The Desert - Mother Nature's Kiln
No one can dry wood as well as Mother Nature. Here in Las Vegas, we have many summer days with triple digit temperature and single digit humidity, conditions conducive to drying wood. Currently, we have 30,000 gunstock blanks in various stages of drying.
We have English walnut, black, claro and Bastogne walnut as well as Circassian walnut. In addition, we have shell, also called quilt or flame maple and fiddleback, also called curly or tigertail maple.
As stated, all of our blanks are air dried and a moisture meter is used on every blank before it is processed. These blanks will measure about 10% moisture. We have a blank here that we have had since 1961 and that blank registers at 9%. We continually rotate the stock as we do turn over quite a volume. We also have an excellent supply of English walnut shotgun blanks for over/under, pumps and automatics. These represent that overused word, “exhibition”.
A Little Information about Gunstock Woods
Without a doubt, English walnut is the finest wood for gunstocks. It is also the most expensive. Most English comes from California. However that supply is slowly dwindling. Alternatives to English walnut are Circassian walnut and Turkish walnut. We have Circassian walnut from the Republic of Georgia. Claro walnut is black walnut that grows in California. California has a twelve month growing season, unlike states with walnut trees which have severe winters. Claro gives the best bang for the buck: beautiful wood without the exorbitant price.
Burl is tricky. We have walnut, Circassian walnut and maple burls. For those inquiring about burl, remember burl has no strength capabilities and always has some pin holes. We do have pieces of burl that have wood in the strength area of the stock and burl in the butt. If you buy burl, you will have lots of burl pin eyes to fill and you must accept that as that is what makes burl uniquely beautiful.
Bastogne walnut is the densest and heaviest of walnuts. It is an excellent wood for large magnums. It is not as expensive as English and it has more figure. It will add a few ounces to your gun.
Myrtle is a wood that has a lighter colored background but unlike maple it will have a variation of colors like red, black, or brown in the wood.
Tiger myrtle is the rarest of all gunstock woods grown in North America. For that reason, it is more expensive. It takes a tree that is hundreds of years old and starting to deteriorate to create this unique look in the wood.
The variety of Maple that we carry is Western Broadleaf maple. It is not as dense and heavy as eastern maples. Because the majority of the wood comes from more temperate climates of Oregon and Washington, it grows faster.