How do you go about making a custom stock?


Rusty Luck
August 10, 2012, 05:48 PM
I searched for something on this topic but couldn't find anything because so much "custom" stuff came up and I'm not sure if I put this in the right spot, if not Moderators please help me out.

Now my question is: I'm wanting to make my own stock, what kind of wood would be best? I have the skills and (I think) the tools to accomplish the job just looking for tips and insight. Thanks.

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August 10, 2012, 07:10 PM
walnuts pretty popular for a stock... could probably glue pine together into a blank to practice on first.. but any hardwood you like would be suitable for a stock

as for tools, if you have the skills to go with it, you could do it with a set of chisels.. but obviously.. modern tools make it easier... a bandsaws good to have, a router of course, various rasps and files for fine tuning the edges and shape, couple bench vices to hold it steady while you work

Jim K
August 10, 2012, 09:53 PM
You can buy fully inletted or partially inletted stocks that will allow a good amount of exterior area for custom work without the headaches of doing the inletting. But if you want some wayout shape or size you might have to start with a big blank and cut away everything that doesn't look like what you want.


August 10, 2012, 10:16 PM
You could wait until Thanksgiving time when TSJC puts out the schedule and sign up for summer classes and take the two week stock making course. It is a very good class and you will get pretty close to completing a stock. There are a few folks down here that sell walnut as well.

I made this, this summer, from a blank. This was my first stock ever.

August 11, 2012, 06:23 AM
The two that I have made were bench rest stocks for 22 lr. The first was made from walnut which is easy to work with using hand tools or power tools. The second one I made was padauk which is much harder so I used mostly power tools. Table saw, band saw, router, drill press, and high speed grinder with sanding drums. Of course there is some work to be done with chisels on the inletting. Then many hours of hand sanding.:)

Rusty Luck
August 11, 2012, 10:09 AM
Nice stock! Thanks for the ideas! Where can I find a blank?

August 11, 2012, 10:23 AM
Ask lbjmosinfreak he is working on a custom stock, so some of his experiences will likely be relevant.

August 11, 2012, 04:14 PM
Personally I think that some formal training is needed.
As a matter of fact, A LOT of formal training is needed UNLESS you have a
friend/neighbor who knows his stuff AND is willing to help you.
We are talking of course full length RIFLE stocks where Inletting AND bedding are of utmost importance.
In reality, the custom stock thing has met it's demise for MOST shooters.
The Milsurp thing has dried up, so the "custom rifle" on a Mauser action is now in Limbo.
Good luck however in your endevour,first finding a "stock blank" then figuering out how to go from there.

August 11, 2012, 06:45 PM
I go to a gunsmith. Tell the gunsmith what I want and why I want it. Then I stack $100 bills on the counter until the gunsmith says stop.

dagger dog
August 11, 2012, 08:57 PM
1. Plant a black walnut.
2. Wait.
3. "
4. "

August 12, 2012, 11:31 AM
I don't think you have to have formal training at all. I have many years of woodworking experience but no training at all in making rifle stocks,and still made these two. Maybe not the prettiest in the world, but still functional. Both were made from a block of wood, inletting came first, then the outside was shaped. Anyone can do it with the right tools.:)

August 15, 2012, 12:46 PM
Yeah, don't let these negative comments derail you. If you do it, and it doesn't work....throw it in the corner, take the knowledge gained, and do it again, but right.

You'll learn from mistakes, but hey, it's fun. What you need is patience, a drill press, a table-mounted router, and a palm sander.

Start with a piece of wood; doesn't much matter, say poplar because it's cheap. Do your experimentation on that; tolerances etc. and then once you've got it 95%, and know the ins and outs, get a nice peice of wood with a lot of character and grain etc, and do it again...taking it to 110%.

If at any time you fail, step back, have a beer, think about it, and try again. Most importantly, Enjoy it!

Jim K
August 17, 2012, 10:29 PM
Desidog, I hope the OP reads your third paragraph before the first one. A corner full of ruined walnut stock blanks will represent a lot of money.


