Finshing a hickory stock


February 25, 2013, 10:05 PM
I have read so many threads on wood finishing my head hurts. I'm nearing completion of my laminated hickory rifle stock for my 96 swede.
I have been testing finishes on a second piece. Originally I planned to do tru-oil, but it's turning out lighter than I want. Is there something I can do to darken it up a bit? I know it's going to be a blonde stock, I just don't want it plain bright.
I'm open to other options too, but I do like the feel of the tru-oil.
FYI my test piece has three coats burnished with ooo steel wool between each.

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February 25, 2013, 10:12 PM


Well, I can say I would be very VERY hesitant to put a stain on it. Stains hit dense, coarse and open grained woods like that VERY hard. A few drops of Minwax and everyone will know you amateured-it, to be sure. It will come out looking like that "finish it yourself" oak furniture most folks try to dispose of at yard sales...:D Kind of like a blotchy, muddy zebra. As the open grain soaks up the pigment and the denser parts of the growth rings do not, you get the figure way exaggerated and, well, muddy.

The internet is chock full of pictures of guns this has happened to.

I do believe hickory can be fumed like oak, but that's a pretty uncommon technology these days. Probably would be the very best way to get the color and still have life and fire in the figure.

If you seal the wood well, you can then achieve acceptable results with stains, but they won't really darken up the tone very greatly because they can't get their pigments into the grain ... which is a good thing, but makes the progress slow.

A better bet may be to use analine dyes. There are some good instructions for using them properly on line, and if used well they can avoid some of the huge goofs of the "wipe on, wipe off" happy homeowner wood stains.

February 25, 2013, 10:39 PM
I might attemt to scorch it with a propane torch to get some color & grain "pop" in the light colored wood.

If you don't like the looks, you can sand it off and start over again.


Jim K
February 25, 2013, 10:41 PM
Sam1911's "Hickory ?" was my first reaction also.

But it sounds like you are committed, so I will give the advice I usually give on wood working questions, probably due to my near-total incompetence in working with wood.

Don't talk to a gunsmith. Talk to a woodworker, mainly one who makes or works on good quality furniture. There will usually be one or more in any good size city. Those guys know wood and how to work with it and finish it. Most are good guys who will take a reasonable amount of time to answer questions and give advice.


February 25, 2013, 11:02 PM
Talk to a woodworker;)


February 25, 2013, 11:07 PM
Oh, and your instincts for using a natural oil finish are spot on! Leave the varnish and polyurethane off. A good oil finish like TruOil is very good, or Tung oil, or Watco, or just regular purified aged linseed oil (I like Allback as probably the best on the market). That's a "real" gun stock finish, and gloss or sheen is produced by layers and elbow grease in rubbing it out.

But staining gets a lot of folks into deep trouble.

twice barrel
February 26, 2013, 08:06 AM
I would try hand rubbing boiled linseed oil if it were me. The resulting finish is beautiful and usually darker than some of the other oil finishes. Start with a heavy application but each day rub with less and less oil on your palm and rub until you feel the heat in your palm. If you're in a hurry this isn't the finish for you. If you care to test this you need to be a patient man. :D

February 26, 2013, 09:20 PM
Wow! Thanks for the ideas folks. I have a couple test pieces with a couple of your recommendations setting up as we speak. I still want to try the scorching, but it was just too nasty outside today for me to try it.
The fuming could be the ticket. I read a little more on it and found you can directly apply ammonia and get similar results. Now to find a source for industrial strength ammonia.

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February 26, 2013, 09:24 PM
Pics are a must :D :D :D

Tolkachi Robotnik
February 26, 2013, 10:45 PM
It will darken the stock, more over time. It will buff up nice as well if you rub it plenty. It is also pretty protective.

February 27, 2013, 05:36 AM
Remember, if you try fuming, you'll still want an oil finish on it once you have the color right.

February 27, 2013, 08:42 AM
Well, after talking to a local woodworker and finding it difficult to locate ammonia that is potent enough I decided to just do the tru-oil. My test piece was looking more satisfactory after 5-6 coats. I'll try to get some pics up tonight. By this evening I should have 3 coats rubbed in. I must say it's looking pretty good.

I got to thinking after talking with my dad (a wood worker) last night. This whole project was just one of those things I wanted to do to see if I could. It's still gonna be a hunting rifle. I think I'll be satisfied with the color.

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February 27, 2013, 09:05 AM
Good decision (IMO). Simple is better and that hickory should darken with age. Waiting for the pics.

February 28, 2013, 08:08 AM
Well, here's the pic for now. As of this morning it has four coats of tru-oil on it. I think I'll put on two more and call it good. After I get the rifle all put together I'll get some more and hopefully better pics.

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February 28, 2013, 09:46 AM
Wow! Purty!

February 28, 2013, 09:32 PM
Here we go! All that's left is bedding and studs for sling swivels / bipod, and a butt pad. If you look closely the action is sticking up in back. It's actually tipping forward a bit. I've already hogged out for my acraglas gel bedding.
Nevermind the laundry and girl scout cookies. It's also camouflaged when in my kitchen. :D

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March 2, 2013, 05:54 PM
Man, as straight grained as that is, it will be strong enough to beat em to death if not shot. lol btw it is really my kind of stock thumbhole and all. Really like the color too.

Mosin Bubba
March 2, 2013, 06:40 PM
That is a stock to be proud of.

March 2, 2013, 10:08 PM
wow !!!!! nice job!

El Mariachi
March 2, 2013, 10:20 PM
Do NOT take that to your kid's Little League games....:rolleyes:

March 3, 2013, 08:28 AM
Do NOT take that to your kid's Little League games....:rolleyes:

Lol! Neither of my girls play ball, but the thought had occurred to me that I could beat something to death with it should the need arise.
A little bummed today. Went to bed the action yesterday and found that I should have used regular acraglas instead of the gel. It didn't fill in well. Have to grind some out and give it another shot. Grrr!! Other than that, it's all done.

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Tolkachi Robotnik
March 3, 2013, 09:04 PM
How much does it weigh? Hickory can be pretty heavy compared to walnut and birch. It should be plenty strong.

March 3, 2013, 10:20 PM
How much does it weigh? Hickory can be pretty heavy compared to walnut and birch. It should be plenty strong.

Well, my rifle unloaded went from 9.2 pounds to 11 pounds. :o It's a good thing I'm not a small guy. :D
May have to put two slings on it so I can wear it like a backpack...

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March 3, 2013, 10:59 PM
Did you make that stock yourself from scratch?

March 3, 2013, 11:01 PM
Feinstein would classify this as an "assault bolt-action rifle" based on that evil-looking pistol grip stock.


March 4, 2013, 06:29 AM
Yes, I made it from scratch. Well, I didn't grow or cut the tree, but aside from that...

I didn't think about the whole assault rifle thing. Maybe if I got rid of the finger grooves and rounded it off better it wouldn't be as likely to run out my front door and hurt people. :rolleyes:

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March 5, 2013, 09:34 PM
And it still shoots! Not overly thrilled with the results, but @275 yds. With 16-25 mph winds I'm not upset either. Can't wait to get out on a nice day and test some loads.

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March 5, 2013, 11:57 PM
Thats not bad for first range time. Give it a better day out there, you'll do alright, beautiful rifle !

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