The most desired wood for gun stocks is walnut. However, there are other woods that can be used for gun stocks that are both beautiful and functional. There are a variety of companies that sell stocks for finishing, but stocks can also be hand-crafted from a commercial blank or from rough wood. Different types of wood have different properties that gun enthusiasts look for in a stock.
English walnut is one of the most popular types of wood for gun blanks. Those who like English walnut like the visual interest of the dark mineral lines and marbling throughout the wood, called marblecake. Flat saw cuts bring out the best marblecake look in English walnut. All walnut is hardwood, but English walnut has a reputation for being easier to work with, making it popular with stock makers.
Black walnut is also known as claro walnut. It has a more colorful look when compared to English walnut, and may have a red, yellow, green or purple tint. It is harder than English walnut, and when planed, makes short, broken curls. Some gun fanciers like the feather patterns in black walnut, but there are other patterns such as burled or fiddle that are also available.
Myrtle is also used for gun stocks, although less often than walnut. It is a wood commonly found in Southwest Oregon and Northwestern California. Myrtle is a slow-growing tree that has a variety of beautiful wood patterns, including tiger, spalted, fiddleback and burl. The color of myrtle ranges from blonde to black.
Red maple and sugar maple are both popular for gun stocks. Although red maple is known as "soft" maple by some, it is just as hard as black walnut. However, it is not as hard as sugar maple. Sugar maple is also used to make bowling pins. Red maple is know for the look of the striping and curly patterns, while sugar maple is chosen by those who want checkering or raised carvings on the gun stock.
There are other types of walnut; in fact, the University of California at Davis has identified more than 100 different varieties of walnut, classified by the nut of the tree. Bastogne is one type, which is a hybrid of American Black Walnut and English Walnut. Turkish English is an expensive type of walnut. Other exotic woods used by some gun makers include bubinga rosewood, black cherry, white ash and screwbean mesquite. These woods appeal to certain buyers who like the finished look or their durability.
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