Cherry Southern Guns?

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I am going to buy a Kibler’s Southern Mountain flintlock kit and have been curiously drawn to 🍒 wood for the stock.

Everybody and his brother has a 🍁 stock and they are so beautiful of course, but I love the fact how cherry ages gracefully over time and just think it’s pretty great looking! I live in Las Vegas and we have a ton of☀all year round and it shouldn’t take long to age naturally to a nice color. I would not be using any lye or other surface treatments for this reason, and think it’d be fun to watch it darken over time. Kind of like watching Sea Monkeys grow up but way cooler!

But was it ever actually used on a Southern Mountain type rifle? Thanks! 😃

-Smokey
 
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The grain in cherry wood is beautiful. I chose cherry for my first Lancaster style Pennsylvania long rifle. Still good looking today as it was 40 years ago. Not good with pictures or I would post.
I agree! I’m just curious if any SMRs were ever made with a cherry stock?
 

Stophel

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But was it ever actually used on a Southern Mountain type rifle? Thanks! 😃

-Smokey
Actually, I don't think I have yet seen an original southern mountain type rifle with a cherry stock. Maple, walnut, that's it. No cherry, maybe one ash, I don't quite recall.

Cherry is marginal stock wood, with much of it being entirely unsuitable (in my not so humble opinion). I hate soft wood, and cherry can be (and often is) REALLY soft. Only occasionally is cherry found anymore that is hard and dense.
 
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Actually, I don't think I have yet seen an original southern mountain type rifle with a cherry stock. Maple, walnut, that's it. No cherry, maybe one ash, I don't quite recall.

Cherry is marginal stock wood, with much of it being entirely unsuitable (in my not so humble opinion). I hate soft wood, and cherry can be (and often is) REALLY soft. Only occasionally is cherry found anymore that is hard and dense.
Oh wow, thank you. I didn’t know that! I also LOVE the look of a curly ash’s wood. Is ash’s wood a better stock’s wood than 🍒?
 

Stophel

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I think ash can make a better stock wood, yes (in some cases). But, you need to be aware of the grain. It can split fairly easily along the porous rings, which could be a problem in the fore end. I made a pistol stock out of ash, and it's actually pretty amazing wood... except for those porous rings. In the piece I had, the rings were essentially vertical in the fore end. While fitting the barrel tenon, pop! It split right apart, with very little force required. I glued it back together and inlet and fitted a couple of pieces of wood cross grained in the barrel channel, fitted well and glued together. It won't come apart now.

You can cut cleanly AGAINST the grain with ash, it's amazing.

Cherry can be VERY "chippy", and will flake out big chunks of wood along the grain if you look at it too hard. Unpleasant to work with..... and I have a cherry stock blank standing right in front of me, waiting to be cut into..... This particular one is exceptionally hard and heavy (rivaling sugar maple, which seems to be pretty rare), so maybe it won't be so bad.
 
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I think ash can make a better stock wood, yes (in some cases). But, you need to be aware of the grain. It can split fairly easily along the porous rings, which could be a problem in the fore end. I made a pistol stock out of ash, and it's actually pretty amazing wood... except for those porous rings. In the piece I had, the rings were essentially vertical in the fore end. While fitting the barrel tenon, pop! It split right apart, with very little force required. I glued it back together and inlet and fitted a couple of pieces of wood cross grained in the barrel channel, fitted well and glued together. It won't come apart now.

You can cut cleanly AGAINST the grain with ash, it's amazing.

Cherry can be VERY "chippy", and will flake out big chunks of wood along the grain if you look at it too hard. Unpleasant to work with..... and I have a cherry stock blank standing right in front of me, waiting to be cut into..... This particular one is exceptionally hard and heavy (rivaling sugar maple, which seems to be pretty rare), so maybe it won't be so bad.
Thanks! Being as it’s a Kibler’s, he says the amount of wood needed to be removed can fit atop a dime, so there is actually very little wood needed to be removed, just things like squaring up the radius of the CNC cut channels and whatnot.

I am so upset to hear cherry wasn’t used on southern guns and makes a poor stock wood. I greatly admire its look and enjoy the way it deepens in color over time and exposure to sunlight... 😢
 

Stophel

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Sorry if I was misleading. Cherry can be an excellent stock wood... it's just that a lot of it isn't that great. At least what is available today. It varies quite widely in quality. Cherry was probably the most common stock wood on New England guns.

As for it being a Kibler kit, I'm sure he is more than capable of picking out a good quality cherry blank to work with. ;)
 
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Sorry if I was misleading. Cherry can be an excellent stock wood... it's just that a lot of it isn't that great. At least what is available today. It varies quite widely in quality. Cherry was probably the most common stock wood on New England guns.

