Achieving a nicely shaped butt...

This update is intended to be an addendum of sorts to updates 39 & 40 from December 2015 in which I showed the step-by-step process I used to make an Enfield rifle.   Since then I've had the joy of making another rifle from scratch and realised that I could elaborate a bit further by breaking down the methodical and relatively simple process I used to shape of the butt end of the rifle.  In the original update, I simply showed the before and after shaping of the butt end.


If you're contemplating making your own rifles from scratch at some point this might be of interest.   I have to say that it felt far less challenging to make the second rifle than it did the first time around, but it was still a pretty time consuming process taking several days to complete the whole rifle.


After finalising the shape of the stock a crude and oversized butt was added and was baked on a low heat to speed cure (70-80 degress celcius for 35 mins) .  As shown in update #39 one of the brass rods had been kept longer and angled downwards slightly to provide reinforcement and something to apply the putty onto.

As with the earlier rifle I made, I prepared a reference image showing the various dimensions of the rifle and this was continually referrred to during the process to ensure the position, size and shape were as acccurate as possible.   The easiest dimension to establish first was the full length of the rifle from barrel tip to the end of the butt and this was marked on both sides.

Update # 48 - 1st May 2016

The surplus putty was cut away with a scalpel blade close to the line, then a sanding stick was used to achieve a smooth finish.  


A mark was then applied to indicate the visible length of the barrel.  Another very easy dimension to establish at this stage.  

The putty was then carefully cut away from that area using a rounded scalpel blade held between thumb and finger which I find helps me to achieve a more delicate and precise handling.

A sanding stick was then used to reduce the thickness of the putty where it meets the barrel.

The sides of the butt end were then smoothed down by some scraping away using a flat edged scalpel blade and smoothing with a sanding stick.  At this stage I thinned it down to the thickness at the largest points.  I didn't try to introduce any tapering or rounding to the butt, deciding that these would be more easily achieved in the final stages once some other more obvious shaping had been completed.

The basic profile of the upper edge was then indicated on both sides using a fine-tip marker.  Note that the vertical line was applied first, indicating where the lowest point would be.  It was easier to establish this point of reference first then mark the rest of the shape.  

The surplus putty was then carefully carved and scraped away using a flat edge scalpel blade.  Again, only the basic upper edge profile was established, the rounding off part would be done later.

Side profile after tapering work completed.

The final stage was rounding off the sides to vary extents to achieve a more eliptical  shape.  Again this was achieved by gently scraping away the excess putty with a flat edged scalpel blade, and finally using a fine grade wet and dry paper for a smooth finish overall.

View of the butt from above prior to the tapering.

A small mark was applied at the end of the butt to indicate the centre line in relation to the barrel.  A new flat edged scalpel blade was then used to achieve the tapering by gradually scraping away the putty.  Alternating frequently between both sides and stopping regularly to check that the reduction was happening symetrically.

The excess putty was again carefully cut and scraped away with the flat edge scalpel blade and gently smoothed with the sanding stick. the

After first establishing the top to bottom dimension at the very end of the butt I was able to indicate the lower edge profile on both sides.

I realise that this update is quite isolated in its focus on one part of the rifle, but I nevertheless hope that you have found it interesting and informative,  particularly if you are curious about making some items yourself but have been putting off trying it.  I really just wanted to demonstrate that the trick  to most of these things seems to be figuring out how to deconstruct a more involved shape into a basic shape to start with, then follow a series of relatively straightforward individual steps to refine that basic shape until it becomes the more involved shape.


As always, thanks for checking in for my latest update, I really appreciate your interest!