Stock lamination question

USAF Marksman

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Looking for some help from anyone who makes hardwood stocks, or has knowledge on the subject. I'd like to say that I am an avid wood worker, hunter, and shooter. I'm planning to take the plunge into making my own rifle stock and have considered buying a boyds laminate blank to shape it out of. I've considered making one out of a solid piece of walnut or maybe something a little more exotic eventually, but for my first stock, I'd like to keep my overhead down in case I really F it up. My real questions is, would it be feasible to take three 3/4 inch planed pieces of hardwood ( say walnut, maple, walnut) and laminate them together with some type of epoxy and use them as a stock blank? I would think that as long as the epoxy/glue was strong enough, that there wouldn't be any problems. If anyone would like to chime in and help me out, I would be very grateful.

Thanks,
Tucker
 

Dosh

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Our resident expert J. Russo will have the best answer to your request.
 

rpatowers

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I've made two stocks that I laminated myself. They were benchrest stocks made from redwood and curly maple. I laminated them using Tap Plastics 4 to 1 epoxy. It worked great. The epoxy i good stuff.
 

Joel Russo

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Don't know if I'm an expert, but I'll chime in...
I love to see guys take on projects like this. You'll get a real sense of accomplishment when your finished.
You can use the 3/4" boards or even go thinner for a different look. Make sure they are planed well, and rough sanded before you epoxy them together.
Most importantly, make sure they are of acceptable moisture content. You need to know what the moisture is!! There are relatively cheap moisture meters out there, and I suggest you buy one. A laminated blank made with boards that have a high moisture content will still move over time as the moisture slowly leaves the boards. You don't need to have an education in " free water" cells and "barrier" cells, you just need to make sure they are dry..
If using domestic hardwood, a simple cleaning of the boards with solvent is recommended. Exotics can be tricky depending on the specie you use. Get in touch with me if you decide to go with the exotics, and I'll give you all the info you need on the different species and their characteristics to glueing.
There are a few different options on holding the boards together while the epoxy dries. The standard wood clamps will work well, a hydraulic press can also be used. I used to use both, but switched to a vacuum bag years ago.
Search the web, and you'll see that there are many different types of epoxies that can be used. My favorite has always been a polyurethane glue. Whatever you use, make sure you have complete coverage, and proper clamping.
Once the blank is glued, you'll want to cut it to shape with a band saw, then plane the topside. Depending on what size boards you use, and how many... You'll want to indicate your inlet on the middle of the center board, or on the glue line in the center of the blank.
A properly glued up blank will make a fine finished project.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you want more information, I'll be happy to tell you what I've learned over the years....
 

USAF Marksman

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RPA- Thanks for the info, I'll definitely look that epoxy up.

Joel- Thanks for the vote of confidence. There really is something special about doing a project like this for yourself. I'm just glad I've got some people to tap into for knowledge! Anyways, I will probably look for and pick up a moisture meter, for this and other projects. I'm glad to hear this is something I can undertake. Clamps I've got, and I'll be sticking with domestic hardwood this time around. I won't be afraid to give you a shout when I'm further into the project and NEED some guidance. Once I get far enough, I'll throw up some pictures too.

Thanks again,
Tucker
 

shortgrass

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Laminate might help you keep the "overhead low", but my frustration level is always high when lami is mentioned. "Store bought" laminated blanks or pre-inlets must be of the trashiest wood available. For hand carving/inletting/shaping, a blank of properly seasoned walnut is the ticket. A straight grained blank of [even] Black Walnut will allow a 'lower' frustration level when working by hand. I've made many rifle stocks and a few shotgun stocks over the years. I'm done with laminates, I've worked the last one! As for making my own laminated blank,,, I can't think of a good reason to cut up a good piece of Walnut or Maple (or post oak!) just to glue it back together.... A solid Black Walnut blank will be available for a very reasonable cost if you look around. I watched as other students bought low cost, low figured blanks for their stockmaking, while I was in gunsmithing school so many years ago. They made 'plain Jane' stocks, because they were afraid they'd make a 'mistake'. (with the hours involved I want anything but "plain Jane").'Mistakes" will be made! Hopefully, they won't be insurmountable mistakes. If you're an "experienced" wood worker, chances are you'll avoid them (the mistakes that can't be fixed). And, if you're an experienced wood worker, you already know that wood that has some semblance of being 'consistant' is much easier to work with than material that is not..
 

shortgrass

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Here's a link or two for low cost walnut blanks. www.clarowalnutgunstocks.com Claro Walnut is not my first choice, but every blank I've bought from Wally has been solid unlike others I've had experience with. Here's another, www.gobywalnut.com I've not used any Black Walnut from the west coast. There are many other suppliers if you use your search engine. I doubt you could make a lami blank for the price of some of these. Here's one more, www.gunstockwood.com he offers solid maple and Black Cherry blanks at reasonable cost. My first choice in Walnut is English,,, but you did say 'affordable'......
 

