Refinishing my Garand M1 stock


October 13, 2006, 07:21 PM
I want to refinish my correct grade Garand stock. The stock is in good shape, with a few dings. They don't iron out easily and I really don't mind them. I consider them to be character marks, made by the boys that carried them.

I believe the stock is walnut, but I'm not sure. This is a correct grade, shipped back from Greece, unused. It has a "P" within a circle and a square with an eagle below three stars. It is a vintage 1955 H&R Garand.

Right now, the finish is uneven, and it is dark. Wiping with tung oil does not even it out. All I want to do is get an even finish throughout, as opposed to making it look like a new stock. And I like the dark color. So here are my questions:

What grit do I sand it to? I plan on light hand sanding.
Do I steel wool it?
Do I stain it?
What about the tung oil process?


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Guy B. Meredith
October 13, 2006, 07:51 PM
If it has a cartouche, take care not to remove it. Check out for tons of information.

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 13, 2006, 08:02 PM
Try scrubbing it out with Murphy's oil soap before you do any sanding. If you're lucky, then most of that dark grime will be dirt that washes right out. Hopefully you won't have to sand it at all. Be careful not to let too much water/soap soak into the wood, or it will raise the grain.

October 13, 2006, 08:07 PM
If you're serious about doing it right then search this forum and post any questions there. It's the C&R Rifle Stock Cleaning and Preservation Forum:

Mr White
October 14, 2006, 08:45 AM
Sand that P and that Eagle off with 60 grit, they just detract from the look. Then paint it dark green. Then paint splotches of brown and black and gray on it for a nice bubba camo look. Now you got a nice gun. :)

When I redid mine, I used Zipstrip and a nylon bristled brush to remove all the old finish. Then I went over it with trisodium phosphate (TSP). It clean any last remaining crud that the zipstrip may have missed. I ''sanded" it with 000 then 0000 steel wool only. If you do sand it, DO NOT USE SANDPAPER COARSER THAN #220. AND DO NOT SAND THE MARKINGS AT ALL! I rubbed it down good with a tack cloth to remove any dust. Then I started with boiled linseed oil. Rub on a coat, let is set for an hour, rub off the excess, let it dry. I did this twice a day for 7 days. After that, I left it dry for a month. After that, I buffed the hell out of it by hand with a soft cloth. It turned out beautiful!

The only thing I dislike about BLO is that it still seeps out when it gets hot. Some people complain about the smell during the whole process but I didn't mind it.

I've seen some guys finish M1 stocks with stain and satin finish polyurethane. It looks as good as if not better than a BLO finish, but its not a correct finish.

October 14, 2006, 05:09 PM
I've just stripped mine down with Miniwax Antique Furniture Refinish, which is recommended by CMP. It came out well, but much lighter, naturally. I should have left it alone, as it had become quite dark with a bit of red. Too late now.

So my next question is with regard to staining. CMP recommends Gale Dark Waknut followed by Chestnut Ridge dark walnut with a hint of red. This is to bring back that military or arsenal look - dark with a hint of red.

I'm wondering if I should stain it at all. I could finish it with pure tung oil or Miniwax Tung Finish.

Any help would be appreciated. I do want to bring it back to the dark reddish color that it was.

October 14, 2006, 07:30 PM
From following the CMP forum, I understand the reddish tinge is the result of years of grime, oil, etc. Behr's Tung Oil Finish is very good, recommended on the C&R rifle stock cleaning and prevervation forum. It contains a good amount of tung oil which interestingly many tung oil finishes do not. Some Home Depots carry it, some do not.

Here are some intersting links:

October 14, 2006, 10:37 PM
Miniwax Antique Furniture Refinish, which is recommended by CMP

BoySetsTheFire , Where did you see this recomendation from the CMP?

October 14, 2006, 10:43 PM
What year manufacture is your rifle?

WWII era rifles did not have tung oil finishes, they had Boiled Linseed Oil finishes. I believe that tung oil was not used until the Korean War era.

I just got my first Garand, a CMP USGI Field grade, 3/45 manufacture, with a walnut stock. I'm just going to clean it good, probably with alcohol or paint thinner, and finish with several coats of BLO. The BLO will darken the finish, again.

October 14, 2006, 11:09 PM
BoySetsTheFire , Where did you see this recomendation from the CMP?

From here. Very difficult link to find on the CMP site:

October 14, 2006, 11:12 PM
I just reread your post and see that you have a '55.

I believe that you could darken it with BLO and apply the Tung Oil over that if you want a Tung Oil Finish.

October 14, 2006, 11:21 PM
I would wipe the exterior surface of the stock with a damp terry cloth, using a little Murphy's soap oil as a surfactant; taking care not to raise the grain. Make sure all of the soap oil is removed and let the stock air dry slowly and see how it looks. If there are still some oil spots I would remove the oil with a clean rag, lightly moistened with acetone. Go easy with the acetone, too much will remove the stain and the finish. Also avoid applying the acetone rag to the cartouches and make sure you have plenty of ventilation and wear chemical proof gloves. After removing the acetone residue with a damp clean cloth, again let the stock dry slowly and see how it looks. If the dirt and oil is gone, I would apply several coats of "gunny's paste." If your goal is to maintain the original military finish, take your time and don't be tempted to hurry the process with harsh chemicals or techniques. That's my 2 cents. Good luck.

October 15, 2006, 08:54 AM
The gunny paste sounds like a good idea. While it would darken the wood, I'm not sure that it would darken the wood as it was before, nor give it the reddish tint. I ordered the Gale walnut and Chestnt Ridge walnut with Red, as recommended by CMP.

The problem is that I don't have any other walnut to try it on and I hate experimenting on the stock. I'm going to try stripping the underside of the handguard. If I can lighten that to match the stock, I can experiment there.

Mr White
October 15, 2006, 09:01 PM
A few thoughts on getting a dark reddish color:

Walnut will look lighter when its unfinushed. Try a few coats of BLO, that will darken it somewhat and it'll continue to darken with eash coat.

Also, I've used red mahogony stain on walnut before to give it a very rich color with a reddish tint, but I'd try the BLO first. I think you'll be happy with the results.

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