Let’s wrap up this project. In the earlier post for this project I discussed all the preparation needed for bedding the rifle. The last step before I started mixing the bedding compound, was to apply some sort of release agent on the metalwork. If this is not done, the action will be permanently glued to the stock which is not a good idea. There is various ways to do this. Two commonly used methods is to cover everything you do not want to stick together with Johnson paste wax or Kiwi neutral shoe polish. I used a commercial mold release agent known as Frekote, manufactured by Henkels. As this is in an aerosol can, it is quick and easy to apply.
The next step was to apply the bedding material. Once this is mixed, you have about an hour of working time. One of the challenges in our NRA gunsmithing school programs is the fact that firearms can not be left at the school overnight. During our normal semester classes this occurs and we would enter firearms into a bound book as required by law. As we could not do that, this process had to be done early enough in the day to allow for the compound to dry in time. There is many products that can be used for bedding and for this project, I used Devcon Plastic Steel. One of my classmates shared his with me (thank you Will) which meant we had enough compound for two stocks and did not need to measure the components for just one bedding job. I filled the stock with bedding compound and removed all the air bubbles from the recesses of the stock. I also applied bedding compound to the pillars and made sure I had full coverage of those. The barreled action is then inserted into the stock. Hydraulic pressure on the compound allows it to push out where it is not needed and fill up any gaps and voids. The action is then clamped to the stock and left to set for about an hour or so.
Once the compound starts to set and reaches a consistency of putty, I started trimming of any excess from around the action. Not only is it easier to do at this time, it also prevents the compound from hardening over certain areas and capturing the action.
The bedding compound is then left to set for a few hours. This period will depend on the type of compound used. While waiting for the compound to dry, the class went to lunch and after coming back we had some class room sessions where various other aspects of accurizing were discussed. Before leaving for the day, the action was removed from the stock (to make sure it does actually come out before the compound totally sets) given a light cleanup and then clamped back into the stock.
The next morning, I removed the action from the stock and completed cleaning up the action. I then returned the stock to the mill and removed all the bedding material that would interfere with the working parts of the rifle.
Once all of this was completed, I reassembled the rifle and made sure it functioned correctly.
There was not time to shoot the rifle after completion, but I did have time a few weeks later. I did have to sight the rifle in and I was using surplus ammunition so I can not say for sure how much better the rifle is. However, with me shooting (and I freely admit to not being the best shot in the world) the rifle on a bench and only using a bipod the rifle shot noticeably better groups than before. I am planning to do a range day using some match ammunition soon and will report the results when I do that.
In the only full week between the spring and summer semesters, I signed up for a NRA short-term gunsmithing course for Custom Accurizing on the Remington 700. The instructor was Thomas Marshal, who spent many years working with the Army Marksmanship Unit on theses rifles. I am splitting the work from this week into two sections and will cover all the preparation work in this post. While we received general instruction on these rifles and the things that can be done to them to improve the accuracy, the main focus of the course was to do a bedding job on a rifle. A good bedding will ensure there is full contact between the stock and the action and will prevent the action from moving around when the rifle is fired. I used a Remington 700 VLS with a 26″ heavy barrel from my collection that had no modifications. As always, I started by removing the action from the stock, removing the bolt and trigger system. As I did not intend to do any work on the action or barrel, there was no need to separate the barrel from the action.
Another option when bedding a rifle is to use pillar beds. These non compressible pieces are bedded into the stock. There are a variety of commercial pillar bedding components available on the market, but they can easily be made on a lathe. I made sure they were the correct length and then flattened the sides to prevent them from turning if they should happen to release from the bedding agent.
The next step was to tackle the factory stock and prepare it for the bedding compound. Most of this was done on a mill and involved removing small amounts of material from the stock. This is then filled in by the bedding compound. The square cuts from the endmill also give the bedding compound more surface area to adhere to. The area around the recoil lug is also enlarged. You can also see where I enlarged the original screw holes to fit the pillars.
I then applied tape to the stock to protect it from the bedding compound. The compound sticks to everything and is really hard when it sets so this is important. I also used spacers in the barrel channel to ensure the action goes squarely into the stock.
