Rifle Stock Build Project

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by BigDaddyKane, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    So... I know it's crazy, and perhaps a little too ambitious, but I have some time to kill and so I'm building my first rifle stock from scratch. The plan is to build a steel frame, wrap in fiberglass, carve to desired shape, then attach the action/trigger etc.

    So... let's go over the basics of the build. I don't care about weight too much; I'm a bigger guy and I actually prefer a heavier rifle... with that in mind I chose to build the "frame" of the stock out of steel, basic "1/8 inch welding steel" that you can find at any hardware store. I contemplated using aluminum but I sure as shit cannot weld aluminum and so for the first build decided to go with ease of use. After about $17 of steel, I headed over to the shop and got to work sketching up some designs. I liked the overall profile of the A-4 McMillan so that's the shape I "shot" for haha.

    I started out with two pieces of 90 degree steel and welded them straight down the center to make a "U". then... I dropped off the back with another 90 degree piece turned at a 45 as the "trigger grip." Then... using some straight 1" steel... I heated it up in certain sections and just bent it to where I needed it to shape the basic idea of the buttstock. Keeping in mind that I needed to make the grip and buttstock smaller than it would actually be because it's going to be wrapped in a significant amount of fiberglass. Then... just to be safe, I lapped another layer of the straight steel over the grip section... over the rear of the fore end of the stock to help aid in recoil. After all, the most stress the stock is going to feel is at the top of the pistol grip where the action wants to push back against it. So... no fooling around... double up the steel.

    This is how it started out...
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    You'll notice the welds are pretty ugly. Few things... 1-I'm no welder... they may look ugly but they sure as hell will hold; 2- I left them rough because when I wrap the fiberglass I want the resin to have something more substantial to adhere to. Much like bedding a stock, you don't want it perfectly smooth. You're better off creating some channels for the resin to have a "mechanical lock." Same concept here... leave it rough.

    Then... wanted to prevent it from rusting up... as any of you know that work with bare metal, it takes like 3 seconds before it rusts up...so I gave it a quick blast of paint

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    Now this is just the START of the framework. Tomorrow I'm going to notch out for the trigger and magazine, and make the drill holes for the action bolts. I'll insert the pillars, epoxy them in place and then begin wrapping with fiberglass.

    This is most definitely a work in progress so I'll be updating this as the project continues. But I must add a little disclaimer... I am no gunsmith. I am not a gun expert. I am not encouraging you to do this or suggesting I know what I am doing haha. So why build it? Two reasons....1- I'm too cheap to shell out $400-500 for a McMillan that I like, and I have the time to kill, 2- why the hell not? haha.

    Thanks for checking it out! I'll try to keep this posted!
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  2. Camshaft

    Camshaft Well-Known Member

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    Your probably gonna end up with a super heavy stock but heck, I agree with ya. $400 is a lot of money and if you got the time, go for it! Gotta start somewhere right? Good luck man and keep us posted.
     

  3. BigSkyGP

    BigSkyGP Well-Known Member

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    When you weld Aluminum, wich can be learned and done well, you lose temper. It has to be re tempered (not actually tempering, more like an aging process) the whole thing has to be quenched precisely to get close to the uniform strength of the aluminum, before you started welding.

    In some ways, you did well to go with steel, for welding this project. I think the rust issue would bother me a little, you did mention this concern yourself. As long as the rust never comes into contact with the rifle's metal, it should be fine. Maybe stainless?

    Then again wood has been holding our actions for half a millenia, so you're ahead of the trend for handling recoil, and steel is going to be plenty durable.

    What fiber will you be using, just glass? Carbon, and/or kevlar as well?
     
  4. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    That's how I feel... that majority of the gun's use is range, occasional hunt. With that in mind I don't really care about the added weight. I figure at the very least it will help relieve a bit of recoil.
     
  5. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    I originally thought if I didn't weld the aluminum I would just buiild a two piece set up with the frame as two aluminum bars parallel to eachother and just bolted together. But I didn't like the idea of the frame being pieced together. I like the idea of fusing the metal all together. With that in mind... steel.

    I have read a lot about the fiberglass that they are using on boats. They make a marine glass that is impact resistant to a like 150 lbs I think. I'll have to double check. Considering that the 300WM I'm using only has a recoil of about 25ft/lbs I'm assuming the glass will be plenty strong. Especially if I use the fiberglass cloth in addition to the resin. Aall in all, it's mainly just a filler. The action will be bolted straight to the steel frame. So I'm not too worried about making the stock bullet proof, but strong enough to handle everything, still be easy to carve, and low cost.
     
  6. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    It's coming along nicely. So far I have all the holes drilled and cut out for the trigger and magazine and stock assembly screws. I've started wrapping the buttstock in fiberglass resin & matting. I'll try to add pictures as soon as I can. It's a very slow process, but it's working well. Heavy as all hell. But I like that. I've already had ideas for my second build!
     
  7. BigSkyGP

    BigSkyGP Well-Known Member

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    Two piece aluminumm never crossed my mind. Now that you mention it, I'd rivet them together vs bolts. I think I'd try a farely light chassis. Maybe milled/drilled/filed action piece riveted to a lighter fore piece, and riveted light butt.
     
  8. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    The rivet idea literally crossed my mind today Haha. I have the first coat of resin down. Ill check on it tomorrow and see how it holds up. I can already tell its heavy. I already want to make a second one out of aluminum. A good friend of mine is a plastics engineer so I'm discussing other high strength low weight options. I can honestly say that this has been a worthwhile venture already
     
  9. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    BigDaddyKane,

    I like your thinking...... A true pioneer! In addition to the enjoyment you may well become aware of something that no one else has.

    Keep us posted..
     
  10. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. Again, I'm no expert. But I definitely know enough to produce something of quality. The prototype is definitely heavy... but she's solid. I have no hesitations about this thing's strength. But the next build I think I'm going to go for efficiency.... high strength low weight. Most likely Aluminum framing with fiberglass, or some lightweight resin/plastics compound that will be rigid yet light and inexpensive. But so far I have to admit... I'm only out about $75. Hell I'll give it a try for that much haha.
     
  11. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    Fiberglass & Cutout Update

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    Here's where I'm at. Cut out for the magazine and the trigger assembly, and drilled holes for the action screws. Keep in mind the large cut out will get filled with fiberglass as well and then routed out to the EXACT fitting.

    You can see with the fiberglass so far that it's pretty rough. But... I have the basic set up for the buttstock complete. I need to do a few more layers of resin and matting. But, now I can start to continue to wrap the fiberglass up through the trigger handle and through the fore end of the stock. I'll post some more pics up next week.

    Sidenote... the fiberglass is extremely firm and rigid. It's rough to work with and sort of a hassle, but once you get the hang of it's really not that difficult. It sands nicely and will be more than durable enough for the project.
     
  12. noneck180

    noneck180 Well-Known Member

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    Wow..I can't wait to see it finished.
     
  13. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I can't either. It's a very slow process but then again I'm only working on it an hour or two a day. We'll see!
     
  14. BigDaddyKane

    BigDaddyKane Well-Known Member

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    Okay here are a few closeups of the buttstock being sanded down. You can see there are some pits in the finish, the fiberglass isn't exactly a thick putty, it's pretty liquidy so it's tough to fill everything perfectly. So... a few more layers until it's smooth. But it's coming along. Tonight I'll extract the action bolts off the piece and get the exact size pillars from the hardware store. Tomorrow I'll line those up and start filling the fore end as well.

    At least you can get an idea of how it's going to look.

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