By Dave Henderson
Some recoil pads don’t have screw holes, or they won’t line up with those already in the stock. If new holes are needed, use a punch to mark the location from the back of the pad, then cut an “X” with a sharp blade on the front. Applying dishwashing soap to the blade will make the job easier.
Installing a recoil pad on a rifle or a shotgun takes more than simply removing the old one and screwing on its replacement. Typically the pad, and in many cases the stock, has to be altered.
First, if you need to shorten the stock, don’t use a carpenter’s saw. You can get it done using a very fine-toothed miter saw, sawing with just enough force to cut the wood but not so much that you splinter across the grain.
A better choice is to cut the stock with a carbide blade in a radial-arm saw or table saw. High RPM and slow feed are ideal for a clean edge with no chipping.
Shortening a stock by more than an inch often changes the pitch, which can only be restored by making another angled cut. Seal the newly exposed wood to keep moisture from seeping into the stock under the new pad.
If you shorten a stock by much more than 3Ú8 inch, the old screw holes won’t align with the new pad. Sometimes the old heel screw hole will be at a different angle but still useable. Don’t expect the toe screw hole to be useable, however.
I’ve found that putting the stock in a recoil pad jig makes the job handier, though you may want the freedom of holding it in various positions in your hands. B-Square and Miles-Gilbert made good jigs.
Use the template from the new pad or the pad itself to mark the new holes’ locations. If they are too close to the old holes (closer than a hole diameter), drill out the old holes with a quarter-inch drill, cut plugs from a hardware store dowel or simply fill the holes with AcraGlass bedding epoxy or its equivalent and let dry.
Attach the pad to the gunstock, and trace around the edges of the stock to scribe its exact dimensions onto the pad.
Some pads will not have screw holes cut in the surface. Turn them over and insert a punch in the screw hole indent on the inside face and push until it makes a dent on the outside of the pad. Using a soaped razor or Xacto blade, slice down until you contact the punch point. Remove the blade, soap it again and make a similar cut across the first at a 90-degree angle, forming an “X.”
Similarly soap the screw threads and press it through. I like to then put a little soap on the part of the screwdriver tip that will actually enter the pad material, and turn the screws into the stock holes. Once the driver is removed, the screw holes should disappear.
Now the pad must be trimmed. Always buy a pad that is larger than the depth of your stock. Take care when sanding because removing too much material from a modern pad will compromise its effectiveness.
Place three layers of masking tape on the stock finish flush with the pad, and draw a pattern on the top layer of tape. Use a belt or disk sander (glasses, hearing protection, maybe a breathing mask and good light are also necessary) and grind the pad until the pattern disappears on the tape. Now, mark the next layer and grind until that disappears; repeat with the third layer, using a very light touch and caution not to nick the stock’s finish.
When the sides are thus sanded down, place tape along the heel and toe, and grind, blending them to the curve of the sides.
Any delicate finish work can be done with an extremely fine file, applied lightly and sparingly.
Reprinted from the September 2004 issue of Buckmasters GunHunter Magazine