I've been debating lately about refinishing my Mosin-Nagant 91/30. The shellac finish was somewhat beat up when I bought it. And since the gun really isn't worth all that much, I figured it was time to make it look like a firearm I'd be proud to pull out of the safe. While there are numerous threads about this topic here, I figured it would be nice to share my experience with everyone. I hope you enjoy.
Here's one of the first photos I took of the rifle, right after I brought it home:
A close-up of the typical damage to the finish these guns see:
The gun shoots fine, but I wanted it to finally look nice again. So, I began by stripping the finish off. After reading a lot of advice on paint and finish stripping products, I found the simple suggestion of just using denatured alcohol and steel wool to gently take the finish off of the wood. I gave it a shot, and it seemed to work really well. See for yourselves:
After letting it dry, I buffed the brass on the hand guard and hung the stock up using a wire so I could stain it. I used some General Finish Georgian Cherry gel stain to put some color to this stock. I think it turned out pretty nicely, so far.
I put two coats of stain on the stock, and still need to add clear coats on top of that. I'll post more pics after it's completely finished.
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October 23, 2011, 06:50 AM
Looks nice. Can't wait to see it finished.
I used paint thinner to strip mine, then sanded (stupidly, the rear barrel ring would slide out of position, but fixed now), but others who are interested, don't sand where the barrel springs are! I finished with Red Oak #219, and covered with 5 coats of Tung Oil. Here's a pic.
Yeah, I can't wait to post final pics. I have the second coat of satin wipe-on poly drying. I'm hoping to put 3-4 coats on it by the weekend, when I plan to take it out shooting. It's looking really nice. (To me, anyway!) It's my first attempt at refinishing anything, so I was a little nervous in the beginning. But it's really quite easy. It's just time-consuming.
I thought about rebluing the metal parts, but it looks like it's not really worth the time, effort, or expense. And the bluing isn't that bad, except for the butt plate and front sight.
October 24, 2011, 01:24 AM
Nice job on yours, too, by the way. Looks great!
October 24, 2011, 01:27 AM
ahh, wish my stock hadnt gotten cracked. Those both look good, looking forward to seeing yours finished MrSpiffy.....can i call you Spiff for short? :P
October 24, 2011, 02:33 AM
Just dont sand at all, unless your actually repairing the wood.
Stripping, staining and oiling requires no sanding at all.
October 24, 2011, 08:08 AM
Thank you! And Caribou, mine needed the sanding, just wish I hadn't sanded where the rings go. Stripping raised my grain horribly, so it needed it.
My Mosin was the first rifle I refinished as well, and it looks superb. My K31 I did at the same time, though the walnut didn't take the stain as well as I had hoped. I'm probably going to strip it and stain it to look blond.
October 24, 2011, 04:13 PM
LoonWulf, thanks. You sure can. :)
caribou, I did do some very minor sanding to smooth everything out just a tad. I wasn't able to find my stash of sandpaper, and only stumbled on some 400 and 600 grit paper. I did some very light sanding with the 400 grit, and that was it. I didn't want to really take any wood off of the stock. I can still see all of the arsenal markings on stock, which actually were accentuated by the darker stain, so they stand out more.
LJ, you might want to consider using a pre-stain conditioner. It may accept the stain more evenly, should you choose to refinish the K31 again.
October 24, 2011, 06:40 PM
Well it's weird, because even before any stain was applied to the wood, it had a shine to it. I know I got all the stain off because the paint thinner was a goofy shade of yellow, and I kept going over it until the drippings were clear (a lot of thinner). The Tung Oil evened out the stain pretty good, but the initial staining didn't look very good.
October 24, 2011, 10:33 PM
Sanding to repiar is not an issue, lifting grains and such will often later run as cracks.
The Soviet stain was reddish in color, gave the wood some nice tone occasionally.
I use BLO, unless theres varnish, seems to darken with time.
October 25, 2011, 01:28 AM
I just finished refinishing my 1935 Tula 91/30.
The amber colored shellac/varnish was flaking and starting to look pretty bad. Stripped it all off, did one stain application (mix of a couple different colors to my liking). The finish is Minwax "Tung Oil Finish" which isn't pure tung oil but has some dryers, varnish, etc in it. I apply the finish and while wet I wetsand with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper, buff dry with a cloth. I think 4 coats.
This gives some protection but doesn't get too glossy.
