Picture of Building a Custom Rifle Stock
Author's Note:  There are concepts in this instructable that go beyond their application to gun stocks - including general woodoworking, sculpting, and finishing - so even if gun stocks aren't your "thing" you may still find something useful here.


I recently picked up a Russian-made Izhmash "Biathlon Basic" in .22 WMR and although I was extremely impressed with the accuracy of the rifle "out of the box", the stock was another story.  I was definitely underwhelmed.  The original stock wasn't very comfortable for me, and was more appropriate for hunting than the target shooting that I typically do, so I decided to build a new one.

Goals for this design:

1) As light as possible
2) Somewhat adjustable
3) Symmetrical to accomodate weak-hand shooting
4) As simply constructed as possible
5) Keep costs down while keeping quality/function reasonaly high

There are a lot of target stock designs out there with more adjustments than I would know what to do with  - but that "adjustability" adds complexity, cost, and weight to the stock.  I also knew that once I had the stock set up for me, I probably wouldn't need to adjust it again, so I decided to sacrifice speed of adjustment for simplicity.  I also chose a rather... uh ... "unique" way of building this stock - namely, I took the original bedded stock, cut away all the parts I didn't want, and built the new stock around the skeleton of the old one.  Why?  Because "inletting" (machining the stock so that it holds the action of the rifle) is one of the more complex and time-consuming parts of building a stock and I knew I'd probably just throw the original stock in a closet and forget it forever (and be annoyed every time I had to move it out of the way) ........ aaaand  I was feeling lazy.... but mostly because I was feeling lazy.  I don't think I'd use this technique on a higher-powered center-fire rifle, but in this case I wasn't worried about the small compromise in structural integrity between this method and machining the stock from a solid piece.

This is the first "from scratch" rifle stock I've built (besides the inletting) so I planned on painting it from the outset - thus making the building process a *little* less stressful since mistakes can be corrected (filled) without it being as obvious as it would be on a natural wood stock.

  • Rifle stock blank (laminated blank from Boyd's - - $40
  • Fillers (Epoxy-Sculpt and Bondo) - $10 if you don't already have some
  • Primer (Epoxy-based catalyzed primer in a can) - about $22
  • Paint (Duracoat paint and overcoat) - about $43
  • T-Trak aluminum rail (in leiu of a "genuine" Anchutz Rail) - $20
  • Threaded insert (1/4-28 threads) - $.50
  • Knock-Down pins (used as alignment pins on the adjustable comb) - $3
  • QD Sling Mounts (mfg by Uncle Mike's - 2 sets) - $32
  • Small piece of Brass for the butt-plate slider
  • Allen-head Cap Screws - 1/4-28 x 1" and 1/4-28 x 2 1/4" - $2
  • Various #8 screws, epoxy, urethane glue, sandpaper, etc.
  • Pachmayer recoil pad - grind to fit - $20
  • Total: ~ $195

Total time: ~50 hours over 5 weeks.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 42Next »
Love this build. Thank you for doing this. I wanting to do the same thing with my Remington 700. 308.
Couple of questions:
- How was the weight compared to the original stock?
- Any thought on what type of wood I should use for my build? I'm wanting to make it as light as possible but durable (since I like to stalk hunt) and strong enough to handle the recoil/etc of the .308.

Thanks in advance and again great build.
jwilliamsen (author)  justin.c.beard2 months ago

Thanks, Justin - glad you like the 'ible :)

As far as the weight vs. the original, the new stock is heavier by about a pound, but is far more shoulder-able and comfortable - even for off-hand shooting. There's no doubt I'm a lot more accurate with it - and the multiple sling points allow for a variety of carry modes.

If you are going to build something like this for a Remington 700, there are a number of woods that will work - Walnut, Maple, Hickory, Ash, Laminates, etc - it really depends on what you want as far as function and aesthetics. Laminates are nice because they are dimensionally (more) stable than solid wood and more flexible when it comes to what shapes they can obtain while still remaining strong - but some people don't like the aesthetics of laminates. Solid woods can be beautiful .... and expensive ... and they can also be unforgiving when it comes to mistakes if you plan on using an oil finish or any clear finish (If you're going to paint the stock, however, that doesn't matter). I think it would be worth it to create a list of priorities and then weigh the characteristics of a particular material against that criteria. For example, you might have as your criteria: lightweight, camouflaged, rugged finish, adjustable, weather/water resistant, etc, etc - where aesthetics are farther down the list - so a painted finish works better than an oil finish, and your choice of material is driven by it's stability and strength more than it's natural appearance. Make sense?

