Custom AK47 Stock
I first saw one of these in a market in Truro when I was much too young to afford, buy or own one. When I last returned to Truro about 10 years later, the stall was no longer there. Since then I've created a small collection of Air Gun and Airsoft rifles/pistols for target shooting and skirmishing respectively. One of the places I look to expand my collection is a local collectables shop that happens to stock such things. To my delight, a few days ago I dropped in and spotted something they'd just got in stock - a C02-powered .177 AK47 air rifle.
As an officially Kalashnikov-licensed product, it was remarkably close to the real thing (or at least as close as I can determine, never having seen the real thing). Supposedly the receiver and various other parts are genuine (albeit Chinese-made) AK47 components. The metal components and co2 mechanism were fantastic and replicated the real thing in quality and operation. Unfortunately the wooden parts also seemed to be quiet 'authentic' in that they were low quality mass-produced parts that were finished poorly, with blemishes and knots clearly visible. I bought the rifle with the intention of replacing the wooden parts with my own replicas, just as I'd done with my Crosman 2260 (bought from the same shop). The rifle would primarily be a display piece after all.
I set about carving the four stock parts from a large block of hardwood I had sitting in the garage that used to be an old mantlepiece. I'm not actually sure what species of hardwood it is - probably a Walnut. This was the same piece of wood I'd created my (undocumented) Crossman 2260 thumbhole stock from, so I knew it was perfect for shaping into rifle furnishings.
I didn't take photos of the process as I'd not originally planned to document the project - but I've since decided to include it on my blog and taken a few photos with the original stock next to the rifle for comparision, in addition to the following notes on the process...
Shaping & Finishing
For each component piece I would first cut out a rough match for the original part, then precisely measure and draw onto the piece the positions of prominent features. A bench drill with a large sanding drum bit was used to smooth out each block's shape. I then used a chisel and plane to shape the rounded edges by hand. Obtaining a symetrical shape was simply done by eye and achieved largely by luck and taking a great deal of time making many small adjustments. I find working with hardwoods to be extremely satisfying, so I was in no hurry to finish the project. Many of these tools come from my grandfather's toolbox, whom was himself a carpenter, and the source of my interest in woodworking.
The most complex parts were the foregrips, as these required a precise fit with metal barrel pieces and reciever plates. I took to shaving off small slithers at a time, attempting to fit the metal pieces, then shaving of a little more as required. Thanks to this approach I managed to shape the buttstock and foregrips to a satisfactory match for the originals first-time.
Unfortunately the hand grip was another story. I had to drill a perfectly aligned hole for the bolt that would run through the grip and secure it to the receiver. This took two attempts, as my bench drill didn't have enough travel and it had to be done with a hand-held. Secondly, the grain orientation required for strength forced me to use a dremel rather than a chisel (otherwise chunks would fly off, ruining the piece). This was slow but ultimately worked well.
The bare wood was sanded smooth then rubbed with french polish, resulting in a deeper reddish colour than the orignal pieces - but a beautifully smooth and relative tough finish.