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Any of you ever build your own stocks from black walnut? If so, curious to hear how it went for you since I’ve never made a gun stock from scratch. We own a parcel with a somewhat large black walnut tree on it, about 80+ feet tall. Plan to have it removed soon and want to harvest the heartwood. I’ve heard about other types of walnut being best for gun stocks, especially English and Turkish walnut, believe Bastogne is popular as well, but haven’t heard much about black walnut being desirable. Not sure if it’s any good for that purpose. I suppose if it was I’d have heard about it before. Anyway, if you have some insights please share, and thanks in advance.
 

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I used to see the blanks of Black Walnut in gun shops and at gun shows for sale. I am the type to build anything but never a rifle stock from a blank. It just seemed like so much money for the wood blank and then weeks and weeks of building the stock. Money and time wise did not make sense to me. I however do see the gratification and self accomplishment you would get from doing it yourself. Thing is you have the Black Walnut trees so why not if you have the time and machinery to build, sand and shape a stock. I know one member on here {J.R.} recently built one from scratch for a Mauser rifle. Maybe he will chime in soon. Member is jwrauch.
 

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I wouldn't know where to start. The inletting for a rifle action is so complex I acan't imagine anyone fashioning one from a blank. Brownell's and Richard's Microfit have 90-99% inletted, unfinished stocks. Unless you are a master woodworker and/or own some obscure rifle that you cannot find a stock for, I would not start from scratch.
 

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A couple of notes about using black walnut....

Once it's dry, it's hard as granite. I'd do the basic shaping while it's green. Don't work it so it fits perfectly. Leave yourself a bit of fitting work in case it shrinks.

Wear a respirator when you're working with it. When it gets hot or burns, black walnut produces toxic fumes.
 

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I am not going to advise how to store it but we had the same issue and I let some ruin. At the very least cut it in reasonable lengths and store in in a barn or out of the rain and sun. Off the ground. If I did it again, I would cut it into about 4 foot planks about 3 inches thick about 10 inches wide. That gives you a little leeway in selecting a piece of wood for the stock. The better grains and flaws will show up as it dries. I left some just in log form and they ruined, should have made them into planks so they could have dried better. Let us know how it works out.

Here is a link that gives some good ideas, about kiln drying and even dipping the planks in wax to keep them from drying out too fast.

https://americanwalnut.com/gunstock-blanks.html
 

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I made a rifle stock from black walnut. I'll get some pics posted for you. It's very nice but maybe not as interesting/complicated/deep in grain as English or Bastogne. I do like it, though.
 

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I have worked with Black Walnut never made a stock but modified or altered several and finished semi-inlet stocks, you need good quality sharp chisels, gouges and scrapers. I have made stocks from Curly Maple which is hard and tools need to be sharpened while working; nicest stuff I've made a stock from is Teysierre French Walnut, it is true slow growth and very strong and stable...all gunstock wood has to be dried and stable anything with any moisture can check or twist as it is still yet to dry...
 

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I have quite a few wood working machines but not ready to make a stock. Years ago custom gun makers would make stocks from scratch. Then along came the wood copy machines. Now we have so many companies that make stocks now. Most are made from process of laser cutting now and not costly.
 

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I have a recent thread- July 23 in the gunsmithing forum : Walnut Stock From a Blank. Haven't done any more since my last post in September. I'll get back to it before long ; too many projects going. I have finished 5 or 6 semi-inletted stocks so I've had a little experience along these lines. The California walnut blank was at least 70 years old.
 
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When I was in school we drew our plan out on graph paper, it was then copied to the stock blank. We roughed the stock first with a bandsaw...we then set the blank up in a Bridgeport Milling Machine. We had to lay the action out, mine was an Argy 98. You need a repeatable reference point and it is the action screws, these are drilled and basically you figure 1/2 the depth of the barreled action. The top of the barrel channel area is cut to a uniform height using a fly-cutter. Measure and layout and check. Remembering there are several tapers, barrel, action, etc...you cut to withing .015 to .020 the rest is screped in using stock scrapers and blackening, you only remove the black which eventually will give you the proper inlet, height and fit...very time consuming
 

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OK, so after shooting my mouth off about English walnut, I have to admit the Black Walnut was pretty photogenic. I have mostly used English walnut and get stuck in my ways, so bear that in mind. Anyway, here's a couple I made.

