You can find a piece of wood on your own, or buy a piece from us. Information on wood you might provide can be found under the section "Your Components".
Wood you can buy from us is milled here in California from California grown Claro, Bastogne, or English walnut trees. It is age dried at the mill. I travel to the mills several times a year to hand pick the wood I have in stock. If I don't have a piece of wood that you are looking for, you can give me a budget and a description of what you want, and the next time I go to the mill I can pick out pieces in that range, take pictures of them and send them to you and you can pick out the piece of wood you want while I'm there at the mill.
Claro, Juglans hindsii, with the common names Northern California walnut and Hinds' black walnut, and most commonly Claro, is endemic to Northern California. The historical range of Juglans hindsii is from the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley to the Inner Northern California Coast Ranges and San Francisco Bay Area, in Northern California. It is a distinctly different species than the walnut that grows in Southern California. Claro walnut is a nickname for Northern California Black Walnut. It ranges from inexpensive 'plain grain' wood with little character, to a variety of figures, including Fiddleback (the rippling wrinkled wood look), Checkerboard (alternating squares of color, once very popular, now quite rare), and Flame or Feather Crotch, the beautiful and high dollar explosion of color and figure that occurs above branches in the tree.
Northern California Black Walnut is world renown for it's contrasting colors, dark mineral streaks, and gem like figure.
I typically keep on hand a number of blanks in the $100-$500 range, with a few in the $1000+ range.
Bastogne Walnut is a cross between Black Walnut and English. It has amazing intense swirls and ripples of color, often combining the Fiddleback figure of Claro with the bright and alternating colors of English. It is more expensive than similar pieces of Claro. This fast-growing Luther Burbank hybrid is commonly called Paradox or Bastogne (Juglans hindsii x Juglans regia). Paradox rootstock is a hybrid produced from a Northern California black walnut tree pollinated by an English walnut.
Bastogne is more rare than Claro, and typically on any given trip to the mill I might only come back with one piece if I'm lucky. UPDATE spring 2016: Bastogne is now very rare. Nice pieces are fetching very high prices. As a result, there are increasing numbers of unscrupulous online retailers passing off light colored pieces of Claro as Bastogne at highly inflated prices. I buy only from millwrights I personally know and I trust if they tell me a piece is Bastogne, it really is. Further, I've seen enough of it to be able to tell, so if you're considering a piece you've found on line, feel free and have me take a look at it and give you my opinion on it's value.
The most desirable wood by many is English. English is a dense heavy wood, and expensive. It does not typically have the wrinkled wood look of Claro, but instead has swirls of bright alternating colors contrasted by dark lines. The colors (especially of the dark lines) are affected by the minerals in the soil in which the tree grew. Turkish walnut therefor has a purple color to it, while California grown English typically has bright yellow colors contrasted with browns and blacks. The best looking English starts at about a thousand dollars and up. I sometimes have a piece or two on hand of this material, but it's usually best that we discuss the kind of figure and color and price you're looking for and let me go hand pick some at the mill for you.
Walnut is indeed becoming increasingly scarce and the price rising on interesting pieces due to the planting of fast growing varieties that do not attain the size required for gunstocks, disease in the old trees, and due to the Japanese who are buying walnut for table tops and gunstock blanks for investment (by the container full), and to the European market, which has limited walnut supplies. On a recent trip to one of the mills a semi-truck was there loading up virtually all their stock for a shipment to Europe.
When I go to the mill I pick out only the most interesting wood at the best price points. I see a lot of wood out there on eBay and other gunstock web sites that is hugely inflated in value. I earn my money from my labor working the wood. I save you money on the acquisition of the wood, getting you at least one to two grades better for your money than you could buy elsewhere.