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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We get this question every month or two, and see it in for sale descriptions all the time. Great condition, "except the stock is cracked"; well, it ain't cracked, it is made that way.

Contrary to urban legend, this was not done "because they didn't have big trees"; it is done to prevent or lessen the chance of the toe of the stock breaking off. The grain of the wood can be seen to follow the splice cut in the upper stock and in the lower piece it follows the bottom edge of the stock.

IMHO, this was not done to save wood, time, or money- as it took several more operations and lots more time to do it this way. Note how the long screw of the lower sling swivel passes through the bottom piece and into the top, also strengthening the joint(this is found only in the T 38 family of stocks), in addition to the glue used. Odd that "they" found enough big trees to make the one piece training rifle stocks.;)

Many of these splices have opened over the years, but even more are as tight and sound as when made 65 to 105 years ago; testament to the workmanship and design integrity of the splice.

Not everyone has had a chance to see how the splice is done, so here it is.
 

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Nice pix 03 Man. I had a type 38 stock come loose on me earlier this year. It was an easy fix. We poured some carpenter's glue into the dovetail and wiped off the excess. The wood was tightened using a "rope" clamp with a hangman's knot on both ends. Works like a charm...
 

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When I look at rifles at a show if the seller says "the stock is cracked thats the only thing wrong with it" I say " It sure is can you knock some money off for that" It works most of the time.
 

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Fully agree with the premise that this was done primarily to reforce the toe section, however I am a firm believer the secondary benefit was smaller stock slabs. We all know wood was a resource for the Japanese and one that became more scarce as the war progressed, which stands to reason they would conserve the resource. The Japanese were very frugal with stocks in general, look at the recycled ones, ones that were filled with flitch panels and etc, to maintain a supply for their metal..
Other country's also experimented with this, Finland, Czechoslovakia, under German occupation, and Germany, in WW1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fully agree with the premise that this was done primarily to reforce the toe section, however I am a firm believer the secondary benefit was smaller stock slabs. We all know wood was a resource for the Japanese and one that became more scarce as the war progressed, which stands to reason they would conserve the resource. The Japanese were very frugal with stocks in general, look at the recycled ones, ones that were filled with flitch panels and etc, to maintain a supply for their metal..
Other country's also experimented with this, Finland, Czechoslovakia, under German occupation, and Germany, in WW1.
The two piece butt stock began with the T 30 rifle, in 1897. If anything, the pressures of WWII would have dictated a change to a one piece stock, which could be produced much quicker, JMHO.
 

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When researching the Type 38 book and dealing with this issue, I found a U.S. military report from late 1945 or early 1946, that clearly pointed out that the Japanese had not materially cut into their national forests to meet military needs for lumber products. The book mentioned that they was never a wood shortage during the war. So the phrase "to save lumber" just does not fit the facts.

A related issue came up that I was only partially satisfied about. Several collectors pointed out that they had taken some stocks appart and there was no evidence of glue being used. Their opinion was that the joint was so tight the Japanese felt no need to apply glue. Once the two pieces of wood were stuck together, the stock was finished, lacquered and then held in place for 50+ years by the scews through the rear sling swivel and buttplate helping to hold them together, they effectively were "joined". I did find one stock that clearly had glue, but I often wonder if that was an old repair rather than "as constructed". Roy, since you have looked at this one and perhaps more, what is your opinion on this issue?

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When researching the Type 38 book and dealing with this issue, I found a U.S. military report from late 1945 or early 1946, that clearly pointed out that the Japanese had not materially cut into their national forests to meet military needs for lumber products. The book mentioned that they was never a wood shortage during the war. So the phrase "to save lumber" just does not fit the facts.

A related issue came up that I was only partially satisfied about. Several collectors pointed out that they had taken some stocks appart and there was no evidence of glue being used. Their opinion was that the joint was so tight the Japanese felt no need to apply glue. Once the two pieces of wood were stuck together, the stock was finished, lacquered and then held in place for 50+ years by the scews through the rear sling swivel and buttplate helping to hold them together, they effectively were "joined". I did find one stock that clearly had glue, but I often wonder if that was an old repair rather than "as constructed". Roy, since you have looked at this one and perhaps more, what is your opinion on this issue?

Frank
Frank,
thanks for the info on the "trees"; that should put the lumber tale to bed, finally.

On glue; an interesting proposition- no glue that is- could be true, there is no evidence of glue on the one pictured. A little glue would have been really cheap "insurance" to help keep the pieces together.

Another document and process description for Edokko to search for.
 

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The stocks on the italian made type I rifles have the splice too, presumably at the request of the Japanese since I don't think the Italians suffered any shortages of wood. Interestingly too it seems to me the Italians did not do as good a job on the splice as it has begun to open up on most of the Type I's that I have come across, including the 3 I own.
 

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When researching the Type 38 book and dealing with this issue, I found a U.S. military report from late 1945 or early 1946, that clearly pointed out that the Japanese had not materially cut into their national forests to meet military needs for lumber products. The book mentioned that they was never a wood shortage during the war. So the phrase "to save lumber" just does not fit the facts.

A related issue came up that I was only partially satisfied about. Several collectors pointed out that they had taken some stocks appart and there was no evidence of glue being used. Their opinion was that the joint was so tight the Japanese felt no need to apply glue. Once the two pieces of wood were stuck together, the stock was finished, lacquered and then held in place for 50+ years by the scews through the rear sling swivel and buttplate helping to hold them together, they effectively were "joined". I did find one stock that clearly had glue, but I often wonder if that was an old repair rather than "as constructed". Roy, since you have looked at this one and perhaps more, what is your opinion on this issue?

Frank
My understanding was the wood used was not a domestic product to Japan. Which in fact if it was not, "National forests" has no bearing in the matter.
Again, look at the blank size without the dovetailed heel a blank would be say 2.5" x 9" +/- and a blank with the dovetailed assembly would be 2.5" x 3.5"+/-, so a little less then 3 to 1 savings on the blank with the dovetailed assembly.
Of course everything in this thread is conjecture and opinion, mine and others. I doubt any documentation will ever be found to support these theories.
Please note I never said "shortage" however I was inferring the Japanese were conserving wood by utilizing the dovetailed method.
 

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The wood used for the rifle stocks were indeed from Japanese domestic lumber. They were either Japanese walnut, beech or judas according to the manuals, and were all fairly soft wood and tended to have their butt stock heels knocked off as seen on some of the single piece Muratas. I'm pretty sure the primary goal for the two piece buttstock was to prevent this break off, but it probably did have a secondary advantage of getting more out of the lumber.
 

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The dove-tail splice, is a very logical mfg. procedure, IMHO. Smaller stock blank, and stronger wrist. The heel of the stock, is fall-off material. The wrist of a stock, is the weakest point. If there is a break, that's usually where it is. By changing the direction of the grain, you strengthen the stock. Combine that with buttplate, and tang screws... Voila! They felt so secure in this strength, that they even put the sling swivel screws, directly into the joint!
 
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