Sunday, March 26, 2017

Stephen Grant's Best

The bulk of my stock duplication these days is almost solely devoted to double shotguns or rifles. Born in the houses of Purdey, Sauer, Watson or Boss to name a few with the vast majority being much older than I am. When one comes through my door for duplication the stock is beyond use for reasons of damage beyond repair or is being restocked to fit a new owner. In a classic case of modern recycling the old is being made new again.

Stock Maker Stephen Dalzell ( recently sent in a typical butt stock that needed to be replaced. I became a participant by evil association. Very few of the stocks I machine are to be completely duplicated rather the head of the stock is cut and the butt is left in the block. A lot of time can be saved for the stock maker in machining the head if the head is in good enough condition to do so. Consequently the craftsman can devote more time to the shaping and finish work while still keeping the project within budget. A win, win situation for both the client and the craftsman.

The quality of the original walnut used to stock this Grant was excellent to say the least, real old world Pre War lumber. Made with Cast On for a cross threaded shooter and stocked in the old traditional manner I'm sure it gave the original owner a sense of confidence and pride when both were put to the test. I can only imagine the Red Grouse that may have careened across its muzzle traveling with a tail wind at just under mach 1.

Sadly at some point in changed hands and was subject to a less than expert butt extension which looked as out of place as an elephant in a canoe. It then fell victim to series of blows and abuse that eventually took a toll, it was now time for resurrection.

Mr. Dalzell expertly repaired and prepared the stock for duplication as I could clearly see it had been broken through the grip with all four horns cracked and now carefully glassed back into position. Not an easy exercise on a side lock where you have a small amount of wood and metal contact mated together seamlessly to keep the whole intact. Surprisingly the upper frame, trigger plate and lock work inletting was still clean and crisp, no apprentice ever put a chisel to this stock.

Stephen's instructions were simple "Cut as close as you dare, the center line lay-out is scribed, allow for Cast Off and do not machine beyond the end of the trigger plate". The wood supplied was as good as the original in every regard being both dense and hard with bold mineral marks, loud actually and it was not necessary to apply mineral spirits or alcohol to convince me this makeover was being done proper. The transplanted Scotsman in Maine was given good canvas.

I first degreased the face of the original stock as best as possible then screwed and epoxied a center onto the head of both the original and the replacement stock.

Then a block embossed with drive spur pattern was also screwed and epoxied to the end of the pattern butt stock and the drive spur pattern stamped into the stock to be cut. Care was taken to position each spur to allow for enough wood for cast off, drop and length as requested.

Care in operating the machine is now paramount as every job regardless of its pedigree is given the same amount of attention to detail.

For the next 4 hours I machined the stock closer and closer to its final dimensions by progressively  changing the size of the stylist for each individual cutter. Wood was selectively left in certain areas to allow for  the metal to be properly be fit by hand. From the rear of the tangs the replacement blank was left in the block to allow the stock maker to shape the stock as required to fit the new owner.

The final results will now hang on the skill of the stocker and a keen edge on his tools. I can only  hope this Grant will soon be in the hands of man that hunts Ruffs and Timber Doodle's with a cunning and determined Short Hair.