Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sporterizing the Lee Enfield -- Part Something or Other: Metal & Wood

"Chop, chop," said the Suburban Bushwacker, "Get on with the first one." By which he meant, "get a move on, LSP, and sort out a Lee Enfield sporter." All too soon I was the proud owner of a No. 4 Mk. 1 and a No. 1 Mk. III, both sporterized at some point in their past. The Lees were multiplying like rabbits and my task was to re-sporter them as a porch project; custom rifles on a budget, as it were. Here's an update on the project with a little background.

fill that grain!
I started on the III, because it was more of a mess and I wanted the practice before tackling the No. 4, I also wanted one of the rifles to approximate to a Speed and the III's the right platform for that. After an awful lot of patient sanding, the metal was polished to 1000+ grit and the original butt stripped of gunk then refinished with Minwax Antique Oil (boiled linseed oil based -- I think). A new walnut forend arrived in July from Boyd's and was rasped down to size and sanded to 1000 grit. I was pleased to find that the inletting fitted the metal pretty well but dismayed to see so much open grain, which potentially means hours and hours of frustrating applications of sandpaper and finish. But I needn't have worried, the grain filled fairly quickly; the method I used was simple enough:

stamping like fury
Apply finish per instructions on the can, when cured apply finish to small area of the wood, sand along the grain until a slurry of finish and sawdust appears, then gently wipe the mix, I used paper towel for this, diagonally across the grain. When the wood's covered, let the stock cure for 24 hours, then sand along the grain, being careful not to go too deeply. Reapply finish and repeat the process using higher grades of grit, I started with 600 and moved up to 1000, until the grain's filled and the wood's as polished as you want.

super blue on -- what a nasty mess
So there we have it, butt, forend and barreled receiver, all polished and gleaming like a Guardsman's boot by the end of August. What next? Refinsh the metal of course, and I was going to teach myself to rust blue, which produces a great looking, durable finish, but ran out of patience and bought a bottle of Birchwood Casey Super Blue while browsing in an Academy Sports after a hospital visit in Waco.

Birchwood Casey's instructions tell you to: degrease the metal, rinse with cold water and dry, then apply the bluing solution with a cotton ball or a sponge. Let dry for 30 seconds, rinse with cold water, dry, then polish lightly with fine steel wool. Repeat the process until you get the finish you want, then saturate the metal with gun oil and let it cure overnight. 

old warhorse
I did that and was pleased at the result, which wasn't that difficult to achieve but word to the wise; degrease the metal really thoroughly and don't touch it with bare skin during the process. Also, the metal darkens with every application of solution and during the time it cures. Worth bearing in mind if you want a lighter blue.

bolt back
Next step? Get a magazine, a drop-in mount for optics and possibly glass bed the Knox Form and forend tip, but first I'll see how it shoots. Iron sights, checkering, and forend cap can come when budget permits.

forestock needs a buff...
Shoot the Lee,



Adrienne said...

Looking beautiful!

LSP said...

Thanks Adrienne -- I'm pleased with it so far, let's see how it shoots.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Nice one!

LSP said...

Alright there SBW -- you must come out to TX and shoot some of the Lees, it'd be fun. Have to start on the No. 4 soon... it'll be a different kind of gun.


RT said...

Did I spy a Spyderco Tenacious?

LSP said...

A Perseverance, RT.

Oh no, now I want a Tenacious...


LSP said...

Sorry, RT, Persistence...

Still want a Tenacious.