Holland & Holland
Wood Types & History
Discovered and named Hinds Walnut by the British botanist Richard B. Hinds in the mid 1800s. Hinds, California Black and Claro are the three names used interchangeably for this West Coast Walnut with Claro being the most commonly used.
The origin of this tree is somewhat of a mystery with some believing it a native tree planted from its original forest home into early Indian village sites in the Northern California valleys, while others suspect it may have originated in Turkey or Greece.
The name "Claro" probably is of Spanish influence coming from early California history when the Catholic padres were building the west coast missions. The word "claro" in Spanish means bright, which can certainly describe the wood. For with its depth of colors from yellows, reds, browns and greens with purple-black streaking, to its radiant feather crotch and fiddleback, it certainly has a brightness and beauty which no other wood can match.
Circassian, English, French, Persian, Turkish are some of the many names used to describe this same wood, primarily differentiated for geographical reasons. The origin of the California Walnut we call "French" dates back over 2,000 years and was originally brought to Persia and Italy from the Far East. The conquests of the Roman Empire initiated the spread of the nut and tree to England and eventually throughout Europe. Early English settlers brought the tree to California in the 1800s. However well traveled, this walnut, with its dense strong grain, ease of machinability and exquisitely rich figure is by any name unquestionably the most highly prized of gunstock woods.
Because the trunk and root system of Claro is better adapted to local soil and climate conditions and is less susceptible to disease and insect attacks, it is widely used by the commercial nut plantations as root stalk material on which the desired French/English strains are grafted for nut production. Due to this grafting technique, after many decades of growth, we can actually produce blanks of these two completely different woods–Claro and French–from the same tree.
CALI'CO Grading System
What constitutes FIGURE? Our definition of figure is: Any differentiation in the grain pattern or flow which adds some distinguishing characteristics to the beauty of the stock. This will include color contrast, fiddleback, feather crotch, marbling or burl, and can be one or any combination of these.
What constitutes BEAUTY? Beauty, as defined by Webster's is "A quality or a combination of qualities that delights the senses and appeals to the mind." When it comes to grading wood, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. For without question every person has their own preference or concept on what qualities make for a beautiful gunstock. But, having decades of experience we are confident that we can provide that special piece to satisfy most expectations. Whether we are choosing one stock for an individual customer or one thousand stocks for a manufacturer, we will provide the best possible product while always keeping in mind that function and performance must come before beauty.