August 18, 2012, 12:38 AM
OP: 2) 8' 1x6 pine boards for a cost of $7 from Lowes, create a practice laminate stock. Apparently that's were you're supposed to start w/o formal training, cheap / soft wood and take it slow.

I go to a gunsmith. Tell the gunsmith what I want and why I want it. Then I stack $100 bills on the counter until the gunsmith says stop.

This doesn't work with all gunsmiths... my latest activity proves that.

bamajoey, those are some beautiful stocks.

August 18, 2012, 02:51 PM
I have to agree with the folks who have said to create practice stocks with scrap wood.

I glued together two lengths of 2x4 that were the same in length. I'm using them to practice making a stock for my Savage Mark II. The goal isn't to build an exhibition piece or become a master gunsmith over night.

Its cheap and effective to use scrap wood you have around. The next biggest thing is to find quality tools and learn how to keep them at their peak sharpness.

Jim, West PA
August 20, 2012, 06:04 PM
Rusty Luck.
If you wanna get serious about this you need this book.
If you don't learn it from this book.....yer not gonna learn it.

If you want to learn to checker or carve.
This is best book for that.

August 21, 2012, 07:08 PM
couple threads to check out, rimfirecentral one is pretty good IMHO

August 22, 2012, 09:21 PM
a few things i'll recomend is learning how to sharpen your chisels and gouges, how to make and use scapers and instead of starting out with a cheap blank start out with a very expensive blank.
there is a world of difference in how a very sharp chisel , scraper or gouge cuts and a dull one cuts.
i make my own scrapers from old saw blades, .030"thick 3" jewlers saws cut into strips with a cutoff wheel on a dremel the shaped with a belt sander make great scrapers.

some people wont agree with starting off with a high end blank but starting off with a $700-1000 blank will force you to double and triple check every cut and you will not do that with a cheap $40 blank.

February 8, 2013, 07:02 PM
I am doing the same.

First, YouTube. Subscribe to Hand making gunstock

Chris Knerr. Starts with Introduction, Wood 1&2, Tools 1-4 and now up to Inletting the stock 1-7. Handtools (he does use a band saw and a drill press).

I also went up on Internet and got some old gunsmith books (when they really made them by hand). Like Chris, these include cast-off and cast-on.
Gunstock Finishing and Care by A. Donald Newell. 1949. I got 1975 printing.
Gunsmithing by Roy F. Dunlap. 1959 This is proabably the best.
The Modern Gunsmith by James V. Howe. Originally two volumes, I got a combined single volume with updates.

Watching Chris, you will see that even seasoned wood has some surprises that machine tools would probably miss.

This will be a year long venture with handtools. I have been getting old (pre-WWII) handtools. I think these have the best steel.

I think his stocks sell for four or more digits.

I am going to cut a walnut plank in half and laminate it for a mannlicher stock. This will actually enable me to have the twist/warp work in opposite directions. From one of the books, "A few sportsmen like mannlicher stocks. No stockmakers do." But I want one.

Functionally, most of these folks agreed that Walnut was best, but others are prettier.

And, according to Roy Dunlap, for Walnut checkering the answer is 18.

February 8, 2013, 07:11 PM
Circassian/European walnut, black walnut and orange Osage. Lampblack lots of lampblack.

February 8, 2013, 08:09 PM
Plain grade American black walnut.

1. It is a traditional stock wood.

2. It is easy to inlet and easy to finish.

3. It won't dull & wear out your sharp tools trying to inlet it like the mystery glue and imperfections in any grade of plywood.


February 9, 2013, 09:19 AM
Nice stock! Thanks for the ideas! Where can I find a blank?
Any particular rifle? The reason I ask is because I have a rough cut blank sitting here that I want to believe is for a Remington 700 Long Action. A Remington 700 BDL floor plate for a short action I have laying around seems to fit but comes up just a little short. I have no clue where it came from but when you own a gun shop a number of years you end up will all sorts of odds and ends.

Anyway, if you are considering a long action Remington 700 the stock is yours for the asking as I'll never use it. I can take and post a few pictures if it would help. Again, I have no use for it and likely never will. I just want to see it go to someone who will use it.


