Help refinishing a birchwood stock


July 10, 2010, 12:31 AM
I bought a Marlin 336W last year, and I'd really like to refinish the birchwood stocks. I've seen photos of refinished birchwood, and I know it's got good potential if done right. Exactly what is the best route to go when working with birchwood? I've read about boiled linseed oil and tung oil, but I'm still pretty confused on what to do. I am a beginner when it comes to refinishing wood, but I'll take any advice or help. Thanks in advance.


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July 10, 2010, 09:17 AM
The birch is fairly soft, and light colored. Don't be too agressive with physical/mechanical finish removal.

I've had good luck with hardware store paint removers. I prefer the gell over the liquid.

Remove the stock(s) from the gun. First, lightly scratch the finish, perhaps with a dinner fork, but not deep enough to gouge the wood. Just the exterior finish. Outdoors or in well ventilated area, apply the finish remover with a 000-steel wool pad. Let it sit for about 5min. Then, begin to scrape the old finish off with another steel wool pad, until youv'e removed all the old finish. Use a bronze bristle brush to remove finish from any checkering by brushing in the direction of the checkering. Some of the Glenfield/Marlins have etched/embossed decorations. Remove the finish from them gently with the bristle brush (the kind sold for gun cleaning/auto parts- not the big barbeque grill type). Then, wash off the remaining finish remover either with water or mineral spirits- however the directions on the remover label states.

Let the stock dry for a while (til dry, perhaps overnight). Lightly sand the exterior surfaces of the stocks. Be real careful not to sand much off the interior surfaces as this will affect the stock fit to the gun later if you remove any wood. Don't sand any checkering or decorations. Just use a small bronze brush to remove any residual stock finsh. Some even go so far as to mask the checkering with masking tape, or aluminum foil tape such as used to protect the plexiglass on aircraft being stripped and repainted.

I then after prepping the wood apply either a Minwax, Formby's, or Danish oil WALNUT stain. I prefer the dark walnut as it stains the birch a bit darker than the original finish. Don't worry, it won't come out black as it looks originally befor the excess stain is wiped off. If you want a more reddish hue like a circassion walnut, use a medium to dark maghony stain. I recommend if so, use a little of the mahagony mixed in with the walnut, as the birch is so light colored originally.

After staining, I then use either a satin or semi-gloss polyurethane varnish. I apply that either with fingers, or with a sponge-foam rubber paint brush. Don't try to put it on too thick, or you'll get runs. It will take 3-4 coats to get a good build up of finish, though I often quit after 2 for a rough duty gun. (ie: Remington 870's used for duck hunting.) realizing that in 3-5yrs I'll be doing another refinish.

After the finish is dryed (2-3days), if it's too shiny, use some 0000-steel wool to dull the finish.

Be sure not to sand too much, especially around the butt pad surface, or you'll have an usightly match between the stock and butt pad. Perhaps, even replace the butt pad before sanding and finish the stock with it in place.

Good luck with your project.

July 10, 2010, 09:47 AM
I have a model 38 Swedish Mauser that had a really dinged up stock. Think it is Birch. Anyway, got it down to bare wood which was almost white in color. Tried a oil stain and it was about as effective as putting it on a sheet of glass. Would not penetrate. Finally just applied a light gray stain, wiped it off before it dried, it sort of evened wood appearance and finished with tung oil. It might be some wood other than Birch but whatever it is, it was so hard that nothing would penetrate.

Lee Roder
July 10, 2010, 10:02 AM
Birch is not an easy wood to finish. All depends on the specific piece of wood you actually have. Read about BLO and Tung oil? Ready to get more confused? Check out the Finnish guns and read about pine tar. That's the way birch should be done.

July 10, 2010, 01:06 PM
Its all going to depend on the final look you want. I like the gel strippers too. I'd probably strip then sand, then tidy up any checkering, and go with a blond finish, ie just tung oil or similar. Real BLO might look good too, more of a honey yellow finish than what you'd get with tung.

If I wanted a stain, I'd go with a product that can be used to tint the oil itself, that way you avoid the blotching problems you get when trying to stain birch.

July 10, 2010, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. Has anyone here had success with using birchwood casey tru-oil?

July 10, 2010, 04:09 PM
Leather Dye works good for changing the color of birch. Some of the stains out there don't work well since the wood soaks it up. A mixture of boiler linseed oil and stain also makes for a good finish coat. I also use a mixture of turpentine and beeswax melted down for a hand rubbed finish.
Tung oil is great but real tung oil is expensive.

July 10, 2010, 04:18 PM
Has anyone here had success with using birchwood casey tru-oil?

I have done my fair share of stocks (20 plus) and I can say that if you use birchwood tru-oil you should probably put one or two coats of Boiled Linseed Oil on it first. The BLO really brings out the grain and the beauty of the wood. Then you put the Tru-oil on top of it and you can get a very soft and smooth stock. I find that Tru-oil alone gives the stock a dull and plain look whereas BLO first really gives it a great color. The BLO takes a while to dry whereas the Tru-oil only takes a few hours. Once you have a coat of Tru-oil on there you need to use some very fine steel wool to polish the finish with. I usually only do 2 or three coats of tru-oil and then if I decide I need it to be shinier I take some turtle car wax and buff it into the finish. That water proofs it even more and leaves it with a good smell and beautiful shine.

Birchwood is no more difficult to finish in my experience, but thats probably because I make things difficult no matter what I am doing. Here are a few that I did. 2 laminates and one walnut. The walnut was with Tru-oil only and I didn't much care for it so I started over with BLO. It was much much better.

fireman 9731
July 11, 2010, 01:38 AM
I hate to be the guy that always says to use the search function but this has been covered a lot and I don't feel like typing a short novel.

So, this should be plenty of reading for you :

July 11, 2010, 06:06 PM
I've had good luck with alcohol-based stains - soaks right in the birch. My problem is sometimes getting them too dark. Brownells carries Chestnut Ridge and R. Gale Lock alcohol-based stains. I learned this from CMP site below that refers to refinishing birch to mimic walnut - look at Section 6.4a below

July 12, 2010, 02:28 PM
Already did that, not a lot of info on birch - Thanks

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