Technique(s) for shortening stock?


June 3, 2005, 01:12 PM
Hi shotgunners! This is my first posting to this group (Mr McCracken was kind enough to answer a private posting earlier). As I mentioned to him then, I'm impressed with the respect and cordiality offered by this group (i.e., no bashing). I'm very new to shotguns and feel I've already benefited by the experience shared here. Thankyou!

My question to you is this: I want to shorten the stock for LOP on a new o/u (without incurring the cost of a gunsmith). I'm fairly comfortable working with wood and have tools. Does anyone have a tried-and-true method they can share? The more the merrier. I'm a firm believer in "no best way" and enjoy synthesizing information. I did try searching past threads and couldn't find any specifics. Obviously I don't want to botch this (oops, it was a nice gun :uhoh: ).

I'm also looking at adding a Gracoil adjustable buttplate and Limbsaver recoil pad. I'm OK with the math but not the right tool or method to chop with...

Any advice appreciated.
Thanks, Andy. :)

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June 3, 2005, 03:02 PM
First of all, welcome to the shotgunning fraternity! Nice to have you on board.

Now, as to cutting the stock. First and foremost, make sure - I repeat, make SURE!!! - that you've been correctly measured for fit. If you get the measurements wrong, and then cut the stock too short, it's time to buy a new one... Get someone who knows what they're doing to measure you, rather than try it yourself from Internet hints. Not all Internet hints are the equivalent of an expert opinion... ;)

Second, what's the stock made of? Wood stocks are relatively easy to shorten, but synthetic stocks pose more problems. They'll usually have some form of reinforced sockets inside to take the recoil pad screws, and if you shorten them more than half-an-inch or so, you frequently take out the screw holes as well. One way to reduce the problem is to fill the inside of the synthetic stock with builders foam insulation, after first placing a PVC pipe inside to allow you access to the stock screw (make sure the pipe is wide enough to allow you to get at the screw with the screwdriver or other tool you need to insert or remove it). The back part of the foam can have a couple of wood blocks placed in it to take the pad screws. When the whole affair is set, you can trim the foam and pipe to the correct length.

As for the tools you'll need, an ordinary saw is usually OK, although for finer results (less sandpapering), use a saw with as many small teeth as possible, and cut more slowly. For synthetic stocks, a hot iron can help in smoothing out any resultant imperfections. Bear in mind that the stock will now be slightly smaller overall at the back, so that the original recoil pad will need to be ground down to fit (or a new recoil pad ordered to fit the new dimensions).

Hope this helps.

June 3, 2005, 04:07 PM
Hi Preacherman. Thanks for the welcome and the advice.

The stock is Turkish walnut. I'm thinking about adding a Gracoil adjustable buttplate/LOP. That way I can fool around with fit and hopefully build-in some forgiveness in LOP. I'm a little concerned about working with the adjustable comb. If you look at Graco's website you can see that they post a picture of the problems you can encounter with too much stock cut-off.

I don't have the gun in front of me at the moment for measurement but have shot the same model and know that 14.5 is at least 1/2" too long (3 fingers between thumb and nose and a bruised upper bicep, to boot).

I will measure twice / cut once. Will scribe a line, as well. I was hoping to use a power saw. I don't have much luck with hand saws (can't seem to keep them from wandering around). I do have a radial arm and a chop saw. :evil: However, I'm not sure how to secure the odd shape of a shotgun stock. A vise of sorts seems in order.

This project may end up in the competent hands of a gunsmith after all (or not).

Thanks again.

June 3, 2005, 05:24 PM
Welcome montana,

I recently cut one with my table saw with the miter gauge set to the correct angle and made sure the stock was level. I would suggest however you cut it to wrap several wraps of masking tape around the area to be cut to reduce the chance of splintering into the grain. Scribe the line you intend to cut on the tape and cut through the tape. I would start from the toe of the stock to lessen the chance of pulling a splinter out going the other direction. You say you have a radial arm saw, then I would clamp the stock in the appropriate place on the table and buzz on through slowly.

Adjustable combs are a bit more tricky and would reqire a bandsaw, but the same techniques apply. Another excuse to get more power tools. :D

June 3, 2005, 08:15 PM
A vise of sorts seems in order.

I've lately been thinking about how to design a gunstock vise to work with either a table saw or miter saw (which I have - but no band saw). I think the surest way is to hold the stock upright rather than laying on its side, but a table saw doesn't have the blade height to do it. So the vise would have to be adjustable in all 3 axes. Ugh.

June 3, 2005, 11:48 PM
Well, let me give you my "how I dun it" story, and see if it gives you any ideas.
My friend recently got an older 20ga side-by-side from her father. LOP was way too long for her shorter arms. So she brought it over to my shop, and we got to work.

First, decide on your LOP. We ended up using, as I recall, 12" for her LOP. We took a tape measure, and measured 12" from the trigger back, keeping the tape perpindicular to the butt of the gun. Eyeball where that's going to come out.

Now, lay down a layer or two of masking tape, all the way around the stock at about that 12" area. Go back with your tape measure, and put a pencil mark right at 12", on the tape. At this point, we need to measure from the butt end, so remove the recoil pad and any spacers. You want to draw a line parallel to the butt of the gun, right at your pencil mark. We used a flexible metal ruler, and eyeballed it a little bit. Then we took several measurements from the butt to the line, making sure we got the line in the right place.

