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Wood AR-15 Furniture: Day Seven... or so...

When we started this project we thought it would be a good idea to write a blog per day of work we did on our Wood AR-15 furniture. This way, we thought, we could share all the progress we were making. It turns out that one day of work, usually sanding, didn't always yield share-worthy results. So the "Day Seven" title of this post should be understood as "Update Seven." There have been many days since the "Day Six" update.

As of the last update, we had a block of wood that had three holes in it that we were affectionately referring to as a Wood AR-15 Stock. We have since spent much time drawing, cutting, Dremeling and sanding that stock until it took the shape you see below.

Wood AR-15 Stock 3
Wood AR-15 Stock 1

Wood AR-15 Stock 2

With the stock mostly shaped, we went full-bore into sanding each of the pieces of wood furniture to be ready for sealing. The sanding process started with sub-100 grit paper and ended with scouring pads with ratings well into the hundreds. We wanted to make sure each piece felt great in hand/on cheek and that the grain was shown in all its rosewood glory. 

Once the main sanding was complete, we began alternating between applying a clear gloss finish and more gentle sanding. The pictures below are of each piece of the wood furniture with about four coats of wood finish on. 

Wood AR-15 Stock Sealing
Wood AR-15 Furniture Drying

A few more coats and the furniture will be ready to go on the rifle. A day that we have been waiting for and working towards for what seems like a very long time.

Stay tuned to see pictures of the rifle fully assembled with all the wood furniture in all its glory.

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Wood AR-15 Stock: Day Six

Grips: check.

Trigger guard: check.

Rail panels: check.

It was now stock time.

Our wood stock is by far the most functionally intricate piece of our wood AR-15 furniture. Not only is it the largest and most iconic piece of the build but it is also the least supported by aluminum or steel and will have to sustain the greatest amount of force during regular use. The B.A.D. stock hardware we are using requires a buffer tube hole as well as two holes for the steel attachment arms. There is less than 1/4 inch of space between the top of the buffer tube and the charging handle which limits the thickness of the top of stock. The two attachment arm holes need to be precisely drilled, not only in relation to each other but also parallel to the buffer tube hole so that the stock will have full range of adjustments and extend plumb behind the rifle. Finally, unlink B.A.D.'s hardware, we want our wood stock to be made from a solid piece that completely covers the buffer tube. We had our work cut out for us.

 Templating the rough cut wood stock with the B.A.D. hardware.

We started by cutting all the rough edges from the glued pieces and were very please to see the grain come to life. Through our practice piece, we knew it was very important to have level surfaces to drill into (of course) so we decided to shape the stock last. Attaching the stock to the hardware is where we were going to succeed or fail so the shaping would take place after we had conquered the hardware battle.

Cut, template taped and buffer tube hole drilled. 

We did our best to make a paper template of where the buffer tube and attaching arm holes needed to be drilled and then used a series of drills, and drill extensions to cut the buffer tube hole. We didn't want the buffer tube hole to extend through the butt plate of the stock, so we had to slowly mill out the hole and then sand out the sides. After a few hours, the buffer tube slide all the way to back smoothly.

 Starting the arm holes.

The attaching arm holes needed to be drilled to a certain depth from the front. Then countersinks needed to be drilled from the butt plate and finally a smaller diameter hole to connect the two ends. These holes will allow the arms to be inserted from the front roughly one inch short of the butt plate and then bolts will be inserted into the countersinks from the rear and through the smaller diameter hole, into the arms. All that means that we will have about 3/4 inch of wood pinched between the end of the steel arms and the bolts.

 Three holes drilled.

We now had an attachable and (mostly) adjustable wood stock. Below are a few pictures of where we left it for the day. The next step is shaping the stock to be fully adjustable, look and feel good.

Learn more about our Wood AR-15 Stocks here.

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Wood AR-15 Rail Panels: Day Five

Our day of shooting inspired us to get after the next few pieces of wood furniture so, after a day of travel we were back in wood shop. Before the day at the range, we had shaped the trigger guard but hadn't yet drilled the holes or added the screws. Securing the trigger guard then, was our first order of business. It didn't take long to mark and drill the holes and add the screws.  Pretty much all of this work took place on the drill press and was pretty easy compared to the countersunk grip panel holes.

Wood trigger guard secured with screws. 