Once I completed this, I started filling up all the large holes in the stock where components of the rifle would normally be. Yes, I used sponge to do that.
The action also needs some preparation. I mounted the pillars to the action and taped the front of the recoil lug. The rear of the recoil lug sits against the bedding material. In some of the following pictures, you will also see where the first part of the barrel is taped.
Here is the stock ready for bedding. I do still need a small dam in the barrel channel to prevent compound going down the channel. You can also see the dam I made on the stock where the bolt handle goes. This is to prevent compound spilling down the side of the stock.
The action is now also ready for bedding. The parts of the action where we do not want any compound to go is filled in. This can be done with a few things, such as plumbers putty, silly putty or (in my case) Play Doh.
In my next post, I will go through the process of applying the bedding compound and cleaning up.
In this next to the last post on the Winchester 94 stock project I will cover the issues I mentioned in my earlier post on this project. I will also show the almost completed stock and fore end. In the earlier post, I milled out the area between the upper and lower tang of the receiver to fit all the internals. Although I did protect the wood from the clamp on the milling machine, it did suffer a little and I was left with a few small dents in the wood. Luckily, they were not very deep and I did manage to steam them out. If you look at the full size pictures, you will also note that you can still see some pores in the wood. At this stage, the stock and fore end only have a few finish coats on them.
The next few pictures show the stock and the fore end close to what they are looking like now. Although it is difficult to see, there is still a few places where the wood pores show through.
I will do one more post on this project. I have gotten it very close to the point where I am totally satisfied with it. I still have a few small pores in the fore end which I hope will no longer be there after the next finish coat. Once I am happy, I will re-assemble, take a few close-ups and post those for everyone to see.
The stock on the Winchester is now on the last few steps. To obtain a grade, we have to do at least one finish coat on the wood. During grading the instructor looks and makes sure that there is no scratch or tool marks in the wood. The finish I used for this stock is Custom Oil by Gun Sav’R. I chose to use a satin finish. The finish is available in an aerosol and liquid that can be sprayed by airbrush or paint gun. I used both, starting with an application of liquid rubbed into the stock.
Once I got to this point I realized I had forgotten something quite important. I had not removed all the wood in the buttstock and the action would not fit at this point. For reasons I will show you in the next post, I will make sure I do this earlier in the finishing process next time. So, of to the mill, to clamp and mill out most of the material that is in the way. It is a little tricky to clamp this and I had to take care to make sure everything was lined up correctly.
After I completed the milling work (with a little filing as well) I started to assemble the rifle to ensure proper operation. I cleaned all the parts first and then assembled. Since it had been a long time since I disassembled the rifle, I did not go together on the first try but that is how you learn!
The next few pictures speak for themselves. When you work with wood, it is always difficult to predict exactly what it will look like as you shape the wood. An interesting pattern on the outside could just fade away as you start removing wood. That did not turn out to be the case on the forend. The slight discoloration between the forend and the receiver is some Acraglas. This time, I did color it a little darker.
I am happy with the way this project is shaping up. The barrel band fit is not perfect and there is a few dimension not quite the way they should be, but those are not very noticeable. The forend feels and fits really well in my hand. I should have one more post on this project where I will be able to wrap up.
Thank you again for stopping in and reading!
The final project for my second semester on the Mauser was to cut the barrel to length and do the crown. As this rifle is intended as a hunting rifle, I opted to do a recessed crown. This provides protection for the crown as hunting rifles generally go through a little more abuse than most rifles. I started by measuring the barrel to the length I wanted and doing the rough cut with a hacksaw. If you are wondering about the cardboard holding the barrel, it has been replaced by a proper set of vice jaw protectors.
After I completed the rough cut, I mounted the barrel in a lathe to complete the process. As with all the other barrel projects, the barrel is accurately centered in a 4-jaw chuck before any of the work is started. I then squared the muzzle of the barrel.
After squaring the muzzle, I cut the recess crown and cut a 45° chamfer step to the muzzle front.
At this point, I completed work on the Mauser for this semester. The next item that I will work on the this rifle is when I do the stock from a blank. This will take place in the first semester of my second year (starting August 2012). I gave the rifle a good cleaning, made sure I protected all the metal parts and stored it.