Now unbolt the stock from the gun, and head for the bandsaw. (You don't have a bandsaw, you say?! I love mine. I used to be a table saw guy. I've been converted. I'd give up my table saw, my wife, and my least favorite gun before I'd give up my bandsaw.)

On the bandsaw, I set up the rip fence the right distance away from the blade. I butted the butt of the stock up against the fence, and lined up the line on the tape with the blade. Everything looked good. Then I took some cardboard and used it to shim up the grip end of the stock, to help keep the butt flat against the guide fence.

Note: we removed almost 2" from the butt of the shotgun. Because I had that much space, I could get a good grip on the butt end of the stock, and keep it firmly against the guie fence with my fingers, without worrying about cutting them off. If you're only taking 1/2", you might want to spend some more time on shimming and securing the stock at the right angle.

I took a deep breath, looked at my friend, took a firm grip on the stock, and fed it through the saw. It went slick as a whistle, and the cut came out smooth and exactly right. Whew! I was a little worried, but tried not to show it; I didn't want my friend to think I didn't know what I was doing...

She then just used some 120 grit sandpaper on a flat table to smooth out the butt, drilled new holes for her new butt pad, and was ready to go.

If you've got a table saw, I imagine you could do it pretty much the same way, with a little more worry about tearout of the wood. The same with the chop saw, but I'd be extra careful with setting up the cut if you don't have a guide fence parallel to the saw blade to square the butt up against.

It's not rocket science. And you can get spacers, if you go just a wee bit too short. I say, measure it out carefully, and give it a go.

June 4, 2005, 01:17 AM
Hi fellas, I just got back back from a wake... that's for me, all the old crowd and a celebration of life... he was a good man and will be missed...

Excellent suggestions on "how to"... I do have a table saw and a friend who has a band saw. Might have to hit him up. I think I can do this. I will take my time and try to do it right the first time.

I don't have the stock in hand (yet) so if anyone else wants to weigh-in?

Thanks, AB.

June 6, 2005, 02:49 PM
I have used both a hand mitre box and a power mitre box to cut a stock. The tape suggestion is a good one. That helps to prevent splintering with either setup. The mitre box has an advantage in that you can set the angle of the box to match the pitch angle that you need on the stock. Beware that some guns have a connection that prevents cutting a great deal off a stock. The Reminton 1100/1187 series, for instance, have an action tube in the stock that makes taking more than about an inch off the LOP a challenge. It is possible to find a pad that will let a small amount of the action tube nut stick out into the pad recess, but that is about the most you can fudge it.


June 6, 2005, 09:43 PM
Thanks Clemson. I like the tape suggestion, too. I'ts an o/u breech loader so I don't have the auto long-bolt issue to deal with. I think I'll drop the Graco adjustable "jones" for now and just cut the stock for LOP and a Limbsaver. More can come off later if I want to add the Graco. I'll probably have to re-shape the Limbsaver (again) to fit the Graco but shouldn't be a big deal. I was very pleased to find a local sports shop stocked the Simms pads (saves on ordering). They have a good price, as well. Now I'm reading the reloading threads. I love this sport. Can anybody spot me a loan? ;)

June 26, 2006, 09:33 PM
I am also wishing to cut down a stock and install an adjustable butt plate (graco)and pad. Stock is also walnut. My question is, with the installation of the adjustable butt plate I would think the cut would need to be square. The stock as it comes from the factory has a degree of degree on it. The adjustable buttplate has a shaft on it that needs to be inserted into the stock 1 1/8". If I stay with the present stock angle the plate (I do not believe will be square or fit tight to the stock. Question ? Is the angle on the rear of the stock critical ? If so how would the plate mate up? ... Also on the tools to use ,I have all 3 at my disposal. I'm thinking as long as I'm able to hold the stock tight and have the finest blade it should be Ok?.......I'm leaning toward the bench or chop saw.

June 26, 2006, 10:45 PM
I recently cut down the stock on my son's 870 Youth, to fit him a little better.

I can attest to the 'tape trick'. It works. (I like the 3M 'painters tape'. It's blue.)
As for the blade on a table saw or radial arm saw, I have a thin kerf Freud 80 tooth (trim blade) that I used. The end of the stock was so smoothe, it needed nothing but the Limbsaver pad!

June 27, 2006, 06:20 PM
byf43 .thanks for the 80 tooth info. Thats what I planned on using. I'm still interested to know if anybody has (after cut off) mounted an adjustable buttplate and what they experienced..........Thanks

July 2, 2006, 06:23 PM
Moving ahead from the suggestions posted here, I did the dasterdly deed!

I not only shortened the stock on a newly purchased O/U , but also installed a graco adjustable buttplate!

Using a chop saw with an 80 tooth blade and tapeing the stock did the trick easily and cleanly.
The buttplate however was a tedious job requiring hours of grinding and wet sanding to get shaped and finished to "my perfection".
With that said, I am very pleased with the out-come of both and now have a gun to fit multiple users. If and when I learn how to post a pic on here, I'll let ya see the finished product...........Thanks to all who provided the above postings!

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