How do they make laminated stocks?


February 22, 2009, 07:06 PM
I was wondering how they color the laminated stocks. Does it require a specific type of wood? I imagine that lighter colored wood takes the colors easier.
I'm thinking about stuff like these:

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February 22, 2009, 07:09 PM
For things like the bottom-middle one, yes just different kinds of woods. For the yellow and red and blue, trees don't grow like that. I would say that they dye or stain the wood.

February 22, 2009, 07:10 PM
Yeah they use light colored wood and dye then laminate it.

February 22, 2009, 07:15 PM

February 22, 2009, 07:17 PM
Do they color a variety of boards then glus-lam them together before carving?

February 22, 2009, 07:22 PM
No the stock makers buy the wood already laminated. That's why all of the stock makers have the same colors available.

The Deer Hunter
February 22, 2009, 07:46 PM
Now I don't know for sure, but I am a carpenter (if it even matters).

But they stain the wood prior to laminating. The "laminate" stock, as you know, are many veneers of wood that are glued together and clamped until dry. Instead of taking a bunch of veneers of the same color, they take, for example, blue and red pieces and alternate them.

I'm not totally sure what type of wood they use to make them, It's probably all the same type. Like you said, they probably use a light colored wood. Straight Walnut isn't going to take electric blue stain very well!

But anyways it would be cool to know what they use.

February 22, 2009, 09:29 PM
I think it's Birch.

February 22, 2009, 10:16 PM
It looks like they stack the laminates on their sides. Kinda like a 2x4 standing on edge running the length of the stock.
I guess the adhesives they use, no doubt under lotsa pressure, seem to hold up well. I've never seen one delaminate.

February 22, 2009, 10:28 PM
I've liked the laminated stocks for a while. Now, I'm itching to get a grey one for my M1A. It just looks good.

Yes, I'd set the purple stock aside for the grey laminated one. Perhaps I coule take up a collection by posting more pics of the purple gun. People could bribe me to change it.

February 22, 2009, 11:05 PM
Yip pretty much the same thing as plywood.

Looks good though.

February 22, 2009, 11:42 PM
I like the look of laminate too. It's also more durable than non-engineered wood too. BSW

February 23, 2009, 12:49 AM
I read an article about the process once. Don't remember all of the details but remember that they used very thin slivers of the wood layered in whatever pattern they wanted and used epoxy and lots of pressure. The end result looks like wood and really is wood but denser and impervious to weather like the synthetic stocks. I love "em too. You get the look of wood with some color and toughness. The only draw back some people might find is that they can be heavy. Don't remember anything about the dyeing or staining process.

February 23, 2009, 12:59 AM
....heavier than a same model stock in say Walnut or synthetic. Birch is the most commonly used wood for laminates but I've also seen walnut/maple-Remington Mohawk anyone? I made a gunstock for a Marlin .22 back in middle school and used two pieces of REALLY figured walnut...came out beautifully and after 20 years, still holding up beautifully. And all I used was industrial strength wood glue and a butt load of clamps ;)

February 23, 2009, 01:38 AM
I believe that the Germans were the first to use laminated stocks on their 98K rifles when solid wood suitable for rifle stocks became difficult to obtain.

According to an old American Rifleman article, the initial impressions of laminated stocks on rifles captured from the Germans was pretty negative; heavy, cheap, weak etc. Later testing after the war proved that the laminated stocks were more stable and much stronger than the typical solid wood stocks. They also were less expensive to make because cheaper wood could be used. It's interesting to note just how quickly the Soviets adopted the idea.

Personally, I like laminated stocks and think them attractive.

February 23, 2009, 04:42 PM
WWII-era German K98 Mausers and G/K-43 rifles used a type of laminated wood stock.

Fajen tried the laminated wood stock technique, with wider strips of wood, several decades ago. Their results looked like this:

The market evidently wasn't quite ready for something so radical, so the concept went onto the back burner for a while.

More recently, a place called Rutland Plywood in Vermont perfected their dye and epoxy pressure-laminated birch technique, and offered their laminated plywood blanks to several riflestock manufacturers, where it took off from there. You'll see their blanks carved into all sorts of finished products, this being a Fajen Aristocrat:

This is a Fajen Ace Varminter:

Now you can get them in a bewildering variety of colors and styles from Fajen, Boyd's, Marlin, Remington, Ruger, Altamont, Shehane's, you name it.

