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Pain in the Butt Plates

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The Appalachian

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Butt plates are only hard if you let them be. Tedious, yes, definitely can be tedious. Not saying they're easy either, if it was easy most people wouldn't gravitate to "kits" milled out on CNC machines would they.

For me it's easier to just do stock work than explain how to do it, but I'll try to muddle through this. Maybe it'll help somebody. My methodology, works for me, that's it, that's all, your mileage may vary.

First off I leave the stock blank square, because I'm going to use that squareness to my advantage throughout the process as it's easier for the eye to align straight lines instead of curved or random ones. That, and the butt plate is an integral part of shaping the stock, so I want it in place before starting any shaping.

Next thing is locate the butt plate for LOP and drop. This needs to be fairly accurate, within an 1/8th inch or less. Marks on the stock blank are made to STOP by at the end of the inletting.

Then I cut the profile of the blank to the shape of the butt plate leaving enough wood between the cut and the STOP lines. For the first timer I suggest 1/2" of wood left there. That's plenty enough to fill under the plate and still give a little wiggle room if things start going haywire. A flat butt plate wouldn't need as much. The next time you do one motivate yourself to work with a closer rough fit.

Now I install vertical and horizontal indexing lines. A "centerline" on the butt plate, and the same vertical/horizonal lines on the wood where I want the line on the butt plate to be when this thing is done. Sometimes I lightly scribe them on the metal, sometimes I use masking tape and a fine pencil line. On the wood I'll scribe a line and darken it with pencil lead so it stays put and highly visable.

In the picture you'll see an arrow. That is the direction the butt plate moves all the way through the process. Down and forward at the same time. Should either the top or the back get there first, then I start moving in only one direction, but only then.

I do not involve screws until it's done. I use the index lines where they come off the comb and the toe to align and "steer" the plate. I tap the plate in the direction it's needing moved with a wood or plastic hammer to transfer the inletting medium. Using screws is not good for this, 1) screw holes will move as the plate constantly moves deeper, 2) screws can pull the plate out of whack with countersunk heads. Use the lines and only the lines.

Eventually you also develope "shoulders" as the butt plate deepens. If you're making good clean accurate cuts with the chisel, these shoulders can also become secondary guides.

At some point you recognize what is excess wood, and what you need to be conservative with. You eventually get a feel for removing large chunks in just the right places to make things move along faster.

Keep your chisels and scrapers sharp, and trust the inletting black. Think things through before doing them, visualize the result, and do things on purpose not by luck.

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The Appalachian

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I was thinking the same thing, until the picture of what it looks like. Just one screw, now that is way cool. Question is that a left hand Tennessee?
Well, yes, it is left handed.

It's my personal rifle that I built for me while housebound recovering from a hip replacement two summers ago. It did start out as a "Tennessee" pattern rifle per say, but I decided part way in, to build it as if I was an 18th century builder and building in my own style. So, what you have is what you get. I think from now on that's what I'll build. Similar to other styles but with my own "artistic" liberty with signature traits.

A little secret, it's a switch ignition. It began with a Siler Large percussion lock, and evolved into something I can easily switch out with an L&R classic flintlock. I test fired it a bunch with the percussion lock but have since left it flint.

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MAC1967

40 Cal
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Your info was helpful. I'm working on my third build and first in an iron mount . . . a steel butt plate is not forgiving like a brass one. . . started on it in July . . . doing a bit at a time one evening a week, sometimes once every other week...so glad it is done and I can move on, as it took forever. . . feels like a major milestone though in the build from a blank. I have gone very slow and don't work when I'm tired and stop when I get frustrated.
 

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