Stock Making index

Part 7 - Sanding and Finishing

This is the final installment of the Stock Making 101 Series. This has been an enlightening endeavor as I was able to see for myself, step by step, the work that goes into building a custom stock. It’s not something I think about while I’m in the process of building it, so it was fun to relive the experience through these posts.

In our final stage, I’ll show you how I prepare the blanks and apply the Tru Oil finish, including tips to help you get the results you want.

The secret to achieving a great looking finish is preparation. Add to that a generous helping of patience, and you’re on you’re way to success. The process of finishing a stock with an oil finish can seem somewhat tedious, but the end result will be well worth the effort.

One step to complete before we start the sanding, is to make the screw cups for the stocks. These will be made from ” black Delrin Rod. I center bore the rod to 9/32” and part off the cup to the depth of the hole in the stock minus 1/32”.

I flip the rod over in the chuck and with a 3/8’ drill, I counter drill for the head of the 20 cap screw, then follow that with a sharp countersink.

A final test fit.

I use 4 grits of paper during the sanding process. 80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit, and 320 grit. I tear the full sheets into sheets, and then fold each sheet over in thirds. That gives me a nice flat pad to work with that can be easily shaped to fit the other profiles of the stock.

I begin with 80 grit paper to remove the marks from the carbide burr and the Microplanes. I spend extra time at the transitions to make sure they are smooth to the touch, with no bumps or dips. I keep the butt pad mounting plates attached during sanding.

With 120 grit paper, I continue to smooth the blanks and remove the scratches left by the 80 grit paper.

Now with 220 grit paper, I begin to polish the wood, removing all the scratches left by the 120 grit paper. The colors and the figure of the wood begin to emerge from the blanks.

Finally, using 320 grit paper, I give the wood a fine polishing, revealing every little scratch and defect that I though was gone. The 320 grit paper really exaggerates any scratches or flaws and the time to fix anything is now.

Now, I remove the butt pad mounting plates, and remove the adjustable comb hardware from their mortises, and lightly round over all the sharp edges of the carving everywhere except at the butt. Finishes don’t like sharp edges.

Using a Tack Cloth, I carefully wipe each blank and comb to remove all dust and debris. Then using three parts Birchwood Casey Tru Oil, and one part Mineral Spirits, I give the wood a generous application of Oil, using a small brush or cotton swab to be sure the oil gets into every hole and crevice.

I rub the oil into the wood for about five minutes, and then wipe off the excess. I allow the stocks to dry for a few hours.

I repeat the application of the oil at least three times allowing the finish to dry between coats. After three applications, I start to see a gloss building up at the surface of the wood.

Using 320 grit paper, I lightly sand the entire stock to remove the gloss. Use very light pressure on your paper. Too much pressure generates heat, and clogs the paper. You should have a nice white talcum like dust from your sanding.

Once the stocks are sanded, I wipe them down with a tack cloth and apply more oil.

By repeating the process, eventually all the wood pores will be filled and level with the surface of the stock. You can start to see the results of leveling the surface a few times.

Our repair from Part 6 is holding up nicely.

After several applications of Tru Oil, the stocks are ready for the next step. Using #0000 steel wool and WD-40, I buff out the final application of oil.

I also take the time to enlarge and countersink the holes for the sling studs. I use a piece of 1 ” Delrin rod on the forearm to keep the hole from splitting out on the inside.

Before we take any formal pictures, I give the wood a few coats of Finishing Wax, polished out with a white finishing pad. The can on the right is for darker colored woods.

I think we’re ready for pictures.

Michael Chavka

Success is not an entitlement.

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