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How to do the World's best oil finish

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by dfariswheel, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    I hate doing wood work and especially stock refinishing, but over a 30 year career and for person use I was forced to do so enough to finally find a GOOD oil finish that looks like a real custom oil finish should look like.

    Here's my directions to get a true custom gun oil finish with the "egg shell satin finish" that everyone talks about, but which you almost never actually see:

    Do all sanding, staining, and whiskering.

    Buy a pint can of Minwax Antique Oil Finish:

    I have no idea what's in this stuff, but it drys to the absolute HARDEST, waterproof and solvent-proof finish I've ever seen, with the possible exception of an epoxy finish like Remington's "Bowling pin" finish.
    This stuff is totally unaffected by lacquer thinner when fully hardened, and unlike tung and linseed oils, on a hot day a sweaty face on the stock won't raise the grain.

    Here's how I apply it.
    First, do as the directions on the can specify, by applying a thin coat, allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to get sticky, then buff off with a clean, lint-free cloth.
    An old linen sheet works great.
    Let dry 24 hours, then apply again.
    I put on 3 coats this way.
    This starts to fill the grain, and speeds drying for the later steps.

    After three coats as a sealer, apply a thin coat and allow to dry BONE DRY on the surface.
    This may take 24 hours or more, and in some cases of really open grain wood, the first may not dry at all.
    Using finer steel wool, steel wool the finish off the wood. As you steel wool, the surface coat will turn "muddy" looking so you can see it.
    Be careful around proof stamps and sharp edges to not round edges off or thin stamps.

    After steel wooling the stock down to bare wood, clean the stock with brushes or compressed air, then apply another coat, allow to dry and steel wool off.
    Continue this until the grain of the wood is 100% FULL, and you can see NO open grain.
    When held up to a light and sighted along the grain, open grain will look like tiny scratches in the surface.

    Usually 4 coats will fill all but the most open grain.
    After the last coat is steel wooled off, THOROUGHLY clean the wood.
    Then, apply a thin coat and allow to stand for several minutes until it starts to get sticky.
    Using several clean cloth pads thoroughly buff the surface until all traces of finish are off.
    This is a "color coat" that will give the bare wood more of a color without any build up on the surface.
    After buffing, allow the wood to age out and fully harden for 3 to 4 days.

    After aging, buy some new burlap at a fabric store, and make a small pad from several layers.
    Briskly buff the wood to burnish the surface and bring out the egg shell luster.

    The advantages of the Minwax Oil finish are:
    It's HARD and incredibully tough.
    It's water and solvent proof.
    It can be repaired or overhauled by adding more oil and buffing.
    Scratches can be filled by coating and steel wooling again.
    It's a REAL oil finish that looks like those seen on British double guns and American custom rifles.
    It's a life time finish that never has to be done over ever again.
    All the finish is IN the wood, not ON it so it looks like an original.

    Here's a 1950 Marlin 39-A I'm in the process of restoring. The stock was originally an oil finish that was varnished some time in the past.
    I scraped the old varnish off, lightly sanded it and finished as above with Minwax Antique finish.
    The stock shows a perfectly smooth surface with no open grain at all, and has a extremely smooth, velvety feel.



  2. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    That's really smooth and attractive dfariswheel! Good work! :)
  3. Plink

    Plink Well-Known Member

    Wow, that does make for an excellant looking finish. I've never tried that. I've got several stock projects coming up and I'm definately going to try it. Thanks. :)
  4. mrmeval

    mrmeval Well-Known Member

    MSDS says it contains

    says it contains
    Cobalt 2-ethylhexanoate 000136-52-7 0.2%
    Solvent naphtha, petroleum, medium aliphatic 064742-88-7 65%

    MSDS for Cobalt 2-ethylhexanoate is here.

    Also do you know what astroturfing is?
  5. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    Looks awesome.:cool:
  6. mrmeval

    mrmeval Well-Known Member

    Sorry if that sounded curt. It is an excellent finish. I need one for an old Western Field shotgun stock I've stripped and sanded and will try it.
  7. hooks

    hooks Well-Known Member

    ohhh, man he's got a lever gun.. Model 71? the fact it's on a lever gun makes it twice as nice.....That finish really is georgous Dfariswheel. a job well done. Thanks for the tutorial. :)
  8. Plink

    Plink Well-Known Member

    Has anyone tried the Sam Maloof finish? It sounds like it turns out pretty similar without much work. Sure does make for a pretty finish. I'm curious about it but don't know anyone who uses it.
  9. As a first step, how do you apply it? Natural bristle paint brush? Or is the stuff water soluble?
  10. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    It sure as Hell is NOT water soluble.
    Clean up is with paint thinner.
    It's like a medium weight oil.

    I've used brushes, a paper towel or cloth pad, and in one gooey case, my fingers to smear it on.

    Again, follow the can directions for the first three "sealer" coats.
    Apply a medium coat, allow to dry 5 to 10 minutes, then buff off with a lint-free cloth.
    Let dry 24 hours.

    After the first three coats, apply a thin coat and let dry bone dry, steel wool off, and repeat until the wood is full.
    You want a coat just thick enough that it won't run.
    As the wood pores fill up, it drys faster.
    The last few coats dry so fast, depending on the weather, you can put two to three coats on during a long day.
  11. 230HB

    230HB Member

    Thanks for the tips Farris. I have a stock I`m about ready to redo for an 1891 Argentine and I`m going to go along with your method. By the way ... great looking job you did.
  12. g17

    g17 Active Member

    That finish looks great. Thanks for the tips
  13. 10X

    10X Well-Known Member

    That sounds a whole lot easier than boiled linseed oil. I am always fighting runs and stuff floating through the air that wants to stick to the stock.

    Your works looks beautiful.
  14. Robert Hairless

    Robert Hairless Well-Known Member

    Can it be applied over a Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil finish? Or must it be applied on bare wood only?
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Doesn't that antique Danish style oil have stains in it? For good wood I like straight BLO better.
  16. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    Robert Hairless:

    You have to remove all old finishes so the Minwax can soak into the wood.
    Minwax is what Tru-Oil was supposed to be.

    Minwax USED to sell the Antique Oil finish with a walnut stain mixed in. Apparently they've discontinued it, and now sell only the clear finish.

    Give this stuff a try. It's MUCH better, harder, and tougher than any linseed oil, and is far more waterproof.
  17. Robert Hairless

    Robert Hairless Well-Known Member

    Thanks, dfariswheel. As luck would have it I've just completed a refinish with Tru-Oil. Next time, though, I'll use your method. I trust you.
  18. Firehand

    Firehand Well-Known Member

    I'm giving this a try now. Stock has the color coat on and has another day to dry before I hit it with the burlap. It's done a beautiful job of filling the grain, I think it'll finish out a beautifully as you say.

    Good stuff and a good method.
  19. mustang_gt_350

    mustang_gt_350 Well-Known Member

    i can't see the pic?
  20. Jenrick

    Jenrick Well-Known Member

    Quick question, I basically start applying this stuff in place of a wood filler, then continue on from there? Reason I'm asking Is I'm hitting the hardware store tommorow and trying to figure out if I need wood filler as well.



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