A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle - Part 3

Posted by Dennis Daigger on 24th Oct 2013

Part 3-The Stock Work A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle

Design Ideas-The 60,000 Foot View With the wheels turning during the metal work I had visualized some of the design features that I wanted to incorporate into the stock. I have always admired the stock design of the Daniel Fraser bolt rifles and with the internet it was possible to study a number of high quality images of a number of this maker's rifles for details.

A short and trim forearm, a Henry fore end tip and a trim overall profile were the predominate features I wanted to incorporate from a Fraser. Additionally, I like semi-pistol grips which were a fairly common feature of some original commercial Mauser rifles.

To Pattern, Or Not My experience with stocking bolt guns is limited. I have stocked a prewar Winchester Model 70, two 98 Mausers and a Springfield 1898 Krag using semi inletted blanks and two rimfires from rough blanks. The rimfires were a Mauser DSM 34 and a Remington 37, neither of which had magazine boxes making these inletting tasks straightforward and relatively easy.

The Satterlee action has some unique dimensions so a semi inletted Mauser stock of any kind was out of the question. Although Stuart Satterlee could CNC my blank I wanted to do as much of the work myself as possible and also I was anxious to get on with the project without delay.

I didn't have the confidence to inlet the project blank to the final standards I hoped to achieve and purchased a thin shell walnut pattern blank. This would allow me to use bedding compound on the pattern stock to get high metal-to-wood congruency with the final blank through a precision pantograph process.

Getting Started After laying out the general outline of the desired profile I marked the location of the action screws on the bottom of the blank. I had used a jointer to produce an absolutely flat top surface on the blank that was perpendicular to the left side of the blank. I could now use my benchtop mill to drill out the action screw holes quite precisely. Guide screws were made from 1/4" 1018 rod and I was ready to get started.

The guide screws fitted snugly in the action screw holes in the blank and when protruding they acted as guides to lower the bottom metal into the blank as wood was removed. The 1/4" holes in the Satterlee bottom metal are precise and if the bottom metal wasn't descending straight down it would bind. Later this snug fit would help keep a relatively close metal to wood fit for the box walls because the bottom metal was not wobbling on the guides creating an oversize hole.

Once the entire top surface of the bottom metal was started into the blank I went back to the mill and roughed out the magazine box with a 1/2" Forstner bit. This kind of inletting is tedious work and some level of speed can be applied to the early roughing out but a heightened caution and attention to details is necessary in the later stages of the work.

When I had the bottom metal to the desired depth I screwed the guide rods into the action and started inletting the barreled action on the topside of the blank. Again, speed could be applied in the early stage but as the metal to wood contacting surface increased the job slowed down.

I don't track hours for specific tasks but for me this kind of inletting is not an afternoon's job. The inletting did go well and as it turned out I believe I could have avoided using a pattern blank altogether. More time and caution would have been needed for scraping in both the bottom metal and the barreled action.

Shaping the Stock Watching the stock emerge from the blank is the part that I like the most. I no longer have a band saw so the initial outline shape was created using a carpenter hand saw. Many closely spaced cross cuts were made nearly to the desired profile outline drawn on the blank. After the wood was removed from between these cuts I used pattern cabinet maker's rasps on the outside. I did this work freehand bringing the entire profile forward of the grip to just over final dimensions.

I wanted a length of pull of 14", cast off of 1/4" and a bit of toe out, these dimensions nearly duplicating a prewar Merkel shotgun that I shoot well. I had used these dimensions on a recent Ruger Number 1 .400 Jeffery project and it mounts and fits like this shotgun. To ensure I could get the butt dimensions right in the project blank I left about 1/4" extra wood on all surfaces of the pattern blank from the grip rearward. This excess wood would be removed from the pantographed project blank as needed later.

I don't like cross bolts and ideas garnered from conversations with Stuart Satterlee convinced me I could do without them. The Recknagel rear sight band has a smallish lug on the bottom. It is threaded for a screw but I didn't want to use this feature for addition fastening but rather as another recoil absorbing surface. The distance between this lug and the action recoil lug allows the recoil impulse to be applied over a long longitudinal wood grain area. Stuart additionally had suggested relieving the back of the action tang by .005" and this would be done during scrape in of the project stock when returned from pantographing.

The project blank and the pattern stock were packed up and sent for duplication. The advertised tolerances for this work using the customers pattern were "--.003 to .007 undersized on the inletting and .030 to .040 oversized on the outside". Turn around time was quoted at no more than ten days. It turned out to be about 2 1/2 months before I would see my wood again.

Next-Part 4 Inletting the Stock