Notes on Fixing Inletting Problems


My inletting is generally pretty tight with only minor imperfections here and there.   For those minor gaps and cracks, you just let it go and move on.  However, occasionally, I have a really bad day and those gaps and cracks are more than just an imperfection.   When you have gaps in your inletting of  1/32" or more then you really need to do some thing about it.  The way you fix this problem is to fill the gaps with epoxy mixed with wood dust.   

To prepare for the repair you need to prepare enough wood dust to fill half the gap.   The best thing to do is select a piece of scrap wood cut off your stock blank and clamp it in a vise. Then use a Mill Bastard file to generate the proper size dust particles.   I have tried larger dust particles but they are hard to work down into smaller gaps.  You can place some card stock behind your scrap wood to collect the dust.    One you have enough wood dust,  set it aside to be mixed with the epoxy.   I use System Three quick setting (15 minute) epoxy.   You buy a bottle of resin and a bottle of hardener.   The type of hardener determines the set time.  You use two parts resin to one part hardener so the resin bottles come twice as big as the hardener bottles.  You can buy epoxy resin and hardener by the bottle from WoodCraft or most any larger hardware or marine supply store.   This stuff is used to hold together both wooden and fiberglass boats so it is very tough and weather proof.  

You only mix up the epoxy when you are ready to use it.   As stated before, you mix up two parts resin and one part hardener in a disposable cup (wax paper or plastic will both do) in a amount sufficient to fill half your crack.   Mix the epoxy thoroughly.  When you are certain you have the hardener and resin mixed adequately,  mix in the wood dust you prepared earlier.   The combination of the epoxy and the wood dust should give you enough volume to fill your gap.   You only want to attempt to fill what can be done in five or ten minutes before the epoxy starts to setup, and do not mix up the epoxy until all your prep work is done.    

Before you apply the filler, you need to prep both the wood and your metal parts.  For the time being, we are going to talk about filling the gaps between a barrel and the side flat in a barrel channel.  You want the epoxy to stick to the wood and not the barrel, so remove any soot or oil in the barrel channel with a rasp or scraper.  As for the barrel, coat the entire barrel with a thick coat of paste wax.  You will have to wipe off any dust and soot for the wax to adhere properly.

At this point, you have a couple of choices about how to apply the epoxy mixture.   Now,  we are not bedding the entire barrel here.  We are just going to fill the gaps between the barrel and the stock at the side flats in order to save an otherwise good stock.  You could install the barrel and then apply the filler to the gaps using a wood spatula (tongue depressor).  I have done this with reasonably good results, but have had a problem getting the epoxy all the way down to the bottom of the flat at the narrower gaps.   A potentially better approach which I have yet to try would be to generously apply the filler to the side flat of the barrel channel and and then install the barrel.   You could then touch up with a wood spatula.   Make sure that you remove excess epoxy.   At this point, the barrel should be clamped in place and the whole thing set aside for the epoxy to cure.   I would leave it over night.   The next day, if you have prepped the barrel properly, the barrel should pop out of the stock with a little effort.   

With the barrel removed,  you will need to use a square rasp to even up the filled and unfilled areas of the side and bottom flats of the barrel channel.   You may be left with some small cracks between the barrel and barrel channel but it will be a lot better than before and the repair should be barely noticeable once the stock is finished.   I would use a plane or large flat file clean up the top of the stock along the barrel channel.  

Although, I have been mainly concerned here with fixing the inletting problem around a barrel, the same procedure would apply to fixing problems around a lock plate, side plate, trigger guard or inlays.  In the case of inlays, you might as well forget about the paste wax and just glue them in place.   You can still install pins to make them look right.  When filling the gaps around a lock plate, you need to give some thought to keeping the epoxy out of the lock mortise and trigger mortise.   Some masking tape carefully applied might help with this.    However,  as long as you are only concerned with filling gaps around the edges of the plate,  excess epoxy shouldn't pose much of a problem.  The excess epoxy can always cleaned up with knives and chisels.  When filling around a lock plate, I would remove all the lock components so as to reduce the possibility gluing any of these parts together or gluing them to the stock.   

For repairing and filling very small cracks such as might be encountered in restoration work,  you would substitute a cyanoacrylate adhesive (Crazy Glue) for epoxy.  There are some thick cyanoacrylate formulations made just for filling cracks.   You can obtain any number of cyanoacrylate adhesives from WoodCraft.

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This page was last updated on  04/01/05 .

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