"The average guy can get badly screwed buying his own wood. The wood hawks are unmerciful; the only thing they're interested in is a profit, but the gunmaker's interested in the finished product-something he wants to be proud of. ("Note: A good but unexceptional English walnut blank costs $1,000. A really nice one will run twice that, and the cream of the crop can cost $3,000 before a tool is laid to it.") "There's no such thing as a truly stable piece of wood. The wood hawks will dry the water out of a blank, and once the water's gone the wood will start to cure. I give my blanks five to seven years in my shop, so they can stabilize. Then I rough-shape them and let them hang awhile, because when you start carving, the wood will start moving. After they've hung, you inlet and seal them, but they're always going to gain or lose some water. But still, I can't make myself hunt with a plastic rifle.