Installing a Recoil Pad
by Paul R. Workman

You'll need the following:

  -- Clear 2" wide packing tape, the kind with one side that is slick and shiny
  -- Masking tape at least 1" wide
  -- A composite cut-off wheel for a handheld grinder or one for a handheld drill will do in a pinch
  -- Contact Cement (glue)
  -- A (rubber) sanding block
  -- A couple sheets of quality 320 and/or 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper
  -- A bucket of water and some paper towels

Assuming the stock has been cut off and squared up, rough up the recoil pad backing plate so the glue will stick, but not so much as to cause a gap between the stock and the pad when the pad is installed.

Drill the recoil pad screw pilot holes a little deeper if necessary in order to prevent the screws from bottoming and maybe splitting the stock (not likely, but why risk it?).

Apply two layers of the clear packing tape to the stock so that about 1/4" hangs over the edge of the stock. Over the clear tape, place one layer of masking tape. With a sharp knife or razor blade, trim the overlapping tape flush with the edge of the stock, being careful not to cut the edge of the stock.

Apply a thin coat of Contact Cement to the stock and the pad. Then put the screws through the pad and into the holes in the stock to align the pad. Tighten the pad to the stock after the glue has dried to the appropriate amount.

Secure the stock (in a vise with a thick towel between the jaws).

Hold the grinder so the cut-off wheel is parallel with the stock while lightly pressing the wheel against the recoil pad. Keep the wheel moving across the recoil pad and parallel with the stock surface. Take care near the toe of the recoil pad as the stock angles change rapidly there, and it is easy to grind the wrong angle onto the pad. (Go slow, is the key thing here!)

Continue to remove recoil pad material until the cut-off wheel just scrapes off the masking tape from the top layer of clear tape all the way around the recoil pad. Then set the power tool down and pick up your sanding block loaded with 320 or 400 grit wet/dry paper.

At this point you are in the home stretch.  This next step is where the difference between a so-so job and a smooth fine fitting and professional looking job takes place.  This is no time to get in a hurry!

Dip the sanding block and paper in the water.  Then stroke the recoil pad with the sanding block along as much of the line between the pad and the stock as possible using a drawing motion with each stroke. Don't saw the block back and forth in one place, in other words.  (Note: Using your thumbnail you can feel the amount of lip remaining on the pad, thus you can gauge the amount of material that needs to be removed as you go.)

Sand down to the second layer of clear tape all the way around the stock. If you haven't already been using the 400 grit paper, now is the time to use it.

Wet some fresh 400 paper and put it on the block. Lightly wipe off any feathering that may have occurred using the
same drawing strokes. Then sand off the sharp edges of the pad.  Not only will the pad look better (finished),  but it will remove any sharp edges that may later dry and crack.

Remove the tape and you're done.

Note: The best fit is accomplished when the pad is finished off in conjunction with refinishing the stock.  Once the pad is almost a perfect, do the final sanding of the stock and the pad together using a sanding block, sanding with the grain of the wood. When you are ready to apply the finish, mask the pad about 1/8" beyond the pad/stock joint and apply the finish to the stock and pad for a seamless joint between the two.

Remove the masking tape before applying the rotten stone to the stock for that final finish rub-out, and include the pad/stock joint in the rubbing process. The result will be as though the pad is an exact extension of the stock - seamlessly smooth.

In case you aren't familiar with the term "Rotten Stone" here's a definition; The rotten stone is the powdered abrasive mixed with water used to put the final sheen on fine woodwork, when mixed w/ elbow grease.  Birchwood Casey provides(still?) basically the same thing already in an emulsion they call "Stock Sheen".  You can get rotten stone at a paint store or any fine woodworking or cabinet maker store.

Good luck!

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