Rehabbing a rimfire apringfield.
During the course of any lengthy gunsmithing project, there'll be aspects of it you really enjoy and look forward to as well as parts which are not so exciting. With this U.S. Model 1922 .22 caliber rifle, the part I have looked forward to the most is making 'a replacement stock from a walnut blank.
When I purchased this much-abused rifle several years ago, the original military stock had been replaced with an old Bishop civilian sporter stock. This was probably done back in the 1950s or early '60s. Since the chances of even locating an original Model 1922 stock are somewhere between slim and none, I've opted to make a replacement.
Fortunately for me, I found a detailed description of the original stock along with critical dimensions in William Brophy's classic book, The Springfield 1903 Rifles. Later, I was also able to locate additional data and a detailed dimensional drawing of the stock in Clark S. Campbell's book, The '03 Springfield. Both books are excellent sources of information on the Model 1922.
Unfortunately they don't fully agree on the dimensions! Consequently I bad to make some adjustments in my layout. While my stock will not be a 100% accurate duplication of the original 1922 stock, it'll be close and definitely a step up from the al' Bishop sporter stock that was on the rifle when I bought it. With this data as a starting point. I was able to lay out the lines of my stock on a walnut blank I obtained from Boyds Gunstock Industries.
Some folks would question why anyone would bother making a stock from a blank. After all, many of the gunsmithing schools have gotten away from even teaching this sort of stock work. That's understandable, as so many newer guns have synthetic stocks and the demand for wood work is admittedly pretty low.
These folks could also make the case if you wanted a wood stock you could send the blank off to someone who had a duplicating machine and have him do most of the inletting and shaping for you. It would certainly be a lot faster and easier. Those folks are absolutely correct.
However, I think it's still important for a gunsmith, professional or hobbyist, to be able to make a decent stock from scratch. For many guns, like this Model 1922, you simply cannot purchase a replacement stock. Besides, most folks don't have ready access to anyone with a duplicator or, like me, want to spend the extra money for this service. Stockrnaking is a useful skill and can often pay big dividends when making stock repairs or even doing bedding work.
In the course of this project you may notice I rarely use my Dremel tool. Dremel tools are great for a variety of gunsmithing jobs. When it comes to woodwork and especially inletting, I tend to do the majority of my work with plain ol' chisels, gouges, and scrapers.
Yep, it does take considerably longer, but I find when I make a mistake with a chisel or gouge it's not nearly as big a screwup as when I do it with my Dre-mel tool! I can do a lot more damage faster with an electric powered cutter than I can with a hand tool.
You'll also note my inletting technique is not necessarily the fastest or most efficient. I could be a lot more aggressive in removing wood with my chisels and gouges. Also, my inletting is actually more detailed and in some instances more precise than that done back in the 1920s at the Springfield Armory.
There area couple of reasons for this; some make sense and admittedly some don't! First, I want to make darn sure no one who pulls this rifle apart will ever think it's original. I'm not and do not want to ever be thought of as faking a collectable. My only goal is to make this rifle a bit more like it was originally and consequently to make it more desirable. That will ultimately enhance its chances of survival.
Finally, I'm doing it this slow and time-consuming way because I can. As an or retired guy I have the time and opportunity and I want to do it this way just for the personal satisfaction. Yeah, it's not logical but who says you have to be logical when you're workin' on guns! In Part 2 of this series (10/10 issue) I took care of some major metal work, which included cutting off and replacing the civilian bolt handle as well as welding up a slot which had been cut in the receiver for clearance of the altered sporter handle. I also started inletting the stock blank for the barrel and receiver. At this point I've removed a fair amount of wood, but I'm still a long way from having the inletting even halfway completed.
One of the worst habits you can get into when inletting a stock is to rest your chisel or cutting tool on the edge of your inletted area as you remove wood. There's a natural tendency to do this as you're often tempted to pry out excess wood as you cut it away. Yeah, you can get away with this when you first start dropping the metal into the wood, as you'll eventually cut away any damaged edges.
This becomes critical when You get closer to the final depth with your barreled action. You've gotta be very, very careful not to damage or compress the wood where it contacts the metal and is visible at the top of the stock. It doesn't take much to create ugly gaps and depressions.
If you find your barreled action tending to twist over to one side or the other as you do the inletting, this is probably caused by an uneven horizontal surface under the contact points on your receiver.
The way to deal with this is to make sure you have an adequate coverage of the metal with whatever inletting marking paste or coating you're using. You'll normally quickly see you've got some high contact points as well as some low areas where you don't have contact. Those high contact points will tend to tilt or push the metal to one side.
If, for example, part of the area under the rear tang on the left side is high, it can cause the barrel to point or tilt a bit to the right. Once you even out the contact points, you'll generally take care of most alignment problems.
It's also a good idea to play close attention to keeping the receiver level front to back as you work. Depending upon the design and shape of the receiver, it's often all too easy to end up with the rear of the receiver higher than the front.
This, of course, would have a dramatic effect on the barrel inletting as well. It's easy to keep track of this. Just make sure you're getting an even impression with the inletting black for the length of the receiver.
