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You may have come here to get ideas on how to make a custom rifle stock. Well, you can find ideas, but I can’t say they’ll all be good ones.
Let me start by telling the story behind this rifle. When I was younger and newly married I really wanted a new rifle. One evening on the way home from work I stopped by a local gun shop (lgs) and bought a Ruger mini-14. I was all excited until I got home and told my wife. That did not go over well. She wasn’t happy, I felt guilty for not talking it over with her first, and to make matters worse I hated the rifle.
After a year or so of trying to make it into an accurate rifle I gave up and traded it in. At the time I’m writing this that is the only gun I’ve ever relinquished. I traded it in on a scoped, sporterized 96 Swedish Mauser. It was chambered in .22-250. After the slightest bit of work and a new trigger I could consistently shoot 1″ groups at 200 yds. I was in heaven. The only problem I had was that I didn’t like the stock, and it didn’t fit well. Here begins the journey of making my own very first rifle stock.
I have pictures from all along the way and I’ll share MY steps. You may have a better idea, and that’s great. Make sure you try it on a scrap first.
Wood choice for something as mild as a .22-250 isn’t critical. If we were talking a large magnum you’d have to be a little more careful. Choose something strong, close grained, straight grained and easy(ish) to work with. Since I’m a glutton for punishment I chose Hickory.

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I chose some lighter and some darker pieces. These were all squared and planed down to equal thicknesses that added up to just a little wider than my final width would be.

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Buy a good wood glue. Use it liberally and press the pieces together. After letting them sit a day or so they were ran through the jointer and the ends squared off again.

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Now we have a nice big slab of Hickory with 4 square sides. This would be a great time to draw out the basic profile for your stock on a piece of poster board. After you are happy with that carefully cut it out. I also “blueprinted” my action. Taking careful measurements every 1/4″ or closer depending on the radius, I made a drawing of my action to use as a template. Since I had a stock already I also used a piece of paper and a crayon to do a rubbing. Mark a center line all the way around the blank. This is pretty easy since your sides are flat and square. Use these to carefully locate your action holes and drill them with a drill press.
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After drilling out the holes carefully lay your profile template on the side and align your holes. Then cut out your profile. I kept the chunk cut from under the forearm to level up the blank for working on.
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Using my action print I carefully cut out a template from luan plywood that also allowed for a pattern bushing on my router. I opted to hog out most of the material in the center with a forstner bit. Be careful to know your width top and bottom before going through! In some places the top of the action inlet will be wider than at the floorplate.
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After the bulk was removed I fastened the template onto the top and used a straight cut router bit to cut the rest. Using the router allowed me to get precise depth control. An appropriate size bull nose bit cut a good portion of the barrel channel as well.
I performed the same task on the bottom, but it was a little more manual since the router can’t cut to the back of the floor plate due to the grip being in the way.
When you get to this point the only power tool that can help you is a dremel. That and elbow grease. Fitting the action in required lots of chiseling and filing. As you get to the point that the action will start to slip in get some pencil lead or candle soot and apply it to the action so you can see where it is rubbing. Only remove wood where you see rubbing, and only until the rub mark is gone.

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After a few dozen fittings the action finally fit in and sat all the way in.
Once you are happy with the way the action sits and the floor plate fastens in nicely you can remove some more material if you wish to bed the rifle or wait and do that later.
Now, on to the fun stuff. Shaping the outside I used everything from chisels, planes, and rasps to a 30 grit wheel on an angle grinder. I enjoyed the shaping portion a lot. I used a scrap of wood to figure out how far back I wanted to set the thumbhole. That and a stock blank I started years ago that warped on me.
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Pay careful attention to use a sanding block and files as you get to your final dimension. This will help you to keep from dishing and keep your lines straight. After shaping and getting the grip cut out and grooves cut in with the dremel I moved on to finish sanding. I started with 60 grit to remove file marks, then proceeded all the way up to 600 grit. I thought about whiskering it after that, but opted for a good 000 steel wool instead.
Finish is all about what look you want or what abuse you need it to take. I chose to use Birchwood Casey Tru-oil. When applying your first coat use a generous amount of oil on the palm of your hand and rub it in until your hand is hot. Each consecutive coat use less and less oil.
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After five coats I went back to bedding. I’ve only ever used Brownell’s Acra-glas gel. It’s worked well for me, but there are lots of options out there.
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Once bedded I put one more coat of oil on after a final buff with 0000 steel wool, and fit the recoil pad and sling studs.
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At this point I’m all done but finishing up. I’m pretty happy with the recoil lug bedding but need to do some adjustments to the floor plate so that there is no wobble in the action. Maybe in the next couple of days I can get a chance to mount the scope and get my zero set.
Building your own stock is a labor of love. It takes a lot of patience and time. If I ever have the need to do this again I’ll choose a different wood and hopefully an easier action.

One Comment

  1. Excellent work. Actually holding it puts it into a greater perspective.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. [...] Re: Thinking about THUMBHOLE stock Just make one out of the wood you'd like. I just made one. It is laminated, but it's only 4 layers, so you don't have the "laminated" look. Mine is Hickory, which was a pain in the rear, but I'm happy with the results. I suppose it would depend on how tough your action is to inlet. Check out the pics on my blog to see what I mean. My first DIY rifle stock | Mike's hunting blog [...]

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