USAF Marksman

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Shortgrass- Thanks for all of the input and links. A #3 grade Claro walnut blank from Wally is the same price as a laminated blank from boyds. It would be HARD to make the wrong decision there. I guess I was thinking a walnut/maple laminate for the look of it vs a solid blank like that. I'm very pleased to see that a NICE piece of wood is so affordable. I will certainly be taking my time on this to minimize as many mistakes as possible. I am planning to shape a piece of XPS foam to the shape I want, then take measurements off of that to help with finishing up the wood stock.

Can you guys recommend what tools would be best for a first timer for inletting? Also, should I inlet first before shaping the stock? It seems like that would be the logical thing to do, maybe not though.

Thanks again for all of the help everyone
 

shortgrass

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I was taught to inlet before shaping. What rifle will you be stocking? You will need a good selection of chisels, gouges & scrapers for inletting. You need some meams to drill the guard screw holes, too. You're a long way from shaping, I'd not bother to shape a piece of foam. There are a couple of drawing, by Jerry Fisher, that are commercially available (Brownells, MidWay) where you can get measurements or you can get some measurements from an already existing stock that you like. Worry about the inletting first. The majority of my chisels and gouges were made by Dastra Woodscrew. They're not WalMart priced, but they're not WalMart quality either. I have several that I special made for certain jobs. Most all of my scrapers are special home made. The 'store bought' ones just don't fit the work. The only exception may be those made by Fisher for barrel channels. Do you have a drill press? www.diefenbacher.com/Dasta.htm The "intermediate" sized tools are the ones you want. When I wanted some 'extras' that I didn't have I contacted Nora Hall, as she was a Dastra dealer and ended up buying several 'sets' in hopes of selling a few. No such luck, most are still packed away. Those "carving sets" that you may see at the hardware are about useless for the work you have ahead. If you seach some (Diefenbacher sells tools other than Dastra) you'll find other carving tools. Just remember, 'cheap' tools are a chore to use. I'd no venture to guess how many $$ and how much time I have in tools just for stockmaking.
 

tinkerer

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I did exactly this with some cocobolo for one of my Strikers. I glued up 5 pieces of 1" wide cocobolo after getting the mother board planed flat and smooth. Now cocobolo is a oily wood, so I cleaned each piece with fingernail polish remover prior to glue up with 2 ton epoxy.

Laid the 1st board flat on the concrete on a piece of wax paper to prevent gluing it down forever, added glue and smeared it all over before adding the next piece. When I had all 5 together, I added a piece of wax paper and 100# bag of sand for uniform pressure.

Waited 24 hours and planed off the top for a flat surface to start. Inletted for the barreled action before starting on shaping.

Made a beautiful red streaked 5" wide bench stock. And heavy, too.

Joel is the real expert, and his words real true. Know your wood, moisture content and glue thoroughly.

And get a good variable speed router and carbide bits. And take your time.

Larry
Tinkerer
 

tinkerer

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You asked about tools to start, I would buy the best router I could afford. A member here made his own stock from Zebrawood (IIRC) and he made a sled for the router. Brilliant.

Bits? You'll need a 1.25" cove bit for the action, and at least a 3/4" cove bit for te barrel. Yes, several different gouges and files, and a great dremel type tool with lots of drum sanding attachments.

But first, some good calipers and measure all critical dimensions and lay them out on the top of the stock for inletting. I always start with the stock bolts. and drill for the bolt holes with aluminum pillars (I use 1/2"). Next, magazine box and trigger group. Next is the recoil lug.

Finally I start with the action. If I route at 1.25" for a 1.35" action (Savage) I will end up with a action that ALMOST drops in. A little 80 grit wrapped around a 1.25" dowel and a little sanding ends up with a near final fit.

Now I mark out the barrel channel and start GENTLE routing to near the line with a 3/4" cove bit if that's the final OD at barrels end. Its all sanding drums with a dremel after that till the barreled action will set in the inletting with a dollar bill clearing the bottom of the barrel for the whole length.

You can do it yourself, if your patient and meticulous. And its so rewarding, in both the results and the relaxation, if you have the time.



Larry
Tinkerer
 

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