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Help refinishing K31 rifle stock

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by epijunkie67, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. epijunkie67

    epijunkie67 Active Member

    Apr 21, 2004
    East TN
    I have a K31 Swiss rifle that shoots great but I wanted to refinish the stock, and maybe the rest of the rifle as well. The butt end of the stock is beat to hell with divits of wood chunked out of the sides near the end. I've heard you can use a steam iron to get the wood there to swell but I've never tried this before. I considered just getting wood filler but I'm afraid it won't match the rest of the stock when it's all done.

  2. WayneConrad

    WayneConrad Senior Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    My preference is to carefully clean the wood and then add a finish, but not attempt to remove or fill any dents or dings except those that actually broke the wood fibers, and do only the lightest sanding, being careful to preserve the curves, angles, and cartouche of the stock. My goal is to stabilize the wood to arrest damage, not to make it look new. A Shellac or other suitable finish will make those defects quite beautiful, similar to the "distressed" look now popular in wood flooring. Like the wrinkles of an aging elder, they are the honest marks of time and add, not subtract, from the rifle's beauty.

    I read that K31's ended up stacked in snow and mud, and that the manual of arms included bouncing the butt of the rifle off of the rifleman's boots. No wonder so many of the stocks look like a beaver made a meal out of them.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2006
  3. Azrael256

    Azrael256 Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Steaming will get rid of a whole lot of the stock dings. Dionysusigma did some refinishing work on mine using an upholstery steamer. It took out most of the dings, except the few that actually damaged the wood. Luckily, the really bad ones were very shallow.

    As for the finish... I wouldn't use any kind of shellac or varnish. Nothing really wrong with them, I just don't care for that level of shiny. Linseed oil will help the wood. A friend clued me in on a concoction of linseed oil, vinegar, and turpentine that added a great deal of depth to the wood. It really brought out the grain. Daily application for a week or so will do nicely. The proportions aren't super important, but it's something like 50% linseed oil, 30% turpentine, and 20% vinegar. Mine doesn't look new by any stretch, but it looks clean and well aged.

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