Simonds Files

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Woodworking with Jason Stamper


Dovetail Fail and Lessons Learned

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Recently I wrote an article on restoring the stock of an old World War II rifle that I bought.

If you have not read it you might want to check it out here.

I was very happy with the way the stock restoration came out, and was excited to shoot it now that it was all fixed up.

One of the major parts of that restoration was to fashion a piece of wood for the end of the stock where the bayonet lug went. It had gone missing long ago, so the bayonet lug just flopped around on the end of the barrel. I had dovetailed the little piece of wood I made into the end of the stock and glued it. The bayonet lug screwed into the new piece I made so I was certain it was quite solid.

To my great surprise and amazement after 5 or 10 rounds the bayonet lug, with my new piece of wood, popped off the end of the stock and slid down to the end of the barrel!!! I was flabbergasted! How could this happen, dovetails are not supposed to come apart that way. The most intriguing thing was that neither part of the dovetail was broken. It would not slide back together, so I had to take the bayonet lug, put it back together, and re-attach the bayonet lug. Here’s a picture showing the direction it came apart.

So how could this happen? It took me some time to figure that one out, but I think I have the answer. The first problem was that I used standard Titebond wood glue. Heat actually releases this type of glue, and let me tell you the barrel of that rifle gets HOT after a few rounds of 30-06. So first off the glue failed.

Secondly my dovetail itself was a problem. It was tight, but it was not heavily splayed. Remember that HOT barrel? Well chances are the heat swelled the wood of the original stock enough to allow some air in the joint. Then the recoil of that powerful 30-06 round drove the piece of wood with the heavy bayonet lug right off the end of the stock. It would be like you drove it off with a hammer!

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