If there is more than one way to skin a nine-lived cat, there are ten times more ways to finish a wooden stock. That is a good thing. Like snowflakes, no two stock blanks are exactly alike. How could there be only one way to do this job?
by Wendell Dwight Deaner
I can imagine as soon as firearms were invented that the first hunter to carry one concocted some way of dressing up the stock to make it more to his liking. There are tales of boiling berries, crushed walnut hulls, whale oil, and “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 5. My apologies to The Bard.)
Indians, early trappers, and mountain men adorned their firearms with brass tacks, feathers and deer skin. This business of “my rifle is the nicest one in camp” has been going on a long time and continues to this day. All of us appreciate a finely finished firearm but what that is depends on who is doing the appreciating. I have seen a stock finished by having crushed eggshells glued onto it. To my eyes, it was a horror and blasphemy but the owner was very proud of it. So be it. Let us begin.
I freely admit to having copied the techniques and methods of the finishers who came before me, some masters of the craft, others unknown and unheralded. I continue to try and learn from any and all that I admire. From these parts I have created a whole process that works for me. That is what I will present in this article hoping to add one more idea to your own personal repertoire.
Read more in our December 2012 issue. Back issues are available.