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Alright, calling you stock finishing experts!

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mshootnit, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    I am 3 coats of boiled linseed oil into a project and I want to have that subtle "hint" of red to the stock color. The stock is American walnut on an M1a. I have the straight brown color going now, or maybe what you would call amber-brown. No red to be seen except when its "wet" with oil as I am rubbing. I really (and I mean really) prefer that small hint of red in the color. Is this a function of just adding more coats of BLO or do I need to add in another oil? Now I am not talking major red like stain, I am just talking the nice subtle old hint of red color you see when the light hits the grain. Any thoughts?
     
  2. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    PS any general advice on this project is appreciated! I got the stock thinking it could use a few coats of BLO and I have been heating up the BLO till it was barely touchable, then hand rubbing into the wood, wiping down and putting away. I have burnished the stock twice with 0000 steel wool to smooth it out some. On the right track? I have been playing it by ear doing what seems best at the time. Now mind you I am working around the metal prefering not to take the rifle apart at this time where it is factory bedded.
     
  3. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    I "think" that on the next coat of BLO, you should add some red stain to the BLO. I got a birch stock to that shade your talking about by staining red last, before putting the sealer on. Hopefully, there are some more experienced folks that will chime in.
     
  4. paducahrider

    paducahrider Member

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    Howdy!
    There are many ways to accomplish your goal.
    First, you must determine if you want the finish IN the wood or ON the wood.
    Old-time oil finishes were allowed to penetrate into the wood, and fill the pores, while newer finishes are more likely to be an external finish.
    If your going for the new finish, the tint can be easily applied as the top coat, since it will not penetrate into the wood to any great extent.
    However, if you are going the more traditional route, with an oil finish, as you seem to have indicated, the tint should be either applied to the bare wood before oiling, as a stain, or in the form of a tinted finishing oil.
    I would definitely take the stock off the rifle, as you can get a lot of steel wool bits into the action even if careful, plus, it's almost, if not impossible, not to get finish onto the barrel and action, and between it and the stock, which can harden up like glue later, and make disassembly difficult.
    Since you've already started the process, you must ask yourself if you want to start over.
    If not, one solution would be to tint your own oil (artist supply houses, like Hobby Lobby have tinting agents) or hit the net and find some pre-64 Winchester finishing oil (I've recently seen it on ebay, and it was once called "red oil"), which has a slight reddish tint to it. This can be applied many ways, but, since it aint cheap, it's wise to rub it into the stock sparingly. It doesn't take much (except elbow grease, of course!), but expect to apply many coats, then cut them back off (The old timers, and Roy Dunlap, used raw linseed oil, cut with burlap, ACROSS THE GRAIN, to cut off the first coats and fill the pores) this is VERY time consuming and HARD WORK. The wood pores, if done this way properly, will be filled, forever, and the finish, in the eyes of traditionalists (like me) will be part of the wood, rather than a superficial coating. It will weather well and is easily touched up. (#0000 steel wool will work for the cutting off process, but can leave scratches)
    By the way: commercial paint store BOILED LINSEED OIL is NOT the best type of oil for gunstocks. Artist supply houses (HOBBY LOBBY again) has much more highly refined oils which work better. Don't fall into the trap of adding "driers" to speed up the process, as some are toxic, and won't do what you probably want anyway.
    A quicker method, which works fine with many folks, is to use "tung oil" to fill the pores because it dries quickly and can reduce the number of coats. One problem with tung oil is that a measurable percentage of people are allergic to it, and will be affected when they snuggle that warm stock up to their cheek.
    Some apply a few coats of linseed (or even the proprietary :Linspeed Oil"), by rubbing them onto the tung oil surface, with high pressure, as this will cause the finish to SHINE!!
    The English method, supposedly used at Purdy, was to soak the stock in hot oil, ALLOW IT TO THICKEN, THEN cut it off with burlap, check on pore filling, then do it again(and again and again,etc,,,) if needed, until it suited the maker. This took weeks.
    One more thing: any wood will look good if you prepare it properly first. That means using the proper methods to give the wood that last touch, BEFORE the finish is applied. Some finishers stop sanding with #600 wet or dry sandpaper, but, take my advice and visit an auto paint supply house and introduce yourself to #1000, #1500, #2000 and #2500 grit sandpapers, if you want a truly sensual experience when you feel the sanded wood.
    Fingers, rubbed across wood, sanded with #600 grit, can be HEARD.
    Fingers, rubbed across wood, sanded with #2500 grit are QUIET, because it's so much smoother, and creates less friction. You WILL notice the difference, and nothing will ever be the same, when it comes to finishing.
    The tiny scratches, from #600, will eventually resurface, sometimes years later, especially if the pores are not filled properly (which they seldom are), but the #2500 grit is FAR smoother, because of tinier scratches.
    Finishing is FUN, but it is also very time consuming.
    The good thing is that the principles are very simple
    It's just a matter of patience, and more patience, and,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Good Luck.
    Thanks for your time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  5. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    when you say "cut them off with burlap" do you mean rubbing the dry stock with burlap across the grain between coats?
     
