of 10, which will generally be printed on the back of the sandpaper, in addition to the other designations. The only thing to remember is that, as the number becomes larger, the size of the grains of grit will decrease in size and will give you a finer cut when the sandpaper is used. The sizes most used in stock work will be numbers starting with 120 as the most coarse, followed by 220, 280, with 320 about the finest grit necessary. Grit size 400 will be needed occasionally when you are working with an especially dense piece of wood.
If there is a glass cutting business located in your town, ask them for some of their discarded sanding and cutting belts. These are usually about four inches wide with a stiff cloth backing and use aluminum oxide as a cutting agent. These belts are almost indestructible and you can sand with a piece of it hour after hour without ever getting it clogged.
If it does clog for some reason, a few quick swipes across the grit with a piece of steel wool and it is ready to go again, cutting like it was new. This stuff has to be extra tough to cut and smooth the edge of glass! When it gets too worn for the glass cutter, it is just right for the woodworker. I have used it for many years and never actually have worn out a piece of it on wood. I have even used it for rough cutting steel with cutting oil and power feed and even then, the stuff lasted for a long time.
An electric hand sander is fast but is not an absolute necessity. Also, it requires a good bit of experience to use correctly on gun stocks. If you decide to buy one, check to see that it vibrates straight back and forth. The more common orbital sander will cut across the grain as well as with the grain when used and the cross-grain cuts will produce scratches that are difficult to remove. Oddly enough, the straight back and forth type is usually the cheaper of the two types. Hand-held belt sanders are available, but for the most part, they are heavy and difficult to use on stocks, being limited to the wide straight sections of the stock. Most hardware stores sell a small hand sanding block for around a dollar with clamps at each end to hold the sandpaper in place as it is used.
If you wish, you can make these quite easily, for all you really need is a piece of wood with a small piece of cloth behind the sandpaper, and instead of the metal clamps to hold the sandpaper in place, you just hold it with your fingers as you sand. The good part about these homemade sanding blocks, besides saving money, is that you can make them in all sizes and shapes to reach those close sections of the stock with all of those odd cürves and edges. Even your old finger itself can be used as a sanding block by simply wrapping a piece of sandpaper around it.
Before we start our sanding, the decision has to be made as to whether the gun will be reblued. If the gun is to be reblued, the butt stock can be left attached to the receiver during the sanding operation and make the entire job of sanding a lot easier. Any run-over from the sandpaper will cause scratches on the metal, but if the gun is to be reblued, these scratches will be removed during the polishing operation prior to rebluing. However, if the metal is not to be reblued, such scratches will stand out like a sore thumb. Protect the metal by covering it with plastic electrician's tape and be extra careful not to hit the metal with the sandpaper. You can still do a good job and not touch metal so long as you do not go sanding away like a mad man. The butt stock can be removed from the action for the sanding operation, if desired, but I do not recommend this, as it takes a lot of practice to keep from rounding the edges of the stock where it joins the metal and being sure not to sand the wood down below the level of the metal where they join.
There is one cardinal rule that must never be violated in sanding a stock: Always sand with the grain of the wood and never across it. Sanding with the grain will produce an
Hasty, forced curing of a walnut stock blank can be the cause of problems such as this. Section at left was sawed from end of blank, did not show any sign that the blank was ruined by cracks and checked areas.
Here are six typical tools used in fitting and bedding barrels and actions to stocks. From left: two gouges, a circular scraper and three rasps differing in size.
even appearance and any scratches put into the wood will be hidden and blended with the grain in the wood. Sanding across the grain, even with the finest of grits, will produce scratches that stand out like a Republican at a Democratic fund-raising dinner. Such scratches are difficult to remove and require extensive elbow grease and sweat that could be put to better use sanding the stock in the correct manner. Many beginners go at the job of sanding as if they were erasing their mother-in-law, when smooth and even strokes with a steady pressure will remove more wood. In the long run, both you and the sandpaper will last longer.
After you have taken the wood down as far as possible with the plane, rasp and scraper, begin sanding your stock with the number 120 grit to remove the roughness and blend any parts such as the spliced-on section in with the lines and level of the rest of the stock.
Go over the entire stock with this grit, then wipe the stock to remove the dust from the sanding. An old T-shirt or bath cloth will do an excellent job of removing the dust. If you are lucky enough to have compressed air, a quick short blast of the air will clear the dust better than any cloth.
When you have finished with the 120 grit, drop down to the next finest grit that you have and go over the stock for a second time, sanding with this grit just as you did with the 120. Again wipe or blow the dust away and have a go at the stock with the next finest grit that you have available. Keep repeating this, dropping to a finer grit each time, until you have the stock completely sanded smooth with all dips, waves and roughness eliminated.
