Note: Due to current high workload, some services listed on this website may be temporarily unavailable. Particularly, we are currently not taking on restoration, re-bluing, or (walnut) stock-making work, due to the high labour content required.
In the course of a year we usually make a small number of custom stocks. These are strictly to order only, and due to the labour content required and material costs they are not cheap to produce. Especially the high grade walnut stocks where the time content can go easily over 70 hours if shaping from a solid blank, checkering and finishing. The cost of obtaining good quality walnut now is also a concern, but with such a huge time content involved it is pointless using a ‘cheap’ piece of wood.
Synthetic stocks are much quicker to produce, but a suitable fibreglass blank must first be sourced (usually from the USA) which is supplied rough moulded or inletted to fit your rifles action. These usually have to be painted after finishing. Some like the McMillan stocks can be ordered with an external ‘gelcoat’, which is usually better than paint.
As an indication of the work involved in producing a custom walnut stock which is a functional work of art, the following pictures and captions should provide an insight.
Note that for this grade of stock there should be a very close wood-to-metal fit and good quality inletting. The action is usually glass bedded to give good contact to the appropriate recoil bearing surfaces, and the external dimensions and finishing must be as near to perfect as possible.
Most professional stockmakers use a ‘duplicating machine’ to rough-shape a wooden blank into a semi-inletted/semi-shaped form, after which the remainder of the work is done by hand. If used properly, a good quality machine and skilled operator can shave off more than half of the time taken to produce a stock entirely by ‘hand’. This is a good option if you have to make more than one stock on the same ‘pattern’. A ‘masterstock’, ‘copy-master’, or ‘dummy stock’ is used by the machine to copy from.
The following is a series of photos showing the processes in shaping a stock by ‘hand’ from a solid blank. As no suitable masterstock was available it was not possible to send the blank ‘out’ for rough shaping/duplicating. Instead the entire stock was made ‘the hard/slow way’.
1. Here the milling machine is used to true-up the top surface of the blank, and guide holes for the actions screws are drilled to exact distance apart.
2. Action recess and barrel channel are roughed out with milling cutter at least 1mm short of finished dimension. Magazine box recess is milled out also.
8. Straight ‘masterlines’ cut with milling machine. Stock is shaped by hand up to, but not violating, the masterliness. Note importance of templates in this phase. Bolt handle knotch and ejection port are also shaped out.
9. Stock is sanded carefully by hand using progressively finer grit paper, raising grain at each step. ‘Magnum crossbolts’ (if required) are installed using special tools and heads are shaped and sanded flush with stock. Stock is cut to correct length and recoil pad custom fitted to buttstock and finished by hand ‘sanding’. Swivel studs (if required) are installed.
10. Checkering panels on grip and forend are laid out on stock and checkering cut carefully with hand checkering tools. ‘Diamonds’ are pointed up and final touches done on checkering. Magnum crossbolts are removed for engraving or bluing if required, as is all other metalwork. Stock is then carefully ‘oil finished’ over a period of several weeks. The finish must fill all the pores of the stock wood with no ‘runs’ or ‘dull spots’. Only special stock oils containing a drying agent are used.
11-14 – Finished Stock has metal parts re-fitted, recoil pad installed and rest of rifle assembled.
Custom Martini .22 magnum rim fire