September 28th, 2018

How to Clear-Coat Laminated Wood Stocks

Laminated wood stocks offer an excellent combination of price and performance, and they can be obtained in a myriad of styles to suit your discipline — hunting, benchrest, tactical, silhouette, or high power. Laminated stocks can be a little trickier to finish compared to a hardwood such as walnut, as laminates are often delivered in bright or highly contrasting colors. Traditional wood finishes can alter the colors. Also, filling the pores in laminated stocks is an issue.

Automotive clear-coat products have become popular for finishing laminated wood stocks because they won’t alter the stock’s colors, and the clear-coat provides a durable weather-resistant finish. Clear-coat is also easy to “touch up” and it fills pores better than some other alternatives. Mike Ricklefs has written a comprehensive article on stock painting that includes a special section on clear-coating over laminated woods. If you want to clear-coat a stock, Mike’s article is a must-read!

In that Stock Painting Article, Mike offers these tips:

1. When finishing laminated stocks with clear-coat, you need to prepare the wood carefully, and build up quite a few thin layers one at a time. Begin by sanding, with progressively finer paper, all the way to 400 grit. Certain laminated stocks are so rough when they come from the stock-maker, that you may have to be very aggressive at first. But be careful with angles and the edges of flats. You don’t want to round these off as you sand.

2. After sanding, use compressed air to blow out all dust from the pores of the wood. This is very important to avoid a “muddy” looking finish. If you don’t blow the dust out with air before spraying the clear it will migrate out as you apply the clear. Also, after each sanding session, clean your painting area to remove excess dust. I also wet down the floor of my spray booth to keep the dust down.

3. Some painters recommended using a filler to close the pores. That’s one technique, but the filler can detract from the clarity of the final finish. Rather than use a pore-filling sealer, I use a high solids or “build” clear for the initial applications. This is slightly thicker than “finish” clear and does a good job of sealing the pores. Three (3) fairly heavy coats of “build” clear are applied. If you get a thick spot or a run in the finish at this point, it is not the end of the world but this does create more sanding work.”

There is a helpful thread in our Shooters’ Forum that discusses the use of clear-coating on laminated stocks. Member BHoges offered this advice: “Stick with Diamont, Glassurit, and Spies. If anyone has questions, I painted cars for a long time.”

Clear-coat Laminated woodForum member Preacher, whose bolt-action pistol is shown at right, states: “I buy my two-part clear-coat from the local NAPA dealer. They recommended Crossfire mixed 4:1. I really like the end results. There are six coats on that stock that were sanded down to bare wood for the first two, and then 600 wet-sanded for the other four coats. Two to three coats would be sufficient if the pores were filled first, but I would rather fill ‘em with the clear as it seems to make it appear deeper and I have the time to devote to it. I have PPG’s Deltron DC 3000 clear-coat on a few stocks of mine, but I like the NAPA better price wise, and it seems to hold up just as good as the Deltron.”

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November 6th, 2015

New Speedy-Designed Competition Stocks from Shurley Brothers

Shurley Brothers ARK Speedy Gonzalez stock competition F-Class Benchrest

Benchrest Hall-of-Famer Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has teamed up with the Shurley Brothers on a new ARK series of wood laminate competition stocks. Speedy has combined the best features of various popular F-Class and Long-range Benchrest stocks into new designs to be produced by Shurley Brothers Custom in Austin, Texas. These stocks should be very straight and geometrically correct as they will be crafted on the Shurley Brothers’ new CNC mills. These stocks will be made with new-generation precision technology, not old school duplicating machines.

Initially two models will be offered: the “Hand of God” (HOG) and the “Spear of Destiny” (SOD). Both are designed for multiple shooting disciplines, so they should work well both for benchrest and for prone F-Open shooting. (FWIW, John Myers used a Speedy-crafted stock to win the 2015 Mid-Range National Championship). The forearm is 76mm (2.99″) to comply with F-Open limits. A wide variety of options will be available including adjustable Cheek Piece, adjustable length of pull, carbon fiber inserts, and exotic woods.

Shurley Brothers ARK Speedy Gonzalez stock competition F-Class Benchrest

We like many aspects of the new stocks. First, the front of the stock is low profile, placing the barrel close to the bags for better tracking (and less hop). However, a deeper (top to bottom) section extends forward of the action — this is important. We have seen some low-profile stocks that suffer from forearm flex/hinging because they don’t leave enough wood under the action area. Speedy’s design eliminates this problem. Another nice feature of this stock is the subtle curve from the back of the action to the buttpad mount. Speedy calls this the “scooped cheek”. This allows the “driver” to shoot without face contact if he prefers, but it also allows for a higher buttpad position — which is useful when shooting heavy recoiling chamberings such as the .300 WSM.