  6. paducahrider

    paducahrider Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    139
    Howdy!
    There are many ways to accomplish your goal.
    First, you must determine if you want the finish IN the wood or ON the wood.
    Old-time oil finishes were allowed to penetrate into the wood, and fill the pores, while newer finishes are more likely to be an external finish.
    If your going for the new finish, the tint can be easily applied as the top coat, since it will not penetrate into the wood to any great extent.
    However, if you are going the more traditional route, with an oil finish, as you seem to have indicated, the tint should be either applied to the bare wood before oiling, as a stain, or in the form of a tinted finishing oil.
    Since you've already started the process, you must ask yourself if you want to start over.
    If not, one solution would be to tint your own oil (artist supply houses, like Hobby Lobby have tinting agents) or hit the net and find some pre-64 Winchester finishing oil (I've recently seen it on ebay, and it was once called "red oil"), which has a slight reddish tint to it. This can be applied many ways, but, since it aint cheap, it's wise to rub it into the stock sparingly. It doesn't take much (except elbow grease, of course!), but expect to apply many coats, then cut them back off (The old timers, and Roy Dunlap, used raw linseed oil, cut with burlap, ACROSS THE GRAIN, to cut off the first coats and fill the pores) this is VERY time consuming and HARD WORK. The wood pores, if done this way properly, will be filled, forever, and the finish, in the eyes of traditionalists (like me) is part of the wood, rather than a superficial coating. It will weather well and is easily touched up.
    By the way: commercial paint store BOILED LINSEED OIL is NOT the best type of oil for gunstocks. Artist supply houses (HOBBY LOBBY again) has much more highly refined oils which work better. Don't fall into the trap of adding "driers" to speed up the process, as some are toxic, and won't do what you probably want anyway.
    A quicker method, which works fine with many folks, is to use "tung oil" to fill the pores, dries quickly and can reduce the number of coats. One problem with tung oil is that a measurable percentage of people are allergic to it, and will be affected when they snuggle that warm stock up to their cheek.
    Some apply a few coats of linseed (or even the proprietary :Linspeed Oil"), by rubbing them onto the tung oil surface, with high pressure, as this will cause the wood to SHINE!!
    The English method, supposedly used at Purdy, was to soak the stock in hot oil, ALLOW IT TO THICKEN, THEN cut it off with burlap, check on pore filling, then do it again(and again and again,etc,,,) if needed, until it suited the maker. This took weeks.
    One more thing: any wood will look good if you prepare it properly first. That means using the proper methods to give the wood that last touch, BEFORE the finish is applied. Some finishers stop sanding with #600 wet or dry sandpaper, but, take my advice and visit an auto paint supply house and introduce yourself to #1000, #1500, #2000 and #2500 grit sandpapers, if you want a truly sensual experience when you feel the sanded wood.
    Fingers, rubbed across wood, sanded with #600 grit, can be HEARD.
    Fingers, rubbed across wood, sanded with #2500 grit are QUIET, because it's so much smoother, and creates less friction. You WILL notice the difference, and nothing will ever be the same, when it comes to finishing.
    The tiny scratches, from #600, will eventually resurface, sometimes years later, especially if the pores are not filled properly (which they seldom are), but the #2500 grit is FAR smoother, because of tinier scratches.
    Finishing is FUN, but it is also very time consuming.
    The good thing is that the principles are very simple
    It's just a matter of patience, and more patience, and,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Good Luck.
    Thanks for your time.
     
  7. paducahrider

    paducahrider Member

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    Howdy.
    Yes, "Cutting off" means rubbing it across the grain, but the stock is not exactly dry.
    My old finishing books call for the oil to be thickly applied, left to thicken (but not harden) to where you can wrinkle it up by pushing on it across the grain with your thumb, before cutting off.
    If you cut it off too soon, it will be too thin and more of it will be removed before it soaks into the wood and fills the pores, thus prolonging the process. At best, it will take several applications. Thicker coats are harder to remove, and you will find that the steel wool will stick to the finish if not pushed hard enough, but, once you get the hang of it, the result(properly filled pores) will help create a much more durable finish with more depth.
    Thanks for your time.
     
  8. desidog

    desidog Member

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    Paducahrider is right on.

