Proper wood stock cleaning - surplus rifle


November 26, 2010, 02:36 PM
Got a surplus rifle coming my way - what is the best way to clean the wooden stock?

In the past I have just used gun oil, which takes off some of the storage dirt and does not damage the stock.
Not interested in any kind of restauration, just the right way to get them clean and ready for the gun range again...

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November 26, 2010, 02:42 PM
I use Lemon Oil Furniture polish and 0000 (Extra Fine) steel wool.

It will take all the old grit & grime off without harming the remaining factory wood finish in the slightest.
It's made for fine furnature afterall.

Unlike gun oil, it is harmless to wood, or wood finish.
(In otherwords, DO NOT use gun oil on wood, period.)


November 26, 2010, 02:50 PM
does not damage the stockIf gun oil gets past the finish and into the wood fibers,it most certainly will harm the stock.

November 26, 2010, 03:10 PM
If it's just cosmoline on the finish, it will come off pretty easily with rags or at most a quick wash with hot soapy water (and a very prompt and complete drying). If there's no finish the cosmoline may have penetrated into the wood and will be leaching out for ages. There are a number of fixes for that, none of them particularly easy or satisfactory.

November 26, 2010, 11:41 PM
I have had good results with this:

I have bought it at Bond Auto Supply but Sem told me many professional auto supply outlets carry their products.

Shadow 7D
November 27, 2010, 12:10 AM has alot of articles and an entire second dedicated to just that question.

November 27, 2010, 01:07 AM
I just use the Orange Pledge spray and a rag with some good ole' elbow grease for my stocks. If your going to be removing cosmoline, or grime, buildup, etc, I would reccomend looking at a more heavy-duty solution as stated above, like steel wool or cleaner specifically made for what you need to remove.

November 27, 2010, 02:21 AM
I have a full detailed set of instructions from SurplusRifle... I've used them several times.

November 27, 2010, 02:35 AM
Don't use Dawn Power Dissolver if you just want to clean it. That's the stuff I use to STRIP stocks. Works great for that, but the finish will go bye-bye.

November 27, 2010, 05:49 AM
If it's cosomoline soaked, I first take off all the metal and clean them off with paint thinner.
I then take a cloth that's soaked in the stuff and give a brief scrubbing of the wood.
Then, take a cheapie towel, wrap it around the stock, cover that bit in a trash bag and toss the entire burrito in the trunk on a hot day.

Oh, that and shoot it a lot.

The last one seems to have done the trick for me, although I can honestly say that my Mosin was 'sweating' for about the first thousand rounds.

November 27, 2010, 07:49 AM
Got a surplus rifle coming my way - what is the best way to clean the wooden stock?

What kind of finish is currently on the wood?

November 27, 2010, 09:23 AM
Surplus = military issue = what finish?

All the surplus rifles I've handled had some stain put on the white walnut outerwood used to cut the material cost, any further finishing was done by the user with gun oil or the environment. Usually floor wax. That would get stripped when their First Line Leader smelled it in the field.

Wood military stocks don't get much of anything except a wipe down with the same rag the action was wiped down with. The grime is also known as patina, and I question if it should be removed at all if that is the way it came into possession. Removing patina on a rare collector firearm is a guaranteed way to lower the value.

If you know for a fact it's just another shooter like a 100,000 others, still, be careful. Wood stains can be removed by a lot of stuff, the original dark stain and dull look can be quickly ruined when the result is a bright yellow with gloss. Not military at all.

November 27, 2010, 10:29 AM
Gun oil won't hurt the wood, though it might darken it if it soaks in, but even that's unlikely. If the stock is one of those dark, cosmoline soaked monsters, there are lots of articles around on how to remove the cosmo and re-oil with something a little more pleasant to handle. If it's a mosin with a shellaced stock then just don't worry about it, no lemon oil or heaven knows what needed.

Stock "maintenance" is something for the owner to enjoy, not something that actually protects the stock. Most guns in the US live in safes 99% of the time and would do just fine as raw wood.

November 27, 2010, 12:56 PM
Gun oil won't hurt the wood, though it might darken it if it soaks in, but even that's unlikely.I simply cannot agree.

I have repaired way too many old Winchester stocks that were oil soaked from years of owners squirting sewing machine oil in the action and standing them in a corner for the oil to drain down into the stock and ruin the wood.

Cosmoline doesn't get a chance to penetrate much deeper then it did when the gun was dipped in it because it is too thick once it cools.

Gun oil just keeps following the grain down deep inside and will eventually soften the wood and ruin it.


November 27, 2010, 03:49 PM
Non polymerizing oils may darken with age, but they won't soften the wood. You're going to have to come up with something scientific before I'll believe that one. It sounds like the examples you've seen have been grossly over oiled in any case, I don't think I've ever used so much oil on an action that it would run down and soak into the stock in any kind of quantity.