February 10, 2013, 05:09 PM
I made this one for a Rem 700BDL SS. It is out of Purpleheart wood, a real hard, hard wood. I did the action and barrel channel work on the mill at work, then it was a bandsaw for roughing out, which was the hardest part due to the Monte Carlo style check pad( I should have offset the channel work another 1/4" farther for the full check pad offset). I bought several .750' thick boards and watertight glued them together in the 400ton press at work, at the end of the workday I set the presses head on the wood with pressure and left it there till the next day. No separations !!

After roughing I took disc sanders/Dynabrade Dynafile/and die grinders with wood bits to get the shape as close as possible, Then sand, sand, sand, sand, sand. I had about 40-45 hours into it. The smoother you get it, the better the finish will look. I had all the tools to do it, if not for power tools, I wouldn't have done it.

February 10, 2013, 06:54 PM
OK, got your PM and here are a few images of the stock I mentioned. As I mentioned I put a Remington 700 Short Action floor plate in it and I thing based on the fit this is a Long Action Remington 700 rough cut stock. I ended up with this thing somewhere around 17 to 20 years ago and figure if I have not used it in 20 years I likely never will.

I do not want anything for it, if you figure you can use it, then it's yours. I will need to find a box to ship it in. My only request is you use it for something, even if a learning tool.

Sorry the pictures are not that great as I took them in haste.

Above the 42.00 it says X GOT which I have no clue? :) I sure as hell do not want 42.00 :) as I have nothing in it.


Edit: With many hours and patience it will look like the nice work jjjitters posted.

February 16, 2013, 05:19 PM
I ran a small rural gunsmith shop from 1973 to 2000 or so. I restocked quite a few shotguns, rifles, pistols- even knives. Mostly of the type no replacement stocks were available for. Stocks were a labor of love and a funnel I used to unwind after a hard day of running a sawmill. I could slow down and get lost in the job! I loved the challenge!
I had customers quite often ask me how to make a gunstock. My favorite answer was,Y"you just take a piece of wood and remove everything that doesn't look like a gunstock." HAHA
I was never at a point of trying to drum up work, it always found me even when I tried to hide.;)

February 16, 2013, 09:04 PM
If I weren't on my phone I would post some pics of one I'm working on right now. I laminated some hickory together to make a thumbhole stock for a sporterized 96 mauser.
It's a lot of work, but it's very enjoyable. I'm about 20 hours in and just this evening got the inletting all done. Hoping to start shaping tomorrow afternoon.

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February 17, 2013, 10:26 AM
Hickory, now there's a true american "HARD" wood! Loggers used to hate it because it dulled their chain saw chains so fast due to the sand? embedded in the bark. You could actually see sparks fly from the chain saw chain during the felling process. Please post finished product picture later as I've never seen a finished hickory gunstock.

Rusty Luck
February 17, 2013, 11:55 AM
I love hearing stories about custom stocks, it's one of the reasons I wanted to do it myself. Those are all very nice stocks gentleman! I am interested in the hickory one being finished as well!! Wow man that's an undertaking.

February 17, 2013, 01:04 PM
Had a minute, so here's a little more from my experience
1) Very Important----Start with a decent piece of wood-walnut is great as rc suggested. Why? Because if you do a good job, you're going to find out the cost of the wood is basically irrelavent to the cost (or time) you are going to invest in the making of the stock. And you will have something you can be proud of and show off the rest of your life.
2) Grain- the part of a custom stock that draws the ouhs and ahs. Make sure the grain is straight forward of the pistol grip to prevent warpage and loss of accuracy in the future. Keep the swirlly stuff behind the pistol grip.
3) dry wood- should be kiln dried (kills any bugs that may have laid eggs in the wood) or if sure no bugs air dried for 2 years per inch of wood. I perfered kiln dried.
4) cut basic shape with bandsaw to eliminate much hand work
5) Inlet the action with stockmakers black very slowly only taking very little wood at a time until the final inletting is done. Remember, the wood to metal fit is the hardest and most time consuming part of the job- the part that separates the professional from the jackleg.
6) Shaping can be done with all manner of tools, but remember as you near the final product be very careful to work with progressively finer cut tools as all the marks left will have to be sanded out before final finishing
7) Sanding the final product is best accomplished with automotive wet or dry sand paper working up to 400 grit.
8) "Whisker" the wood especially in the swirlly grain to bring out the true 3D
depth you see in the most expensive stocks. Then fill it ( I always used Herter's french red) It must be good as it still on the market (Brownells, I think)
8) Finish it with Tru-Oil, hand rubbing between each coat until you get the glass finish you see on the custom stocks
9) Work slowly, NEVER HURRY.
Good Luck Catpop

