Below are pictures and descriptions of the procedures I recently used in
building a .50 caliber
style percussion muzzle loader from a
kit. The wood supplied was almost completely inletted. The barrel channel and
lock inletting was all that had to be enlarged. The stock came with very
little wood to be removed except around the cheek piece where, though, there
was not as much wood left from the machining as I wanted in some areas.
Fitting Butt Piece, Patch Box and Forend Tip
It is normal for the brass furniture to come with foundry and machine marks and
they need a lot of filing, sanding and polishing to make them fit correctly and
After draw filing butt piece close to level with wood; sanding with 80 and 100
grit paper to match height of brass parts to that of wood. The entire length
of stock section being worked is sanded equally so as not to remove too much
wood from small areas which would cause unsightly low spots that would be
magnified after applying the finish. In the depictions above the complete butt
section of stock was carefully sanded from front to back, not just around the
areas of brass fittings.
Patch box and butt piece after filing brass and sanding wood and brass level
with each other. Note that foundry marks left from the mold have been removed
in the process. Also note that much work is still needed to make the brass
glassy smooth, which will be done after fashioning the stock but prior to
sealing the stock.
The holes drilled for the forend tip were not properly centered. The picture
on the left shows one of the holes filled with a piece of a round tooth pick
and epoxy. It was cut flush and sanded smooth after curing. The new hole
could then be drilled without the small bit drifting into the original hole.
The picture on the left shows excess wood must be removed to mate properly with
brass tip. The other side shows excess brass must be filed and sanded smooth
Draw filing brass tip level with wood.
Sanding forearm and brass tip with 80 and 100 grit paper. Note that entire
length of forearm is sanded using a sanding block so as not to cause dips and
other low spots in wood.
Measuring barrel width with caliper. The yellow tape was used to protect
blueing from being scratched.
The barrel channel (upper-most flats only) is widened equally on both sides
using a sanding block with
80 and 100 grit paper.
Channel is enlarged until caliper set to barrel width will equally fit inside
its full length.
Barrel thinly painted with inletting black shows where high spots are in the
barrel channel. High spots are removed with the use of a sanding block and the
barrel re-seated with inletting black until all high spots are found and
removed from the entire length of channel. The barrel channel
side flats only (upper-most flat)
are then widened to 1/32 inch clearance of barrel.
Using 100 grit paper and a sanding block laying on top of both channel rails,
the rails are sanded even with top of brass forend tip. Care is taken to
ensure the rails come half way up the barrel side flats when barrel is fully
seated, and that the rails are the same height the entire length of channel.
Laying the block on top both rails helps keep them flat and alike.
While enlarging barrel channel a section between the lock inletting and channel
opened leaving a weak spot in the stock. A strip of tape was applied to
channel side against cut out. Then a piece of tissue was stuffed inside
channel to keep tape tight against cut out. Glass bedding epoxy mixed with
brass filings (saved from filing the brass fittings) was used to fill the void
and strengthen that area. The brass filings act as an aggregate giving added
strength and stiffness to the epoxy. After curing the tape was easily removed.
Unlike brass fittings, because the tang is blued it was removed before sanding
the wood flush with it. Inletting black was applied to mark the depth to
remove wood to. Once most of the wood was removed, using a sanding block with
100 grit paper, the tang was often re-fitted to check that too much wood not be
removed. The sanding followed the natural contour of the drop to sides of
stock ensuring no dips or other low spots were cut into wood.
On left side of stock the channel rail slopes up to meet face of tang. To
fashion slope gracefully and to keep its top flat and matched to that of the
rest of rails, a large wooden sanding block is used. Note that only the bare
wood of the block touches areas of stock not to be sanded. A pencil mark is
made to indicate tang face where sanding ceases.