A Look Inside at Anson & Deeley Inletting
Steven Dodd Hughes©2011

While photographing the Anson & Deeley action for the Lock in a Box story I realized I could not remember ever seeing good photos of the inletting of an Anson & Deeley boxlock shotgun stock. Few folks get to see this work besides gun stockers and repair gunsmiths. These photos show the amount and form of wood removed and give an idea of how the interior mechanism fits into the stock. Although there are various different mechanisms for automatic safeties, these photos show a fairly typical arrangement and illustrate the notion of how opening the gun with the top lever actuates the safety button.

One of the least understood yet vitally important parts of the stock inletting is the trigger box, as it provides the primary force in attaching and securing the action to the stock. When considering how two vertical screws—or pins in the British vernacular—hold the action to the stock, most folks see how they essentially pull the two tangs together, top and bottom, against the stock. Less obvious and perhaps more difficult to envision, vertical screws pull the action back into the stock without a through - or draw-bolt from butt-to-action. The angled face of trigger box on the trigger plate provides the leverage to mate wood and metal as a solid unit.

As with so many design aspects now considered time-tested in guns, we have to delve into the muzzleloading era to understand the natural development and how it affected later guns. Early muzzleloading guns had a simple flat trigger plate with a screw going from the top tang, through the stock, and threading into the trigger plate on the bottom. Later development has a thicker boss at the front of the trigger plate with an angled inletting bevel to offer a better anchor. When it became necessary to secure the newly developed action of breechloading guns to the stock, the boss grew to become a larger trigger box that also held the trigger pivot.

When the gun’s metal parts are inlet—the archaic term being ‘to let-in’ —the metal is fit to the wood by chiseling out a hollow in the exact shape of the various gun parts. All gun stockers know that to achieve a near-perfect fit the edges of the metal must be beveled so that when it is inlet with chisels, any gaps between the metal and wood will disappear as the metal wedges deeper into the stock. If the edge was perpendicular to the surface, gaps at the start of the inletting would remain at the finish. The beveled, or drafted edge also secures the metal to prevent it from shifting in the stock during and after installation
1. Trigger Plate, Safety, Top Lever- copy
a) triggerplate, b) trigger box, c)safety button, d) safety spring, e) safety lever, f) auto safety arm, g) top lever, h) lever cam, i) locking bolt, j)trigger-box mortice.

2. Trigger Plate inlett- copy copy

3.Trigger Plate Bottom- copy copy
a) triggerplate, b) trigger box, c)safety button, d) safety spring, e) safety lever, f) auto safety arm, g) top lever, h) lever cam, i) locking bolt, j)trigger-box mortice.

Photo No. 1 of the Trigger Plate (A) shows the inletting bevel clearly as angles at each end. The Trigger Box (b) is also steeply beveled front and back and it wedges into the stock inlet as shown in Photo No. 2 When making the stock, the stockmaker first inlets the top tang and the back of the action to the wood blank and this interface is called the “head” of the stock.

When the head inletting is completed the action is held tightly to the stock as the trigger plate is inlet; while chiseling the mortise for the trigger box the stockmaker slightly favors the back of the box, using the angled front of the trigger box to tightly force the stock back into the wood. When the “Main Pin” or forward tang screw is installed and tightened, it pulls the angle of the trigger box against the angled stock mortise, both securing the action rearward and pulling the tangs together. The Hand Pin, or rear tang screw, mainly holds the tangs in the proper relationship to allow the triggers and safety to function properly. The Main pin goes top-to-bottom and the hand pin bottom-to-top, usually under the trigger guard tang.

Photo No. 2 also shows the relatively complicated inletting of the trigger plate and its various elements. Some think a machine-duplicate stock makes gunstocking easy, but if notice all of the square corners, and remember that all stock-carving machines use circular cutters, leaving flat bottoms but round corners. Looking at this inletting one can imagine that each of these corners must be chiseled square with hand tools to properly fit the metal parts. Nor can the duplicating machine provide the tight inletting necessary to fit the trigger box angle to ensure a perfect fit between the action and the stock.

I’m guessing this Austrian boxlock shotgun to be about 100 years old. The wood shows some oil soaking but remains strong, sturdy and functional.
The trigger plate inletting shown is very similar to most sidelock shotgun stocks, other than the location of the lock parts. Most sidelocks employ the same type of trigger plate, trigger box, auto safety mechanism, safety button and trigger guard installation.
The average gun owner seldom gets to look inside and appreciate how the simple exterior of a boxlock shotgun supports a complicated and finely designed and crafted interior.