Herbal Root, London Guns, And Hue

Restoration of a long-neglected English classic. Here’s the details of how classic gun makers achieve their much sought after stock finishes.

by Shawn McWilliams

It all started with an 1882 W.C. Scott that my Dad literally found in a trash bag at an estate sale. It appeared to have been stored for generations in an old lambskin case. Over time and humidity, the wool bonded with those old Damascus barrels and corrosion was so extensive I thought for sure all was lost. There was a nice piece of walnut under the reddish stain but the grain was a mystery due to the dirt. W.C. Scott may not be a Sons of London “Best” grade, but this was most certainly the finest gun I ever worked on. It was a true side plate hammer gun, it had carefully executed scroll engraving and it was by far the lightest 12 bore I had held. It was a gentleman’s gun and it was my desire to bring it back to life.

I needed to figure out what gave the stock that reddish color, better described as its hue. Gun makers in the 1800s used what was available to them. In many cases it was the same materials used for hundreds of years, something to keep in mind when searching the past. I sought answers in the ShotgunWorld.com gunsmith area and a gentleman was kind enough to tell me it was certainly made of…

Read more in the August 2016 issue.

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  1. I enjoyed reading Mr. McWilliams stock finishing article in the August 2016 American Gunsmith. Is the formula for Alkanet Oil going to remain a trade secret or would he let us amateurs know what is a good starting combination for us to experiment with?

  2. I have to keep it a trade secret since I worked hard to get it but clearly I was very generous in the info provided.

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