AR15.Com Archives
 Attaching Ebony Forend: is a tiny little gap inevitable? How do I fix it?
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/21/2010 3:29:08 PM
I am redoing a winchester M70 Super Grade stock that I bought at a garage sale a couple years ago. It had a super ugly 1970's disco stock on it that was heavy, ugly and I could't shoot (I am a lefty)

This is what the stock used to look like:








After much filing, sanding, cursing and blisters it now looks like this:







the problem is: I can't get the forend tip and the ebony block completely flat. There is a tiny little gap around the edge, maybe 1/2 the thickness of a piece of paper. I took it to a cabinet shop and sanded the ends on a disc sander. It is not sanding at an even rate because there are old dowels in there, and synthetic bedding compound that don't sand as fast as the wood. So it's not totally even.

I came home and it was still not flat, I used a file and I can get the closest with the file, making the smallest gap, but can't totally eliminate it. Will it matter if there is a tiny gap? will the epoxy and sanding dust/stock filler fill that gap as I finish and polish it? or do I need to go to a machineist and get it 100 percent flat before I glue?

it's very frustrating.



here's the grip cap I put on last night, I am excited to try and inlet it tonight.





cougar69  [Member]
9/21/2010 5:44:31 PM
I asked a custom gun stock maker about refinishing a stock with a fore end cap. He told me if it was real wood, to leave it on & sand as part of the stock. Don`t take it off he said. When you stain the stock or how ever you do it, just tape the end up. You could lay the stock & fore end piece up side down on a flat surface & clamp the two down & re-saw through the joint. Mabe you can square it up that way. Good luck
KRONIIK  [Member]
9/21/2010 9:58:47 PM

You need to make a JOINT - (No, not that kind of joint.)

What I mean is that you need to create a dead-flat plane on each mating surface, and a sander is not the tool to do that. A good cabinetmaker NEVER sands a joint. You need a good sharp, high quality carbide CROSSCUT (not Rip or Combination) saw blade in a good solid table saw (clamped into a sliding fixture or "sled"), or you might use a miter/chop saw. Freud, Amana, and Forrest blades are good blades.
You should wrap the end of the stock with masking tape and cut through that to prevent splintering, but it should be minimal anyway with the proper blade.
Take it to a good commercial cabinet shop, not a machine shop. (Two different worlds.)
GunCat  [Team Member]
9/22/2010 4:05:47 PM
The juncture of the stock and end cap does not have to be perfectly flat. Only the edges (outside 1/4” ) have to be flat, the interior of the tip cap and end of the stock can be relieved by hand, scraper, dremel, etc to gouge out the “high spot”. With the fit as close as you already have it you can lay piece of 600 grit sandpaper on a flat surface (glass pane works well) and sand those remaining edges nice and flat.

What are you going to use to attach the tip to the stock? Acraglass with a brown dye will fill in any crack and hold the tip to the stock if you can put the tip on the stock before you completely finish the wood.
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/22/2010 7:08:55 PM
Originally Posted By GunCat:
The juncture of the stock and end cap does not have to be perfectly flat. Only the edges (outside 1/4” ) have to be flat, the interior of the tip cap and end of the stock can be relieved by hand, scraper, dremel, etc to gouge out the “high spot”. With the fit as close as you already have it you can lay piece of 600 grit sandpaper on a flat surface (glass pane works well) and sand those remaining edges nice and flat.

What are you going to use to attach the tip to the stock? Acraglass with a brown dye will fill in any crack and hold the tip to the stock if you can put the tip on the stock before you completely finish the wood.


I have a box of acraglass and I am putting the tip on before the stock is finished, so that's not a bad idea.
BURN  [Team Member]
9/22/2010 7:25:44 PM
I would just use wood glue and rubber tubing..

like this but length wise

KRONIIK  [Member]
9/22/2010 7:42:14 PM
You'd be well-advised to use dowel pins, too.
Gluing end grain together makes a very weak joint if is not reinforced with dowels, and some exotics don't bond well to glues to begin with, due to oily resins present in the wood. Not sure if ebony is like that, though,
That is a tough situation to drill holes sraight enough for snug-fitting dowel pins; most dowelling jigs won't work well as far as clamping onto the rounded forend for locating the hole(s).
I'd probably just locate them as carefully as possible and then drill the hole(s) a little oversize to facilitate fitup. Perhaps a 3/8 inch hole in the stock for a 5/16 diameter dowel pin (?).
Trace the profile of the forend cross-section onto a piece of typing paper to help determine hole size and location. Don't drill too close to any edges, and drill a little deeper than one-half the pin length to leave room for excess glue.