Rusty Luck
February 17, 2013, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the details Catpop. This isn't something I'm gonna rush. It's to be a labor of love, something to do with my hands to give my mind a break.

February 17, 2013, 02:20 PM
And remember the structure around the magwell and recoil lug. Many factory stocks have a captive pin that holds the sides together. You sometimes see it(on Rem and Wins) as a 3/8dia black dot. It is a good choice to do that unless the wood your using is super strong and won't start cracking along the gran under recoil. I didn't do it on mine because the purple heart is an unbelievably hard.

February 17, 2013, 07:49 PM
Hickory was just a silly choice. I started my first attempt with an actual slab of hickory from my father. I did not take my time and also ended up with a little warping. So, i got some thinner, kiln dried stuff and laminated it into a blank.
This evening I got the action all fitted and set in place. Now, maybe next weekend I'll get to start shaping.
This stuff is nasty hard and tough to cut. If I manage to finish it you bet I'll post some pics. In order to do a better job this time around I made some templates up for the top and bottom of the action. Used a forstner bit to hog out the bulk of the wood with a drill press, the used the templates as a router guide to finish up the big stuff. From then on it has been all chisel, rasp, and dremel work. Planning to locate my thumbhole and drill it out on the press while my sides are still square, then on to a draw knife to cut away the bulk of the outside. After that I'll do a little shaping with a 60 grit wheel on my angle grinder. (tested that out on the last stock and it works great ) then on to files and sanding blocks, etc.

Sorry, I didn't really order the pics, but you get the idea.

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February 20, 2013, 03:40 PM
Hi im in the prosess of inletting my 1022 action into a webley air rifle stock .Its been a long and very hard job (im a carpenter and joiner by trade) to inlett in the action took me about 24 hours over 2 days including a practice on a piece of pine .as the new stock was shaped was very hard to mark out ,Im just doing the finishing shaping i think its going to be about another 24 hours work to finish it . This is where i need some help im going to sand the stock back to bare timber how and what do i use to refinish it ?.I think the timber is walnut im after a dark finish ? Thanks

February 20, 2013, 06:58 PM
Reloadron, That is going to be some beautiful grain on that stock when it is finished.

February 20, 2013, 07:40 PM
Reloadron, That is going to be some beautiful grain on that stock when it is finished.
Thanks, unfortunately working wood is far from my forte. Have a member who is interested in it, which is nice.


February 20, 2013, 10:24 PM

Just curious to your method but did you first just inlet for the receiver and barrel and then take out for the mag and trigger? I'm trying to figure if it's easier to keep the receiver straight in the stock one way or the other>

Rusty Luck
February 21, 2013, 02:37 AM
Post pics as it goes Jason. Good luck to you.

February 21, 2013, 05:51 AM
The way I did mine was to drill out the inletting with a forstner bit in a drill press, then rout out the barrel channel with a router and round nosed bit. After this, I used hand chisels to clean out the inletting. All of this was done before cutting the shape out with a bandsaw. Most of the shaping on the outside was done with a sanding drum in a high speed grinder. Take your time and it should turn out great.:)

February 23, 2013, 05:00 AM
Im at the shaping sanding stage

February 23, 2013, 05:14 AM
This is the start cost me 10

February 23, 2013, 06:09 AM
Im not decided on what colour to finish the stock was going to get some tru oil walnut finish but will that hide the grain ?

