A rifle is a popular firearm used for hunting and designed to be fired from the shoulder. The part that comes in contact with the shoulder is called a stock, but is also sometimes referred to as buttstock or shoulder stock. Rifle is a specific type of a weapon precisely because of the stock. Basically, the rifle stock provides a firm support for the firearm and therefore enhances its aim and overall performance. If you are an owner or collector of rifles, you may want to learn how to make custom stocks.
Identify your rifle and its specific style. If you are looking to replace an old and worn-out rifle stock, you may simply copy the design. But if you want to improve the look of your rifle, you need to look up various websites that deal with stock design so you can choose an appropriate shape and size.
Design and plan your rifle stock to the smallest detail. Draw the design to see how it will eventually look like when finished and choose the type of the wood as well. Note that the wood you choose for the stock needs to be of highest quality, aside from being hard, resilient and strong. One of the most common types of wood used for stocks is walnut. When you have the plan and the dimensions, purchase the needed materials and gather all the tools necessary. Remember that the most important dimensions are: length of pull, drop at comb and drop at heel, cast on and cast off and pitch.
Choose a particular wood board such as walnut or any other type you want for your rifle stock. Check the wood on all sides to see whether there is any discoloration, knots or other damage. Also check the pattern of the wood grain, since it needs to be healthy looking and, most importantly, spread in the direction of the longer dimension. If you can't see the wood grain clearly, pour some water on the board to see it. Then quickly wipe the excess liquid with a dry clean cloth, since the wood need to be absolutely dry.
Make a Plexiglas template of your design and cut it with a saw. Then hold the Plexiglas against the wood board and look through it to see how the grain is directed and positioned. Since the template is transparent, you will be able to see what the best position for the stock is. Use a marker to draw around the template and mark the place for cutting the stock.
Cut the wood to the required length, following the edges of the marked template. Make sure to add an extra inch or two for styling and shaping. Use a power saw for this task and make sure to protect yourself and others while using it.
Cut the exact shape of the template by using a bandsaw. A bandsaw is a power tool that can accomplish finer and more detailed cutting, ut make sure not to cut inside the lines: that kind of extra fine work is best left for hand-held carpentry tools.
Shape the stock into its final form by using a chisel and sandpaper. Treat the edges and the sides with sandpaper and use a chisel to add shadow lines or whatever other elements you wish. Make sure to achieve a comfortable and ergonomic shape of the stock, which provides a secure and firm fit and a stable grip as well. Check the shape from time to time during this part of the process so you can feel it in your hands and, more importantly, on your shoulder. Check the stock against the rifle as well. Now is the time to make the final adjustments if needed. Remember, the stock needs to be firmly and seamlessly attached to the rifle when it's finished.
Attach the metal part/hardware that will eventually be mounted to the rifle. Use a chisel to carve the place for the metal part and then attach it with strong wood glue and leave it in a vise for a few hours to dry and harden.
Apply a layer of wood primer and then let it dry completely. At this point, you will be able to see the beauty of the wood grain and pattern more clearly.
Finish your rifle stock by applying a coat of wood gloss or wood lacquer to its surface. Use a fine, soft brush with natural fibers to apply the gloss and make sure to allow one layer to dry and harden before adding another one.
- Be careful when working with carpentry tools and always wear sturdy protective gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask.
- Check different designs and shapes you can try for your rifle and don't be afraid to get creative and artistic with the rifle stock.
- Think about making a rifle stock not only from solid wood but from laminated and epoxy-enhanced wood as well. This option is getting more and more popular among rifle collectors today.
- scattergun image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com