Note how the comb area has a curve to provide clearance. For those shooters who prefer to have face contact on the gun, an adjustable Cheek Piece is offered.
Shurley Brothers ARK Speedy Gonzalez stock competition F-Class Benchrest

Shurley Brothers Custom says these new ARK stocks are fully customizable for competition shooters with optional carbon fiber, adjustable R.A.D. systems, and many other features. The stocks, uninletted, will run $750.00. CNC-inletting (for action of your choice) is an additional $100.00. Here are some of the many available options:

— Pillar Bed and Inlet: $425.00
— Custom Wood Upgrade (Price Dependent On Wood): $100.00 – $500.00
— Full-length Carbon Fiber Stringers: $200.00
— Cheek Piece Addition: $100.00
— Cooling Ports (Buick Vents): $60.00
— R.A.D. System #2A: $335.00 (plus $100.00 to install)
— 3-Way Butt Plate: Call for Price
— Adjustable Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: Call for Price
— Install Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: $150.00
— Stock Finish & Clear Coat: $350.00
— Carbon Fiber Forearm Tunnel: $300.00

The underside of the forearm is relieved in the center, leaving twin outboard rails. This helps stabilize the rifle and aids tracking. (A conventional, flat forearm without rails tends to rock if there is any hump in the middle of the sandbag). Between the rails is a carbon-fiber stiffening insert.

Shurley Brothers ARK Speedy Gonzalez stock competition F-Class Benchrest

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January 21st, 2015

Preacher Builds Stock the Old-Fashioned Way — with Hand Tools

Forum member Preacher recently crafted a nice varmint rifle for fellow Forum member Dave 0. (aka “Waskawood”). But rather than buy an off-the-shelf stock, Preacher crafted this stock all by hand, starting from a laminated blank panel. He calls this stock project his “Axe Job”.

CLICK for Full-size Photo
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

This stock is being used on a prairie dog rifle, chambered for a 17-caliber wildcat, the 17 VHA, which is based on an H&K 4.6x30mm parent case. With about nine grains of 300 MP pistol powder, the 17 VHA drives 20-grainers at about 3850 fps. (SEE details at end of article).

The ‘Axe Job’

Report by Preacher
I like carving with the laminates because all the lines are right there in front of my eyes, so it’s easy to follow along and get it just right, until it’s pleasing to the eye. I never use a template, I just keep checking the lines as I go along. I have all the needed equipment to power build one of these, but I really enjoy the time spent on the hand work. From start to completely ready-to-install, I’ll have about six (6) weeks into one of these stock projects. A lot of that is drying time for the clear coats.

A little work with the hand axe, after a trip through the band saw…
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

The majority of the laminated blank panels I use for my gunstocks are purchased directly from Cousineau Wood Products or from Rutply.com. You have to buy at least four full panels at a time, all the same color, but that will yield eight (8) stocks. Seems like I have a little over $150.00 in a blank large enough to start making a full-sized, benchrest-style stock.

A little work with a chisel…
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

A little work with a rasp. (Before I was rich and famous and could afford really good rasps, I used a good old horse shoe rasp.)
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

A little more work with the chisel…
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

Preacher’s Advice on Carving Your Own Stock
The one main advantage of being older that dirt, and tormented with MS the past 40 years, is lots of free time to enjoy what ever I can do these days, as long as I can set down to do it, and I can make a lot of wood chips setting down.

Any one can do this if they have the time to devote to it. All it takes is time and a good eye for details. I made a lot of firewood over the years, until I got the hang of it. Most all those problems were inletting, and screw hole spacing. Get those right the first time and you’re on your way….

A little more work with the rasp…
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

A few coats of Auto clear has it about buttoned up…
hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

Micro 17 VHA Wildcat
Here’s the finished rifle built by Preacher for Dave, using the ‘Axe Job’ stock. Dave tells us: “Preacher chambered the rifle for the 17 VHA, a wildcat based on the H&K 4.6x30mm MP7 PDW case necked down to 17 caliber. There are numerous articles in the Varmint Hunter’s Magazine about it. This efficient little round shoots 20gr ballistic tips at 3850+ fps. That’s not too shabby for ‘nine point something’ grains of pistol powder.”