February 23, 2009, 11:15 PM
I have 3 one is on a 10/22 and works fine the other 2 are on a 338 mag 77 ruger mk2 and a 300 WSM mod 70. Both mag stocks have splits or chips in the tang area, the Ruger has been exchanged once. I'll stay with the solid stocks and the synthetics. The lams are made because they are cheaper, try pricing a solid wood stock vs. a lam.

February 23, 2009, 11:26 PM
That's a bad inletting job, not the fault of the stock material. Plain wood stocks will actually split easier than will a resin-impregnated laminate version.

February 23, 2009, 11:45 PM
For what ever the cause, out many others these 2 laminated factory stocks have both failed in the tang area 1 has done it twice.
I have magnums with walnut in various calibers that have been shot many more times and are much older than these 2 and never failed.
Plywood is cheaper than solid wood in any application, it is also stronger in some but I don't think gunstocks is one of them.

February 24, 2009, 01:36 AM
You're way off base, honestly. The laminates as seen from manufacturers like Rutland and others are epoxy-impregnated under high pressure and heat. They're basically a wood/plastic composite once finished. Try fitting an action to a semi-inletted laminated stock (like my 6.5-06 Mauser pictured above) and you'll discover quite quickly how hard and strong such a composite material really is. Even drilling that 10/22 stock above for sling swivels was an education in itself. For an example, when cutting stock blanks out of the laminate in question, it's recommended by the manufacturer to use either diamond or carbide saw blades to cut the material because of its density and hardness.

Rifle stocks thus constructed are exceptionally stable, regardless of temperature, and it's one reason I used such a stock for that 1000-yard 6.5-06. Take a plain walnut or birch stock into varying humidity and temperature conditions, and watch as it warps, swells, and shrinks, changing pressure points and bedding to the point that consistency is shot, and accuracy suffers. That won't happen with a laminate like Rutland's brand of Stratabond stock blanks, or similarly-constructed products from competitors.

To answer the OP's original question, here's how they do it:

The manufacturer lays out 1/16" plies of dyed birch, stacking them in alternating colors to make the pattern desired. The stacks are soaked in the resin formula, and the sandwich thus created is then placed under serious heat and pressure, then allowed to cure. This forces the resin to fill the cell structure of the wood, making it exceptionally strong and dense. It's one of the strongest materials available for gun stocks, save for maybe kevlar/carbon composite versions like H-S Precision and McMillan. They're heavier than a comparable plain wood stock because of all that dense resin displacing the air in the voids of the formerly hollow wood cell structure. You have basically a resin stock with a wood "rebar" latticework in place.

IOW, these aren't constructed like your typical particle board computer desks from WalMart, nor are they even comparable to construction grade plywood as found at Lowe's or Home Depot. To liken laminated riflestocks to ordinary plywood is weak at best. It's an apples vs. oranges comparison, truthfully.

As I said before, your magnum rifle stocks split at the tang because the "gunsmith" who fitted the action to the stock didn't relieve or properly radius the stock's top tang recess enough to accommodate the gun's heavier recoil, especially at the far aft end of the tang. That, or he got sloppy bedding it and left bedding compound to bridge that same gap, transmitting the sharp recoil impulse to a very specific pressure point. I've seen it happen many times on plain wood-stocked rifles, including some military 98 Mausers as produced in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. It would've happened were he to improperly fit that action into a piece of Circassian Walnut, Birdseye Maple, Tiger Birch, or any other homogenous piece of wood normally used for rifle stocks. The fact that it split a laminated stock means that the error in inletting was particularly egregious.

Another way to look at the problem is that under heavy recoil, the metal tang sitting tightly against the top aft edge of the tang channel acts like a dull axe, trying to split a piece of wood that has already been started for such an action.

Some of the gunsmith types at THR, many with decades more experience than I, can verify how this happens and how to correct or prevent it.

February 24, 2009, 02:12 AM
Good information there Gewehr98, thank you.