You might want to check out Boyd's Gunstocks and see what they have in both blanks and inlet stocks. Since Boyd's makes stocks for the Remy 700, you might be able to get them to inlet a blank for you, and then you could concentrate on sculpting the stock however you wanted without worrying about the inletting. (Just a side note: You will probably want to put a crossbolt through the stock behind the recoil lug as a minimum, and probably another one through the stock behind the mag well to reinforce the stock for the .308's recoil).

Demjor193 months ago
This was by far the most helpful stock shaping tutorial I have found! I am going to be attempting a stock for an old double barrel 12 gauge out of some American walnut that a coworker cut over 30 years ago. Would has very nice fiddleback and burl. Would love any tips you may have on starting this project! Here is a rough layout.
jwilliamsen (author)  Demjor193 months ago

Wow - that's a beautiful piece of wood! It looks like you've made some good choices for layout in regards to grain direction - it should be a nice, strong stock.

If I was to offer just one piece of advice, it would be to take
your time
. Rushing leads to making mistakes. Making mistakes leads to
cursing. Cursing leads to people thinking you have Tourette's
Syndrome, which leads the government to accusing you of being mental
..... which gives them an excuse to take your guns away. So, in a nutshell: Rushing leads to losing your guns ... so, don't rush. (JK)

(Seriously) Depending on your confidence level (and whether you were trying to simply replicate the original stock) it might be worth going through the stock-making process with a piece of softer/cheaper wood like Poplar first - at least to the semi-finished stage. This would allow you to get an idea what parts of the process might introduce a "gotcha" before you're working with something as nice as your Walnut. Making a "test" stock would also give you the opportunity to try some different contours. You could add material with bondo, sculpt, and see what you liked and what you didn't - then apply that information to the final version. A test stock would be useful for jig setup, too.

Something to consider - in case you just want to replicate the original stock and don't want to go through doing it "from scratch" - there are gunsmiths and stock-makers that can use a replicator to copy your original stock using your materials. You would still have to do the finish work, but they would take care of most of the critical (mating surface) shaping.

Haha! Totally hear you on the taking my time vs losing my guns. Spoken like you know me!

I'm glad you took notice of the grain at the wrist. Read much on it and hoped it was right! And thanks for the compliments on the piece of wood. I'm in love with this piece for various reasons!

I actually have gunsmith friends and know people with replicators. For this old dbl barrel I just really want that hand worked sentimental wood furniture! It's an older gun that I plan on using for birds. I want to have a connection to the gun once I'm done. I think the only way to achieve this is by hand working the stock... In my opinion.

I'm refinishing the original furniture plus making the new ones. My goal is to "replicate" the originals, but also add some personalization here and there. Meaning I'll use the originals for rough shape, but stop once it feels right.

I appreciate the help and hope you are open to new questions as I progress? I tend to be a perfectionist, which is what scares the hell out of me with this project! Lol! Thanks again and I'll be in touch with updates. Probably dyer Christmas though.
MrBeta2 years ago
Fantastic build. A truly amazing project, showcased in great detail and quality, both photos and the write-up itself.
Have you attempted any more stock builds since the completion of this one?
jwilliamsen (author)  MrBeta2 years ago
Thanks! Lately, I've mostly been building modified M14/M1A stocks - taking Vietnam-era G.I. fiberglass stocks and grafting on updated rear ends. I'm working on an Instructable for those as well - stay tuned ;)

I think I read one of those, also very good. My question is, would you ever do an instructable where you take one of those fiberglass stocks and do a cheek riser mod only? I want to glass a fixed cheek rest to the one I just bought. My M14 is using low rings with an ARMS 18 knock off from ProMag, and I don't need a lot of rise. Do you think the 'adjustable' style comb you put on this rifle would translate to a USGI FB stock? Would you cut the bottom of the stock that you shoulder and just add that piece to the top for a cheek rest? Just wondering how you would change the shape of a stock FB stock? Not so much updating, but strictly improving what is already there I guess.

