making a stock

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by TheFishBox, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. TheFishBox

    TheFishBox Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone on here tried making a stock out of a raw piece of wood? I cut a piece of ewe wood that has been dead for a while and am going to try to make it into a thumb hole stock. the piece I cut has a knot in it but I don't think that is going to pose to much of a problem. I have been drying the piece out for a while and it has stopped cracking but as I hew it will it continue to split if I apply oil?
     
  2. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    You cannot determine what the moisture content is in that piece of wood just by monitoring the end checking. You need a moisture meter to accurately measure the content. If the content is above the allowable limit, and you apply a finish of any sort, you will prevent any further drying of the piece.
    If you are serious about this project, I suggest you invest in a good moisture meter, or find someone close to you that has one that will check it for you.
     

  3. Gene

    Gene Well-Known Member

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    Listen to Joel; he is an expert in wood stocks. In fact, you might want him to do the work.
     
  4. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    I don't have the experience that Joel has but I have built a few stocks from a board or piece of a tree
    and found that the best way to dry it is to cut it into a rough shape and seal the end grain.

    This lets it dry without cracking (With the end grain exposed it will usually dry to fast and split.

    It will dry through the sides but much slower.

    I did not have access's to a moisture meter which is the right way to test one so I weighed the raw
    blank while is was green and periodically weighed it to see how much weight/moisture it lost and
    and when I could start on it.

    It was not very scientific but so far None of the hand made stocks have given me problems.

    As Terry Bradshaw said "I would rather be lucky than good"

    J E CUSTOM
     
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Aging is important, also. Gives the blank the time to relieve the natural stresses within it. It's not unusual for a blank to be in my shop for 5+ years (after reaching 9/8% +- moisture content by my meter) before even considering it. As for your choice of wood,,, well, there's a reason why gunstocks are traditionally made of Walnut and , sometimes, maple or cherry. To each his own. Some lessons are best learned the hard way.
     
  6. TheFishBox

    TheFishBox Well-Known Member

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    As for your choice of wood,,, well, there's a reason why gunstocks are traditionally made of Walnut and , sometimes, maple or cherry. To each his own. Some lessons are best learned the hard way.

    Could you elaborate on this a little more please. Am I just wasting my time or is it because the wood is hard and thus making it harder to work with.
     
  7. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    I wouldn't say you are wasting your time, but Yew wood is not commonly used in making gunstocks. It has been a favorite among bow makers over the years.

    With regard to the moisture/drying of your piece of wood, it is important to keep in mind that green wood contains moisture in different forms. "Free water" and "absorbed water" are the two most common terms. The "free water" is found in the cell cavaties, and the "absorbed water" is found in the capillaries of the cell walls. When the green wood starts to lose water, the cell walls remain saturated until the free water has evaporated. The point at which evaporation of free water is complete, and all the cell walls begin to lose their moisture, is called the "fiber saturation point". This is generally about 20-30% for most wood species. As your piece of wood dries below the "fiber saturation point", and begins to lose moisture from the cell walls, it will actually shrink. This is where you see the end checking and cracking. As the wood shrinks, it actually becomes stronger.
    A piece of wood should be looked at as though it were a sponge... It will give off or take on moisture relavent to the surrounding atmosphere until the moisture in the wood corresponds to the atmosphere..
    If I pull a blank off the pile and check it for moisture content, and it pings the meter at 10%, it takes a two week vacation in the kiln to pull the "absorbed water" an knock it down a few %. If it comes out of the kiln at 6%, I let in acclimate for a bit, which invariabily will bring the content up a % or so.

    It may sound like a bunch of scientific ju ju, but when you are working with high end gunstock blanks, it helps to have an understanding of what is going on inside that piece of wood so you don't end up with a pile of high end firewood...

    My kids have toasted marshmallows over the fire pit fueled with pieces of Turkish and English walnut... Like shortgrass said, some lessons are learned the hard way...:rolleyes:
     
  8. TheFishBox

    TheFishBox Well-Known Member

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    okay thanks. so without a meter you can't be sure whether or not the wood is completely dry which should prevent further cracking is this correct?
     
  9. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    You are correct sir.

    If you are within driving distance to me, I'll be happy to check the moisture content of your blank..
     
  10. TheFishBox

    TheFishBox Well-Known Member

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    joel thanks for the offer but I am on the other side of the nation.
     
  11. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    See if you can find a specialty lumber place in your area that has a kiln. I'm sure they would test it for you at no charge...
     
  12. specweldtom

    specweldtom Well-Known Member

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    Good thread Fishbox.

    Joel and Shortgrass, I learned something today.

    Thanks, Tom
     
  13. TheFishBox

    TheFishBox Well-Known Member

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    Joel I have a question on thumb holes for you. If I want to put one in this stock is there any special considerations I should take, or just pick the spot I want and go for it? I was thinking drill a pilot hole and get it to where I can use a chisel to finish.
     
  14. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    The beauty of making your own stock, is that you can customize it to your hands. If you have a thumbhole stock to use a reference, then I would take a few measurements on where they have the actual hole. Mill in the pilot hole and then shape it from there. Remember, you will need to remove material in order for your hand to rest at an angle. While you're at it, a small palm swell may be in order. A round bastard file will remove material well, as will a 1/2" drum sander on a 1/4" die grinder...