Question on gluing broken stocks together.

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by Ironoxide, Sep 12, 2019.

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  1. Sep 12, 2019 #1

    Ironoxide

    Ironoxide

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    I have been researching fixing stocks by reading all I can find and watching YouTube videos of actual repairs mainly done by Mark Novak from C&rsenal channel and I can't find an answer to one important question.

    When is de-oiling a stock necessary before using epoxy glues? A written article I read recently makes a very convincing case for the usage of and describes a very elaborate de-oiling procedure as an absolute prerequisite for any and all gluing. While I saw multiple videos of Mark simply gluing stocks without bathing them in acetone for ages etc. I'm not writing this to question his methods, but to find answers if I really do need to "scrub the stock with hot soapy water" multiple times, soak in turpentine and/or acetone for weeks? Or can I simply glue the wood as is if it is not visibly oil soaked? The article claims every old gun stock has oil in the wood and every glue repair will fail sooner or later if every last bit of that oil is not removed prior to gluing.

    I'm planning to use acraglas gel as glue. I'll be reinforcing it with threaded rod. I have multiple cracks to repair mainly in the wrist area.
     
  2. Sep 13, 2019 #2

    Walkingeagle

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    I just repaired an old English double shotgun, where the wrist had completely broken apart leaving the stock in two halves. It was a clean break in the sense of not having multiple pieces, but very jagged. I felt this was good due to more surface area to glue. I cleaned things up with a simple little brush only, used the professional grade LePages two part epoxy and let it sit for several days afterward. I just reassembled the gun yesterday but have not shot it yet. It seems quite solid though. I plan to wrap with wet leather yet to add more strength.
    I have also done this in the past with rifles and they are still going strong.
    Walk
     
  3. Sep 13, 2019 #3

    Zonie

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    It's just my opinion but I think using something to remove the oil that may be in the wood at the joint is a good idea.

    Epoxies will not bond to anything that has oil in or on it.
    That said, I doubt that any oil that was used to finish a stock will penetrate much deeper than 1/4 inch even after many years so, the wood that is deeper than that should be capable of having an epoxy bond to it.

    The catch is, the greater the amount of area that is bonded, the stronger the joint will be. Also, the further out from the center of the break the bond is, the greater the strength of the joint. For instance, if the broken area was 1 3/8" in diameter and the bonded area was 1/2" smaller than that because the wood within 1/4" of the outside of the stock was contaminated with oil, the bonded joint would be only 7/8" in diameter. If the wood was totally oil free the bonded joint would be 1 3/8" in diameter.

    I haven't worked with Acraglas but I was always under the impression that it is a material made for bedding a barrel or filling gaps so, I don't know how strong it is for holding a joint together. Just because an epoxy is good at filling gaps does not mean it can lock onto wood fibers to hold them together.

    I mention this because different epoxies have different bonding strengths. As an example of this, the "fast cure" epoxies are actually rather weak and their bonding strength is low, while the epoxies that take hours to set up are quite strong with very high bonding strengths. JB Weld which is a very strong epoxy for instance takes 4 to 6 hours just to set up and 15 to 24 hours to fully cure. Until it is fully cured, it won't have its claimed 3960 psi strength.
     
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  4. Sep 13, 2019 #4

    SDSmlf

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    Are you repairing a crack or is it a complete break? Got a photograph of the damage? I find for something that will creep into cracks original Acraglas is a great choice. For complete breaks I tend to use Acraglas Gel. While Acraglas and other epoxies are strong, I always add mechanical reinforcements (usually threaded brass or stainless rods) unless it is a no stress cosmetic type of repair.

    As far as cleaning or removing oil from stocks, I have been using a product called KrudKutter. Removes oil, finish, stain, dirt, paint, whatever.
     
