Author Topic: Butternut as a stock wood  (Read 3590 times)

Offline wvmtnman

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Butternut as a stock wood
« on: December 12, 2009, 06:22:10 PM »
A couple weeks ago a friend of mine gave me three planks of Butternut.  Each is three inches thick, about 13 to 16  inches wide and around 8 feet long.  He said he would probably not be able to use them.  They have been air drying since the early 1970's.  If I cut them right, working around knots,  I could probably get 3-4 full stocks and 2-3 half stocks. 
How is Butternut to work with?  Anything to look out for?  I plan on using these for small caliber southern mountain rifles or a smooth bore.  Any comments would be appreciated.
                                                            Thanks, Brian
B. Lakatos

Offline smart dog

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2009, 08:48:05 PM »
Hi Brian,
Butternut is a beautiful wood for some furniture and for use as veneer. It also can be carved easily but is not sufficiently hard to permit a lot of detail. In my opinion it is too soft and weak for gunstocks.

dave 
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Offline Ben I. Voss

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2009, 09:57:52 PM »
I used some wormy butternut for the top of a dulcimer once, but I think it's a little soft for a gunstock, too. Maybe if you epoxy bedded the breech? It is quite pretty, though. Must be something neat you can make from it. A gun chest maybe?

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2009, 10:18:44 PM »
Here is a link to a table which compares the relative hardness of various types of wood. 

http://www.sizes.com/units/janka.htm

I suspect Butternut may be a little soft as well.  According to the chart, it is on average softer than even silver maple.

Jim

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2009, 12:44:53 AM »
While one can generalize about the relative hardness of wood, in reality it depends on many factors:
--where did the tree grow?  shorter northern growing seasons usually result in denser wood.
--how did the tree grow?  hillside, meadow, dense forest, etc.
--what minerals were in the soil?  this can have a small effect on hardness.
--what part of the tree were the planks cut from?  stump wood, crotchwood, sapwood, etc.  I assume they are slab sawn.

Only you can determine how hard they are.  One of the planks may be better than the others.
Dave Kanger

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Online Steve-In

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2009, 06:17:40 AM »
I have a rifle I built with Butternut.  It is a .54 and has seen lots of use.  The breech area did come loose from recoil, but glass bedding repaired that.  It dents real easy.  I should have stained dark too.  It will age quick with use.  I would build another in a small caliber.  Butternut makes great box calls so keep scraps for that.
Steve
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J Shingler

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2009, 06:21:03 PM »
A friend has a very early 50 cal. Getz kit in Butternut. Kind of like a white walnut and works the same.
J Shingler

Offline Acer Saccharum

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2009, 06:35:43 PM »
As TOF said, it depends on the tree. If it's old growth and dense, it may rival walnut. For the most part, it's pretty soft. If you think it's hard enough, I'd look to make sure you have good grain flow thru the wrist, then have at it.

Tom
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Offline Don Getz

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2009, 06:51:27 PM »
Jeff..........I wish you would clarify that "Getz" kit, I don't think it was one of mine.   It may have been that English sporting
rifle kit that Fred Miller and I were doing, and Fred may have done one in butternut after our partnership was dissolved........Don

Offline smart dog

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2009, 08:24:24 PM »
Brian,
Ive worked quite a bit with butternut. I built several pieces of furniture with it as a component and I've carved it.  The wood I used for carving was hard and dense - for butternut.  I would not use it for a stock. I would hate to put a lot of effort into a gun only to find the wood was too soft (dented or scratched easily) or weak at the wrist. Take note of Steve's post.

dave
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Offline wvmtnman

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2009, 09:48:02 PM »
I worked a small piece down then burnished it.  It seemed to resist fingernail scratching pretty well.  I need to build two chisel cases, so I am going to have 2 of the straight grain pieces cut into boards for that.  As for the other, it has a curve where the wrist would go and seems to be pretty dense.  But I will hold off on that one.  Possibly make a little .25 caliber southern mountain rifle in the future.  I am in no hurry now.  I have 1 maple blank, 4 wall nut blanks and 10 cherry stocks waiting.  Thanks for all the advise.
                                                                      Brian
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J Shingler

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2009, 06:50:05 AM »
Hey Don,
Wow I sure thought it was one of your kits. Long time ago probably back in the early to mid 80's.
One of the Germanic style rifles with the banana Davis Germanic lock. If it was not one of yours then it might have been one from Wayne Dunlop. As I remember it was softer then good hard walnut but maybe it was a harder pc of butternut too. Everything turned out fine and it was a fine rifle with no breach problems the last I saw it 10 - 12 years ago. It was the guys daily shooter.
J Shingler

Offline Don Getz

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Re: Butternut as a stock wood
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2009, 04:53:28 PM »
Jeff......wow, I don't recall ever having any butternut for stockwood.   Back in the early 80's we did a pattern, somewhat
like an Edward Marshall, which I think Track still sells.  It had an inlet for the Chambers banana shaped lock, and had a
barrel inlet for a 37" Trans D barrel.   Bob Lepley was running these patterns so it's hard to say who may have sold it..................Don