To the rail panels! We were excited to begin working on the rail panels after all the micro-shaping work on the grip panels and trigger guard.

We selected the wood for the three rail panels and cut each pieces down to size: just under 4 1/2 inches long and 5/8 inch high at the tallest point. Before we curved the edges or otherwise shaped the three planks we drilled and counter suck the holes. Again, shoutout to the drill press. We used Magpul's M-LOK T-Nut Screws to attached the rail panels and below is a picture of how the rail panels looked at this point in the process.

The rail panels weren't going to have the same level of 3D shape as the grip panels so we were pleased to see that we were able to do much of the work with a variety of sanders. Here you can see each of the panels side-by-side at different stages of the shaping process.

 A couple hours later and we had all three grips fully shaped and attached to the rifle. They look lighter than the grips because of the sanded and no oil, but we are pleased with how they came out and can't wait to see them when they are finished and sealed.

 

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Wood AR-15 Trigger Guard: Day Four

The grip panels were now ready for final sanding and sealing, so it was time to turn our attention to the wood finger piece and trigger guard.

We made the finger piece in much the same manner as the grip panels: starting by cutting and sanding the frame-fitting shape and then drilling the screw holes and countersinks. The finger piece was much more difficult to drill however, because the room for error was so small. The whole project has been a battle of shaping wood to machined metal-like tolerances, but this was particularly true for the finger piece because it has less than a quarter inch of wood between the countersink holes and the side.

With a little luck and much patience we were able to precisely drill the holes and countersinks without fouling the edges of the piece. It was then back to the bench vice and Dremel to shape the finger piece to provide a comfortable and stable grip.

The finger piece, mid shaping. 

Once the finger piece was complete we starting shaping the wood trigger guard. We haven't seen anyone else make a wood trigger guard and thought it would look really great. We weren't sure however, if our Rosewood would be strong enough to hold its shape in such a small and relatively unsupported piece but we were once again very impressed with the strength of this wood.

 As with the other pieces of wood furniture, we selected the piece of wood we wanted to use for the trigger guard (we actually did this twice because we didn't like the color on the first piece we selected), cut a rough shape and began sanding. It was important to select a piece that had the grain going along the trigger guard for extra strength and we really liked the white streak in the second piece we cut.

 Once it was roughly shaped, we drilled the rear hole all the way through. We are going to be using screws, rather than roll pins, to attach the trigger guard. This will reduce the stress on the wood and allow for easier removal/installation down the road. With the rear hole drilled, the trigger guard just needs the forward half-hole drilled, some sanding and a few layers of sealant.

Below are two pictures of where the project currently stands.

Grip panels and trigger guard set in place without finger board or seal.

 Wood trigger guard set in place, grip fully installed with oil to draw out the color.

 

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Wood AR-15 Grips: Day Three

On the third day of our Wood AR-15 Furniture build we decided to put the stock to rest and re focus on the wood grips. This ended up be a very good decision because it turned out to be by far the most rewarding day of the build so far. 

After two days of trying to wrap our heads around how we were going to tackle the wood to achieve our vision and then making the first rough cuts, it was nice to get down into the details and start shaping the grips. We had cut and sanded the wood grip panels to fit the grip frames on Day One so today was all about attaching the panels to the frame and then shaping them to feel good in hand.

As we drilled and counter sunk the wood panels, we realized that using the same screws that came with the Executive Ordnance G10 Grips would mean that we would only have about 3/32nds of an inch of wood between the head of the screw and the aluminum frame. Our Rosewood is tough but we weren't willing to push it by giving it such little support or giving the screw an opportunity to pull through the wood grip. So, we had to make a new counter sink depth and get a new screw. Below you can see some screws that we found in the shop and used as temporary place holders for screws that we will buy later.

Now that the panels were secured, it was time to get to the fun part: shaping the curves. We began this process with a chisel but soon realized that while effective, the chisel lacked the precision needed when cutting near the frame. We then switched to a dremel and the micro saw-dust started flying. A few hours later we had the rough shape you see below dremeled out and the finger notch board attached without any shape.

The next step will be completing the shape of the wood panels and shaping the finger notches into the small piece of wood on the front of the grip. Please let us know what you think of the progress so far in the comments below.  We are very pleased with how it is looking but would love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. if you missed the first post about beginning the wood grips you can see it here: Wood AR-15 Grips: Day One.  

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