I've also seen threads talking about reinforcing those FB stock forends. You have a preferred method for that with carbon fiber or anything?

The wood stock on my rifle will be saved. I'm not sure how much metal from the wood stock will need to be cannabilized for the FB stock, but I'm thing of just buying the necessary parts to have two complete stocks.

Thanks again for your most excellent project documentation.

jwilliamsen (author)  TheoM14 months ago

Nice-looking M1A there :) Even have the widow-maker sling - and that looks like a SWFA scope - I have two of those myself ;)

OK - so here's a couple of ideas:

As far as building a custom adjustable cheek riser for a USGI fiberglass stock, yes, it's possible, and there are a couple of possible designs. You would have to be conscious of the buttplate hardware and how far it extends into the buttstock - and you would lose the storage tubes - but it would be possible to cut a section out of the comb of the buttstock and fit adjustable hardware to it. It would require carving out some of the foam, filling with glass/epoxy, mating the surfaces, setting the pillars, etc - so - a pretty good amount of work. Here's a source of pre-made pillars and hardware if you don't want or can't make your own:

Another possibility would be to make a custom cheek piece that sets on top of the comb (underside is form-fit to the comb) and drilling into the top of the comb to seat pillars, side-drilling for securing hardware, etc. Again, a good amount of work - about the same amount overall as the method above. Something to consider (even though I totally understand wanting to make your own) is either a Karsten or Bradley adjustable cheek rest. Karstens are simple and adjustable, but more permanent than the Bradley:

If you intend to glass a fixed rest onto your stock, I'd highly recommend using a lightweight core and relatively thin glass as it's not really a structural item and doesn't need a lot of thickness. Smooth-on sells a product called Free-Form AIR epoxy putty: that makes an outstanding core material. You could apply a mass of this to the comb of your stock, rough shape it and let it cure. Then, it would be pretty easy to carve it to the exact shape you want and apply a few thin coats of fiberglass over it - feathering it into the the existing comb. This would add almost no weight to your stock, and would be *very* tough. I've used the Free-Form AIR as a core on a few projects, and while it's not easy to sculpt while it's in it's putty form, it's super-easy to shape once it's cured, and amazingly tough for it's weight.

As far as reinforcing the forend, again, there are options. First, I would see how much room is available around the operating rod guide - a wad of clay mashed into the forend with the action in place can give you an idea of how much clearance you have. If there is enough, I'd probably buy two carbon-fiber arrow shafts and either glass them in place, or preferably, carbon-fiber them in place along the length of the forend. It would also be a good idea to match-prepare your stock - especially the front ferrule - it needs to be hogged out so that the only point of contact is where the "hook" on the gas-block band touches it on the bottom. There is more covered in Scott Duff's book on match preparing the M14.

I don't know if they still have them, but Fred's Stocks used to sell "stubs" for just the purpose you mention - making cheek rests. They also sell (or used to) some fairly beat-up FG stocks that would make good donor stocks.

I hope this helps :) Good luck on your project :)

Daneel10 months ago

I have no doubt you are nothing short of genius, or at the very least so meticulous in your method and development of it that you come off as one. I'll be looking at this plan for a long time gathering ideas from it, and the rest of your plans.

x515xUSMC10 months ago
So just save the image then print it out at 100%
jwilliamsen (author)  x515xUSMC10 months ago
Actually, I'll try to make this easier. I'm going to attach 3 images that can be printed out at a scale of 100% on regular letter paper (the images are 8"x10" @150dpi) - then, you can cut them out and hold them up to a window (or a light table) and tape them together. Each image has a little bit of overlap of the piece before it. This is basically what I did when I made my template. The final image on the template (once everything is taped together) should be 28.5" long.
Stock Template Piece 3.jpgStock Template Piece 2.jpgStock Template Piece 1.jpg
x515xUSMC10 months ago
Hey I was wondering of you still have a template for this stock. I would like to know where to get one
jwilliamsen (author)  x515xUSMC10 months ago

