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Milling   -   Blanks   -   Stocks

From Walnut Tree To Your Rifle


I began making stocks as a hobby for my own rifles in 1996. Since then I have become familiar with almost all aspects of stock work. Restoration, resurrection, or making stocks from the block with hand tools in a variety of designs.

Early on, stable and reliably seasoned walnut stock blanks proved difficult to find. I began milling walnut trees, developing crucial skills required to cut and air-dry walnut to produce quality seasoned blanks.

One particular area of focus has been developing a pattern stock for customer approval for both fit and appearance - this stock then being copied to very fine tolerances and the rifle stocked from the resulting precision machined stock. Fit, handling and balance must come before looks. I machine stocks because I can make a better stock that way - not because I am a "cookie cutter" kind of maker.

In the past 15 years I have never had to advertise to be overly busy. This website records and explains what is available, a bit about my life passion for the beauty of walnut, and my desire to make stocks while evolving the design of classic sporting and hunting rifles. 


From a young age I was  a hunter. First bow hunting and then rifles. This took me all over Australia after most Australian species, using varmint rifles, sporting weight classic rifles, mountain rifles and dangerous game rifles.

Harsh work in remote outback areas, adventures after deer, and guiding on Buffalo are just a few great experiences along the way. I have also owned or had exposure to many rifles from famous named owners and premier makers. Some rifles handled and performed so much better than others, and it became a pet obsession figuring out why it was so - and how the maker achieved it. Researching this became a full-time love - devotion to the union of walnut and steel, as it applies to the evolution of the classical stalking rifle.  

Gordon Cusens (Owner)

Australian Classic Rifle Stocks & Australian Classic Rifles

Precision Machining - The Foundation For A Fine Sporting Stock

This aspect has consumed a very great deal of my time and attention. I am always looking to better the various aspects of what is involved in the job of turning walnut trees into fine rifle stocks. 


High quality patterns are vital to duplicating a quality machined stock. To make really good patterns, I believe traditional "from the block" stock-making skills are mandatory. The maker must then have mastered the machining skills required to duplicate the chosen pattern to fine tolerances. As part of this, the duplicator must be maintained, checked for accuracy in every axis and adjusted as required. Appropriate use (and manufacture if required) of jigs, fixtures and tooling is vital to all but basic gunstock duplication work. The job will suffer in myriad potential ways if skills are lacking.

Progressive development and constant refinement of these skills led to me receiving regular requests for making patterns and stocks - both for best gun fit and of refined style. Re-building poorly made patterns and precision stock duplication work on a contract basis for both general customers and other makers has been normal for me over the years. An accidental "off-shoot" formed, and over the last 15 years I have maintained this service despite the demands it has placed upon me.

Mauser M98 Inlet Duplicated From Custom Pattern

The result of much effort - blank cutting, pattern making and machining. From here your work begins. 

Finished and Ready For The Field!

A well made, properly fitting stock that handles, and a joy to behold. It gives the hunter more meat on the table. Something ACRS is devoted to supporting.

Blanks And Machined Stocks

Why Machine A Stock If You Can Cut It From The Block "The Real Way" ?

I've been asked this countless times. Consider a complete custom stock build, where a carefully built pattern becomes a "try stock". The customer can be fitted to it, adjustments made until it's "just so" - before the lovely walnut blank is even worked on. I believe that is a significant advantage and it's why I have so many patterns. Machined stock customers can probably find something in my inventory that suits them because of it.

Machining a stock has other advantages. I can chase the colour, figure and/or grain flow to best potential in each blank - something which cannot be done anything like as easily or well when working from-the-block.

People often choose cranky, figured blanks cut from walnut grown within areas of great tension or compression in a tree. Blank cutting techniques, seasoning and storage influence tension and stability in a blank. Early on, using blanks from various suppliers, I noticed that the stability from some was variable. This left me with some real headaches at times. Cutting my own blanks solved the greater part of the issues.

With wildly figured walnut, sometimes even the most carefully seasoned blanks are a little cranky and will settle a bit during stocking a gun or rifle. As material is removed the equilibrium of tension in the wood fibres is changed. When machining a stock, initially I always machine the stock oversize, with extra wood on both the outside shape and in the inlet. The stock is then carefully stored and allowed some time to settle if it is apt to. No second guessing here - the stock is monitored by recording reference dimensions off a granite surface table with a height gauge. By comparing measurements before and after resting, I quantify any movement and can take appropriate action rather than leaving this aspect to chance. Once the stock has passed this phase, it is re-mounted and carefully machined to final dimensions.

When making a stock from the block, a fine job can be done of letting the metal into the walnut - but the bulk of figured wood is still in the block. Shaping is done last, and if the blank is apt to move, the inlet is compromised. I love stocking from-the-block and get a real kick out of it - but I believe machining them the way I do is often a better way to make a custom stock, though it's more involved. In my own custom work, the art and skill involved in shaping a fine custom stock is still done by hand - but it's done on the pattern with any fine work also done on the finished job.

While most of the above relates to custom level work, the benefits flow on to machined stock customers. Other than a wide range of patterns, I can accommodate changes to Trigger-to-Grip, Drop and Cast as well as Length-of- Pull as part of a machined stock order. All that is required are those measurements.

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