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 my last post I promised to show some of the tools I use to make the barrel channel. These were almost exclusively used, starting with the smallest and using the biggest only when needed.
I continued to work the channel deeper. On the original fore end, there is a cut out section as the magazine tube is very close to the barrel.
With the barrel channel close to the correct depth I started doing the inletting to allow the fore end to fit the action. I marked the rough outline, applied inletting black to the action and barrel. Then the long process started in getting everything to fit. This is slow work and this part went better and quicker than on the butt stock.
I slowly worked at the back area and the depth until it fitted correctly.
I felt I did a better fitting job here as opposed to the butt stock. The next step is to fit the barrel band and then shape the fore end. During one of the test fittings, I had to appease the blood gods with a sacrifice. The bottom of the hole on the magazine tube had a sharp edge I forgot about and it managed to break some skin.
Back to the Remington 700 project. I finished the barrel and the blueprinting of the bolt and the receiver. It is now time to fit the barrel and test fire the rifle. The masking tape you see in the photos is to protect the action from scratches.
The Remington 700 receiver is easy to damage if twisted. To prevent damage like this I use a wrench adapter that I made during our first semester.
Once I installed the wrench adapter, I clamped the barrel in a barrel vice (yes, I made one of those in my first semester but the one you belongs to the school) and use an action wrench to tighten the barrel. Yes, the action wrench you see was a first semester project. Normally, I would use an a tool to hold the recoil lug in alignment during this step, but it was not needed as the action would be removed from the barrel after the test fire.
Once this was done, I installed the trigger and the rifle was ready to test fire.
Next was the test fire! Test firing consists of three rounds fired from the rifle. After the test fire, the cartridge cases are checked for expansion. We are allowed an expansion of 0.002 inches (0.0508mm or 50.8 micron). Here is a video of the test fire.
The results of the test fire was good. Zero case expansion. I am more than happy with that. The next step for this rifle is to install a muzzle brake and I will detail that in the next post.
After I completed the inletting on the top tang, I started with the lower tang. The lower tang is not fixed and that makes life a little more difficult. Furthermore, the screw that holds the receiver in the stock passes through the top tang and secures in the bottom tang in a blind hole on this model. So, not only did I have to work this down to the correct depth, I had to be really careful about how the hole will be drilled for the screw. I am showing a select few pictures of this process but it did take some time! First though, a picture of some of the tools I use. This shows the chisels, a #49 cabinet rasp and a micro plane. I some of the top bags of the tool roll is some scrapers and some needle file rasps.
On to the stock work:
And finally, after many hours of work I am done.
Next, I drilled the hole for the tang screw. No pictures of this, but I must admit that my first pilot hole was incorrect. Luckily, it was a minor mistake. Then the rifle is mounted back in the stock blank. This is the point where I start removing all the bits that do not look like a stock!
I started by removing material from the top of the tang area:
Then from the bottom tang area:
After I completed this, I removed the rifle from the stock blank again and used the original stock as a rough template. If you look carefully you can see that outline on the wood.
After I created the rough outline, I used an electric bandsaw to remove the excess wood and mounted the rifle back into the stock.
This is a good place to wrap up this post. In the next post of the series, I will do some layout work and start forming the stock.
Even though the course require that I build a minimum of three rifles, an additional requirement is that one of these must use a military surplus Mauser action. There is many options available that can be used and the one I chose was M48A Mauser. These were built in Yugoslavia by Zastava and is a version of the FN designed Mauser Model 1924. Thank you to Matt for selling me the rifle for this project. I hope you like what I am doing with it. The rifle was in good condition and as I started working on it, realized that it had been refinished by an arsenal and had not seen much use since then. The only part of the old rifle that I need is the action and the bolt. I am building this rifle as a hunting rifle and when finished, will be chambered in .257 Roberts and have a one-piece wood stock made by me.
Please note that this work took place earlier this semester.
I started by disassembling the old rifle.
Then the action was mounted in a lathe and trued.
On the M48A action there is a bump on the rear of the receiver. It has a slot where cartridges on stripper clips can be inserted. However, this just does not look good. I removed the hump and smoothed the metal work.
Although the stripper clip slot can still be seen, I am leaving it as such for the time being.
My attention then turned to the bolt. I started by heating the bolt handle and forging it into a new, more graceful shape. The picture also shows two tools I made in the first semester. Screwed in the back of the bolt is a bolt mandrel which (in this case) helps to draw heat away from the bolt body. The bolt sits inside a bolt bending block.
The next picture was taken during the process. I still needed to sweep the handle backwards a little.
The next three pictures show the bolt handle after I swept the handle back, the receiver and how they fit together. I had to cut a small notch in the receiver body to allow the bolt to fully close.
So far, so good!