Most of the lemon oils and similar stuff that you are recommending are little more than light mineral oil (ie gun oil/sewing machine oil) with a little citrus smell added and if you're really lucky a bit of paraffin wax. Such products are designed to go on top of a cured finish and fill light scratches with oil and wax, thus temporarily improving the appearance. They do nothing for the longevity of the cured finish.

November 27, 2010, 11:57 PM
You did not say which surplus rifle? Most were treated with BLO at the factory as far as I know. What they got after that in the field is any ones guess? I'd wait until you get it and then post pictures and what it feels like. There are a few optional ways to go here, depending on what it was "maintained" with?

November 28, 2010, 08:35 AM
BLO, Tung oil, shellac, all have been used on mil-surps. You need to know the original finish to decide on how to clean the wood. Most use BLO as the original finish. To clean those use a 50/50 mix of BLO and turpentine with some 000 steel/brass wool to scrub them down. Then finish off with a few coats of BLO.

November 28, 2010, 08:59 AM
What is BLO? Boiled Linseed oil?

November 28, 2010, 09:53 AM
Yes, BLO is boiled linseed oil...madcratebuilder hit it on the nail. You have to know a little bit whats on the stock first. I've cleaned some milsurps that weren't to bad with Murphy's Soap, then Tung Oil, Tung Oil also cleans as you rub it in. If its got cosmoline on it you have to go with something else first.....lots of methods for that as some have suggested...then you get into wether you want to just stip everything down an refinish an how....lots of info here for that to. I'm going with rcmodel on not putting oil on wood, I've read too many threads from guys who refinish that will tell you it harms the grains in the wood. No scientific documents to back it.....

dagger dog
November 28, 2010, 10:08 AM
Naphtha, will not harm the wood and evaporates very fast, you have to soak the wood, which means in a full stock, a great quanity. But you can reuse it also.
Finding a vessel that will let the stock submerge in the liquid, might be a problem with some stocks.

Plain gasoline works well too, and is a lot cheaper.

Soak all the wood parts over night, then wipe with absorbent rags until dry to the touch, you may have to repeat, to get the oil out to the surface where it can be removed by wiping, then WHEN YOUR SURE THE VAPORS ARE GONE,use a hair dryer or heat gun to bring more oil to the surface, and remove with a solvent dampened rag.

It may take 6-8 cycles, but you can get the wood back to it's natural state before the finish was applied, then you can sand and apply your favorite finish.

November 28, 2010, 05:45 PM
Not to sound like the THR fire marshall, but keep in mind when using products such as Naptha and Gasoline, these are extremely flammable and will produce flammable vapors. Use in a well ventilated area; certainly no place where you may have a source of combustion such as your water heater, furnace, shop heater, etc. And no smoking, either.

Boiled linseed oil can also spontaneously ignite, including rags.

So, I know you've heard this a million times over, but just a reminder to make sure everyone gets through the process in one piece.

Aren't we all
November 28, 2010, 07:23 PM
Is a drastic clean really needed? Whenever someone starts mentioning sanding and steel wool. I gets a little nervioso.. The most I do to surplus guns is rub them down with wax and or petroleum jelly, both of which protect, especially shellac a la mosin-nagant.

November 28, 2010, 07:42 PM
Using 0000 steel wool isn't "drastic" cleaning. Mil-surps often have a thick layer of grime on them and steel wool is a very good way to remove it(with a cleaner). If it is cosmoline soaked I only use odorless mineral spirits. It is flammable but considerably less so than gasoline.

November 28, 2010, 08:15 PM
Cosmoline doesn't get a chance to penetrate much deeper then it did when the gun was dipped in it because it is too thick once it cools.

"once it cools" being the operative phrase. A lot of the unfinished cosmo'd rifles were apparently stored in less than ideal conditions and did get hot enough to get gooey. Multiply that by decades in some arsenal in Turkey, Yugoslavia or wherever and you have some serious infiltration of the grain.

Ignition Override
November 28, 2010, 09:44 PM
What would you use on a classic Enfield "Jungle Carbine", which has the yellow stock and looks 'bone dry'?

There are probably one or two very similar #5s at "Joesalter", which is where my first came from.

November 29, 2010, 07:50 AM
What would you use on a classic Enfield "Jungle Carbine", which has the yellow stock and looks 'bone dry'?

With the metal removed from the wood ...

First round, I would use a de-oiled ½biscuit of 0000 steelwool dipped in a ~3:1 BLO:MS mixture to thoroughly scrub the surface. Afterwards I would wipe off the resulting GOO, buff the wood with a clean rag and put it in front of a fan in a low-RH place for a day.

If at the end of that time it appeared to need more, I would apply hand-rubbed apps of the BLO, rubbing vigorously and letting sit for 15-30 minutes before GOO removal, buffing and fan-time.

I would repeat as required.

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