Properly fashioning the cheek piece may seem an awesome task. It is not. It is
important though to know what you want it to be before working it. Some
initial patience will increase confidence and help speed the result.
Power tools should not be used here. Dremel tools should be kept from
temptation and only hand fashioning using sand papers and some filing on the
comb drops should be employed.
Using medium to light heavy grit paper (say 180 to 120), I usually like to
first knock the machine marks of the face of the cheek piece and then off its'
drop and the surrounding stock base it drops to. This gives a better look at
what there is to work with and displays the form in which the machine cut it
to. I will smooth the face to medium grit but leave it high until all the drop
and contour are fashioned, after which the face can be cut down to suit me. By
leaving it high now I have extra wood to correct mistakes made during course
Know how you want the lines to run before cutting much wood. If you're not sure
look at other rifles that you like, pictures, whatever helps. Keep your design
functional. That is the real purpose of a cheek piece. If you strive for
functionality it will turn out attractive.
If you want
at the front comb, do not let the drop line run into it.
Regardless of your general design, keep the face edge curvacious. The edge
should curve from back to front with no interruption, such as a small flat on
Cheek Piece Side View of Right Handed Stock
Once I've got in my mind how I want the edge to run, I will start somewhere
at the middle and begin cutting it back with a
filing may be necessary. It depends on how rough the blank was machined, how
far off the lines are (from what I want them to be) and how much wood there is
to work with. Take special care not to cut too deeply into the stock base,
especially were the cheek piece falls close to the base of stock (approaching
and at area of pistol grip). Cut only a surface line until the line is
complete from back to front comb drop. This will ensure plenty of wood will be
left for the drop from face edge to stock base. The front must be cut very
carefully since there will be almost no drop at this area. Do not forget to
leave space for the flute (if wanted).
Dropping the cheek piece requires special care and attention to detail. After
coarsely shaping cheek piece and drop, use fine grit paper to slowly shape the
drop from sharp edge of face to stock base. Finish sand with 400, then 600 grit
paper. The drop at front (closest to pistol grip) is very shallow and requires
great attention in properly removing coarser sanding marks without removing too
much mass. The sharp edge of the cheek piece will likely be compromised by
sanding the drop. If so, correct it by block sanding the cheek face back
into shape. Finish the piece with its edge crisp back to front.
The face edge of the cheek piece should smoothly curve (drop) to the stock
steepness of drop can be less than shown below but should not recess under
the cheek piece itself. Keep the arc
(closest to butt) to front (closest to pistol grip). If the cheek piece rolls
over to the other side of stock (a 'rollover' stock), arc the drop the same as
the face side.
Cross Section of Stock Butt (Right Handed)
Unlike the example above, the face of this cheek piece follows the general
contour of the stock and gives a more elegant appearance and more functional
fit to the face of the shooter.
Cross Section of Stock Butt (Right Handed)
There are many cheek piece designs. The first two crude sketches above try to
display a 'monte carlo' pattern, the modern day popular. Some patterns, such
as old and new classic, have no raised comb. Some pieces are oval in shape -
called 'pancake'. All can have a 'shadow line' if cut that way by the vendor
and you or just by you. If your wood came out of a vendor's machine it was
hacked out to replicate a particular design for a particular model of barreled
action. The cheek piece in rough will vaguely or closely resemble the lines you
wished to have when you ordered the stock.
Shadow Line Cheek Piece
Shadow Line bottom view
Shadow line is perpendicular to surface of stock and slight in proportional
A shadow line enhances the sculpture of the cheek piece. It is found not too
often and is pricey in appearance. Much patience is required because of the
close work involved in getting it right. Taking the time and going slow will
prove you can do it. However, I would not recommend this task for one who has
not yet shaped and finished a minimum of one rifle stock.
Thickness of shadow line remains relative to thickness (height) of arc drop
from considerably rear of center to forward, were it eventually disappears as
does the arc drop. To the rear, however, the line must also tapper so that it
disappears at the top of stock comb. Therefore, on stocks with raised combs
(monte carlo, etc.), were the arc becomes thicker as it moves rearward, the
shadow line becomes thiner and is no longer proportional to the thickness of
drop of arc.