Author Topic: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??  (Read 1126 times)

Offline Sudsy

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Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« on: December 30, 2023, 07:52:04 AM »
I'm sure the early gun builders would have had access to them, South America had been long colonized, but is there any historical records of them using woods like ebony and rosewood as inlays, nose caps, patchbox's, or other parts?

I have a few gorgeous, very old, figured rosewood boards I've been thinking of using parts of on a rifle build

Offline smart dog

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2023, 04:09:29 PM »
Hi,
Unusual woods for stocks and inlays were sometimes used since decorated guns began to be made.  Rosewood, which I believe was sometimes called "Brazil wood" was used for stocks on some 17th century Scottish pistols and long arms.  Ebony and boxwood were occasionally used as inlays on firearms.  There is a famous and utterly overdone pair of pistols by H. W. Mortimer of London with boxwood inlays.  Isaac Haines stocked a complete rifle in mahogany (probably Cuban mahogany) and that wood was used occasionally for pistols as well.   Hieronymus Borstorffer, possibly the greatest gunstock decorator of all time, produced bone panels with very fine inlayed ebony filigree and ebony panels with fine bone filigree to decorate wheellock stocks.   Inlaying contrasting wood into stocks was mostly a European thing and I am not aware of that practice used on American long rifles.  I am sure there is some example of it out there but I just am not aware of it.

dave   
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Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2023, 04:36:52 PM »
IIRC Jacob Kuntz used some type of exotic wood for inlays on at least one rifle.  :-\

Offline Sudsy

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2023, 06:20:23 PM »
Rosewood, which I believe was sometimes called "Brazil wood" was used for stocks on some 17th century Scottish pistols and long arms.

Fully stocked ?? Crazy !
A long gun fully stocked with Rosewood would be so heavy it would have to be a mounted gun

Online Daryl

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2023, 07:00:53 PM »
Heavy it would be and not in need of any finish, either, due to the wood's natural oil. The reel seat I put on a spey rod I built back in the 80's, is without any finish at all and it needs none
although it gets wet each and every time it is used. It is seemingly impervious to any water damage.
Daryl

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Online Hungry Horse

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2023, 10:04:35 PM »
 My first gun built from a blank was a Chiefs grade trade gun, that I stocked with a Myrtle blank. It was the cheapest blank they had in stock at Calico Hardwood. I was concerned that it might not be strong enough to handle the recoil. They told me many of the companies they supply used it on their lower grade rifles in calibers including 7mm. Since Myrtle is a reddish colored wood, I finished it with a cherry stain, and true oil, rubbed back to kill the shine. Everybody thought it was cherry. Oh and itís still going strong forty years later.

Hungry Horse

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2023, 06:51:26 AM »
Just want to add that British guns of this period used good but rather plain  what we call French walnut.
They steered away from fancy grain and exotic wood largely.


Offline Bill Raby

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2023, 07:23:33 AM »
I have made ramrods from ebony on English rifles. It is an excellent wood for that and looks great. But it is scary expensive.

Offline Goo

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2023, 06:16:51 PM »
The Issac Haines attributed Mahogany smooth rifle.
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Offline Marcruger

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Re: Exotic woods used by builders in the 1700's ??
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2024, 10:05:59 PM »
I would think that it is possible in coastal towns with easier transportation access.  I recall seeing a newspaper advertisement from a Wilmington, NC gunsmith looking for curly sugar maple.  Not much of that in Wilmington I can tell you.  The ad was from the later part of the 1700s.   I know curly maple is not "exotic", but it probably was for that gunsmith in coastal NC.  With ship access, I'd guess other woods could have come in. 

As an aside, that was the same advertisement where the gunsmith offered browning and blue work on metal.  That stuck with me as some folks still think there is a dividing line and time period for one or the other metal finish.  Apparently the answer is "both". 

I also found it interesting that there was a gunsmith stocking rifles and such in Wilmington.  My understanding is that it was less expensive and easier to get English imported guns along the coast, and many were smoothbores due to the versatility (waterfowl and deer) and the densely vegetated surroundings. 

God Bless,   Marc