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  5. Sep 13, 2019 #5

    Ironoxide

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    I'm planning to repair multiple cracks. As far as I can tell there is no complete break as one side of the wrist looks pretty nice, but who knows how deep those cracks go. The current state looks like a result of at least two previous repairs. The first repair that someone used a black stained glue for is holding nicely so I'm not planning to do anything to those cracks unless the repair falls apart or starts to crumble once I clean the stock. The other repair with some product stained brown was done with some sort of a crappy product that is crumbling out of the cracks and the crumbles have consistency of wax. They are pliable. Maybe it is not glue, but someone simply stuck furniture wax in them to hide them from a prospective buyer.

    Anyway, the wrist feels strong, lengthwise but with small amount of sideways pressure the wax stuffed cracks can be seen to part slightly. This tells me the stock is weakened there. Also, those old (black glue filled) cracks and additional new cracks seem to be radiating from the back of the tang where someone previously glued in a new piece of wood. This tells me that the force of recoil is most likely transmitted along the tang and breaks the wood there instead of being properly handled by the wood behind the hooked breech.

    So my plan is to follow the general gluing methods shown in those two videos:



    The person in the video swears by acraglas as the best thing ever for such repairs. He likes it so much because (amongst other things) it is nylon reinforced so it retains some minimal elasticity even when it sets which helps with the transmission of force through the joint allegedly, it is a gel so it is easier to work with, it bonds with itself easily so can be applied in multiple sessions rather than in one go, and it is easy to wash off his hands (with vinegar) until it sets. It is also designed for glass bedding so the shrinkage is minimal. Based on his videos I'm pretty much convinced to use the product.

    Perhaps he doesn't de-oil the stocks because as Zonie said the oil doesn't penetrate that deep? It seems a plausible explanation.

    Coming back to my stock. The photos are below. This is the worse side:
    20190913_101653.jpg
    The biggest crack seen here filled with brown wax actually goes all the way from the trigger plate on the bottom to the tang on the top.
    20190913_101740.jpg
    I tried to manipulate lighting to make those cracks visible, but it is difficult to do so in the photo below for some reason.
    20190913_101959.jpg
    The other side of the wrist looks better:
    20190913_101950.jpg

    So my goal here is to restore the strength of the stock so it can handle the recoil of the big bore barrel and to prevent further decay.

    My plan is to:
    - Remove all metal parts that can be removed.
    - Remove old wax or glue by picking it out with a bent needle or steel wire from the cracks.
    - Wash the exterior of the wood with acetone.
    - Then perhaps let it sit in acetone for few days to draw the oil out (this is the part I'm not 100% sure about). - Hang it for few days for acetone to evaporate.
    - Assess the situation then, if the cracks are deep drill blind holes with entry points hidden behind metal where possible. Use drill rod, or steel tubes with notches cut on the outside to (let the air escape down the middle while gluing) to reinforce it. Fill all the cracks, reinforcement holes etc with acraglas.
    - Relieve the inletting near the tip of the tang slightly.
    - Glass bed the tang and breech plate properly so the force of recoil doesn't go to the tip of the tang.
    - There is an old repair on the side of the barrel inletting that looks very fragile, I plan to use acraglas to reinforce that side internally.

    What do you think?
     
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  6. Sep 13, 2019 #6

    Dale Allen Raby

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    I have successfully used epoxy glues and Gorilla glue to repair stocks. The most difficult one I did was a T/C Hawken that was completely broken in two pieces right across the lock area. It was a messy, jagged break. I made no attempt to get any oil out of the wood as it looked pretty dry to me. Getting the glue well distributed and having the parts aligned properly is critical. I ended up having to clean up the joint afterward with knives, flint-paper and steel-wool, but a year later, my Hawken stock is still in once piece. Using pins is a viable option, but sometimes difficult to manage.

    I don't remember if I used epoxy or Gorilla glue with this particular repair. In my experience, Gorilla glue is more resilient than epoxy, which is strong but brittle. As wood expands and contracts, I'd think Gorilla glue would be a better option than epoxy, but as in all things, your mileage may vary, Just don't try SuperGlue... way too brittle.

