A huge piece of Bastogne crotch wood
Although with a little time it may be possible to source other types of wood, there are 5 types of walnut that I try to keep on hand; French, Turkish, Claro, Bastogne and American Black walnut. Read below for a brief description of these and other woods, and click on the tabs to the left to view examples.
French Walnut -
Probably more accurately called California English, this wood often has those highly sought dark, smokey black lines running randomly though it. The background color can range from light to dark, most of it being a nice medium shade. It often has warm brown, orange or grayish tones accenting it. Nice feathered crotch figure is not uncommon.
The grain is usually close and fine, which cuts and files well. This wood finishes beautifully, and is a great choice for a set of custom handgun grips.
Claro Walnut -
This has to be the king of color. Most seems to be a medium to slightly darker color, and usually has multiple shades of brown, and sometimes orange, red and chocolate within. Beautiful feathered crotch and fiddle back figure are common. We also find nice pieces of a burl or random grain figure.
The grain is usually a bit more open then the other woods but finishes nicely.
Black Walnut -
Much of this wood will rival Claro for color, and often is a bit heavier with smaller pores. Black walnut will finish very nicely.
This is a cross between Claro and English walnut. It sometimes has dark streaks similar to the English, with some of Claro's coloring. The wood usually seems more dense than Claro and will take a very nice finish.
This wood is from the Pershain Gulf region. It is sometimes referred to as Old World Walnut. It often is harvested from trees that are hundreds of years old. Although I do not have an on going supply, I have been able to get some blanks of burl wood. These blanks will make great grips and will finish very nicely. Please know that with fine burl figure like this there are sometimes a few small pin holes that need to be properly filled.
Similar to Circassian, this walnut makes fine stocks. Most has very nice black mineral streaks,
with good color. I have a nice supply of this wood.
Much of the wood I get is graded exhibition from suppliers. The standard here is to grade this wood "AAA". If the wood will not make a great set of custom handgun stocks or if I would not want it on one of my own it won't be offered as AAA. Sometimes there are blocks that stand out from and above the rest - these are graded exhibition. What makes a blank exhibition can be rather subjective. It might be excellent coloring, grain flow, pattern density, even beauty on both sides, etc. Most of the time it is a combination of much of these traits.
Click on the tab to the left to see some exhibition blanks as examples and notes as to why they are graded this way.
With any natural material like fine wood it is impossible to gaurantee that it will never move, twist or crack. All of the wood I use though comes from reputable suppliers who offer properly dried and seasoned wood. I have never run in to any issues with wood, but if desired stabilized blanks are available. I try to keep a nice selection on hand, and they will all make fine custom grips.
Blocks of French walnut waiting to be cut to usable sizes.
Wood blocks cut to size and re-sawed, oiled and graded.
This is a cross between the European walnut, and the California Claro. It often has the beautiful varied colors of Claro, and sometimes a bit of the dark lines common in the French. Bastogne finishes very w