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Beginning a new custom bolt action rifle.

Updated: Jan 14

This will be the start of a custom bolt action rifle using a Winchester model 70 push feed action. The barrel will be turned and profiled for a medium sporter and chambered for .308 Winchester.

The stock has been carved from curly maple with a lot of figure. The finish, however, will be pretty unusual for a modern firearm. I’m not going to use stain to color the wood, but rather a chemical process first used over 200 years ago on flintlock firearms. I’m using a chemical known as “aqua fortis”. This is nitric acid with iron shavings dissolved in it and water used to reduce the strength. The idea is to bring out the vertical tiger stripes in the wood that run perpendicular to the wood grain itself.


Here you can see the acid being swabbed onto the stock. It tints the wood a dingy grey / greenish color.


Once the acid dries I use a heat gun to gently evaporate off the acid, leaving the dissolved iron behind.



The dissolved iron turns to rust, and begins to give the wood a reddish brown tint. The highlights between the harder and softer portions of the wood absorb different amounts of the aqua fortis and begins to show the striping more apparently.


To give the wood a softer glow, I mix in a few drops of liquid aniline dye and rub the stock with oil. The color I’m using for this is called honey amber. It will bring out the warmer tones between the darker tiger striping.


This is then allowed to dry and is buffed and burnished in between each coat.


This will be a unique hunting rifle in many ways. In the near future, I’ll be combining my gunsmithing techniques with a little bit of my blacksmithing to build something special as far as a custom one of a kind rifle. Stay tuned for some forge work and fine tuning of the rifle action.

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