A single 3/8 x2 dowel pin is probably adequate for this purpose, but two would be better.

Do a dry fitup before gluing to double-check fit.
BURN  [Team Member]
9/22/2010 9:09:59 PM
Originally Posted By KRONIIK:
You'd be well-advised to use dowel pins, too.
Gluing end grain together makes a very weak joint if is not reinforced with dowels, and some exotics don't bond well to glues to begin with, due to oily resins present in the wood. Not sure if ebony is like that, though,
That is a tough situation to drill holes sraight enough for snug-fitting dowel pins; most dowelling jigs won't work well as far as clamping onto the rounded forend for locating the hole(s).
I'd probably just locate them as carefully as possible and then drill the hole(s) a little oversize to facilitate fitup. Perhaps a 3/8 inch hole in the stock for a 5/16 diameter dowel pin (?).
Trace the profile of the forend cross-section onto a piece of typing paper to help determine hole size and location. Don't drill too close to any edges, and drill a little deeper than one-half the pin length to leave room for excess glue.

A single 3/8 x2 dowel pin is probably adequate for this purpose, but two would be better.

Do a dry fitup before gluing to double-check fit.


+1 to the two dowel usage..
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/23/2010 11:03:49 AM
I drilled two dowel pin holes in the stock first, fitted the dowels then coated the ends with my wife's lipstick and pushed it onto the ebony. Then I drilled where the lipstick was. by sheer chance it came out right and I only had to open one hole up a tiny bit to fit it. So it fits on there *tight* without any glue. I broke one pin trying to pull the block off, I just can't get the faces totally flush. I am going to try a trick I read about last night, I'm going to tape some 80 grit to a piece of glass and sand with that.

if that doesn't work, it's acraglass filled with the sawdust of the stock cutting.
Gun_Crank  [Team Member]
9/23/2010 12:37:41 PM
Another tip for a stronger glue joint is to size the end grain. Not sure if that is spelled right.
Basically take a putty knife and smoosh wood glue into the end grain of both pieces (you don't need a lot). Remove all excess glue, and let dry
Once it dries apply wood glue, and glue as usual with clamps and such.
Makes for an extremely good bond
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/23/2010 1:54:47 PM
ARRRRRRGGGHHH!!!!

my first screw up!!!

I had my heart set on an open grip cap, so ordered one from brownells and fitted it to the stock. I took a scribe and traced around the inside of the open grip cap, and started inletting it with a chisel.

I cut away the wood down about 1/8th or a little more of an inch, when I put the grip cap on, I had carved too much away from the inside, so there is a huge gap there.

I started spotting it in thinking I'd take it a little deeper and just finish that way, but I don't have enough grip to go that deep.

I am going to have to use a solid grip cap which is going to bug the crap out of me.

oh well, live and learn.

AeroE  [Moderator]
9/23/2010 4:03:41 PM
The gap can be hid with some judiciously tinted epoxy. If you have trouble matching the tint, make the filler just a half a shade lighter.

I don't know how the bottom of that grip cap looks, but it should have some draft in the edge. That way you inlet it over a tapering rabbet, working the fit out slowly. Just like the fore end, everything that is covered up doesn't have to fit perfectly.

I don't know how you tried to carve the grip. I would stab in just outside the outline, then refine the fit with a razor sharp chisel, knife, and file.

I can't wait to see how the checkering goes. Hopefully "judiciously" and "slowly" will sail back to assist!


Here's another way to fix the undercut. Carve a separate piece to fit the grip cap. This way the outer surface can be sanded to a perfect match. Then attach the whole thing to the stock.



BURN  [Team Member]
9/23/2010 5:59:25 PM
they also sell a meltable filler that will work...and comes in many colors...but I can not remember the brand name
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/24/2010 12:41:55 PM
Originally Posted By AeroE:
The gap can be hid with some judiciously tinted epoxy. If you have trouble matching the tint, make the filler just a half a shade lighter.

I don't know how the bottom of that grip cap looks, but it should have some draft in the edge. That way you inlet it over a tapering rabbet, working the fit out slowly. Just like the fore end, everything that is covered up doesn't have to fit perfectly.

I don't know how you tried to carve the grip. I would stab in just outside the outline, then refine the fit with a razor sharp chisel, knife, and file.

I can't wait to see how the checkering goes. Hopefully "judiciously" and "slowly" will sail back to assist!


Here's another way to fix the undercut. Carve a separate piece to fit the grip cap. This way the outer surface can be sanded to a perfect match. Then attach the whole thing to the stock.