Keep the lines of the stock straight and refer to your example of a similar stock if there are any questions in your mind. The correctness and throughness of your sanding will contribute fully seventy-five percent to the appearance of your finished stock. If you have been careless or too hurried in your sanding, this will be quite evident when the finish is applied; the best finishing material and method cannot hide a poorly sanded stock. Take your time and do it right.
When you have sanded the stock as slick as a greased eel, it still is hiding a feature that will ruin your sanding efforts, as well as the best of any finish that is applied. The problem is that, while sanding, you are cutting the fibers of the
Stock layout templates of sheet plastic are handy if you plan to produce many stocks. Transparent material permits you to pick out choicest grain. These two are for shotgun stocks; line on lower is for Win. Model 12.
wood and many of the ends of the fibers break loose from the body of the wood and look like the end of a rope unraveling. If left alone, these loose fiber ends will stick straight up when the finish is applied and the entire surface of the stock will feel much like a day's growth of beard. Because of this similarity they are called "whiskers," and the process of removing them from the stock is known as "whiskering the stock."
Sometimes the wood is hard enough that this process is not needed to any great extent, while other woods that are on the soft side will look like a shaggy dog. Regardless of how hard the stock appears, it is a good idea to go through the process once to make absolutely sure no whiskers remain when you begin applying the finish.
To whisker the stock, thoroughly wet a section of bath cloth or a piece of sponge, then wring it out until it is just damp. Now, wipe one side of the stock with the moist cloth or sponge, covering all areas of this side. You are not trying to give the stock its Saturday night bath, so just dampen it. When you have the side completely covered, hold this damp section about six inches over the stove burner with the flame set on low, if you are using a gas stove.
Be careful not to burn the wood, hold it only close enough and long enough for the heat to evaporate the moisture you have put in the stock with the damp cloth or sponge. Keep moving the stock across the heat source until all parts of the stock are again dry, then closely look at the surface of the stock. You will see those loose fiber whiskers standing tall! As the water evaporates, the resulting steam produced in the wood raises the splintered fiber ends above the surface of the stock where you can get at them. Repeat the whiskering of the stock until you have every inch raised before you start removing the whiskers.
There are two basic ways to remove the whiskers with some gunsmiths swearing by one, others standing pat for the second method. One method uses a piece of worn sandpaper or a new section of grit size 320 or 400, with all strokes made against the grain to cut the whiskers from the wood. This will do an excellent job and is recommended when you are working with a particularly open grain stock with many tough whiskers to remove.
The second method uses a wad of double ought steel wool instead of the sandpaper, and again, with the strokes against the grain of the wood to cut the whiskers from the stock. Regardless of your choice of method, under no circumstances make a back stroke, for if you do you will just press the whiskers back down into the grain of the wood and will have to repeat the entire process to correct the back stroke.
Make your strokes from the small section of the stock toward the thicker and higher sections and you will be right ninety-nine percent of the time in not cutting against the grain. If the section of the stock is level, move your finger lightly first one way, then the other against the stock and you can determine instantly which way to make your cutting stroke. Of the two methods, I prefer steel wool, as it removes the whiskers more quickly, but you must examine the wood closely afterwards to be sure no tiny fibers of steel woqI remain imbedded in the surface of the stock.
When you have finished removing the whiskers, wet the stock again and repeat the same procedure. Only when your wetting efforts produce no whiskers can you consider the job finished. It is a good ideaio allow the stock to stand in a warm, dry part of the snop overnight to remove any lingering traces of moisture in the wood before you begin applying the finish.
I cannot overstress the importance not only of correct sanding but complete sanding as well. Too often I have seen a beginner tire of the work and stop short of the finish line. The resulting stock is a sorry sight to behold, with rough sections standing out like a sore thumb on what otherwise would have been a beautiful stock. The quitter would have been far better off to have hired a professional to do the work or to have forgotten the whole idea. The amount of sanding will depend on many things, including the condition of the stock before the sanding even begins. If the stock is old, oil-soaked and rough, you probably will have to start with the coarsest grit available and work slowly up to the finish grit, step by step.
On the other hand, if you are refinishing the stock of a relatively new gun, the coarse grit will not be needed and you usually can start with a medium grit. I have seen stocks that required only light sanding with the finest grit. About the best rule to follow is to use the finest grit that you can get away with and still have the stock surface in correct condition to receive the finish. If the stock is clean with no dents, gouges or scratches after stripping, skip the heavy grit. In a few rare cases, even whiskering is not necessary.
With the butt stock of our shotgun now repaired, sanded and whiskered, we can turn our attention to the forearm. We have stripped the forearm of all remaining finish and removed the oil that was soaked into it. We raise the dents and make any necessary filling operations if gouges are present just as we did on the butt stock.
