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Ace_of_Hearts

Where your gunstock comes from. (If you are interested)

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Factory gunstock wood has always been an interest of mine.

I got out of stock making back in the late 19060's as I had to use my time to make a living. Handmade gunstocks will never bring the price they deserve.

I got back into gunstock repair and duplicating several years ago as a Cowboy Shooter because the cowboys I was shooting with were destroying gunstocks and had no where to get them fixed.

 

Most gunstock woods come from private property where trees are either in the way of development or have been damaged by storms or just old age. 

The property owner calls the tree removal company to remove the tree. These people charge the property owner to remove the tree but you will find another person onsite that is not an employee of the tree removal company. He is a buyer of exotic woods and has an eye out for how he wants the tree disassembled. He wants the "pretty stuff" that brings the high price and he usually is buying the whole tree. Burls and crotch wood is what he is looking for. 

He hauls off the disassembled tree to a known sawyer that cuts the tree into carefully selected 2 1/2 in slabs. These are then inspected and turned into gunstock blanks that range anywhere fro the mid 100's to several thousand dollars each depending on the "figure" in the wood. Other heart wood is cur into stock blanks that are sold at a much lower price to people such as myself or other "custom" stock makers as a standard grade wood blank. The wood must not be air dried for at least a year per inch before being made into a stock.

What is left that can be made into gunstocks, seconds, wood with figure in the wrong areas and sapwood is sold off to be kiln dried to factory gunstock makers. This is the wood that most cowboy shooters end up with on their guns.

 

 

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Sawmill Mary and I ran a "mom and pop" sawmill business for over 20 years.  We sawed a gazillion board feet of walnut into thick slabs. Almost all of it went to the gun making countries in Europe and China. (We only did the sawing. A broker bought logs and had them delivered to us. He arranged picking up the lumber.)

 

Here is a video of how stocks are made at the David Pedersoli factory in Italy.  The walnut lumber stacks you see could well have came off our mill. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

ClaroLow.jpg

 

This is what STANDARD GRADE walnut should look like. Generally a finished stock made from this grade wood would sell for $350.00 and up.

 

 

walnutsolidburl.jpg

 

This grade of burl would be well past most cowboys pay grade. The blank alone sells for $5000.00. 

Just as a side note. This blank would make a terrible stock for a gun that is used a lot. Burl figure is notoriously weak and the burl figure should never appear at stress points in a stock.

 

038.jpg

 

The duplicating process takes 4 to 6 hours on the duplicating duplicator.  (Original stock in foreground).

From then on it is all hand fitting. (40 - 80) hours of put it together - take apart. 

Then finishing can begin.

 

Edited by Ace_of_Hearts

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So why air dry for a longer amount of time vs kiln dry. 

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4 hours ago, Mr w said:

So why air dry for a longer amount of time vs kiln dry. 

 

Air drying wood will only get the moisture content down so far.

 

The traditional formula for air drying wood is one year for each 1 inch of thickness. Those pieces were well over 2 inches thick, so that would take over two years, and even then, the moisture content would not be down where it needs to be.

 

Notice he said several times that the 'humidity' of the wood was 7% or 8%. What he really meant was the moisture content. Leaving wood stickered and stacked as was shown will only bring the moisture content down to about 20% or so. As the moisture is removed from the wood, the wood shrinks. So before any final work can be done to the wood, it needs to be stabilized  at about 7% moisture content. The kiln will take the wood down the last amount, to about 7% moisture content. Once the wood is down to 7%, the final work can be done to the stock.

 

Trying to get raw wood down to 7% in the kiln would probably force the process too quickly and  would probably result in a lot of cracked wood, so the moisture content has to be brought down gently first by air drying for a few months, then almost all of the moisture is driven out of the wood in the kiln.

 

Notice that wax was applied to the raw ends of the wood. Wood is much like a stick of celery. It will absorb much more moisture at the ends than over the flat surface. That is why wax is applied to the ends of the blanks, to keep the wood from absorbing too much moisture, raising the moisture content up again past 7%.

 

It was not mentioned in the video, but all the final fitting is probably done in a moisture controlled room, so the humidity in the air is not very high. This will help prevent the wood at a stable moisture content.

 

WHAT AN EXCELLENT VIDEO!!!

 

Thanks so much for posting it.

 

Interesting to note that Pedersoli is using American Black Walnut. I'm pretty sure Uberti is using European Walnut. Sometimes known as Circassian Walnut. A very similar species, they are both Walnuts, but American Black Walnut is a separate species.

 

Too bad they did not show the pattern following lathe cutting several blanks at once.

