Bedding a rifle can be as simple or as complicated/nighmarish as the person doing it wants to make it.
There's an infinite number of things that can go wrong that will likely result in a ruined stock, receiver, or both.
This is a topic that is discussed on a regular basis in internet land and I will offer you the best advice that I think a guy could; if your detail orientated, familiar with epoxy resin systems and how they work, and have a good mechanical aptitude, then give it a try and be ready to fail.
I would suggest finding a disposable rifle to start experimenting with rather than taking on something you really care about.
I've bedded over a thousand guns in my ten years of doing this stuff. I like to think my bedding jobs are pretty good. Maybe even a bit better than most. Understand that there was a tremendously steep learning curve that resulted in a lot of money being spent to get it to that level.
I resently did my first bedding job on my pride and joy varmint rifle. Its a sav. mod.12 22-250. I have read numerous letters on diy bedding and it is not rocket science. My biggest fear was taking something apart or off the gun and not being able to reassemble it, i.e. the trigger group. Which turned out that by removing one pin the entire assembly comes off in ONE piece. Once I discovered that it was go time.
I re-read some articles on bedding, obtained the devcon compound, some neutral shoe polish, play-doh, masking tape. I removed small amounts of material from the correct places on the stock,play-dohed every nook and cranny and shoe polished all the metal surfaces on the action and barrel. Just take your time and visualize every place that the action and stock meet including action bolts, so you can either seal off with play-doh or apply polish to all the parts you do not want to stick together. Take your time, do it in a space that lets you leave it sit so you are not movig parts all over in between steps. Don't start it on the kitchen table 2 hours after lunch. So pick a diy thread that sounds good to you,take your time and after you pop that action out of the compound,reassemble everthing and shoot that first group that is now smaller, you will say wow that was easy, now I need to do the rest of my rifles..
The release agent used, and the method of applying it, quantity etc. seems to be most first time DIYers biggest downfall. I had read the horror stories and didn't want to go down that road so,... I used and still use lithium grease instead of shoe polish or wax etc. They always come back out though!
Long Range Hunting/Shooting implies a few things to most folks.
For me I'm struck with visions of a guy dilligently loading his ammunition to exacting specifications that commercial ammo can only dream about. I see things done with methodical precision and purpose. The rifle used for this game being the epitome of taking a past time seriously.
All that precision, preparation, and effort devoted to everything else yet white lithium grease and shoe polish are acceptable as a mold release for a precision casting?
I don't mean to pick at anyone in particular as this has been an accepted and standard practice for a very long time. It's just always baffled me to one degree or another. I guess lets start from the beginning. Just what is bedding exactly supposed to do? My experience has shown me that it's a tension free precision casting of where/how an action nests in a gun stock. It's sole purpose is to provide maximum surface contact for the transmission of recoil while still being inert to ambient conditions.
Bedding will not make a pigs ear a silk purse. A gun that sucks is still going to suck after it's been bedded. However a great gun will become exceptional, and so on.
In precision manufacturing with CNC's, aerospace, etc the use of molds is quite common. Parts that are precision cast use a commercially made mold release agent. It's usually silicone based and in an aerosol form so that coverage is an even, thin film. This is for a couple of reasons, one is so you can get the slug out of the mold and two so that surface finish is preserved/transfered to whatever is being cast.
I enjoy bedding rifles and I take a great personal pride in it. I've devoted a tremendous amount of time developing a process that yields results that are quite good on all fronts. I don't say this to beat my chest so much as to encourage others who want to take this on to approach it as something more than a "well it's good enough and no one sees it anyway" kind of mentality. One of the greatest rewards for me as a gunmaker is taking a rifle apart in front of a customer and seeing their eyes get big because the gun looks as nice disassembled as it does all together.
Commercial mold release agents are available from industrial supply vendors like MSC, McMaster Carr, and many others. An aerosol can will last a very long time. The surface finishes will greatly improve. no more smeared brush marks or swirly stains "water marks" in the resin when it cures.
Any opinions on Brownell's various release agents? I've seen a number of people recommend using products 'designed' or at least intended for use as a bedding release agent rather than the more common 'home-brew' stuff.
I've used the Brownells product before and it's ok. What I don't care for is that its prone to running and the film is kinda heavy.
I have a case of the stuff I use at home. I'll get the name of it and pass it on. It's a rattle can and works really well. I don't have it here at the shop yet as I'm still getting a few things set up before I take the plunge into stock work. Mainly waiting on some floor space to open up so I can get my new CNC mill in here.
Use the Klean Clay that Brownells sells. It is by far the best clay for prepping a receiver.
Use a glass plate for mixing resin. NEVER stir it in a cup. It just whips air into it and makes life hell later with pin holes. Use a broad applicator and fold the material into itself rather than stirring.
Mix resins for about twice as long as you think you need to. This is VITAL to ensuring all the esters mix with the hardener. It will mitigate hard/soft spots. You should basically have hands that hurt like hell and are almost ready to blister when your done.
Pay attention to ratios with resins. If you use a system that must be weighed out, then get a scale and weigh it. Never guess!
Don't put heat on a gun to accelerate curing. It'll increase the amount of shrinkage. Never set a stock in the sun or next to a heater vent. Keep the ambient temperature within the working parameters of the material.
Pay attention to inlet work. Avoid sharp corners if possible, radius things so that the resin will flow and fill.
Use a finger and rub a **** coat of bedding into a stock before you shmag it up. You want that stuff to really bite into the stock's fibers so that you have good adhesion. Same thing with the action, but be a little more gentle here because you don't want to displace the clay or rub through the release agent.
Warm resin is much easier to work with than cold stiff stuff. Use your imagination for this and understand that if you cook it too much you'll set it off and that is a wholly hell of a mess to deal with.
NEVER cut a resin with acetone or any other kind of thinner.
If you use dye, use just enough to get the color your after. Dye weakens epoxy.
The resin system I use is designed for commercial boiler repair. It's one of the few epoxies out there that uses the Rockwell C scale for hardness rather than the shore hardness scale. Very tough, minimal shrinkage, and high chemical resistance.
The raised rib allows for bedding to completely encapsulate the pillar. I've seen too many pillars fall out of stocks. It also allows a better "mirror image" than a machined pillar being pushed up against the belly of the receiver. When finished properly it offers a clean, elegant, and professional appearance.
As for bedding, materials, processes, final fit, finish, and performance there are a number of products available that offer varying levels of success. I don't pretend to know them all. I stick to what I know has worked well for me. If you personally feel that you can improve upon the methods most common today then by all means have at it and God bless ya'. It's what keeps this game fun and interesting.
Chad, maybe you misunderstand me. Almost all I know about bedding I get off this site so I have no ambiton on improving on anything, just trying to understand things and not really screw something up.
The contact points I was reffering to are the ones where the pilar contacts the receiver. I've never seen that before. Is it best to have those points vs a more smooth contact area?
I have a Sako Finnlight, cheap plastic stock that I would like to pillar and bed. I realize just getting better stock would be the best solution but for now with budget constraint being what they are, that is low on the priority list. It would be a good learnign expeirence for me too. Also have a couple of Senderos I would like to skim bed.