Fitting a 95% stock ( Marlin 336)
I suppose I’m fairly easy to amuse sometimes. I get a slight chuckle when I have people ask me about my milling machine. “Can’t you simply push a button and let the machine do all the work ?” Well yes I could IF I had a programmable CNC milling machine. But I don’t have one. All the set ups for each step of the work has to be measured and adjusted manually. The same thing applies to questions about fitting a 95% inlet stock. Just because most of the work has been done doesn’t necessarily mean the remainder will be such a quick and easy task. And just WHAT is a “95% stock?” Exactly what the name implies. A stock that has been rough carved and has about 95% of the work done to inlet the metal into the wood.
CNC machines are a wonderful thing, and can produce large numbers of gun stocks in a short time. But the final fitting is a lengthy process that can’t be done in a hurry if the gun is going to be presentable. All the fancy finishes in the world can’t hide a misfitted piece of wood on a firearm.
The project starts off with taping up the finished metal surfaces to protect them from getting scratched up. Otherwise you’ll have to reblue them.
Then all the metal that will touch the wood is covered in stock maker’s black.
Press the metal onto the wood as far as it will go without forcing it too far. Remove it and you’ll see black marks that indicate the high spots in the wood that needs to be removed. Use a file or small stock maker’s rasp to remove these high spots. Keep pressing the metal into the wood and remove the black high spots. Repeat this on the top and bottom until you get the stock to fit snugly into place.
Once the stock has been fully seated in place against the receiver, now is the time to locate and drill the hole for the screw that holds the stock in place. Since the Marlin lever actions have a blind hole in the bottom tang, it’s a bit tricky to drill it properly. With the new stock firmly secured, you’ll see how much fitting is still left. The wood is pretty high around the edges of the metal. This is where the two layers of masking tape are handy to have. While you’re rasping and filing down the wood to fit the metal, more than likely you’ll cut through the top layer of tape. The second layer is what will protect the metal finish. It takes a few hours to do the job properly. Getting in a hurry while fitting a stock is asking for trouble in the form of having to refinish the metal once the tape has been cut through and the finish is gouged.
You can see the wood is starting to fit pretty well in the stock. I will, on occasion, remove the tape and see how the stock fits against the tangs of the receiver. Also it’s not a bad idea to replace the tape once in a while to protect the bluing. I’m sort of “ham fisted” and do cut through the top layer of tape pretty deep sometimes. So if the wood still needs a little bit of work I replace the old tape and file or sand the wood a little more. I removed the hammer and the lever from the gun so I could follow the contours of the metal to wood without having to work around those parts.
It’s always best to assemble the firearm to fit a stock. It’s just about impossible to get it right any other way. It helps you to maintain the flow of the lines around the sides and to the bottom tang so none of your sanding comes out lopsided. Simply because a stock is 95% inlet doesn’t mean this is a job that can be done in 30 minutes. On a gun as simple as this Marlin I’m a bit over 3 hours into fitting this stock. On a bolt action rifle ? You can figure on several more hours of scraping and rasping / filing by hand to get the stock fit just right.