What did you use to strip the shellac finish and the K31 finish?
October 25, 2011, 02:20 AM
Sanding and removing material , unnecessarily, is "sacrilege", but preserving and protecting the arm is first rate.
If Im useing the gun hunting, I, and most locals, use black rustoleum paint for the guns I use in the ocean. It may be ugly, but I can strip the paint, as well as easily touch up the paint and know the gun underneath is better off for it. Later, someday, I can restore it.
The Varnish will wear away rather quickly, to be oiled anyway. The Varnish is to the wood is what the cosmoline was to the metal for storage.
If Im collecting, Ill repair, but not refinish, which is fairly normal.
I fully support useing that firearm.
October 25, 2011, 08:26 AM
That Mosin and K31 is beautiful, Dentite. I just wish your K31 was imported by Century rather than PW Arms. Century, on mine anyway, put their info on the reciever, less visibly, instead of on the rear sight.
October 25, 2011, 04:00 PM
Thanks for the nice words guys.
Dak0ta: I used a chemical stripper (Klean Strip is the brand, obtained at Home Depot, etc). It's thick so it allows you to put it on pretty thick to get good coverage. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection. I've gotten some on my arm and after a few seconds it starts to burn pretty good. Apply the stripper with a brush, let it do it's thing for 10 or so minutes (you can see the finish bubbling up) and rinse it off. Repeat if necessary. It works well and gets you down to bare wood pretty quick.
Of course after rinsing the wood is going to be wet so it'll need to dry for a day or so before moving to sanding/staining. While it's wet I did some steaming of the dents. Worked pretty good. I found that if the dent is stained within the dent, the stain will remain but the dent will raise and feel pretty flat to the touch. After steaming I give it a day to dry before any light sanding or staining.
October 26, 2011, 01:57 AM
Great job refinishing the pair, Dentite! While it may be "sacrilege" to some, I'd rather have a nice firearm to show off. Not a pile of dings, nicks, and dents. Like I posted earlier, my Mosin isn't really worth much anyway. It's certainly not what I would term a "collectible", what with the millions of these things out there. Why not make it look nice? I don't plan to get rid of it. And it may end up being my first deer rifle, should I choose to try hunting deer.
Just on a side note, I put my final coat of polyurethane on tonight. It's been 5 or 6 coats of the stuff, which should be plenty, I would imagine. The finish looks to be somewhere between satin and semi-gloss, which I think will look nice. I'll snap some photos tomorrow, give it another day or so to cure up, and then assemble it so I can shoot it this weekend.
October 26, 2011, 02:05 AM
MrSpiffy: Thanks. Sounds like yours is coming along nicely...I look forward to seeing the completed photos!
October 26, 2011, 11:28 AM
I took a few pics this morning. I think I'm done putting clear coat on, since it's been something like 5-6 coats now. I just plan to let it dry/cure for another day or so, and then assemble.
Well, today's the day I finally put the whole thing back together! I'm pretty excited to see it assembled again. Unfortunately, there's this thing called work that's holding me up, for the moment... *grumble, grumble... stupid work... grumble*
October 27, 2011, 09:30 PM
LOL If only we could get jobs to where we shot firearms all day... That'd be perfect.
October 27, 2011, 11:07 PM
LOL If only we could get jobs to where we shot firearms all day... That'd be perfect.
Be careful what you wish for. It might come true. :lol:
See how overjoyed this gent is with such a perfect job?
Well I was thinking more along the lines of being paid to fire and review firearms... But anyway, I tried to get into the military, but unfortunately some unfortunate circumstances led to me not being qualified for service, so yeah, lol.
October 27, 2011, 11:28 PM
And that gent doesn't look very happy, but that's probably because he was fighting a losing battle, :neener:.
October 28, 2011, 02:13 AM
Aaaaaand, here we go! Finished and assembled! :D
You can see it has a slightly glossy surface, from all the clear coats I put on it. I'd say it's a semi-gloss, at most. I buffed up the brass a little with my dremel, too. Putting it back together was interesting, since the polyurethane got into areas that parts should fit into. So, I had to scrape some of the excess polyurethane out of holes, nooks, and crannies to get the barrel band snaps and the recoil bolt back into place. But it really wasn't too difficult. Everything fits a little more snug, too, which may (or may not) improve how she shoots. Can't wait to try it out on Saturday!