Re: Tips on building a stock from scratch
As someone who has spent a lifetime in the lumber business let me add my 2 cents. Yes some woods can take up to 15 years to air dry to a usable moisture content. These are usually harder woods some of which are dried in large sections. The larger the piece the longer the drying time. Boards cut into smaller pieces will dry faster. What is important to remember is you don't want them to dry to fast, that will cause checking and cracking. You do as mentioned want to cap the ends, if not the boards will dry faster at the ends and crack or warp. In the case of this stock you want for your rifle and shot gun, you can achieve a moisture content that is stable in less than the 15 years mentioned. Since you mentioned you know of a downed tree that has been down a year, you could start there. Cut a couple of sections large enough to yield 3 or 4 pieces each of the sizes you require. More is better here, that way you increase the odds of getting usable pieces at the end of the process. For a stock I would recommend 2" net by 7" net in the length you need. Once you have them rough cut, cap the ends is mentioned. Wax is better. Stack them in a dry location approx. 2-3 feet off the ground is better. Outside will be fine to start, stick the pile(meaning use spacers between each row and gaps between pieces) you want as much surface area exposed for drying. If this tree has been down a year the moisture content depending on diameter should be in the 30-35% range. Allow the stack to sit for 45-60 days, moisture content now should be in the 15 to 20 % range. Rotating the pile will allow the drying to work better moving the interior pieces out and vice versa. Another 15-30 days should have the moisture content to the 12 to 15% range. For wood dried outside depending on your location that is the best you are going to achieve because of the relative humidity in the air. For lower moisture contents you will have to continue drying inside a conditioned space. Inside you should be able to achieve 7-10% which will work fine for your purpose. I have done several repairs on stocks where I have replaced a section on the back and I haven't had a problem with checking or shrinkage. My latest was the Krag I posted pictures on this site. The log I used was cut into smaller pieces and had been drying in the rough approx 8 months, moisture content was 25% when I rough cut to 2-1/2" x 7" rough 30" long. 30 days later content was 15%. I rough formed let set a few days and rechecked content was 12%. Rough fit and attached let set 10 days moisture content was 10%. Now this was a smaller piece and once sized had a large surface area compared to overall size which aided the drying process, but you get the point. On a one piece blank you should be able to achieve a usable moisture content in about six months. Longer is better, I'm lucky because I have a moisture meter to help me in checking. If you have a real lumber yard or a hardwood dealer in the area they should have a meter. If you go in with the blanks they will probably check them for you. Key here is not to be in a hurry in the beginning. All the information in the other post have been correct for certain woods, different woods dry at different rates, thinner boards dry faster than thicker boards. As I mentioned go the extra step and rough cut several blanks in each size you need. The worst that can happen is you'll have to cut more. the best is all dry evenly and you'll end up with extras. Believe me I'm not an expert at making stocks, but I do know wood. Worst mistake to make in fabrications is in the finish(been there done it on my first try). Once you've finished fabrication, make sure the entire stock is sealed. Some people don't think about the butt end and the area that the barrel and action are let into. If you don't seal them the wood will continue to dry or in some areas take on moisture cause shrinkage or expansion. Which translates into poor fit. I learned the hard way on my first. I now stain and seal the entire surface of the stock, most times with a minimum of three coats on the inner surfaces.
Another hint cut thickness to 2-1/2" that way minor surface checking can be removed with a planer and still have a usable blank.
JMO, hope this helps
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