The first 3 below are high grade Black Walnut. It has the first inletted skelton grip cap I ever made but it is only passable and the grip geometry doesn't suit me, either, so no close-up of that. If/when I figure out what I don't like, I may redo it. Or maybe I'll just get used to it. Otherwise, it'll give you an idea about how nice Black Walnut can be be and compares to English. Note this English stock was a smidgen grade lower, IIRC, so allow for that. You can see the difference in the wood so hope that helps with your decision.

First the Black:








And here's the English walnut:





 

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It'll need to air dry for years. Lots of the wood including heart wood crotch wood etc might be very desirable for gun stocks, guitar tops, backs, and sides. I know of people who have made grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, custom furniture, cabinetry, cutting boards, work benches, roll top desks, etc out of it. Some of those people who supply wood to luthiers or custom stock makers might pay a huge price for that tree.
 

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WA.JulianJrFDHChicopee.jpg

Here is a Frank deHaas designed tilting breech rifle chambered in .22Hornet. I made the action and fitted a Shilen barrel blank to the action. The sling mounts and steel butt plate and grip cap were made by Jerry Fisher. I made the scope mounts and have since mounted an old Weaver 4x straight tube. The stock was made from a 3 1/2" thick blank, the wood is exhibition grade curly maple with an ebony forend tip. The stock has a European style raised cheekpiece, I finished the wood using ammonium hydroxide fumes, it is a nasty process but really does bring out the beauty of the wood..
 

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It'll need to air dry for years. Lots of the wood including heart wood crotch wood etc might be very desirable for gun stocks, guitar tops, backs, and sides. I know of people who have made grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, custom furniture, cabinetry, cutting boards, work benches, roll top desks, etc out of it. Some of those people who supply wood to luthiers or custom stock makers might pay a huge price for that tree.
Yes, indeed. If it is sound, it could be worth many thousands of $$.
 

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Here is an old picture taken with my old cell, it is the Argentine M98, surface ground to remove the stripper guide, the action was trued by lapping the lugs, truing and lapping the bolt face. The bottom metal and feed guides were altered to feed the differently shaped .35Whelan, the bolt sleeve was annealed and a 2 position safety installed, the trigger is a Timney. The action was carburized and tempered by Joe Zufall. Sights are Express type with a brass dot on the front, sights are lapped to the barrel and silver soldered and appear seamless to the barrel. The stock started out as a French Teyssier Walnut blank, the stock design is a Jerry Fisher design. The wood shows nice fiddleback and has a strong straight grain through the pistol grip area. The grip cap is a Jerry Fisher the recoil pad is a Pachmyr Decellerator...the stock has a recoil bolt, that was the hardest thing to figure...
000_0489.jpg
 

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It'll need to air dry for years. Lots of the wood including heart wood crotch wood etc might be very desirable for gun stocks, guitar tops, backs, and sides. I know of people who have made grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, custom furniture, cabinetry, cutting boards, work benches, roll top desks, etc out of it. Some of those people who supply wood to luthiers or custom stock makers might pay a huge price for that tree.
Yes, indeed. If it is sound, it could be worth many thousands of $$.
And don't just let any yahoo with a sawmill start cutting it up for you. There is mucho dollars to be made or lost by the skill and discerning eye of someone who truly knows the value of lumber that suit a certain trade, and where they can possibly get that out of a certain location on a certain tree. Lots of people can saw it into boards, or slabs, or planks; and a few can really enhance the value with their cuts.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you everyone for your responses. And Rocky7... outstanding work sir! I think your workmanship looks great, and gives me confidence that black walnut really can make a beautiful stock from scratch. However, all the comments above helped me realize this project would be beyond my abilities and equipment. Kind of shot my fantasy down, but I'm truly glad for that, those comments were exactly the reality check that was needed. This is yet another reason why being a member of Gun 'n Game is such a good thing. The tree comes down within a week. I'll still keep a few feet of the trunk for future woodworking, but will reach out to local wood companies to see if any are interested in buying the bulk of it.
 

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Any harvested wood that you make own projects from has to dry. It can take months to years to make sure the wood is cured and wont change its shape. They call it unstressed wood. I have bought blocks of exotic woods lately for making knife handles on hunting knives. It has to be fully dried and un stressed before the cutting and process starts. If not it can warp from moisture or humidity even.
 
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