    Now, the Hawken is a .45 and I don't load heavy charges as I have no desire to find out what it is like to have a stock break at the lock under recoil while I am shooting it. My plans for that gun is to eventually replace the stock with a maple stock, then cut the original stock down and reinforce it with a metal rod down the ramrod hole and more epoxy... possibly using a magnet for barrel retention with a 5 1/2" .54 caliber New Englander barrel.

    In a nutshell, though, I think if your stock does not seem to be oil saturated, you probably don't need to de-oil it. Then again, de-oiling won't hurt.
     
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  7. Sep 13, 2019 #7

    kansas_volunteer

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    Back in the early days of the internet there was a stock guy with quite a nice web site. I corresponded with him for a while just to pick his brain. He advised when doing a glue repair to use black colored epoxy. He reasoned that atleast some of the glue would show so might as well make it look nice and black epoxy just looks better than clear. Acraglas comes with both brown and black colorant. Black powdered tempra paint can be used to color epoxy.

    By the way, the stock guy sold plans for a very nice checkering work holder. I bought his plans. Now all I need is a reason to checker stocks. I think it could be adapted to hold long muzzleloader stocks.
     
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  8. Sep 13, 2019 #8

    Metalshaper

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    i was taught, FWIW?
    to use the solvent and whiting powder.. or even talc? set the stock in or coat with the solvent to draw out the oil. Dust it with the whiting powder to soak up the oils that
    come to the surface. brush that powder free with a 'clean' brush and repeat. After a few attempts you will see the whiting is not taking up much if any of the residual oils.
    then, you can be reasonably sure? you have gotten as much out of it as possible. The reason for the powder( as the technique was described to me ) was wiping the oil away
    also redistributes some oil back onto the wood?? brushing the powder off ( or even using a clean air source and blowing it off ) gets the captured oils to fall away..

    when done removing the oils or wearing out on the process.. begin the actual repair process..

    Respect Always
    Metalshaper/Jonathan

    of course back then 1,1,1 Trichloroethane was the recommended solvent..
     
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  9. Sep 13, 2019 #9

    Loyalist Dave

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    I've had to repair a bunch of musket stocks over the years, not to mention a few sporting rifle stocks on muzzleloaders, and as a result the occasional modern rifle stock. The modern rifles that I repaired were old milsurps, and YES because of the decades of oil simply rubbed onto them in armories to ward off rust, those stocks needed some serious de-oiling for repairs to begin. BUT..., since the entire stock was going to be refinished anyway, it was very simple to submerge the stocks in detergent and water to pull out the oils. Sounds crazy, and since I was an employee and not the decision maker at that time, I followed procedures and none of the stocks came out bad. Most were miraculous.

    Anyway for muzzleloaders that were sporting arms, not military, and for modern repros…, it's very unlikely that you need to de-oil the stock, at least from what I've experienced.

    I found that Gorilla Glue was too brittle after curing, and simply delayed another crack or break

    Slow curing JB Weld works fine, for dark stocks, as it's a very dark gray.

    Acraglas was made to withstand the shock of recoil, and thus you know it will take some pretty good shocks and vibrations, and while it is more expensive than JB Weld, you can also adjust the color of the applied product to better fit the color of the stock upon which you're working.

    The above are fine for clean breaks or nearly clean breaks, and for some wrist breaks I have also applied a long deck screw to the interior of the wrist from a counter sunk location that I made beneath the tang, to give strength and to pull the two parts together while curing...and left in place as part of the repair, but cracking is another matter in some cases.

    For some cracking, I've found that drilling a hole perpendicular to the crack, with the entry point in an area not seen, such as inside the barrel channel, or under a tang, a butt plate, a trigger guard..., and then using epoxy and a small hardwood dowel inserted into that hole, can arrest the crack from going any further. Unfortunately sometimes cracks are quite shallow along the surface of the stock, and getting any type of bonding compound inside them is very difficult.

    LD
     
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  10. Sep 13, 2019 #10

    Pete G

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    The thin accraglass is perfect for cracks. Your biggest problem will be removing the wax. No glue will stick to wax; it is used as a release agent when bedding barrels. Liberal use of acetone MIGHT remove most of the wax, but I would recomend several applications.
     