    However, I'd add that if you're going to actually shoot it; don't go overboard.... i spent a lot of time on my M1A stock, so much so that dinging it hurts me deep down; i had to buy a cheap synthetic GI stock for bushwacking.

    I also got a M1A handguard in walnut from brownells for it. it looks gooood without the brown plasticy thing on top.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Kentucky_Rifleman

    Kentucky_Rifleman Member

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    That's how I ended up with my wife :rolleyes:

    I've never used BLO before, so I can't help you with that. I would say that if you have to back up and start over, consider Tung Oil. I tint the raw wood before applying the first coat of TO using Minwax stain. I let that cure for 24 hours, then start with the TO. I'll admit TO is a pain to work with at the outset. It takes a full day for a thin coat to cure completely, and with the first 2 or 3 coats it can be a longer cure time because the wood drinks so much of it in.

    After 3 coats though, it's simple. Just rag it on and let it dry for a day. I like to steel wool just enough to knock off any grain the TO raises, then wipe clean and apply a new coat.

    I typically use 12 - 15 coats, depending on the porousness of the grain. The benefit to Tung Oil is that it's an "in-the-wood" finish and hard as nails when fully cured. It's easily the toughest wood finish I've dealt with.

    Here is a little Remington .22 Scoremaster I reworked. The photos don't do the little rifle justice.

    KR
     

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  10. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    If you keep working with the BLO you well need to add color to it. Current BLO has driers and other petroleum products added to increase the gloss. If you want a BLO finish similar to the old war time stocks look for a product sold as PLO(purified linseed oil) it's much closer to the BLO of old. Found at custom wood boat supply houses.

    If working with BLO thin the first few coats 50/50 with turpentine as it well increase the penetration of the oil and speed drying time.

    BLO well darken and develop a red tint as it ages.

    I use Tung oil on my newer mil stuff. It takes about twenty coats to fill the pours and it stabilizes the wood making it much harder on the surface, plus it's a easy touch-up if you scratch the stock.

    This is a SA stock with Tung oil.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. USSR

    USSR Member

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    You mean like this?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This stock was done with a stain that I developed, which is listed in the For Sale part of this website.

    Don
     
  12. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

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    The red tint is a result of the finish aging.
    I highly prefer tung oil to BLO. Here's a Garand that I just completed. Multiple coats of tung on a new walnut stock set.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. navajo

    navajo Member

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    finish

    Good advice here.
    Check the CMP site, they tell you how to get close to the patina of the Garand.
    Check differents site. Good step by step photo instructions.
     
  14. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    those are some very nice pics. Considering that I am on coat #5 maybe I could keep steel wooling and working more coats in. Sounds like I may need to go to PLO or Tung oil to finish out!
     
  15. Shung

    Shung Member

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    I used to use a read TEA in the warm oil.. gives the thing the needed colour.
     
  16. fireman 9731

    fireman 9731 Member

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    I used to use BLO then I found Tru-oil. I will never go back to BLO. Tru-oil dries much faster and harder. And it is easier to work with.

    Birchwood Casey also has tons of stuff made specifically for stock finishing, and they have lots of good instructions.

    http://www.birchwoodcasey.com/sport/index.html
     
  17. PzGren

    PzGren Member

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    Well, thanks for writing this up and taking the time to share your knowledge and experience.

    I am using BLO since a long time, it was already used in the Wehrmacht for the K98k, and if it is applied properly, it will give much more than surface protection like so many other products. It will penetrate the wood and harden the surface as well.

    Just like rust blueing, treatment with BLO is a simple, time proven procedure with long lasting results, inexpensive yet labor intensive.
     
  18. CZguy

    CZguy Member

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    I agree, after decades of trying everything else, I've come full circle and prefer BLO.
     
  19. paducahrider

    paducahrider Member

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    Howdy!
    I agree with CZguy and PzGren,
    I have tried many other methods over the years (decades actually), and concluded a long time ago that boiled linseed oil gives the wood a deeper, more protective and, let's be frank, a richer look than the others.
    I've sprayed, rubbed, dipped and brushed just about every kind of finish available (including the one using egg whites and lemon juice for filler), and, some work fine but seem to have a negative aspect of some sort.
    The "modern" super high-gloss finishes just leave me cold, and, if scratched are a pain to repair. They are as much a tribute to a man with a buffer as anything else. Add to the fact that some modern stocks, with beautiful "grain" are not actually wood at all, but a photo of a piece of wood, glued to a composition stock with as much grain as a paper grocery sack.
    Oil can be made to shine also (check into French polishing for a beautiful, but almost useless stock finish), but, once you see and FEEL a well done oiled stock, nothing else measures up.
    The downside of oil is the preparation of the wood (which, to be honest, should be done correctly with any finish) and the simple labor involved.
    It's truly a labor of love, but, in my eyes, well worth it.
    The materials are cheap but the results are definitely RICH, which is the opposite of other methods, from my point of view.
    I swear that oiled stocks actually feel warmer to me, but I may be just a bit biased.
    Thanks for your time
     
  20. PzGren

    PzGren Member

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    Indeed! Some finishes took me weeks, or rather months. I also tried all kind of finishes. England and Germany have traditional oil finishes commercially available, that need to be rubbed in with the hand and give great results, too. That is what is used by the expensive custom rifle makers in Europe.

