Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Another Bad Idea That Refuses to Die

The following are my thoughts regarding stock bending and why I'll have nothing to do with it:

Any gun of quality manufacture has its cast (be it on, off, or neutral) "built in".  Meaning, the cast starts at the point where the frame meets the wood.  In many instances, the frame straps are actually displaced in the direction appropriate for the stock's intended cast.  In other instances, the frame straps are straight but the cast still originates at the frame/stock juncture because the inletting will be offset.  It also follows that the triggerguard strap will follow in the direction of the stock's cast.

Now imagine if you will, bending a cast-off stock into a cast-on (or even neutral) configuration.  With the frame strap/inletting situation being fixed, the only option is to bend the wrist (hand) portion of the stock.  This means also bending the triggerguard tang to match.  For this thought experiment, we will disregard the difficulty in actually bending the wood and the vanishingly slim probability that it will stay in its new configuration.

Think about what we end up with in the above scenario: a visibly "S" shaped gun with the head of the stock heading off to the right, bending through the wrist and the balance of the stock veering off to the left.  Things look even worse from the underside of the gun, where the triggerguard's bow and its tang are no longer in line.

The drop situation is no better as this is another dimension that is "built in" and the same limitations apply.  The bend would necessarily need to be applied through the wrist and, if the bend is of sufficient magnitude, it will affect the aesthetics of the toe-line of the stock, the pitch of the butt and the fit of the triggerguard and frame tangs.

Stock bending is one of those things that is long accepted but that doesn't mean that it is, or ever was, a good idea.  The wood is, by necessity, being bent through the area of least cross-section and bending entails setting up enormous internal stress in the fiber cells of the wood, both tensile and compressive (tensile on the outside of the bend and compressive on the inside of the bend).  It is these stresses that will, eventually, cause the wood to return to its original state (or close to it).  If the wood is bent far enough that the fiber cells break, the wood will stay in its new configuration but its strength will be greatly diminished.

Bending, or more accurately, attempting to bend a stock that far is a bit like bending your car's body to make it go where it should, rather than altering its wheel alignment.  Bending a stock is a "low cost" expedient with a low probability of long-term success that also entails significant aesthetic compromises.

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