Doesn't Rutland Plywood Corp. supply most of the laminate used for the firearms industry?

Take a look at their website for info on Stratabond® the product they use for gun stocks.


February 24, 2009, 02:30 AM
I understand the process and was over simplifying it and appoligize but regardless of that when I buy a new rifle that is complete from the factory and the stock splits out or chips within the first box of shells and I have dozens of other similar guns excluding the Laminate stock that have had no such problems then I am forced to make an opinion and judgement on the product. In this case I would not again purchase one of these stocks. There may be after market products that are of higher quality but for me I would spend my $ on a good McMillen or H-S synthetic. just my opinion.
The epoxy and presure used on a stock are different than building grade ply wood but the principle of opposing grains remains the same. Take note that the laminate stocks I am refering to are from box stock guns and the solid walnut guns while some have been bedded over the years only a few are what would be considered semi custom in the stock category. For me the numbers don't add up, if I need to do custom inlets for my stock guns before even test firing then I will stick to real wood or some synthetic simple as that.
While I have certainly strayed from the OP's original question I hope it has helped him in evaluating products that he may be purchasing in the future.

February 24, 2009, 02:52 PM
It wasn't the stock material that caused the split. It was a manufacturing error on the part of whomever fitted that magnum rifle to the stock.

You're attributing the problem to the wrong cause, and advising others based on that flawed assumption. It's like blaming beer for a drunk driver's actions.

A poorly-fitted stock will cause problems, regardless of whether it's laminated wood, plain wood, or synthetic. As I said before, I've seen many split stocks caused by poor fitting at the receiver upper tang - the dull splitting maul effect.

Your laminated "box stock" guns (even Ruger) had stocks that came from Rutland's factory, just so you know. Rutland has been supplying the major gun makers with those stock blanks for over 20 years. In this particular venue, an "aftermarket" laminated stock actually comes from the same place as the factory laminated stocks. Of course, all bets are off if you have a ham-fisted monkey doing the final fitting prior to shipping it out. But that's not the laminate's fault, and it's both short-sighted and disingenuous at best to lay the blame on the material.

I've worked on several Rutland-sourced stocks, including inletting a Mauser action into one. They're harder than the hubs of hell. It's a pain in the posterior to fit, and if you cut corners trying to get the job done, you're very likely to make an inletting mistake. Likewise, if you've got one that actually de-laminated along the bonds, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that Rutland would love to hear about it, assuming it was a blank made at their facility.

There are other varieties, including the gorgeous French Walnut/Obeche variants found at as sold by Bill Shehane and crew:

Not particularly cheap, either. Gunstocks in general aren't as cheap as they used to be, but with the dearth of good stock-grade Black Walnut, something can be said for using a synthetic or laminated substitute. I've talked to owners of large walnut trees who came home after a weekend to find said trees completely gone. We've harvested them faster than they can grow, and now they're at a premium. :(

February 24, 2009, 03:21 PM
Ok I will rephrase my position. I would not buy a Ruger or Winchester rifle with a Laminated stock because the factory does not fit them properly. I will however not hesitate to purchase their walnut, birch, or synthetic models since the many I have owned and seen are fit much better than the few laminated models I have had and they have shown no sign of chipping or spliting with much more use.
This is only my opinion formed from ownership and use of the product, your result may differ due to your own personal usage.:D

Ohio Gun Guy
February 24, 2009, 03:47 PM
They use a lamination process. :evil:

February 24, 2009, 04:29 PM
Also a good method to make off grade wood into something with a nice appearance. I've seen some really beautiful laminates.

February 24, 2009, 05:14 PM
My buddy has a new Sako 85 hunter with the laminated stock. From my perceptions of it, and shooting it, I find it pleasing. I haven't done any torture tests to assure myself of strength, but it seems that it would work at least as well as the solid stock.

Good information all ya'll! I've really enjoyed this thread.

February 24, 2009, 06:28 PM
I would be interested to know how do they dye the veneer to get the color deep into wood and what kind of dye that would not interfere with bonding.

February 24, 2009, 08:14 PM
Thin layers of blond birch, which I would suppose take to color fairly easily. One could ask Rutland, but something tells me they're not going to give away their trade secrets. ;)

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