    Since hunting in Germany is not a sport for the financially distressed, hunting rifles and shotguns that cost over $5,000 are not rare at all but rather the norm. The good ones all have a hand rubbed oil finish. The warmth that develops while rubbing the oil in, gives the best penetration.

    It also takes very long and requires patience but it will last long with a beautiful finish that will not scratch easily and not show ugly scratches.
     
  21. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    6 coats of boiled linseed oil now and thrice burnished with steel wool. Starting to get to the point that I feel good about it. Not sure how much more I want to do. Its starting to look like satin and feel smooth...
     
  22. paducahrider

    paducahrider Member

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    mshootnit,
    NOW your getting the idea.
    If I had to critique the failures of most stock finishers (amateurs or professionals) it would not be the "finish", but the "middle".
    Shaping the stock comes at the beginning.
    Smoothing the stock (scraping and/or sanding) comes in the middle.
    Finishing the stock comes just as it's name states: it's at the finish.
    Under-sanding is common, and shows up as file or other coarse marks that no amount of finish will hide, and gloss finishes will make worse.
    Over-sanding creates rounded edges where they should be clean and sharp.
    Screw holes are a prime location for this problem to show up, but the edges adjacent to actions and buttplates are equally abused.
    The primary cause for this problem is the use of the sandpaper without a hard backer. I use a variety of shaped wood blocks to back my sandpaper.
    Most are flat, but some are radiused (rounded) to fit into concave curves.
    Even when you are cutting the thickened finish off, you must resist the temptation to press too hard, 'cause steel wool is harder than wood (it is STEEL, after all), and if you rub in the same spots with your fingers, you'll end up with (yep, you guessed it!) "finger grooves".
    You may not like where they show up either, so go slowly.
    Remember, with the oil finish, if you find that the pores aren't well filled, even after you thought you were done, all you need to do is clean it off a bit and add more oil. It's a very forgiving finish, unlike the modern stuff.
    Keep chuggin' and you'll get there.
    Thanks for your time.
     
  23. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Member

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    mshootnit,
    i get that subtle "hint" of red by using powdered alkanet root to dye my blo.
    i put about 1 1/2 oz of alkanet root per pint of oil. let it set for a few hours then heat & strain the powder out of the oil. if you have plenty of time before your going to start on the project you can put the powder in a coffee filter then use a twist tie to close up the filter and drop in in a jar of blo let it set for a few weeks or a month untill you get that nice red collor then pull out the coffee filter with the alkanet root in it.

    when i do a stock it takes about 2 months from the first oiling untill i condider it done.
    first i heat some red oil & the stock up untill they are just about to hot to handle. then i liberaly oil the stock with a rag soaked in red oil for about 10 minutes. then i wipe the stock down to remove any access oil from the surface and let the stock sit in the corner for two to three weeks, i prefer three weeks.

    then i seal the stock with a mixture of 1/2 pint of red oil, 3oz of spar varnish, 1oz turpentine, 10 drops of venice turpentine. venice turpentine can be found at most stores that sell stuff for horses. i heat the mixture up then apply it with a small rag. let it sit for at least two days.

    now comes the fun part.
    take your red oil and lightly coat the stock with it then rub it in with the palm of your hand. it will take about 15minutes for most stocks & if it doesn't get hot your not rubbing hard enough. let the stock sit for at least one day then rub in another coat.
    repeat for about a week then let the stock sit for 5 days. after 5 days put on a very thin coat of red oil but do not rub it in. let the stock sit for about a week then rub the stock out accross the grain with rottenstone and red oil. i use a hard felt pad on this step.

    time is one of the best stock finishers there is, most people do not give blo time to harden.
    i also do not use any steel wool once the stock has been oiled.
    i've been planning on trying some sea-fin oil.
     
  24. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    I definitely need to print this stuff out and keep it for my sons to read someday!
     
  25. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Member

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    mshootit, the way i do it mostly comes from clyde bakers book modern gunsmithing. my copy is a second edition from 1933, you can get them on amazon for around $15.
    the stuff in it is just as relevant now as it was in 1933
     
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