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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok guys I got a question. I have a huge Black Walnut tree in my yard that is about dead. Its big enough I cant wrap my arms around it... It still produces walnuts but very few and very few leaves left on it.. Gradpa says it was a big tree when he was a boy.
My question is what do I need to do with this huge tree in order to make a gun stock out of it? aside from cut it down and take it to a saw mill? Im looking to have a stock made for my gradpas old 700 for his birthday next year. The stock on there now is cracked.

The tree is probably well over 100 years old. And Black Walnut is a great looking wood. This tree would probably make several gun stocks.
 

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I'm going to suggest you check out one of the wood workers forums. That's where you will probably get the best answer.
 

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I am far from and expert. But from what I understand the burl (a fork, a knot, in a limb) of a walnut tree has the best color and pattern. I prefer nice walnut stocks on my all rifles over anything else made.
 

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Odd to say on a gun forum but if you want to look at some nice wood go to the custom knife supplier forums. For knife handle material.
 

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I would start by calling local mills. You will want to try to find out how it is best to cut the tree and lengths to cut it into. If it is very large, you may want to have it rough milled on-site. It will require aging/drying, so it's not as easy as cutting it down, having it milled and starting on your stock next week.
 

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For me the walnut has to be judged by eye. I have two rifles with high grade walnut stocks. Both the same grade with the same high high price. Same gun maker. One of these walnut gun stocks will truly take your breath away. The other you couldn't tell from any another gun stock on the bargain store gun shelf.
 

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Don't just cut the tree down and forget about the stump. Some of the most beautiful wood is at the juncture of roots to trunk. You. will have to cut the wood into blanks, seal the ends and let it air dry, under cover, for at least a year per inch of thickness. Rifle and shotgun stocks need to be about 2-1/2" thick X the proper length. You might want to talk to a luthier or wood turner for more info. You may have a valuable tree.
 

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Sell the tree to someone who is "in the know" and reserve a piece for yourself. That tree could be worth quite a bit of money.
 

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Last I checked, the black walnut we cut down in our yard fetched somewhere around $25k.

I would suggest you call a mill or other wood supply, sell it and buy a high-grade stock that's already been aged and pre-fitted, then have it finished to your grandfather's Remmy.
 

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Please let us know how this turns out. Sounds like a fun and sentimental project that I hope works out for you!
 

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Stock blanks are stored in climate controlled facilities for years before being made into usable stocks so that they are certain to be stabilized. I think Boyd's Gunstocks is running a special on semi finished or semi inletted stocks for 700s this month. I've been satisfied with their stocks, having used a few. There's a couple of other suppliers online.
 

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You're going to need to let the wood dry for at least a year for every inch thickness of the plank. For a Remington 700, you'll need at least 3" to account for cheek piece etc.

I don't think you'll have the wood stabilized by his next birthday unless you have a friend with a kiln.
 

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Go to rifle-stocks.com and get their phone number (don't forget the hyphen in the URL).
This is Richards MicroFit Stocks. These are the nicest people, friendly and caring.
They love people interested enough to ask for their expertise.
They will discuss wood, curing, and everything else.

It's not just the figure of the wood (as mentioned above). The grain that makes
the best stocks comes from a certain depth in the tree --
not to close to the surface but not at the heart either.

Call Richard's. They'll educate you.


Note:
Another company is riflestocks dot com without the hyphen,
but I haven't worked with them so I can't vouch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well looks like this project may take a while. I spoke with several stock makers. The one that was most helpful told me and that seemd he know what he was talking about said. The tree needs to be cut down. Then after that let it lay on the ground for about 3 years and dry naturaly. Next cut it into gun blanks sizes paint the ends, move it inside let it dry for about 3 more years. Then your ready to make a rifle stock... He told me that Black Walnut gun blanks can fetch a very nice price. So if I can see a few this project may not be so costly.
From the size of this tree. Id say it will make quiet a stack of gun stocks.

If you where to cut into gun blanks right away the wood wood split and most of it would be ruined.
 

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My great grandad was able to use a mature Black Walnut tree as collateral for a farm loan during the Great Depression. That may not work so well today, but the point is that they can be valuable and an experienced hand that knows his stuff, is a huge benefit when it comes time to fire-up the saw.
 