I'm assuming you mean the full-size profile Image I used - if so, you can get it here - just print this out 100% (you'll have to do it across a few sheets of paper):
Sako-BB Stock Full Size 150dpi.jpg
blinde0011 year ago

This is one of the most amazing posts to "Instructables" it has been my experience to read. I had been thinking about building a tactical stock for my .338 and then came across your entry. What an inspiration. Not only can it be done...but done extremely well with a great aesthetic about it as well. you have sent me to my shop with renewed enthusiasm and a collection of new ideas on how to solve some of the problems I had considered. Thanks!!

jwilliamsen (author)  blinde00111 months ago
Thank you! I would say that if you're going to build a stock for a .338, you will want to look into heavier reinforcements - cross-bolt behind the recoil lug and in front of the trigger group, etc - as well as probably buying commercial adjustment hardware for any LOP adjustments. Check out for some really nice hardware. If I venture into heavier centerfire stocks, I'll be using some of their products, I'm sure. Good luck :)
Dr Soup 321 year ago

Holy cow my friend. . .great write-up, project and execution! I am a happy diy-er. To begin you state the techniques you used are good for all aspects of woodworking but can also be extrapolated to everything we do. Minds like yours amaze me! My second career (after Obama messes up my first as a Physician with Obamacare) will be woodworking and gunsmithing. This post has given me so many ideas. Thank you and well done!

jwilliamsen (author)  Dr Soup 3211 months ago
Hey Doc - I'm glad you liked it :) I hope to build another one this summer - slightly different this time.
keelan dumigan11 months ago
Help me
jwilliamsen (author)  keelan dumigan11 months ago
Hi Keelan - I'm happy to help - just need a little more information ;)
turbotosh1 year ago
This is a really really amazing instructable, well documented, your attention to detail is fantastic, great job, it looks perfect :)
jwilliamsen (author)  turbotosh1 year ago
Thank you! It's one of my favorite rifles to shoot - it really does work as good as it looks :)
Excellent job
scathcart2 years ago
Fantastic job on your stock ,well thought out and very well executed.I have a CZ452 in .17hmr and was going to buy a Boyds Tacticool stock for it but seen your project so im thinking of trying to build my own version . If it doesnt work out i can always get the Tacticool . just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration .
jwilliamsen (author)  scathcart2 years ago
Thanks :) I have a Boyd's Tacticool on a Ruger 10/22 - it's a nice stock overall - not terribly well finished, but that can be remedied :)

I've always wanted a CZ452 American - it's one of my "bucket list" guns - lol. I've always appreciated the smooth action, excellent fit and finish, and of course the accuracy of the CZ's (at least the ones I've seen).

Something you *might* want to consider is picking up the Boyd's stock and using it as a starting point - it will save a lot of work in the long run. If I'd have had that option, I probably would have gone that route - or at least considered it.
nickademuss2 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
jwilliamsen (author)  nickademuss2 years ago
Sure - send them to me and I'll add them on to the end of the Instructable on an another page - maybe we can get a collection going :)
Dyeman122 years ago
How are you liking that 7-2?  I have one that has become quite the project.  Had the barrel cut to 16.5", recrowned and threaded to match my AAC Element suppressor.  Hated to loose that unique deep crown, but this rifle is just made to be suppressed.  My smith took a section of the scrap and made a thread protector which matches up very nicely.  Also had my smith cut the bottom of the reciever to allow the bolt pin to be installed from the bottom so i dont have to pull the scope to strip it.  Next had the barrel, receiver and bolt arm Ceracoated in flat black.  Have a custom Piccatinny rail mounted that runs the entire length of the receiver for easy scope mount.   On a calm day it will shoot quarter size groups at 100yds using good ammo and it is really quiet.  The AAC can virtually no 1st round pop and only caused about a 0.75 inch shift in POI at 50 yds.  I have been at a deserted 50yd range and put rounds over the top on a robin at the 30yd line and he didn't fly off.  
My last mod is for a new stock and your project has been the inspiration to give it a try with an old laminate stock for a 10/22 I've had laying around for years.  I've plugged up the inlet with hard wood and will be building up the magazine underbelly to take a 10 round mag flush.  This will make off hand shooting much better.  I really like the shape you adopted from the Sako- clean and simple.  
I've rounded up an IZH 4-mag cassette and an extended IZH 7-3 bolt handle.  Since I already have the stock to play with, this should be a pretty low cost / high time roll-your-own project.     
jwilliamsen (author)  Dyeman122 years ago
Hey Dyeman,