As for it being a Kibler kit, I'm sure he is more than capable of picking out a good quality cherry blank to work with. ;)
So...so you think it’ll be okay, then?? Maybe this will be the first southern rifle in human history to have a cherry stock?? :D
 

Stophel

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It should be fine. I have an original Massachusetts rifle that has lasted 190 years, being stocked in cherry.

With cherry, it's a matter of finding a good blank to start with.

I'm sure yours won't be the first cherry stocked mountain rifle!
 

Notchy Bob

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I've never seen an antique southern rifle stocked in cherry, but I would not consider myself an authority. We have four old percussion Tennessee rifles in the family. Two are stocked in walnut and two in curly maple.

However, I looked through some of the references I have on hand, and may have found the confirmation you're looking for. In The Kentucky Rifle, by Capt. John G.W. Dillin, Chapter Six, "Materials Used," the author quotes an old and lengthy account given by Milton Warren, "a gunmaker of the old school," from Abingdon, Virginia. The account is not dated, but Dillin associates it with "the infant Republic," suggesting the early 19th century. Mr. Warren stated that "For stocking material we went to the mountains and got close-grained rock maple -- the trees that grow on thin rocky soil are always closer grained and curlier than those that grow in open ground on heavy soil. Sometimes we used walnut, now and then cherry, and occasionally a customer would bring his own stock blank of apple wood..."

Warren apprenticed under and worked for John M. Whitesides, a master gunsmith in Abingdon. Whitesides was known for fine work, with "wire scroll inlay" and "fancy embellishments of barrels and locks," so we're not talking about the "poor boy" southern rifles.

If you want my opinion, it's going to be your rifle and you're going to be looking at it and shooting it. I think you should build it the way you want it, but present it to those who ask as unusual but not unheard of. There are lots of rifles being made, with the best of intentions, that might not really be all that "correct." Documentation of cherry-stocked southern rifles may be sparse, but you can fall back on Milton Warren's account if you feel the need.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Silky921

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I have a fowler and a Lehigh both in cherry. Absolutely love them. Been fascinating to watch their color develop.
 

Whitworth

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Cherry does turn nicely over time. My house is trimmed in cherry from a huge tree off Great Grandfathers farm. I had planks up to 14" wide to work with. The lumber had seasoned about 20 years when I used it and it was rock hard. I have a beautiful stock blank from it. It will probably still be a blank when my time's up.
 
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I've never seen an antique southern rifle stocked in cherry, but I would not consider myself an authority. We have four old percussion Tennessee rifles in the family. Two are stocked in walnut and two in curly maple.

However, I looked through some of the references I have on hand, and may have found the confirmation you're looking for. In The Kentucky Rifle, by Capt. John G.W. Dillin, Chapter Six, "Materials Used," the author quotes an old and lengthy account given by Milton Warren, "a gunmaker of the old school," from Abingdon, Virginia. The account is not dated, but Dillin associates it with "the infant Republic," suggesting the early 19th century. Mr. Warren stated that "For stocking material we went to the mountains and got close-grained rock maple -- the trees that grow on thin rocky soil are always closer grained and curlier than those that grow in open ground on heavy soil. Sometimes we used walnut, now and then cherry, and occasionally a customer would bring his own stock blank of apple wood..."

Warren apprenticed under and worked for John M. Whitesides, a master gunsmith in Abingdon. Whitesides was known for fine work, with "wire scroll inlay" and "fancy embellishments of barrels and locks," so we're not talking about the "poor boy" southern rifles.

If you want my opinion, it's going to be your rifle and you're going to be looking at it and shooting it. I think you should build it the way you want it, but present it to those who ask as unusual but not unheard of. There are lots of rifles being made, with the best of intentions, that might not really be all that "correct." Documentation of cherry-stocked southern rifles may be sparse, but you can fall back on Milton Warren's account if you feel the need.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Thanks, Notchy! Your knowledge is incredible and you’ve been a great help!
 

tenngun

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Actually, I don't think I have yet seen an original southern mountain type rifle with a cherry stock. Maple, walnut, that's it. No cherry, maybe one ash, I don't quite recall.

Cherry is marginal stock wood, with much of it being entirely unsuitable (in my not so humble opinion). I hate soft wood, and cherry can be (and often is) REALLY soft. Only occasionally is cherry found anymore that is hard and dense.
Not cherry but I have seen several beech. The first SMR I saw in real life was on beech.
 

olskool

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why not use walnut? walnut has little problems like cherry, it is historically correct , easy to work with and like you say everybody has a maple, you see very little hickory in these guns. that is what I would use,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 
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