Low Recoil Wood Goodness- a simple guide.
Hey guys. I thought this walk-through might help others with similar thoughts.
I opted to take a break from studying and fit a Kick-EEZ recoil pad to my Bulgarian wood stock.
I am very pleased that I ended up doing it this way, because I believe it is a much better pad than the other options I have seen. I think all told I have about $7 and 20 minutes in to this and I did it with all the wrong tools.
Kick-EEZ pads are made out of a fancy stuff called sorbothane, which is made from the oil of the rarest breed of snake. OK, it actually is really good, and it doesn’t get hard and crack like other rubbery materials. I like it better than the Limbsavr pads I have tried. They typically cost around $35, but I frequently see them on eBay for under $10. Sometimes a gun smith will sell a lot of take-offs and there will be a couple of these in there. In my case, I had got one off of eBay for another project and measured the stock wrong, so I had an extra pad. $7 (including shipping) Mine was KZ 107 a pre-fit model. (ProTip all KICK-EEZ pads are solid and bigger than an AK stock, so they are all effectively grind to fit. Just check that the screw hole spacing won’t cause problems when you grind it down. Limbsavr pads generally have hollows so this won’t work. The pad that Tromix sells is not the same as the usual Limbsavr line up. I haven’t tried it, but I think what I have is superior in looks, function and price.) (If you do have a Tromix stock, I noticed that someone has a Remington 700 pre-fit Limbsavr glued to his stock with the stock ground to match it, and that looks better too.)
I have done a fair amount of grinding and metal fab over my employment history. Accordingly, I have fairly steady hands for this kind of thing and pretty good technique. It would be easy to let the abrasive grab, and make a gouge instantly if you aren’t careful and skilled. Using the proper tool would solve most of the need for skill. Namely, a bench mount belt sander. The movable table would make a big difference in controllability, steadiness and matching your grind angle to the lines of your stock.
I did it with a $15 angle grinder and a flap-wheel chucked into a drill. I didn’t really need the flap wheel.
The manufacturers of recoil pads usually say to 1) put the pad in the freezer first 2) grind with a 50 or 80 grit belt then step down to 220 grit when you get close, and finish with 220 and motor oil. That leaves something like the original shiny surface.
I opted to use the freezer trick and skip the progressive sanding and oil. This was because 1) I didn’t have a belt sander with several belts, 2) I actually kind of like the texture I have better. It is similar to brushed suede and was very easy to keep even without any wavy mismatched textures 3) quit while you’re ahead. Once I got it down to the right profile, doing fine sanding touch ups could quickly turn into an ugly botch job.
1) Measure screw spacing on the stock. Use a square blade to mark and find the center line on the back plate of the pad. Mark where the screws should go. (I added about 3/32” to help the pad follow the curve of the stock) I slotted the existing holes, but if I did it again, I would just drill from the plastic side toward the soft side of the pad. Easy.
Find center line:
Use calipers like compass.
2) Mount it on the stock. I left a bit of overhang all the way around, but followed the line of the stock to the point on the bottom of the pad when I chose my alignment. That dimension didn’t really change; I just buffed it to make the texture match.
3) I used a piece of steel to gauge where the grind should go, and then followed with a pencil shaved so that I could hold it flush and level with the surface of the stock. I traced all the way around and then checked with my steel scrap. Scribing with a knifepoint could work too, but it will tend to follow wrong paths and you can’t rub mistakes out. My carbide scribe didn’t want to give me good results, and I could see the pencil line. Stick with the pencil.
4) Threw the thing in the freezer and went back to studying.
5) took it out of the freezer, put my crappy grinder on its back on a table and ground to just outside the line. You should grind with the abrasive moving from the plastic plate toward the sorbethane. (Facing the other way will tend to grab, chatter and gouge. Just take my word for it.) Use the flat surface of your abrasive, not the edge and use smooth rocking motions. Don’t get in a hurry. I had it basically down to shape in about 5 minutes just being smooth and steady. As the thing got warmer it was more prone to grab and chatter. When I was pretty close to my line, I put it back onto my stock and checked with my makeshift gauge. I remarked it anywhere my markings were indistinct.
Here's what it looked like after the rough in:
6) Threw it in the freezer again.
7) back to the grinder, going extra slow and careful. I am just finishing up the last little bit and evening out any waves. At this point the edges came to a corner on the top, so I carefully chamfered the edge. I had a few wavy lines on the edge, but nothing to worry me.
8) I used the flap wheel (80 grit) to even out any waviness, make my chamfer uniform, and generally make the texture even all the way around. This was surprisingly grabbier and harder to control than the grinder. It actually left a less smooth finish than the grinder too.
(The texture is very even, and much like brushed suede. It should mount smoothly without catching on clothing and still stay in place on my shoulder. Perfect.)
The daylight goes away when I tighten the screws down, but I wanted you to see.
Total grinding time ~10 minutes.
Total time between fitting and checking ~15 minutes (not counting freezer and taking pictures)
Note: I plan to fill the groove where the plate would be with black urethane caulk or similar after refinishing the stock to match the fore-end, and modifying it to fit a hinge. This also allowed me to leave the pad very slightly larger than the stock for more surface area. I can use the urethane to blend the transition and visually keep a constant profile.
I am also going to use this as a template for my other saiga, before I put on the caulk. I chose not to use the back plate for a template, because it is smaller, and does not exactly follow the curve of the main body of the stock
Here is a link to the whole album.