A) Though stock bending might appear a simple process, it is often fraught with difficulties. Wood is an unpredictable material and bending it is not for the fainthearted. An invisible internal defect can cause a disaster. Assessing the grain is important as it is not possible to bend a stock which has been cut with a short grain through the hand.

There are two methods of stock bending — steaming and the application of hot linseed oil. Both require the use of a jig to exert pressure once the wood has been softened by the heat of the steam or the oil. Commercial screwdriven jigs are available but some gunsmiths use jigs where pressure is applied by small wedges. The process is described in great detail in the excellent book, The Art of Gunsmithing — The Shotgun, written by my co-contributor Lewis Potter and published by Crowood Press. A final word of warning: do not overheat the linseed oil. Once heated beyond boiling point it becomes uncontrollable and may ignite. Extensive personal protection should be worn.