“My intentions for my 17 VHA rifle are to plop down in the middle of a PD town with my swivel bench and shoot prairie dogs. I also thought it would be a nice platform to test the accuracy of the cartridge. If I like the little round as well as I think, I plan to build a more practical rifle that I can carry. I really want to thank Preacher for his patience with me through this project, as it was my first custom build.”

hand made axe job stock 17 VMA varmint

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May 23rd, 2014

Kelbly’s and GRS Introduce New Low-Profile F-Class Stock

Made in Norway by GRS, the new Kelbly “X-Eater” stock combines an ergonomic grip with the superior tracking ability of the latest, low-profile designs. Height-adjustable cheek-piece and length-adjustable buttpad allow the shooter to tailor the stock to his preferences. The ergonomic grip/wrist helps the shooter steer the rifle precisely with greater control. The low-profile design aids tracking and helps tame the torque generated by the large 7mm and .30-cal cartridges favored by top F-Open competitors.

CLICK PHOTOS to See Full-Size Versions
Kelbly Rifles GRS F-Class Stock X-Eater F-Open

Kelbly Rifles GRS F-Class Stock X-Eater F-Open

The fore-end is made with the same twin-runner (catamaran-style) design as the previous GRS F-Class Open stock. (On the underside of the fore-end there are left/right rails with a relieved area in the center). The big change is that this new stock sits lower on the front bag compared to the first F-Class stock from GRS. The rear of the stock is designed for a two-stitch rear bag. Initially the stock will only be offered in Right Hand versions in black/blue and red/blue laminate.

CLICK PHOTOS to See Full-Size Versions
Kelbly Rifles GRS F-Class Stock X-Eater F-Open

Kelbly Rifles GRS F-Class Stock X-Eater F-Open

    STOCK SPECIFICATIONS

  • Stratabond Laminate with lacquer finish
  • Adjustable Length of Pull (from 13.8 to 15.0 inches)
  • Height-Adjustable cheek-piece
  • Cushy 0.5″-thick Limbsaver/GRS recoil pad
  • Stock (by itself) weighs 4.07 pounds (with Rem 40X inlet)
  • Optional Height-Adjustable recoil pad.

Kelbly Rifles GRS F-Class Stock X-Eater F-Open

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May 24th, 2012

New to North America — GRS Laminated Stocks from Norway

Tikkashooters.com is now importing ergonomic field and tactical stocks crafted by GRS Rifle Stocks of Norway. These “Stratabond” Laminate wood stocks come in many colors — all with a gorgeous oiled finish. The GRS stocks come in three styles, plus a biathalon model, with an F-Class and Safari model to come. All styles are all drop-in inletted for most popular actions — not just Tikkas! GRS stocks feature Speedlock push-button adjustment for recoil pad position and comb height. All stocks come with a one-inch thick Limbsaver recoil pad.

GRS Stocks Norway Hunting

GRS Stocks Norway Hunting

Shown above is the Sporter/Varmint model, which comes in six colors. This design has a butt hook and the 6° grip angle for more comfortable hand positioning. As with other GRS stocks, the Sporter/Varmint model features quick, no-tools adjustability using a Speedlock system. Inlets are offered for Howa (SA, LA), Rem 700 (SA, LA), Sako (models 75, 85, L-579), and Tikka (models 55, 65, 595, 695, all T3 versions, including T3 RH, T3 LH, Varmint, Tactical).

GRS Stocks Norway Hunting

Next, shown above, is the GRS Adjustable Hunting model which comes in four colors: Black, Brown, Green Mountain Camo, and Royal Jacaranda. The fore-end is comfortable when shooting without a rest and the grip angle is canted 6° to provide a more ergonomic hold. Inlets are offered for Howa 1500 (SA, LA), Rem 700 (SA, LA), Sako (models 75, 85, L-579), and Tikka (models 55, 65, 595, 695, all T3 versions, including T3 RH, T3 LH, Varmint, Tactical).

GRS Stocks Norway Hunting

Last, but not least, is the GRS Long-Range Model, offered in six colors. This design is inspired by military sniper-type rifles. This stock is similar to the sporter/varmint model, but has a more pronounced butt hook with an integrated monopod with quick release and micro adjustment. The longer fore-end provides a better bipod platform and aids in balancing long, heavy barrels. Inlets are offered for Rem 700 (SA, LA, left/right), Rem 40X (single shot), Sako 75 (IV, V), Tikka T3 (Std, Varmint, Tactical).

