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Thread: Warped SMLE Mk I*** Forestock

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  1. #1
    Contributing Member 303 Gunner's Avatar
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    Warped SMLE Mk I*** Forestock

    Hello all, feel like I'm frequently seeking guidance on here as of late.



    Received a SMLE Mk I*** that I've been anxiously awaiting for a couple weeks. The rifle is in great shape and I was quite pleased with it till I looked down the sights. That was when I noticed the forward sight was nearly touching the left ear of the nose cap. About two minutes later, I had the rifle disassembled and it was pretty apparent the forestock was doing its best impression of a barrel roll for the last third or so.

    I am not even a novice wood-worker, so my big question is whether the stock is salvageable or am I going to have to go down the (likely expensive) path of trying to get a duplicate made off my Cond. II?

    I'll try to get some photos once I get it back together.
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    Contributing Member 303 Gunner's Avatar
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    Photos...


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    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    Well, if steam / hot oil can be used to bend a shotgun buttstock as shown in several youtube videos, e.g. here
    then I expect the same principles could be used to straighten a fore-end.
    Would need a lot of planning and preparation before starting, and I'm sure there's no shortage of expertise on this forum to advise you.
    Rob
    Last edited by RobD; 03-07-2019 at 05:09 AM.

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    We've been back and forth over this ground time and again, there's also no shortage of threads discussing it. Thing is, with that particular rifle, why mess with it? It's scarce enough in that form, I'd leave it alone. Certainly replacing the front end isn't going to increase value...
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member englishman_ca's Avatar
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    It can be straightened.

    A session in a steam box and then some careful jigging.

    Sounds easy don't it?

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    Really Senior Member Salt Flat's Avatar
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    303, I had a similar warp on a 1903 Springfield. I tried the steam method with no luck. I finally cut the forearm at the lower band, realigned the pieces and doweled and glued them back together (like a duffle cut repair). It worked fine. I'm not sure if I would try it on a rare stock like yours but is something to consider. Salt Flat
    Last edited by Salt Flat; 03-08-2019 at 12:05 AM.

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    Contributing Member 303 Gunner's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses all!

    BAR, replacing the stock would definitely be my very last choice. It will most likely stay as is, although that will depend on how it shoots. The barrel does bind a bit in the forestock, so I'm curious to see what impact that has.

    Englishman, you certainly make the steam box and jigging sound easy, but I expect it'd probably a bit nerve-wracking! All of this makes me wish I'd had an opportunity to take shop class back in the day.

    Salt Flat, that is certainly something to consider, but I think it would hurt my heart too much to cut it, haha.

    I will have to see if I can get a forestock made regardless, as I have another Mk I that I'm trying to bring back from the grave. Fortunately it still has its proper bolt and the butt stock is still good, but its forearm is all cracked to pieces. I did manage to find a correct Mk I nose cap, Mk I top wood, and Mk I rear sight all in the span of a week though!
    Last edited by 303 Gunner; 03-08-2019 at 01:51 AM.

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    Member tonyd's Avatar
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    i would be keen on a mk1 forewood if you do reprodce any.

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    Really Senior Member englishman_ca's Avatar
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    Ya, I remember we made toboggan skis in wood shop at school when I was a kid. Nothing magic about bending wood, it just needs heat and slow gentle force.
    The wood fibres are bonded together with a substance called lignum, it is in all wood. Lignum melts with heat.

    It is the heat in the steam box that softens up the lignum and allows the wood to become plastic and to be formed and moulded.
    Your rifle could have been stood leaning against the wall beside the furnace in the basement, for example. Extended periods of heat would stress relieve the wood and let it find its natural set. In this case, a couple of degrees twist.

    I use steam box as a heat source because it heats evenly from all directions and is not possible to scorch the wood. The steam has to be cranked up high for a long period of time.

    The concept to straightening is simple. Just heat the fore end up and give it a little twist to where you want it and hold it still while it cools.
    The jig could be something as simple as a barrelled action with sights removed and a bunch of block, clamps and shims.
    Hold the action solid in a vise on the bench with the fore end mounted, rig up blocks onto the front end giving it a little over twist in the opposite direction.
    When the wood cools, it would spring back a tiny amount and take on a new set. Beauty of it is that you can repeat and keep tweaking until it is straight. Once cooled, the wood would remain straight, unless it was heated and the lignum was softened up again.

    I am not meaning to sound flippant when I say that it is simple to do. There is probably somebody local to you with the skills and the kit to do it for you. Check out furniture makers. The hoop backs on kitchen chairs are bent wood.

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    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    Englishman, I am intrigued about the steam box, can you explain the design? How does it fit over the fore-end and seal, and how do you generate the steam - is it just a tube coming off the spout of a kettle?

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