I really like the 7-2 - as a matter of fact, if I could find one, I'd buy another (one in .22LR as opposed the the .22WMR that I have - cheaper to shoot). I really like the toggle-bolt and am darn near as fast with it as I am any semi-auto I've shot. I have to say that the stock modification was worth every bit of time and money - it's the most comfortable rifle I have - a real pleasure to shoot. Recoil is extremely linear - no muzzle rise - and is more of a push than a punch. My only complaint is that I can go through a LOT of ammo in one sitting - lol ... oh - and that mags are impossible to find.

Your rifle sounds like quite the project! I'm wondering why your smith didn't just replicate the deep crown? Didn't he think it would work with the suppressor? I've thought about threading mine, but it's such a nice package as it is that it's hard to justify it. Your bolt pin mod sounds like a good idea - I'll have to look into that - thanks!

If you want template and reference images for the Sako, let me know and I can bundle them up for you. Good luck on your project - it sounds like you're going to have a very nice rifle when it's all done - one that will keep the folks at the range busy trying to guess just what the heck that rifle is..... ;)
jwilliamsen (author) 2 years ago
Thanks! Good luck on that .338 Lapua build - be sure to pay a lot of attention to reinforcement on something with that kind of recoil ;)
blinde0012 years ago
After seeing this instructable, my respect for the creativity on these pages has once again taken another step higher. This is a brilliant and creative solution to obtaining not only the funtionality of a Sako or Steyr tactical stock, but the aesthetic qualities of one also. I am still applauding this project..can't wait to replace the Savage stock on my new
.338 Lapua with something inspired by your accomplishments on this sincerest congratulations on a fantastic job.
jbest42 years ago
Fantastic! What a great project. I think I am going to have to try this out for one of my Mosin Nagants. Thanks a ton!
What kind of router would you recommend, and do you know of any good guides on learning to use a router?
jwilliamsen (author)  USAFpirate6002 years ago
Realize that my recommendations are based on my experiences - and my experiences don't cover all the brands, but, having said that, I would recommend either a Bosch or a Makita because of the 4 brands I have owned, they have been the most robust and accurate - and I've not managed to kill either one yet after years of use (and a little abuse).

Whenever looking at tools, realize that the old adage of "Buy nice, or buy thrice" is spot-on. Buy the best you can afford, and you won't regret it. For a first router, I'd look at one that includes both a plunge-base and a fixed base (with depth stop), soft start, at least 2 1/4 HP, variable speed (with adaptive circuitry), and 1/4" and 1/2" collets. A good example would be the Bosch 1617EVSPK, or the Makita RF1101KIT2. Either of these will have a very broad range of capabilities and would be an excellent choice for general woodworking. I'm sure there are others as well, but I don't have experience with Hitachi, DeWalt, Festool, etc - so I can only offer what I know.

As far as guides, there are a number of books on Amazon - just do a search for "Using a Router" or "Router Techniques" and you'll get a number of hits. I think books are a good start - and a good way to pick up tips and tricks (along with websites) - but nothing really beats just getting out in the shop and making dust. Some people think it's weird, but I actually *practice* with most of my tools - especially power tools. Using power tools is a skill, just like hand tools - so get some scrap wood, and practice making profiles, etc.

In addition, don't skimp on router bits unless you consider the bit disposable (working in junk wood or wood that might have nails, screws, etc). My favorites are solid carbide - they're stupid expensive - but cut hardwood like it's butter - extremely sharp and easy to work with. Quality router bits are *tools* just like the router is, and you can easily spend far more money on a collection of bits than you do for the router itself. Quality router bits can be re-sharpened multiple times and in the long run end up being a better investment while turning out better work.