Save $100 with Introductory Pricing This Month
For more information visit the GRS Stocks page on the TikkaShooters.com webstore. NOTE: Introductory pricing is available through May 31, 2012. The GRS Hunter and Sporter/Varmint stocks are currently priced at $697.00 fully inletted, including adjustable hardware. The Long-Range Model is currently priced at $897.00 fully inletted with adjustable hardware. Unless the intro pricing deal is extended, expect prices to increase $100.00 per model starting June 1, 2012.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 11 Comments »
May 9th, 2011

New Low Boy Benchrest Stock from Precision Rifle & Tool

Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool LLC (PR&T) has a new stock design, the Low Boy Benchrest, that combines the successful features of PR&T’s F-Class stock with a rear end better suited to shooting from the bench. As you may know, PR&T’s F-Class stock, in the hands of Charles Ballard and others, has been hugely successful in F-Class competition. The new Low Boy Benchrest stock borrows the same low-profile front end, but it is different from the tang rearward.

While the Low Boy F-Class stock is designed so you wrap your thumb around (like holding a pistol), the Low Boy BR stock is designed so you can slip your hand along the side, with thumb rested lightly behind the tang, in a central position. Unlike the F-Class stock, which is designed for full grip “hard-holding”, this stock is designed for shooting with a “light hold” style (or even free recoil). These stocks are very straight dimensionally, so they track well.

We think this stock will work very well for 600-yard and 1000-yard Light Gun Benchrest competition. This Editor likes the stock enough that I am considering using a Low Boy Benchrest stock for a future Light Gun project with a Stiller Viper Drop-Port. The Low Boy BR stocks are affordable — starting at $330.00 for an un-inletted version with a 3″-wide fore-end. Inletting adds just $25.00 to the total. PR&T can also pillar-bed your action in the stock for an additional $225.00.


Handsome Bat-Action BRX in Low Boy BR Stock
The blue-stocked rifle in the photos belongs to FORUM member Bo W. (aka “Sighter”). It is a 6BRX with a BAT MB, multi-flat action. The finish and painting work on the PR&T Low Boy BR stock was done by Tuck. Sighter rates the stock highly, but he thinks the standard configuration sits a bit high in the back: “I like the stock and it tracks fine, but I feel the F-Class style height causes it to ride a bit higher in the bags than needed. I talked about this with Ray Bowman [PR&T owner] and have since ordered two more Low Boy BR stocks. With the last two, Ray cut about 3/4″ off the bottom of the stock butt and kept about a .67″ flat so a double-stitch bag will work. It is now more similar to a Tracker.” Shown below is a Low Boy BR stock with the reduced height option.

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August 12th, 2009

Fancy Hardwood Sources for Gunstocks

Virginia Gunsmith Richard Franklin sold his stock-making business to Greg West, but Richard is still making stunning, one-off custom rifles using laminated fancy woods such as Crotch Claro Walnut, Turkish Walnut, Curly Maple, Bloodwood, and burls. One of Richard’s favorite sources for fancy woods is Northwest Timber, based in Oregon. NW Timber has one of the largest collections of highly-figured Claro Walnut and fancy Maple blanks in the country, including many “book-matched” sets that are ideal for a three-layer laminated stock. The two, mirror-image, book-matched pieces form the outer layers, with a central spine of contrasting wood.

When shopping for fancy wood for a laminated stock application, be sure to consider the length and thickness required. For a tri-laminated benchrest stock with a 3″ forearm, you’ll need a block at least 2.5″ wide and 32″ to 35″ long (depending on overall stock length). After sawing that will give you two 1 1/8″-wide slabs, so that a contrasting 3/4″-wide section of wood can be placed in the middle. Thinner blocks of fancy wood can be used in a 5-layer laminate. If you can’t find a block at least 32″ long, a contrasting end cap could be placed on the fore-end. However, Richard prefers to work with blanks that are long enough for the whole stock.

Above is a book-matched set from Northwest Timber in Crotch Claro Walnut. Note how there are two matching pieces, top and bottom.

This above photo shows how spectacular Quilted Maple can look when stained and finished with contrasting highlights. A popular material for fine musical instruments, Quilted Maple can look just as good on a gunstock (below).


For more information, contact:

Northwest Timber
3229 Jefferson-Scio Drive
Jefferson, OR 97352
(541) 327-1000

NW Timber Burl Maple

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