February 23, 2013, 09:11 AM
I inlet the action and barrel first, then cut in for the floor plate. Since I had a known flat side (I squared up the sides using a jointer/planer before I started) I just measured out center. Then measured and drilled out my action screws.
After that I clamped my template over the top and hogged out most of the wood with a forstner bit.
From there I used my router with a straight cut bit and template bushing to true up the blank to the template. Cutting the barrel channel was also done with the router and a fence. I left all of my dims tight enough that I had to file to fit the action in. A dremel was lots of help in the channel too.
Got a few hours of shaping in. Been using files, and a 30 grit wheel on my angle grinder.

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February 23, 2013, 01:34 PM
"Formal training needed." Pish posh :rolleyes:

Unless one is so inexperienced that they don't know good safety practices, freehanding a stock is not difficult--merely daunting. It's a big task. I've been working off an on (mostly off :o) on this thumbhole stock for my R700 since before I joined up here. It's almost done, I just need to make new bottom metal to meet the new profile of the stock, and to hold a custom (bigger) internal box magazine.

Flush with cash from a new job, I bought a plank of Cocobolo and Jatoba. The upper (lighter) portion is 3/4" Jatoba laminated three thick, the grip the same, but with Cocobolo. I did lots of sketches beforehand, getting the measurements I needed, then I bought the wood (200$ just for wood! :eek: What was I thinking?!) and roughed it out with a handsaw. I then glued the layers together with Titebond III (great stuff, great stuff. Like epoxy for wood)

Once my "blanks" were dried (and left outside for a month to see if the glue would hold--it did) I set them up in my clamping sawhorse and set to work with jack-plane, chisel, rasp, and cardscraper. I don't do woodworking with handtools, because the noise and dust bother me too much, and handtools are more therapeutic. They're also harder to screw stuff up with, have far better control, and are nearly as fast as powertools once you get good with them. Maybe not as fast as a power-carver (those are really fast, but too easy to screw up with)

The bulk of the project was inletting not the action, but the grip to the upper stock. I'm never doing a two-piece stock like this again. It's cool, but totally not worth it. I used a gouge (curved chisel) to rough out the barrel groove, but the trigger-well, and inletted from there using 60grit sandpaper on a dowel. I left it a bit loose since I will ultimately glass/pillar bed the action. When the gun would get hung up on something during inletting (usually the trigger) I would mark it with a pencil so it would transfer to the wood and show the high spot. Lots of iterations, but it works.

I'd reccommend walnut for a new carver--way easier to work with than fancy hardwoods, much cheaper, and much easier on tools. I had a small block I used to make some replacement grips (seen here inletted but not quite finished) for my MAS 1873:
Those were done in about 8 hours over two days (and I was slacking off most of that time, too). Plenty fast even without power tools.


February 23, 2013, 04:26 PM
It seems we've pretty well hijacked the op's thread. Sorry about that. I'm hoping ho have the time this week to get mine finished up. If i can do that and get at least a couple coats of tru-oil on it I'll start a thread with all of the pics.

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February 23, 2013, 10:16 PM
I took my laminated blocks and put them on our horizontal boring mill. With a couple ballmills and a few E-mills made for aluminum I was able to do all my action and barrel channeling without much hand tools(ya cheating).

For the finish I used the Birchwood Casey stock refinishing kit, It comes with several grit sandpapers and steel wool(for finish smoothing the sealer and putting whatever shine/satin sheen desired), and the needed stain/varnish/sealer to do a good job. I recommend the kit , it comes in different color stains.

Oh ya, one thing that helps for a good smooth finish is to sand as smooth as possible then wet it down with a hot towel and let it soak for a bit. It will cause the extra wood that just pushes into the pores to swell and stick out so you can sand them out. It will give a really fine surface with good grain showing. Some woods turn out quite a bit better others is a small improvement, you'll know the first time wetting it, by how many little "sticks" are there.

Rusty Luck
February 24, 2013, 12:24 AM
It's all good! I don't mind the 'jack. Looks awesome. And damn that's a lot of money on wood!!!