At one point, I was getting more contact near the front of the receiver than I was at the back. The solution was simply to deepen the area under the tang and in the trigger area under the receiver. It's definitely something you want to be aware of, watch closely, and be prepared to address when needed.
Inletting a barreled action is not especially difficult: it just takes time and attention to detail. As I've said many times, it's well within the capabilities of most folks.
Speaking of the receiver, one other point to be aware of is the importance of making sure you have clearance behind the rear of the tang. This is especially critical with center-lire Springfields and Walsers.
No matter how well you bed the rifle, the receiver will move back just a hair when the rifle is fired. If you inlet the receiver so there's no clearance behind the rear of the tang, you're gonna either knock a chip out of the stock or crack the darn thing starting at the tang.
If you check some older Mauser and Springfield or even Enfield sporters at the next couple of gun shows I'll bet you find at least one with a chip or a crack in the stock behind the tang.
Providing for clearance behind the tang is also important when inletting the stock. As you lift the barreled receiver out of the stock, more than likely you'll probably tilt it a bit by raising the barrel a bit more than the receiver. Yes, I know you're always supposed to lift the barreled action straight up but most of us are just human and we'll not always do that.
When you do lift it up slightly off horizontal, you'll tilt the top of the tang back a bit and that can over time break loose a chip from the stock. I did exactly that during the early stages of inletting this blank. I knew I needed to provide some clearance, even just .002" or .003", but I neglected to do it. Sure enough, I broke loose a small chip behind the tang.
Fortunately it was early on during the inletting process and as the barreled action dropped deeper into the wood, I dropped below the chip. Still, it could have been a much more serious problem. Again, make sure you have a bit of clearance behind the tang. Don't make it a big gap or unsightly. A few thousandths will hardly be noticeable.
As the receiver drops deeper into the wood, you'll eventually start having contact with the barrel. That's great, as it's a sure indication of progress. It can cause a bit of a problem as you'll sometimes remove wood from under the receiver and then with your next impression with the inletting black find there's no contact! What the heck happened?
What happened is downward movement of the receiver was stopped by contact under the barrel. You have to remove wood under both the barrel and receiver to move deeper into the stock blank. Obviously, this will mean more work and take more time. Still in all, you're makin" progress as you drop deeper into the wood.
When working on my stock blank. I find it helpful to be able to access it from both sides. This enables me to get a better and, most importantly, a more accurate picture of just where I am in the inletting process. If you're just working on, say, the right side of the stock it'll be darn easy to see where you have contact on the left side of the receiver and barrel. It won't be so easy to see points of contact on the right or near side.
You need to be able to move around the stock blank and check the inletting from both sides. That's one of the reasons I always set my stock blank up so it sticks out at 900 from my bench. It makes getting to both sides of the blank much easier and more convenient.
Folks who set up their blank on their bench so it runs parallel to the front edge of the bench have to reverse or rotate the blank in order to see both sides of the inletting. All in all, I think the setup I use is more efficient. Besides, you'll free up a lot of your bench top for the tools you'll need as you work.
Each time I set my barreled action into the wood, I give it a tap with a leather mallet to seat it and ensure I get a good impression with the inletting black. I use a leather mallet so I'll not damage the metal. Some folks use a plastic or rubber mallet, and those'll work just fine.
I would caution you not to get hammer happy with the mallet. You're not going to be able to drive the barreled action into the wood! A modest seating tap is all you need. Excessive pounding on the barreled action can get you into big trouble. I've seen more than one stock blank split or cracked by folks beating the receiver or barrel into the wood. Take it easy! Just a little tap will work just fine.
Inletting the barreled action is definitely one of the slower and more time-consuming aspects of stock making. Generally I can set the barreled action into the stock, get an impression from the inletting black, remove the barreled action, and scrape the high points about 10 times each hour.
Yeah, that's pretty slow, but I'm a slow or guy! Younger folks as well as really talented stockmakers can do it a lot faster. Still. I ultimately get where I want to go. and you will too.
Most of the wood removal while inletting can be done with a standard assortment of chisels and gouges. In the barrel channel. I make extensive use of several Gunline Barrel Bedding Tools. These are scrapers composed of a series of steel discs mounted on a shaft with two handles. They are absolutely ideal for smoothly opening up the barrel channel.
I don't know of any other tool that will allow you to do this task as easily and as quickly as you can with the Gun-line Bedding Tools. If you don't have any of 'em, check the Brownell catalog and pick up two or three.
As you're inletting the receiver and later the bottom metal, you'll invariably find places where your regular scrapers or cutting tools are just too big or are the wrong shape for the work you need to do. Years ago I found it was well worth my time to make some small custom scrapers just for situations like this. They're simple and easy to make and best of all, they won't cost you a penny! I make mine out of broken or worn out hacksaw blades. All you need to do it grind the hacksaw blade to the shape you desire. When grinding, don't reverse the blade. Always have the grind running in one direction. This will throw up a burr on the underside of the blade and that, my friends, is what allows the scraper to cut wood.
The burr is the most important part of the scraper. When you finally wear down the burr, just step over to your grinder, place the scraper against the grinding wheel and remove a bit of metal. All you want is just enough metal removal to renew the burr.