I will get pictures of the bottom, it's relatively flat. there is some taper to the sides of the grip cap but there's not much. The problem is there is not too much more wood to take away to keep fitting it down.

I am going to a wood shop today and will do 1 of 3 things:

plan 1:

Get a super nice piece of highly figured black walnut, inlet the grip cap onto that, then file off the extra wood on the bottom, effectively making a "solid" grip cap which I then just fit onto the original stock. Will look nice, keep the skeletonized grip cap that I really want, and only mentally bug me. Done right, nobody else really will notice.

Plan 2:

get some ebony, inlet the grip cap onto the ebony. Then go 1 of two ways:
a) Keep the silver grip cap, with a black ebony center. That would look sorta nice except there are no other silver/nickel accents
b) Drill out the ebony in the center, file it back so there is a slight edge or lip then continue inletting into the current stock, this would give me the original stock in the grip cap, outlined by a nice black ebony border. I would checker the original wood and use the ebony as a border .
This plan would look nice, but be a huge PITA.

Plan 3:
give up and buy a solid grip cap and install it and solve this particular issue later.





we'll see what wood I can find.


A couple of notes on this project:

1) installing a recoil pad with a file sucks butt. it's hard and will need to be done later when I have a sander.
2) my chisels *SUCK*. Very hard to keep sharp, and metal is soft.

I need more work sharpening chisels and I need better chisels. I bought cheap ones just to see if I'm any good and while I think I have it figured out, it's readily apparent to me I need better chisels.
of course they're chinese so it's no surprise. It turns out this is fun as heck and I like it so I'll probably get some good ones.,


crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/24/2010 12:52:01 PM
BTW I did fix the tiny gap in forend under the ebony block. I taped sandpaper to my steel level and to a carpenters speed square, I locked it into the vise, leveled it on the barrel rails on the front and carefully sanded it with the now sandpaper covered level.

it took a long time but I finally got both the ebony and the forearm meeting with no gap or seam just sitting together. pegged and glued it should be pretty solid.


The youtube midwayusa.com video shows using wood glue to glue it up, some people recommend acraglass. Which should I use to glue it up?
KRONIIK  [Member]
9/24/2010 4:27:05 PM
The Swiss Pfeil brand of carving tools are as good as the very best.
Woodcraft carries them, individually and in various sets.

The steel quality is amazing.
http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2020560/22683/PFEIL-Swiss-Made-Palm-Set-B-8-Pieces.aspx

Henry Taylor brand carving tools are very good too.

In addition to the various slipstones used to sharpen carving tools, you should also consider investing in a buffer and felt wheels used with buffing compounds to get them beyond razor sharp, although a Dremel can serve the purpose quite well too.
(Carving tools not only have to cut into the wood, they need to cut their way back out of it as well.)

"First we learn to sharpen, THEN we learn to carve!"... (Old European Master woodcarver.)
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/24/2010 6:05:47 PM
I officially suck at sharpening them. I need a buffer wheel. I'm using a 200 grit diamond grit flat stone. I'll try the dremel and buffing compound. I'm pretty new to this so it's going to take some time.

I went to a woodworking store today and bought a piece of wood to refit under the messed up grip cap, and three good usa made chisels of the size I've been using the most.

I still need to make or buy a scraper. The jim Carmichael book says they are easy to make from hacksaw blades. I don't have hacksaw blades but have sawzall blades, I will try one of those.
AeroE  [Moderator]
9/24/2010 6:32:09 PM
You can make a pile of carving and inletting tools from old screwdrivers, saw blades, and so on. The scraper needs to be flexible so it will conform to the shape of the stock. Good cabinet scrapers are not expensive, but they have to be sharpened correctly.

As for sharpening, let's see if David Price's new book is published; yep:

http://stores.lulu.com/davidpriceflintlocks

There's a short preview here:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/sharpening-tools-tutorial/12039640

Price taught me how to sharpen carving tools on a platen using round bar stock ( I use polished 4130 tubing from my scrap box) to guide the tool angle a few years ago at Dixon's Gunmakers Fair. He had a great tutorial posted (in the tutorials!) at www.americanlongrifles.com, but I think it was removed when the site changed hands; I don't know about that for sure. I'll bet his book is worth every penny. Price is a hell of a gun builder and an outstanding teacher.

http://www.davidpriceflintlocks.com/index.html

Following with a strop charged with green polishing compound I can easily get a razor edge on my chisels and knives.

By the way, American Longrifles has a builders forum that will blow you away with information.

