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May 9th, 2008

Got Wood? Check Out Northwest Timber

Richard Franklin sold his stock-making business to Greg West, but Richard is still making stunning, one-off custom rifles using laminated fancy woods such as Crotch Claro Walnut, Turkish Walnut, Curly Maple, Bloodwood, and burls of various types. One of Richard’s favorite sources for fancy woods is Northwest Timber, based in Oregon. NW Timber has one of the largest collections of highly-figured Claro Walnut and fancy Maple blanks in the country, including many “book-matched” sets that are ideal for a three-layer laminated stock. The two, mirror-image, book-matched pieces form the outer layers, with a central spine of contrasting wood.

When shopping for fancy wood for a laminated stock application, be sure to consider the length and thickness required. For a tri-laminated benchrest stock with a 3″ forearm, you’ll need a block at least 2.5″ wide and 32″ to 35″ long (depending on overall stock length). After sawing that will give you two 1 1/8″-wide slabs, so that a contrasting 3/4″-wide section of wood can be placed in the middle. Thinner blocks of fancy wood can be used in a 5-layer laminate. If you can’t find a block at least 32″ long, a contrasting end cap could be placed on the fore-end. However, Richard prefers to work with blanks that are long enough for the whole stock.

Above is a book-matched set from Northwest Timber in Crotch Claro Walnut. Note how there are two matching pieces, top and bottom.

This above photo shows how spectacular Quilted Maple can look when stained and finished with contrasting highlights. A popular material for fine musical instruments, Quilted Maple can look just as good on a gunstock (below).

For more information, contact:

Northwest Timber
3229 Jefferson-Scio Drive
Jefferson, OR 97352
(541) 327-1000

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May 9th, 2008

Rare Vintage BR Rifle for Sale

Eight years into the 21st century, it’s easy for us to assume that our “latest and greatest” gun stock designs truly represent the cutting edge of technology and innovation. We forget that some of the founding fathers of benchrest devised some pretty interesting designs decades ago.

An intriguing piece of Benchrest history came up for sale on recently. This 25-lb “unlimited” benchrest rifle, chambered in .222 Remington, showcases many features that were ahead of their time. The action says “Al Weber of Lodi, Calif”, but it’s not clear whether Al built the unusual wood stock, or whether that was the brainchild of someone else. The action looks like it might be an early custom action. Perhaps our readers know more….

Forum member Dan Conzo notes: “View page 17 of the Ultimate in Rifle Precision (1958), by Whelen. Ralph Pride, a barrel-maker and competitor, is using a rifle that is a twin of this rifle. Pride also wrote highly of the Weber action. The round bottom action has heavy lugs, a wall thickness greater than any conventional action at that time, and an integral recoil lug, It has three guard screws (1/4 ” socket head type), and the one-piece trigger guard extends past the front guard screw. The top of action is what they called a strong back with the port held to a minimum and it has the squared off rear tang. This action seems to have spawned the older Hart actions and even the more modern actions by other makers of today.”

In the front is a metal sled with twin Delrin rails for improved tracking. Front rails have been used on 1K Heavy Guns for quite some time, but when rails like this were added to the underside of F-Class rifles that innovation was considered fairly radical.

In the rear is another tracking rail. Interestingly, the rear rail is a wide, “Twin Keel” or “catamaran” design. Presumably this twin keel design enhances stability while reducing friction. That’s a design we’ve just started to see on short-range BR rifles, and it has been hailed as “highly innovative”.

We wanted to showcase this Vintage BR rifle, to give credit to the early innovators. Our current high-tech stocks and actions borrow from many of their design ideas.

CLICK HERE to View Gun Auction

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