.303 Rifles

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Project by Don Johnson posted 10-01-2018 10:32 AM 1638 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

‘I’ve a challenge for you’, said my son on the ‘phone, ‘can you use your retirement woodworking skills to make some rifles?’ Apparently, his Am-Dram group would be producing a version of Black Adder Goes Forth as part of the WW1 centenary in November, and they needed some Lee Enfield rifles for the last scene where the characters go ‘over the top’. I said I would think about it, and started looking on the ‘net for help.

I found a YouTube video that was the sort of thing I needed to do, but it looked to be made to a very high standard. The guns I was to make would only be stage props, not exact copies. Eventually with some help from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, UK, I found suitable pictures at – as in pic 2. I edited the picture to get it horizontal, then taxed my brain trying to work out scale ratios to print a lif-size version (on 3 A3 sheets) that I could use as a pattern. Cutting round this gave me something to trace onto wood for the outline.

I had to glue a cut-off piece to the one end of the box-store, kiln dried, wood for the gun – to accommodate the bottom of the stock – and then had fun cutting the shape on my bandsaw – which wasn’t keen on slicing the 2 inch thick material! Some rough shaping of the stock and front section was also done on the bandsaw, then I went over to my ROS with 60 grit paper. Some of the final work was done with an electric sandpaper file. I applied 3 coats of some exterior wood finish that I had to the stock, and then tried some grey paint on the ‘metalwork’. For some odd reason, this appears blue in the picture, but I contacted my son and asked if his theater props people could redo this, as they would know how to paint some sort of silvery finish that would look much better than my awful attempt.

Watching the final scene – – to get a look at how the rifles would appear, I heard the command Fix Bayonets, and saw Baldrick with his attached to his gun. Looking again at the IWM page, the bayonet shown there – pic 4 – was enormous, and would be very awkward to have in a stage scene, but my son said they would like bayonets if possible. Luckily, a good friend and neighbour owns a WW1 bayonet, which he said was of the smaller size that was also used then. I copied this fairly closely, but must admit I did not attempt the ‘hollow grind’ shaping on the blade. Two screws will attach them, so the characters will have to have them already in place rather than ‘clicking’ them on.

I must admit that by the time I got to the third gun I was getting a bit bored with the project, but I soldiered on to complete them. I then had the task of making a suitable cardboard box in which to send them by courier to my son, which I constructed from the one in which my new small air compressor had been packed, by some clever origami. I await his reaction when the delivery arrives.

Later edit . . . .
The sixth picture shows the rifle after it had been in the hands of a military arms specialist and his artist daughter. He added a couple of ‘metal’ parts, and she added character to the stock and painted the metal parts. My son told me that he and the rest of the cast were delighted with the final result.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

8 comments so far

View ChrisK's profile


2046 posts in 3851 days

#1 posted 10-01-2018 10:42 AM

Really nice work.

-- Chris K

View Redoak49's profile


4724 posts in 2758 days

#2 posted 10-01-2018 11:13 AM

Well done

View recycle1943's profile (online now)


4469 posts in 2391 days

#3 posted 10-01-2018 11:32 AM

wow – what a project – the end result looks quite fine

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1114 posts in 3082 days

#4 posted 10-01-2018 05:55 PM

Very realistic props!
The final scene from Black Adder was and still is priceless.
Thanks for posting..

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View bake's profile


385 posts in 4447 days

#5 posted 10-01-2018 11:39 PM

Very cool. I love Blackadder and i’m quite the fan of the SMLE. I have owned several.

-- I love the smell of Home Depot in the morning, it smells like.......carpentry. Bake, Bar Lazy U Woodworks, Lehi,UT.

View hookfoot's profile


380 posts in 2718 days

#6 posted 10-02-2018 12:31 AM

Beautiful job.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3802 days

#7 posted 10-02-2018 02:45 AM

Very Nice Piece Of Work & Well Done Don! Looks like a Lee Enfield Mark 4.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4364 days

#8 posted 10-02-2018 01:28 PM

WOW very nice, you did an excellent job

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

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