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I would still keep talking to people and asking questions. The value will depend quite a bit on the species. American Black walnut will be the least valuable, if it's some type of English walnut, it should be worth more. You need to talk to someone that has experience with not just milling walnut, but actually sawing rifle blanks. Cutting it wrong can potentially lose you tens of thousands of dollars. I'm certainly no expert, but the part about leaving the logs on the ground for several years sounds incorrect, although I could easily be mistaken. Another thing to consider is this, the value of trees like walnut are actually driven by the price of veneer. If it's a phenomenal English walnut, I'd cut it into stock blanks. If it's a basic Black walnut, I'd probably want a few good stock blanks out of a crotch area, and sell the rest of the logs for veneer, otherwise you'll have a barn or garage full of $20 rifle blanks that you can't sell for years. Just some things to consider. If I'd was me, I'd want someone that knew what they were doing to look at the tree and assess it. Someone reputable that you can trust, not just the first guy that comes along with a portable mill.
Good luck,
L.
 

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You need to talk to an independent forester. He/she can tell you the value of the tree and arrange a sale. Usually, it would be put out on bids. Then sell the tree and buy the absolute best stock blank in the world and have a GOOD stockmaker make the stock (and it still won't be done by next year). With the money left over, buy a Harley.
 

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Your going to find the best burl wood just above the root and 3 foot up, the rest of the tree is just straight grain lumber. If you cut the tree down cut it 3 ft. above the dirt and dig out the stump. That's where your going to find the good stuff.

After that the stump needs sliced and dried. If you know someone who will kiln dry it you'll be able to use it right away. If you don't dry it, it will crack as it dries out while your trying to make something out of it.

I say this with a bit of expertise in stock production.

Pops
 

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Hello, Friend,
This will probably be more trouble than you ever imagined, but if you are dead certain that you want to harvest wood from that tree, here are some things you must do:

1. Tell your loggers how long and where to cut the logs. This assumes you will be particular about areas such as the crotches where major limbs branch out.

2. Get all bark off the logs ASAP. Nasty little beasts live under that bark, and they will stay there until they are evicted. If not evicted, they will ruin your prized walnut.

3. Cut logs into boards of any thickness you specify.

4. This is the hard part:

4-A: Boards must first be sealed on the ends with several layers of paint, or a single heavy layer of wax. If you don't do this, end checks will form, which will run down into your boards for many inches from both ends and ruin a great deal of the length of each and every one of your prized boards. Even if you DO this, you will suffer some damage from end checking.

4-B: Boards must be stacked and stickered off the ground, and tarped to keep them protected from rain, snow, etc. By "stickered", I mean that you must cut 3/4" square sticks (hundreds of them for a huge tree such as you have described). Each layer of boards must have a sticker every 12 - 18" so that air can circulate between layers.

4-C: Stickered stacks of boards must be restacked every month or two during the drying process, so that air can get to the part of each board covered by the sticker.

4-D: Tarp or covering must be removed periodically to allow air to circulate and prevent mold growth in your valuable boards.

4-E: You wait approximately a year per inch of thickness, doing all of this maintenance during that entire time. Then you bring the boards into an indoor environment and re-stack them and let them acclimatize before using them.

I'm not kidding. That's how it's done. Probably much better to sell your tree for some cash to a logger. Then spend some of that cash on a fine gun stock blank that has gone through this process at a commercial hardwood lumber yard.

To verify what I have just described, and to see yards and warehouses full of stickered walnut of very high quality, go to this link and see how a commercial walnut lumber yard in my area does it by the train car load. Visit the link and click on "tour":

http://mopaclumber.com

All that said, I've dried some timber, too, and turned it into lumber. It's a real chore.

Best of luck to you.

Patrick
 

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I'm going to bump this thread one time and include something which I should have included in my previous post: In light of all the hassle of processing an entire tree, and in light of your desire to make a stock out of that tree (which is a desire I TRULY respect), I think you should have it sawn and then select just a few likely boards to take home and dry and season as I described in my previous post. A few boards could be handled so much more conveniently, and the process could be done in your garage or a carport. Bring them into your shop several weeks before actually starting your stock work. It can be done and you can do it. Don't skimp on any of the recommended steps. Good idea to weigh your small stickered stack of boards with some concrete blocks or similar weight while they are drying. Keep restacking periodically. Keep them off the floor on stickers, too.

When selecting your boards, look for figure in the butt area, but straight grain through the wrist area. Look for a natural curve of grain lines in the wrist, too, following the curve of the wrist of your proposed stock. Be patient and you will find likely boards with these features. You'll find them. It'll work. It really will. Best of luck--sincerely. Go for it!

Patrick
 
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