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  11. Sep 13, 2019 #11

    Rifleman1776

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    I'm probably going to be pretty much alone with these opinions. Enneyhow....de-oiling is not necessary. As others have pointed out the oil finish is mainly on the surface and penetrates very little into the wood. Where the break happens is clean wood. Personally, I would NEVER consider the use of epoxy, CA or Gorilla for such repairs. Use wood glues (they were designed for use on wood). I prefer Titebond II. Some might prefer TB III as it is more moisture resistant. But the TB III leaves and ungly dark glue line. If you clean up very well that might not be a problem. The TB II leaves an essentially invisible glue line and is very strong. Also many/most gun stock breaks can benefit from the use of pins (I like brass or brazing rod) for strengthening. Some do not like the looks of the pin ends but, to me, they are OK as they tell part of the story of the guns life.
     
  12. Sep 13, 2019 #12

    Artificer

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    In my modern career, I have used virtually every type of bedding compound ever made on modern stocks to bed them, but also to repair dozens and dozens of cracked stocks. Since high power unmentionable rifles give much more recoil than ML guns, if it works on the modern gun stocks - it will work on ML stocks.

    I shattered the wrist of my Brown Bess Carbine years ago. Since I was not sure I had all the pieces, I decided to use Acraglas Gel to glue it up, provide internal support and to fill in any voids from missing pieces of wood. I also bored holes along the length of the sides of the wrist back into the butt and forward into area of the stock around the breech and filled those holes with 1/8" threaded brass rod and Acraglas. (I had to use two rods because there is a screw that comes up from the bottom of the stock to hold the thumbpiece on the top of the stock, had that not been there, I would have only used one 1/4" threaded brass rod.) I'm sorry I never took pictures of it, but when I was finished and stained and refinished the stock, even I could barely tell where the edges of the pieces of wood were joined.

    I agree that Wax is the biggest thing one has to ensure comes off the wood pieces to be joined together, but oil is right close to it. Linseed Oil finishes and especially old linseed finishes, are rather notorious for being super necessary to clean the surfaces to be joined, though all surfaces of even a fresh/clean break should be cleaned with Acetone. Most of the time Acetone will clean the surfaces, though for really oil soaked surfaces, the detergent cleaning first is a very good idea.

    When I use epoxy to glue up cracks, I have found that Devcon 2 Ton Clear Epoxy with a setting time of around 30 minutes will stand the test of time against recoil and for longevity. High Power rifle stocks I glued with it back in the 1980's are still going strong on the range or in the woods and in all climates all these years later.

    Gus
     
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  13. Sep 14, 2019 #13

    Ironoxide

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    Thank you all for the advice.

    I finally removed the tang and I confirmed my suspicion someone welded an extension to it probably to reinforce the wrist. Unfortunately they made the extension slightly asymmetrical so that is another thing I have to decide whether to restore to original style or simply fix.

    BTW, I found letters GL and a crown partially obscured by the main spring in the lock. I think it is an early mark belonging to Georges Laloux of Liège http://www.littlegun.be/arme belge/artisans identifies l/a laloux georges gb.htm I'll talk more about it in the firearm identification forum, but the style (lack of engraving etc) matches too. So knowing how other tangs of that maker looked like I could restore it.

    Coming back to the repair. Unfortunately I had to drill a hole in the head of an original wood screw, because it was immovable in the metal of the trigger plate. I couldn't apply to much heat to it as it was attached to stock. So I ended up drilling a hole in the screw head with a centre drill and using a screw remover. I'll have to weld the hole and restore the screw's head later.

    After removing both tang and trigger plate I found two modern drywall screws not glued in, but simply screwed into the wrist, a couple of holes that looked like someone was going to stick some pins in for reinforcement, but the holes were empty and only covered by a thin layer of crumbly hard glue. Also holes despite being under a tang were covered with some sort of brown putty. Truly a crappy repair.

