View Full Version : Tiger striped stocks

May 10, 2010, 06:57 AM
I am the lucky owner of some Pennsylvania rifles from the mid / late 1700's and early 1800s. Two of them have what would be called tiger striped stocks.
I've heard that this tiger striping was done by tieing cord around the stock and burning it to darken the wood.
Anyone here know the technique to do this? Material, fuel, methodology?


May 10, 2010, 10:23 AM
I have seen this striping on some M/L's but the pattern was actually in the wood as oppose to burning. However, I do stripe my home made ramrods, in a candy cane pattern. Sometimes I add deer or turkey tracks in between the lines. On my rods, if you take a flat broad shoelace, start at one end and wrap it around the rod till you get to the other end, keeping it tight, you will see that it maintains a nice equal spacing. This next step is interesting as I now take a small, hand-held butane torch and lightly scorch the exposed wood. I suppose you could use a lighter. I go fairly fast in repeated light cycles, so as not to burn the lace. I have tried staining and it doesn't penetrate. I have also tried spirit dye and it's pentration is hard to control.

Suggest you take some hardwood and practice. As I said, I have never done a stock but would probably use some glass tape but I'd have to go back and pratice this as well. I'm going to pay attention to this post as I can always learn a new trick. One of my mentors was an old blacksmith and he taught me quite a bit about the old ways.

Be Safe !!!

May 10, 2010, 01:32 PM
Most of the "tiger striped" maple stocks I have seen on old Pennsylvania or Kentucky rifles was maple, a very common wood back east. The grain structure along the trunks of many of these trees shows "fiddleback" grain (so called because it was preferred for use on the back of violins), and they were very much in demand for musical instruments (tonewood) and furniture-making, which made a piece of wood large enough for a stock to be quite expensive. Many fine quality old rifles were made using fiddleback maple for the stocks, chosen for the beauty of the grain pattern. The stocks were often stained with aquafortis (a nitric acid mixture) or permanganate which darkened the grain but emphasized the depth of the grain structure.

As always, people tried to figure out methods of achieving comparable results using lower quality materials. Plain-grained maple, ash, sycamore, hickory, beech, birch, and chestnut wood were often used to make stocks on cheaper rifles, and then stained and finished to try to look like high-end rifles. One of the things people did was to put a dampened piece of wood in a barrel full of scrap pieces of iron or steel (which would give an irregular staining pattern), or wrap cord around a stock and scorch it over a fire to produce darker stripes in the wood grain (similar to the process used to produce "roasted" birch and maple that look like walnut). I was even taught a method for "painting" figure into wood using different solvents and finishes. In 30 years, I have heard dozens of recipes for producing "tiger-striped" maple, usually from people who have little or no experience working wood. I have never heard of or seen a recipe that can produce the quality people look for, and most produce very poor results.

The best method I have found is to find a wood dealer and buy a good piece of fiddleback maple. It is widely availble and relatively inexpensive when you figure the cost of chemicals and/or different supplies used to try to fake it.

May 10, 2010, 03:53 PM
The walnut stock I'm playing with is not now nor will it ever be (even in my wildest imagination) a fine piece of wood. This idea is a project to take a Ruger 10-22 and make it look a little better, or at least different from the innumerable "tactical" or "target" 10-22s.
While it would be nice to be able to make a cheap stick into a piece of work even close to my elderly flintlocks and caplocks, it ain't gonna happen.
If you have some Ideas, I'd appreciate hearing them. I promise you I am not trying to fool anyone, least of all myself.


May 10, 2010, 11:30 PM
OK. So do you plan on refinishing the stock? Unless you plan on replacing the stock, it is easiest to refinish and see what you have in the way of grain. I have refinished many 10-22 stocks, and was surprised to find that Ruger used pretty nice wood in their walnut stocks, they just put awful finishes on them. So, my advice would be first to strip the sprayed-on finish off of the wood and sand it to 350 grit (100 grit, then 150, 220, 350, always on a sanding block, making sure all of the sanding marks from the previous grit have been sanded out). Then do an evaluation of the quality of the wood. If there is no figure in the wood, PM me and I'll tell you a few secrets.;)

Or you can just buy a 10-22 replacement stock that is made out of nice walnut for about $150, which makes little sense in the era of $150 rifles, BTW.