March 10, 2013, 08:40 AM
Hi im at the last stage of finishing my Ruger 1022 stock

March 10, 2013, 08:42 AM
Will post pics with action inplace when stock finished

March 10, 2013, 04:41 PM
Looking good!

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March 10, 2013, 10:01 PM
Hickory......I've had my fair share of encounters with her. We're not on good terms.

March 11, 2013, 08:19 PM
I'm no professional at this, have done a couple over the years. This one started as a blank of "Pakkawood".....same material used on knife handles, pistol grips, and cleaning rods. It's a resin impregnated laminate that is cured in a microwave. Density is nearly that of aluminum. The blank ran over $400 twenty years idea what it would cost today. Since my background is auto restorations, many of the tools of the trade were applied. Finish is a catalyzed clear automotive polyurethane. If I were to do it again, in-letting would be done on a mill for sure.

March 11, 2013, 10:19 PM
Wow! That's beautiful.

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Rusty Luck
March 12, 2013, 12:39 AM
Wow! That's amazing!! Beautiful work.

March 12, 2013, 05:28 PM
O.K. , I'll admit defeat!
Lot's of info available on line and if one is talented enough to use it so be it.
Some real nice " shooting" rifles have shown and if the "Stockmaker" is satisfied and he has a good shooting rifle, who am I to criticize?

March 16, 2013, 02:39 PM
Took about 30 plus hours to convert a logun air rifle stock into a Ruger 1022 stock

March 16, 2013, 02:52 PM
The start 1 sec

March 16, 2013, 02:54 PM
The pics are earler in the post . i said 30 hours to covert the stock but after thinking it was more like 50 hours over 3 weeks

March 20, 2013, 09:21 AM
I'm a doctor, with few woodworking skills. For my Winchester 52B which I bought used with a butchered stock but great metal, I bought a rough blank from Wenig custom stocks. Just the rough outline of the stock, no inletting, a slab of walnut. Using Jerow's inletting black and sharp chisels and scrapers (scrapers are maybe your most important stocking tool), little by little I let the action into the wood. Of course to do this I had to rout out the barrel groove partially, then inlet the action some, then deepen the groove etc. Then using rasps, very little chisel work, SCRAPERS, and a spokeshave I shaped the contours of the stock. Inlet the sling swivel bases. Next I drilled holes for the action screw and the swivel bases. I drilled the holes oversize, filled them with Acraglas, seated everything and then inserted the screws and positioned them so the slots all line up with the long axis of the stock, called 'timing' the screws. Now when they're tightened home they all line up. Glass bedded the action in such a way as to have the screws timed there too. Made a buttplate from a piece of ebony scrap I got from a violin maker. Mounted that and timed the screws. Then I took everything off and did a rubbed oil finish using Pilkington's oil finish. I know how to checker, but my daughter stopped me from checkering this one saying it looked fine as-is.

About six months' work altogether, taking my time. You don't have to be a pro, just read a lot and take your time. If I were doing this for a living it would be a very different matter.

Brownells has a set of great book called "Gunsmith Kinks" full of very helpful tips. Monty Kennedy's "Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks" is invaluable. Pilkington finishes come with great instructions for getting a professional oil finish. In both books as well as in some comments above, you will note how many guys make some of their own tools. I wound up doing that too. I say give it a shot!

March 20, 2013, 02:28 PM
A few pics of the result.

March 20, 2013, 03:32 PM
is left-handed on a standard right-handed action. The finish is IN the wood as well as on it. All the pores are filled by 'sanding in'. 6 or 7 years of squirrel hunting and target shooting and the finish is holding up fine.

Rusty Luck
March 21, 2013, 12:20 AM
Very nice work! Why left hand stock and right hand action?

March 21, 2013, 06:58 AM
Because there are no left-handed Model 52s and I'm a lefty. Once, just once, I wanted to see how it feels to have a cheekpiece and palm swell on my side of the stock.

March 24, 2013, 12:21 AM

You've done yourself, and everyone else a favor for sharing this with us, you've done a beautiful job on that rifle. The "timing" of the screws I'd read about probably 30 years ago, had forgotten about it until your mentioning. Beautiful rifle, very nice rifle to hunt with also.

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