As you work, you'll be creating chips or thin shavings of wood with your cutting tools and scrapers. The majority of 'em will be down inside the inletted area of the receiver. Most of us just take a big breath and blow 'ern out.
As an ol' guy I find that can get to be a bit of a chore after a few hours of work. If you have an air compressor in your shop, using an air gun can make this task a lot easier. If you don't have a compressor or like me you just hate the sound and noise of the darn thing, you might want to pick up a can or two of compressed air as used to clean keyboards or other electronic devices. It's not cheap, but it can make the inletting process a bit less tiring and believe me, that's important for an ol' guy and maybe even for some not so old guys!
After quite a bit of work, the bolt raceway on the right side of the receiver was flush with the top of the stock blank. That's a major milestone, but I still had quite a ways to go.
Keep in -mind you want to have the barreled action seated deep enough in the stock blank so the top surface of the blank is at the midpoint of the diameter of the barrel. You want half the barrel diameter below the wood line. Lots of folks get tired of inletting and stop short of this point. Stick with it! Just keep working steadily and like me, you'll eventually get there.
You can use a small machinist square to check the depth of your barrel channel as you work. Place the outside rear corner of the square in the barrel channel touching the bottom of the channel while the two legs of the square extend over the top edges of the channel. Make sure the square is held at 900 to the length or axis of the channel. Don't let it tilt forward or back.
You can adjust the position of the square from side to side until you have an equal amount of space between the bottom of each leg and the edge of the channel. That's how much deeper you'll need to go. When you have the channel at the proper full depth, the corner of the square will rest on the bottom of the Channel while the two legs contact the top edges of the channel. In fact, no matter where you place the corner of the square in the channel, the legs will both rest on the top edges of the barrel channel. Stockmakers have used this trick for years and it's a great way to quickly and easily measure your progress.
There's no doubt that inletting the barrel can be tricky. If you go too deep, beyond the midpoint of the barrel. the gap between the edge of the top of the stock and the side of the barrel will open up even if you don't remove any wood from inside the edge. You want to have good close contact between the barrel and the top edge of the stock to avoid having unsightly gaps.
Of course you can always bed the barrel to till any gaps or you might want to free-float the barrel, in which case a uniform gap of a few thousandths is necessary. These are all things you need to keep in mind as you work.
After a couple of hours of inletting. it's a darn good idea to use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe the inletting black or paste oil the barreled action before applying a new coating. Over time the inletting black will tend to build up and this can lead to false impressions on the wood. Ideally you want just the thinnest coating of inletting black necessary to record where you have contact between wood and metal.
Finally, after an awful lot of time and work the barreled action was fully inletted. I'll admit it was time-consuming and especially so if, like me, you do it all by hand. Keep in mind you can use your mill or even your drill press to take out a huge amount of wood and save yourself many hours of work. If you do this, just be darn careful you don't drill in the wrong place or to the wrong depth!
The next step was to cut off some of the excess wood. This is necessary for a couple of reasons. First. I need to cut the stock to length and install the buttplate. By the way, the unusual metal buttplate is installed at an angle of 4.5[degrees]. I made this cut first used my disk sander to ensure the end of the buttstock was absolutely fiat, redrew the center line, located and drilled the holes for the attaching screws, and installed the buttplate.
With the buttplate in position. I then went back to the bandsaw and took off wood from above the comb, the bottom of the buttstoek, and below the forearm. I also trimmed off the excess wood at the end of the forearm. This cut the forearm back closer to the finished length. When cutting away this wood, I still tried to always give myself a few thousandths or more of extra wood. I came darn close to cutting it too close at the heel of the stock. In fact, I have to admit I might later have to move the buttplate a tad. Yeah, I screwed up!
Once the wood under the forearm and receiver was cut back, the Forster inletting guide screw projected through the stock. This will be used as a guide when I inlet the trigger guard or bottom metal. I'll also have to redraw the center lines on the newly cut surfaces as these lines will be important for inletting the bottom metal and shaping the stock.
I've made a lot of progress and the blank is actually beginning to look like a rifle stock, but I still have a long way to go. You're absolutely correct as I could've saved lots of time and work by using an available Model 1922M2 or 1903 Springfield stock or even just having a stockmaker use a duplicator to rough out the inletting.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons I did it the ol' fashion way is because I feel every gunsmith, hobbyist or professional, should know how to make a stock from a blank. Sure, it's not something you do every day. but it's still a darn useful skill.
There are lots of guns out there for which you simply cannot find a replacement stock. Being able to make a stock from scratch can often give you access to some great deals. Not too long ago I picked up a very nice German double-barrel shotgun that was missing the buttstock.
Eventually, I'll make a stock for it and in doing so I'll end up with a wonderful German shotgun that would normally have been well out of my price range. All it takes is the knowledge on how to make a stock, some time, and a bit of work. It's something you could do as well.
The next time we get together (12/10/14 issue) I'll inlet the trigger guard and do some furthershaping of the stock. Until then, good luck and good gunstnithing!
Caption: Progress is definitely being made. The receiver is to about one-third depth and the barrel is just beginning to enter the wood. There's plenty left.