Before we start the sanding and whiskering operation on the forearm we will have to make a few repairs to put the forearm in order. The metal forearm assembly must be held tightly to the wood and ours falls short, as the screw holes are worn and wallowed out. Our first step is to remove any slivers of loose wood in the forearm screw holes and get the holes clean of any oil and grime. Rotten and damaged wood must be cut away with a knife until we are down to good solid wood, but no attempt is made to get the holes nice and round. Flush the holes with lighter fluid and we are ready to make our repair.
As stated, epoxy glue will not stick to any oily surface, but otherwise will bond just about anything together including wood to steel. We will fill those ragged screw holes with a batch of epoxy, reassemble the metal to the forearm wood and insert the screws down into the epoxy-filled holes. When the epoxy has hardened, it not only will have filled the holes completely, but with the screws in position, we will have a sort of hard epoxy "nut" surrounding the screws and holding them secure.
However, if we do this without first taking one preventative step, the epoxy will bond to the screws permanently and prevent any further removal of the screws. So lets put that to work for us in a positive way. We will coat the screws with an oily substance before we insert them down into the epoxy filled holes and thereby prevent the bonding
Here's an assortment of coarse and fine wood rasps in several basic shapes, all handy for working on stocks.
of the epoxy to the screws, but not the epoxy to the wood. There are many substances that can be used as a release agent for the screws such as heavy grease but any oil or grease has a tendency to soak into the wood and prevent the epoxy from bonding to the wood.
I prefer to use regular floor paste wax as a release agent. Besides, it has many other uses around a gun shop in addition to this duty. A regular can will last indefinitely. You can apply the wax to the metal cold, but this carries with it the possibility that some small surface will not be covered and the epoxy will bond to it.
The best way to assure that all surfaces are covered with the wax is to dump a couple of spoonfuls of wax into a tin can and hold it near a heat source until it melts. (Remember that some waxes are flammable, so keep the heat far enough away to just melt the wax and not burn it.)
When the wax is melted, dunk the screws into it, being sure that they are submerged completely. The bottom of the forearm metal components also must be covered with wax as they will come in contact with the epoxy and possibly bond to it. This is done best with a small brush dipped into the molten wax and painted on the metal surfaces thoroughly, taking care that all exposed surfaces are covered. Don't get careless with the application of the wax; if you do a halfway job and leave some surface uncoated, you are in for quite an interesting time getting the epoxy-bonded wood and metal apart. Cover every surface and take a second look just for good luck.
When all metal parts have been wax coated, fill the screw holes in the wood forearm with epoxy and set the forearm metal assembly into position. Next, seat the screws through the metal assembly, pressing them down firmly and finish with a couple of twists of each screw to seat them solidly in the epoxy and force out any trapped air. Should the epoxy flow back up through the screw holes in the forearm metal assembly, remove the screws and wipe away the excess glue
Useful for roughing out large amounts of excess wood, this open-cut rasp is inexpensive, found in many shops.
before reseating the screws. The screws must be wiped clean, for if the screw holes in the forearm metal assembly are countersunk, the epoxy would harden into these recesses and prevent removal of the assembly.
To hold the forearm metal assembly firmly to the wood while the epoxy is hardening, use a couple of C-clamps. You will need C-clamps continuously in gun work, so now is a good time to purchase a couple in the three-inch size. The size of all C-clamps is designated by the maximum opening of the clamp. Place the two clamps on the forearm directly over the screws, pressing them down into place and then set the forearm aside to allow the glue to harden overnight.
The next day, remove the C-clamps and the screws. The screws may resist removal and require considerable pressure of the screwdriver to free them from the skin-tight fit of the hardened epoxy.
With the screws removed, tap the forearm metal assembly lightly and rock it back and forth until it is free. You will notice that the epoxy has filled the old ragged holes completely and we now have a perfect and permanent epoxy nut seat for the screws. In this example we have used epoxy, but if you are using glass bedding material on the stock, it can be used for this same purpose in exactly the same way, including the use of the wax as a release agent.
With our stock and forearm repaired, the dents raised, the gouges filled, the oil removed and the stock thoroughly sanded plus whiskering, we are ready to apply the finish. Before we undertake this final phase of our stock re-finishing, stop and remember for a moment the processes and methods we have used up to this point. These will serve you many times in the future in your newly found hobby. There is no magic in it, no secret, dark formula that would prevent any average person from re finishing gun stocks.
The only things actually used besides the material are a little knowledge, a little sweat and a lot of gol-danged determination.
Tools such as these are handy for removing small, precise amounts of wood in fitting stocks to the action. In center is a curved, fine-cut wood rasp for flat work.
Was this article helpful?