    After removing all of that I found out there is actually a complete break that goes through the back of the lock inletting on what I considered a "good" side of the wrist. This is actually good as it gives me good access to clean the surfaces acraglas will have to bond to. I removed 95% of the old glue and I stuck both pieces in acetone to deoil and for easier removal of the rest of the glue (I tried few solvents on it, but only acetone seems to have an effect of making it even more crumbly).

    Now the problem I have is that I would like to remove the ramrod covering, the wedge cover and the buttplate. The problem is that all those bits are screwed in with original screws that look like they contact welded into surrounding metal over last 140 years. I have no idea how to remove them as heat can't be applied due to wood proximity. Currently I partially submerged the broken stock in acetone and metal parts are above the surface. I know the acetone will not harm metal, but I worry about any warpage in the acetone with buttplate and other metal parts attached. If this was just wood I imagine any warpage would be reversible by drying, but if it warps with metal bits and screws stuck in I don't know if that wouldn't cause an issue.

    What would you do? Would you damage original screws and remove all metal, or just deal with wood normally with those metal bits attached?
     
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  14. Sep 14, 2019 #14

    Rifleman1776

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    OK, I'll bow to the voice of experience......BUT......I'm still skeeptikal :dunno: about the use of epoxy where anything where lateral forces might occur. I'm stickin' with what has worked for me. Namely, Titebond II .
     
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  15. Sep 14, 2019 #15

    Pete G

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    Use a pentrant called "Kroil" on the screw heads. After it soaks for several days try a screwdriver bit that exactly fits the slot.
     
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  16. Sep 14, 2019 #16

    Artificer

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    I've heard good things about Titebond II, but haven't used it myself, so I can't comment on it.

    What I have found about the Devcon 2 Ton, long set time epoxy is that is has just a bit of "give" to it, so it won't crack later like some epoxy glues. It has less give than wood, though, so it remains a strong joint.

    Gus
     
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  17. Sep 14, 2019 #17

    Ironoxide

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    The problem is that those screws and the metal they are set in is attached to the wood of the stock so I can't really submerge them in Kroil or WD40 so I've been dropping WD40 on the surface every few hours (It would take me two weeks of waiting to have Kroil shipped here), but those screw heads look like almost contact welded. There isn't even any corrosion. However the last screw budged only after having a screw extractor stuck in it and turned with a tapping wrench.

    How about leaving the buttplate and few other metal parts attached. Am I likely to have problems because of that?
     
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  18. Sep 15, 2019 #18

    Sidney Smith

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    I've seen wrists in gunstocks repaired by drilling them then gluing in wooden dowels as reinforcements.

    Old Japanese Arisaka rifles tend to split in the wrist and the above method was used to repair them. I think this could also work on a muzzle loaders stock as well.
     
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  19. Sep 15, 2019 #19

    Ironoxide

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    I wonder which method is better. A wooden dowel, or a steel or brass drill rod. Metal is definitely much stronger, but a wooden dowel has same elasticity and strength as surrounding wood so is less likely to separate probably.

    I would theorise that if the wood broke due to some accident like someone sitting on a rifle I would be happy to use a dowel to restore original strength. However, if the stock broke during normal use suggesting it was too weak to start with restoring old strength may not be enough. Something much stronger (like a piece of metal) may be required.

    Either way, I wonder how all our epoxy and metal rod repairs will be viewed 150 years from now. Will people be happy we've done that and saved rifles they would never see or will they wish we never did it? If I was repairing a really nice historic piece I would've probably preferred wood glue, wooden dowels etc, but in a not very valuable rifle any method that allows one to use it well is good for me.

    Edit: About those frozen screws. After soaking the whole stock in acetone overnight and making a screwdriver from hardened silver steel I managed to remove butt plate screws intact. I also broke the DIY screwdriver few times before I found out to anneal it to blue temper before using it after hardening.
     
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  20. Sep 15, 2019 #20

    ol vern

    ol vern

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    RE the frozen screws have you tried using a soldering iron to heat the screw heads? just hold the tip on the
    screw head until it's hot
     
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