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Old November 27, 2012, 12:18 PM   #1
Kimio
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Wood crafters, have some questions for you

I've been looking at the options available to me in terms of wooden furniture for a G1 variant FN FAL

The problem is, the wooden furniture apparently is not very durable. The thinness of the wood apparently is a real issue and the hand guards on these rifles unfortunately a prone to splitting and breaking.

My question is if there is any means to strengthen a piece of wood other than increasing its thickness.

I have a feeling this is a lost cause, but I was wondering if aluminum sheet brackets used internally on the handguards (provided there is room) might aid in reinforcing the weak zones, (Usually located at the fore end where the vent cut outs are)

I'm not as well versed in wood craft so I would like to hear from you all who are more experienced in this. I realize that this is not like working with metal and you can only do so much, with wood.

suggestions?
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Old November 27, 2012, 12:27 PM   #2
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Fiberglass glued adds reenforcement withoutuch thickness added
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Old November 27, 2012, 12:50 PM   #3
Kimio
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how well does that hold up to heat?
do you think it would be possible to make wooden hand guards out of wood while reinforcing it enough so that a shock from dropping it wouldn't shatter or splinter the wood?

here is are some images of the style of hand guards I'm looking at.





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Old November 27, 2012, 12:53 PM   #4
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Thickness would certainly add strength,but a change in the type of wood, if that's possible, might solve the problem. Some woods split and crack easily and some don't. Elm, for instance, is difficult to split. Walnut shouldn't split too easily. I'm guessing that you don't have a lot of choices on what type wood to use, so that takes you right back to wood thickness.
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Old November 27, 2012, 12:56 PM   #5
Kimio
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French walnut is the wood of choice currently

The current consensus that Im getting in regards to this is that if I were to try and have these hand guards cut the way the plastic/metal ones above, the "bipod" cuts would weaken the wood so much that it would compromise the handguards integrity

wood choice is not too much of an issue, but the grain and the over all color of the wood shown in the image is what I would like to work with or stay close to.
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Old November 27, 2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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Remington used fiberglass to reenforce the forends of 1100s.
So there is some resistant to heat.
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Old November 27, 2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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Doesn't fiberglass laminating require special molds and so on? I can imagine this would be ridiculously expensive if that were the case, especially given the time it would take and labor that would be involved in trying to replicate (as much as possible) the handguards that are shown in the above photos.
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Old November 27, 2012, 04:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Doesn't fiberglass laminating require special molds and so on? I can imagine this would be ridiculously expensive if that were the case, especially given the time it would take and labor that would be involved in trying to replicate (as much as possible) the handguards that are shown in the above photos.
Nope.

If you look inside the forearms mentioned, you'll see the fiberglass resin and cloth are laminated over/on top of the wood's surface. The actual thickness added is quite small. The "special molds and so on" are needed only for laminating layers of wood, etc., as seen with laminated and/or composite stocks, not for the reinforcing as suggested.

I've never done this on a firearm, but I have used this method to refurbish/repair both old wooden strip-built and fiberglass canoes.
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Old November 27, 2012, 04:26 PM   #9
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You can lay up glass cloth or carbon fiber cloth with epoxy on the inside of the handguards to strengthen it. If done right, it will outlast you. I use West Systems epoxy resin, it is one of the strongest out there and penetrates wood well. Not saying it won't eventually split if you drop it repeatedly, but I have seen some wooden canoes that were strengthened in this manner, and they stand up to heavy use very well even when run aground.
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Old November 27, 2012, 04:48 PM   #10
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how difficult would it be to do this for someone who has never done that before?

I'vre recently obtained some information in regards to what the normal thickness is for the stock hand guards, they usually range from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in thickness (yikes!)which is frighteningly thin IMO. There are aftermarket options but they don't follow the same internal specs as the military grade ones (They lack the metal nose pieces, and the retaining pins can wiggle loose after repeated removal)

I imagine if I were to have the hand guards cut in a similar fashion as the above ones, I would have to find a means to first plug the holes that would be created by the the "bipod" cuts in the handguards in the lower halves (Which would be a significant structural weakness), if it were possible to create the horizontal running engravings into the wood without further compromising them, I'd like to do that as well. Provided the internal spacing is great enough and would allow the work of said epoxy and laminating of the stocks, I think strengthening the interior may help improve the durability of the hand guards.
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Old November 27, 2012, 05:01 PM   #11
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There are instructions online on how to lay up glass cloth on wood to strengthen it. But it's pretty easy.
1- Have the wood clean and dry.
2- Cut the glass cloth to the size you want it.
3- Mask off any parts you don't want epoxy on, and coat the tape surface with paste wax (be careful not to get any on the areas you intend to glass).
4- Mix the epoxy resin in a shallow plastic pan (available at auto parts or paint stores).
5- Lay the glass cloth in the epoxy until it wets through, then lay it on the wood surface, smooth it out using a plastic spreader (available at auto parts or paint store) to get the air bubbles out.
6- Let it cure, repeat one or two times if you want it stronger.

Once it's cured, you can sand and shape it.

Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. It's kind of like finger painting.
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Old November 27, 2012, 05:27 PM   #12
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ive been working with wood for many years, used to make musical instruments mostly, and have made many things with wood.. thought id add some expertise to this thread but unfortunately, everyone else has already beaten me to it... fiberglassing it would probably be the best way...

im not too familiar with the FAL furniture, are they carved from a solid piece or are they a lamination?
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Old November 27, 2012, 06:01 PM   #13
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From what I can tell, they're cut from a single piece of wood, and are not laminated.

here's one with the view of the interior



Here is a picture showing one that's still intact along with several that broke.



Here are some close ups of the guards I would like to be fashioned out of French walnut (What a pain in the ass to find a picture that gives an idea of the thickness of these things) The first the one in question is on the far right second image it is on the bottom.









Last edited by Kimio; November 27, 2012 at 06:17 PM.
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Old November 27, 2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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Most stockmakers use a duplicater that is a big pantograph
I have two a Duplicraver and a sign maker.

For those to be made in French walnut I would encourage you to find somebody that has a small to large high speed C-N-C mill.
A thin wall in a grain piece would be easier in a computer guide rather than a hand guided.

Anyway the cost will be inthe fixtureing and set up time
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Old November 27, 2012, 06:53 PM   #15
Kimio
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Thanks for the advice, but I still need to contend with the fact that they are still pretty fragile. I'd like to be able to go to the range without worrying that if someone isn't paying attention and knocks my rifle off of the table or what have, it would ruin the hand guards.
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Old November 27, 2012, 07:52 PM   #16
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Would it be possible to have an aluminum support frame under the wood? That way the frame would be taking the punishment. The wood could then be pretty thin and still not split. I'm sure that would be expensive, and have to come from a custom metalworker, but you could finally get your French Walnut.
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Old November 27, 2012, 08:04 PM   #17
Kimio
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Yeah, I can imagine it would be and I've been trying to find out what the clearance is underneath the hand guards, sadly no dice yet. Only thing I can think of is sometime in march my G1 parts kit should be on its way to me and I'll be able to measure it myself to get an idea of how the fitting would be. What I do know is that the hand guards themselves don't contact the barrel, at all in fact.
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