Magurgle  [Team Member]
9/24/2010 6:36:45 PM
Originally Posted By BURN:
Originally Posted By KRONIIK:
You'd be well-advised to use dowel pins, too.
Gluing end grain together makes a very weak joint if is not reinforced with dowels, and some exotics don't bond well to glues to begin with, due to oily resins present in the wood. Not sure if ebony is like that, though,
That is a tough situation to drill holes sraight enough for snug-fitting dowel pins; most dowelling jigs won't work well as far as clamping onto the rounded forend for locating the hole(s).
I'd probably just locate them as carefully as possible and then drill the hole(s) a little oversize to facilitate fitup. Perhaps a 3/8 inch hole in the stock for a 5/16 diameter dowel pin (?).
Trace the profile of the forend cross-section onto a piece of typing paper to help determine hole size and location. Don't drill too close to any edges, and drill a little deeper than one-half the pin length to leave room for excess glue.

A single 3/8 x2 dowel pin is probably adequate for this purpose, but two would be better.

Do a dry fitup before gluing to double-check fit.


+1 to the two dowel usage..


+2
KRONIIK  [Member]
9/24/2010 7:19:27 PM
Originally Posted By AeroE:
You can make a pile of carving and inletting tools from old screwdrivers, saw blades, and so on. The scraper needs to be flexible so it will conform to the shape of the stock. Good cabinet scrapers are not expensive, but they have to be sharpened correctly.

As for sharpening, let's see if David Price's new book is published; yep:

http://stores.lulu.com/davidpriceflintlocks

There's a short preview here:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/sharpening-tools-tutorial/12039640

Price taught me how to sharpen carving tools on a platen using round bar stock ( I use polished 4130 tubing from my scrap box) to guide the tool angle a few years ago at Dixon's Gunmakers Fair. He had a great tutorial posted (in the tutorials!) at www.americanlongrifles.com, but I think it was removed when the site changed hands; I don't know about that for sure. I'll bet his book is worth every penny. Price is a hell of a gun builder and an outstanding teacher.

http://www.davidpriceflintlocks.com/index.html

Following with a strop charged with green polishing compound I can easily get a razor edge on my chisels and knives.

By the way, American Longrifles has a builders forum that will blow you away with information.


That sharpening book looks like a great read. I read part of the preview, and see that he also prefers the Swiss Pfeil brand carving tools, (but he misspells it as Pfile.)

Good advice on learning to sharpen and use scrapers, AeroE.
They are invaluable tools in any woodshop or stockmaker's bench.

crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
9/28/2010 11:33:22 AM
well as it turns out I *SUCK* at inletting.

I bought a new piece of wood that matched my stock pretty closely, cut a block out of it and started inletting.

almost *Exactly* the same think happened as happened on the last round, one side got too wide and made a gap. I used the spot in method this time so not sure what happened.

I will post a picture tonight of the two caps and how you think I should maybe solve it. I think what I might do is take the original inletting, fill the gap (it's pretty small) with acraglass with brown dye in it to try and match the wood, then checker the exposed wood to try and hide the lines a little.


I also ordered a solid gripcap from brownells just in case that doesn't work. then I can finish this rifle in time for the hunt and then deal with the grip cap later.


I also would recommend that you NEVER do a recoil pad without a grinder/belt sander. Ever. I got one side filed/sanded down nicely, the other side is fighting me though. it just slides around and won't actually cut or sand much so I have a high side.


I will tell you , I really really really enjoy the filing/shaping of the stock. The recoil pad work and the grip cap have so far sucked butt.

oh and I had to cut my ebony tip off and start over . Got it shaped nicely, got it mostly inletted, decided it was a tad long so took it down a 1/2 inch and found out I drilled the holes too deep. had two nice dowel holes sticking out the end.

I briefly considered leaving them there and calling them "cartridge holders" or "emergency supply materials compartments" but then reconsidered, sawed it off and glued up another one. I'll shape and inlet the new one tonight......

this is hard work.
crashburnrepeat  [Team Member]
10/13/2010 7:40:53 PM
ok update, I'm part way through the finishing process. I got the ebony forend on there , TWICE. I am getting pretty good at foreends, and since I had to buy a foot long piece of it at the store, I am going to tip every gun I own I think

Before:



After









KRONIIK  [Member]
10/14/2010 8:17:24 PM
I think that looks nice! Certainly trimmed that stock down; looks like it should balance and handle nicely.
We need magnified close-ups of the grip cap and forend tip fit before pronouncing your work acceptable, though!
It sure looks like you did a fine job on the sanding and finishing, and with just the right degree of gloss (for my tastes, at least) too.

That is a real pretty piece of wood you have there, Crash.



Magurgle  [Team Member]
10/14/2010 8:19:38 PM
Nice work, inletting is tough most people go too fast.