 

CNC technology is fairly new to wood working, it did not exist yet when I used to make my living as a wood worker. CNC for metal, yes but the requirements for wood are a little bit different. Great to see the final fitting done by hand with sharp chisels. The CNC is programmed to purposely leave a little bit of extra wood in various spots, so final fitting to the metal can be done by hand by very skilled wood workers. I loved watching the craftsman grab various chisels off his rack for cleaning up different places. You can bet each of those chisels is sharp enough to shave with. Also, note that each of the metal parts was labeled so it would be fitted back into the same stock. That is custom fitting, that is not just grabbing parts off a shelf and slapping them together.

 

THANKS AGAIN SO MUCH FOR POSTING THAT VIDEO!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Driftwood for drying explanation.   

 

Note the kiln in the video. It wasn't a normally used heat kiln. It was a vacuum kiln.  Vacuum kiln method literally sucks the moisture out of the wood rather than bakes the moisture out.  This process is far more labor intensive as each stick is hand stacked into the vacuum vault and hand unloaded. Between eack layer is a corrugated sheet of aluminum.  But the results are much better than the heat drying method.  Far less likely to introduce cracking in the wood and the wood retains its natural color.

 

Even the resulting color of the wood is different from one drying method to the next. Air drying leaves a lighter blush color that is natural and a lot of variation from one piece to the next as nature made it.  Walnut processes by industrial heat drying involves a "steaming" step where they heat the wood up and introduce moisture back into it.  This step darkens to wood to a consistent almost black color - even the sap wood is turned black.  

 

Also note the sequence where the guy lays out the stocks on a walnut "flitch".  He's a skilled artist, not just a laborer.  It seems so wistful to use only 50% of the material but if you don't lay out the pattern right, nothing will work or look right later in the process.  The wood grain direction is very important for strength - especially in the grip area and the receiver.  That's why any figured areas of a stock are located near the fat butt. 

 

No matter the drying method or how dry the wood becomes at the end of the process,  wood will always try to draw moisture back to an equilibrium state. Even if you buy dry wood and bring it to your home environment and start work on it,  it'll change dimensions as it draws moisture (or looses even more moisture) in the first weeks of being in the new environment.  The applied finish retards the process of gaining and loosing moisture.  

 

P.S. We live just north of the Missouri River in the middle of the state.  American walnut is an abundant tree here.  Warsaw Missouri is often called the gunstock capital of the world.  It had both Rinehart Fajen and Bishop stock companies.  These companies finally merged and then sold out.  They are no more.  But there are several gunstock makers in that area still making gunstocks.  We have visited with and bought stocks from Bryan Macon in Warsaw.  A family owned and ran business that goes back many generations.  

 

2022321940_Stevens250July2018.jpg.eb19e9a8059778b26cbb35705aa0437e.jpg

 

The rough machined wood for my Stevens double came from there.

 

2145148274_Stevens250MaconJuly2018.jpg.320e7ef414a6b8ef41ee98ed6679ce99.jpg

 

Here is the same model Stevens that Bryan Macon restocked.

 

https://www.macongunstocks.com/

 

 

 

 

Edited by Warden Callaway
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Cool info. I make my own pistol grips but the stock making is another whole deal altogether.

Love to see that skill and artisanship.

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Very interesting

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Another great Video!

 

Of course, this time we are talking about Shotguns in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. 

 

Everything was hand fitted.

 

I did not see how the frames were made up in the first place, whether they were made with conventional (old fashioned) machining techniques, or CNC. Frames have certainly been made for many, many years with conventional machining long before CNC (Computer Numerical Control) existed.

 

Did not see how the barrels were bored either. Again, shotgun barrels have been bored since long before CNC existed.

 

An old CNC Bridgeport that I used to work on was made around 1968 if I recall correctly. It was a pretty early CNC machine. There were no micro processors in it, they had not yet been invented. The electronics were old fashioned wire wrap boards. A real nightmare to replace anything if something broke down, the machine would just have been junked.

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Watching the Pedersoli video on the TV... and I'm experiencing "bandsaw envy."  ^_^

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Figured Maple is becoming scarce as the guitar industry has discovered it. They are buying up all the highly figured maple they can get.

Myrtle is becoming harder and harder to find especially if it has any figure at all.

Mesquite was never plentiful and it is difficult to work. The end results can be stunning.

English walnut is not going down in price at all.

Carlo Walnut is still plentiful and inexpensive.

Bastogne Walnut is heavy but extra extra strong - Reasonably priced

There is also Cherry, Mahogany and Ash.....even some oak.

 

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Kentucky coffee bean is a nice looking wood.  May be a little on the soft side.

 

Osage Orange would be interesting but heavy and hard to work.

 

Ever work with American holly?   It resembles ivory.  

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