Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Accessory Rail for the Haenel 303-Super Part 1

One of the final things I wanted to undertake with the Haenel 303-Super was inletting and adding an accessory rail under the forend. An accessory rail is basically a T-track and it's handy for attaching slings, hand stops, palm rests, bipods and what-not as shooting aides. Yep, should've considered this when refinishing the stock. But it's not like I have a plan here.

Anyway, I bought a piece of Euro-sized accessory rail from Champion Shooters Supply a while back but was reluctant to do the install. Figured I'd screw up a virtually irreplaceable vintage stock. The slot wouldn't be straight, the edge would tear out, the slot wouldn't be parallel... Or most likely, all of the aforementioned would occur simultaneously. Valid concerns that gave me great pause. Other considerations included what to use to actually cut the slot, as well as how to do the least amount of finish damage to the gun stock. The good news was the Haenel's blocky profile and deep forend provided generous wood depth to work with. The blocky shape proved to be key. Both the sides and top of the stock have zero taper--so those edges could be used as a cutting guide.

Opted to use the drill press instead of a router for some sick reason Made a simple fence to bolt to the drill press table. The cherry base and white oak for the fence were chosen because they were on hand and dead flat. I screwed them together taking care the edges met at 90-degree angles. Two counter bored holes for through bolts lined up with the drill press table slots for positioning.

OK, the plan: The stock will be pressed down against the bed and back against the fence slightly as it's fed into the cutter. Moving the fence on the table lines up the bit to cut a parallel slot. I'll make slightly overlapping parallel slots until I have one large slot of the correct length, width, and depth for the rail. Piece of cake. Hmmmm. Did I mention that the stock is vintage and probably irreplaceable?

Gave the fence a heavy coat of paste wax to hopefully protect the stock from scratches. Found some scrap black walnut and made multiple test slots. Then made some more. It'll take multiple passes to get the width correct. Called it a night and slept on it.

A couple days later, I screwed up my courage, pulled the action from the stock and dusted off the rail.

Traced the rail onto the stock as guidelines. Set the depth. Waxed the fence again.

Switched from a 1/2" router bit to a smaller 1/4" as it worked marginally better during the test cuts. Double checked everything. Pondered, then flipped the switch.

Ran the bit at the highest speed and took my sweet time. Slowly make a pass, stop, readjust the fence to widen the slot slightly, cut, readjust...

Took a while to get the width dead on--and centered.

Dust blown out.

Deep breath for the test fit. The rail went in nice and snug. Not a hint of a gap at any point along the sides. Happily, the stock finish also fared well with zero damage to the sides. A couple small marks on top to repair, but nothing difficult.

Filed the back edge of the rail to fit the rear of the slot.

Cut the front to length and fit with a file. Sort of a half round radius on the front. Want to stain the slot ebony to protect and match the surrounding wood and those two very small scrapes to fix on the top of the stock need some Tru-Oil.

Just need to attach the rail then find some cool accessories.

I'll finish this in a couple days.

No comments: