Gunstocks often break at the wrist and many times the cause is weakened wood due to oil soaking into the head and wrist of the stock; over time the oiling of the barrels and standing the gun muzzles up, lets the excess oil drain down and seep into the wood.  Much the same way water weakens cardboard when it gets wet and then dries the oil will weaken the wood.

New gunstock wood is dried prior to machining. The drying process removes the water from the wood at a cellular level. The lack of water "moisture" makes the wood stable and hardened. Dried wood is like a sponge, it readily absorbs moisture. The inside of a stock head is not usually totally sealed. Years of exposure to animal based lubricants absorb or "wick" oil into the dried wood.

As the oil degrades it and turns the wood black. Like a wet cardboard box, the cells collapse and weaken, turning the wood "punky".

The process that gunsmiths use to remove the oil is referred to as "leaching". This is a multi step process utilizing several very nasty chemicals and specialized equipment.

One of the steps, referred to as "boiling in acid" uses a superheated solution of a buffered organic Carboxyl compound. This compound is a purifying and precipitating agent. It literally draws out and neutralizes any existing oil. When the wood is removed from the solution, it is completely dry and free of oil. At this point the wood is neutralized, degreased and stabilized to a desired moisture content.

Unlike a "salt cured wood" process, no residual chemicals are left in the wood.

The process reverses shrinkage, raises dents and removes dark spots. The cellular structure of the wood expands to its original state and properties. Refinishing it is like working with a new piece of wood.
But, if this process is not done correctly it will virtually destroy the wood.

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