Hope this helps! :)
Thanks for replying so fast. That helps a lot. It will be a while before i save up enough money to get started but my goal is to replicate a JAE stock for a remington 700.

It is an $800 stock so i figured making it will be cheaper and more rewarding and fun. I will definitely do what you did and simplify it a lot but I like the general shape of it.

Great instructable, and thanks again for the help.
jwilliamsen (author)  USAFpirate6002 years ago
The JAE stocks are nice - heavy as an anvil - but nice. I have friends that have M14's equipped with them. The advantage you'll have in making your own is that you'll be able to make a lighter version should you choose to do so - as well as customize the fit to your particular taste.

A few of my philosophies that might be of interest:
  • Don't rush.  A year from now, will you care that the project took an extra day or three? Probably not - but you'll care about the little mistakes you made rushing things.
  • Look at all projects as a series of "baby steps" - not as one BIG project.  By breaking it up into tasks (write them down), you will progress methodically and not feel overwhelmed. 
  • Do at least a little every day that you have the opportunity - but don't feel that every session working on it has to be a marathon.  Sometimes, I'll just pick one small thing from my task list, spend 5 minutes completing it, and be done for the day.  This keeps the project moving ahead while keeping me from feeling like the project is more like a prison sentence than something I'm doing for fun.
  • If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break - or stop for the day.  Sometimes, coming back with "fresh" eyes will be all it takes to see a different solution to a problem.
Good luck on your project!
jcclark7892 years ago
Wow. I am so impressed. I would imagine you could do this with a Remington 700 in 308? I wish you could show me how. You wouldn't happen to live in Dallas, Tx?

Great job man. Nice instructable.

Ps. Was this based on the accuracy international?
jwilliamsen (author)  jcclark7892 years ago
Thanks! Yes, you could definitely build one for a Remington 700, although there are SO many custom stocks available for that platform ( ranging from the space-age Eberlestock to the more traditional Boyd's, HS Precision, McMillan, Wild Dog, Bell and Carlson.... to name a few) that unless you wanted the satisfaction of doing it yourself, you'd probably be better off buying an off-the shelf stock. A big part of what drove me to build my own was that this rifle has virtually no aftermarket here in the US (or anywhere else, really) .... that and I wanted to see if I could do it ;)

I live in Utah - so we're *kind* of neighbors ;)

The stock design was based on the Sako TRG platform. I've always liked the Accuracy International rifles, but I had to give up the idea of a thumb-hole stock because of the ergonomics of the toggle-bolt action - having to pull the thumb out of the hole, rotate the wrist, toggle the bolt, and return to the starting position would be a lot slower than just rotating my wrist as the "open saddle" design allows.

Thanks again for the kind words :)
I have looked at all of those manufacturers you named and have found a few that we're nice but outrageously expensive. How much did you spend on materials for the project? How difficult would you say this project is I think I'm intermediate lay skilled with wood working. Metal working I have very little experience. But I have a master of all trades carpenter father.

I like your design with no thumb hole a lot. I think thumb hole stocks are ridiculous.
jwilliamsen (author)  jcclark7892 years ago
OK - so it sounds like the barrier to entry is price - which is as good a reason as any to "roll your own" - I know it drives some of my decisions ;) Overall, it cost me about $195 - but that could be pared down with the omission of things like Duracoat and replacing it with tung oil or polyurethane. Look at the bottom of the first page for a pricing breakdown to see what you could live without (if anything).

The most critical part of building a stock is the "inletting" - or the machine work to precisely fit your barreled action into the stock. While it's not *super* difficult, it is precision work and would be difficult to achieve without access to tools like a mill.... or some amazing hand-tool skills. If it were *me* and I was thinking about building a custom stock for a Remmy 700, I'd call Boyd's Gunstocks ( and ask them if they would sell you an inletted blank that you could then shape to what you wanted. The shaping work is more art than science, and could be done with hand tools (and time) like rasps, chisels, files, sanders, etc - and if you were willing to take your time, I think an "intermediate" woodworker could come up with something nice ;)
1-40 of 42Next »