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Oiling of stocks

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by orpington, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. orpington

    orpington Member

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    What strength, if any, would oiling of stocks add to a stock? For example, would a heavy recoil rifle, like a .375 Holland & Holland, be less likely to crack if oiled?

    Does the type of oil matter? Would a more transient oil such as OTC lemon oil/ furniture oil be satisfactory? Or is a more permanent oil necessary, such as tung oil, which really hurts the original appearance of a 19th Century firearm?

    Any chemists, engineers, or physicists willing to comment?
     
  2. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Not any one of those but experienced at working with wood. In nature, wood has a moisture content when living that to some degree keeps it flexible and resistant to cracking. When harvested, the degree of moisture in living wood is undesirable so that you either set the wood aside for a long time to dry out or you force dry it through applied heat (kiln dried). Once it reaches the moisture content level desired, then the wood is always at risk of being too dry or too wet which causes warping, dry rot, mold, etc. To keep the wood pliable, sealed, and protected from moisture swings which is undesirable in a rifle stock, some sort of finish is needed. Today, we have all sorts of sealers including both artificial and natural resins but each has advantages and drawbacks.

    Natural oils derived from plants has traditionally been used in woodworking since about as long as civilization has been around and the oil fills the vacancies in the wood fibers making it more resistant to absorption of moisture which helps prevent warping and expansion/contraction due to atmospheric moisture. A drying type oil used on wood also strengthens the stock when it hardens through polymerization. https://infogalactic.com/info/Drying_oil
    Non-drying types such as olive oil do not. And then there are some that semi-dry which are in between.

    When you get to synthetic or petroleum based oils, then you get more controversy as some believe that these weaken the wood and this can been seen often on old military rifles where someone overoils the receiver and bolt. When a piece of wood becomes oil soaked with petroleum based gun oils, it softens and weakens the stock by breaking down the wood lignins. Some believe that the dose makes the poison and in small amounts, that these non-plant based oils work okay as a top sealant. With plant based oils such as linseed or tung, it is almost impossible to overapply oil so that it weakens the stock. The militaries used to submerged these stocks in vats to seal them thoroughly and it was relatively easy to reapply and smooth out old stocks.
     
  3. George P

    George P Member

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    I see the above all the time when someone stores their long guns buttstock down and the oil migrates into the stock weakening the wood - especially bad around the head of a shotgun
     
  4. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    What you said is exactly the reason that one should treat the inletting area of the stock with a stock finish as well as the outside. If the stock inletting is already saturated with plant based oils, the gun oils tend to not penetrate near as much. The military when it still used wood used to dunk the the whole stock minus the metal parts so as to saturate it and then set it aside for drying. People tend to forget about the inside of their wood stocks but they need sealing treatment as much if not worse than the exterior.
     
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  5. Sovblocgunfan

    Sovblocgunfan Member

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    In other words, oiling the stock can break down the wood if petroleum-based oils are used, and plant-based oils mist be applied correctly to see the advantages they offer.

    An Enfield I own was over-oiled on a repeated basis and then stood on its butt in the manner described above. This rotted a key structural area of the forearm, which then broke apart. I’m very lucky I inspected it before shooting, or I would have split the forearm and been faced with a much bigger, more complicated repair.
     
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  6. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    This is why I give my gunstocks a BLO massage inside and out as soon as I get most of the petrochemicals off of them.

    Just like I do for my longbow and any other wood that has to be tough and somewhat flexible.
     
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  7. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    Boiled linseed oil - Great for bringing out the best in an old walnut gun stock.
    I have a friend who treats WWII era walnut with the stuff , has been for many years. The result looks "healthy" , not covered or stained in any way ; the walnut seemingly drinks the oil at first application then seems to let you know when enough is enough.
     
  8. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Lemon and furniture oils help keep the wood from drying out and impart a temporary shine to the wood.
    BLO, boiled linseed oil, is a finish for wood that penetrates deeply into the pores like the other oils, but then hardens into a resin that ultimately fills the pores, strengthens, and preserves the wood. Many years ago pure BLO took forever to harden, and the process of finishing a fine English rifle or shotgun stock took many months to complete. Today BLO contains chemical dryers that speed the process up considerably without the need for varnishes to be added. The nice thing about BLO is that it can be renewed every time that you apply it. It tends to act as it's own solvent and will blend with the existing dried BLO finish. Small scratches can be rubbed away with your hand as you apply it.

    Danish Oil, on the other hand, is more of a varnish. One version contains 1/3 each of linseed oil, mineral spirits, and polyurethane or spar varnish. Unlike BLO, it dries to a harder finish with a surface layer that needs to be polished down with fine steel wool or abrasive paper.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  9. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    The old adage I was taught nearly 60 years ago for applying BLO on wood goes like this:

    One coat a day for a week,
    One coat a week for a month,
    One coat a month for a year,
    One coat a year for life...

    Granted, this was in reference to Hickory tool handles,
    but I have found it to work very well on my gun stocks, furniture, etc...
     
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  10. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    That old adage works great if you’re trying to oil soak a stock.
     
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  11. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    I have used BLO and buffed with old burlap for a wonderful finish. I have also used Fidde’s hard wax oil that I like even better.
     
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  12. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    Three drops at a time and then (bare) hand rubbed as far as you can go before applying more, hardly 'soaks' wood...

    Straight BLO dries (sort of), and the next coat builds up as opposed to 'soaking' deeper...
     
  13. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    I’ve been doing oil finishes for over 30 years.
    BLO
    If oil is applied and not allowed time to cure, the stock will keep soaking up oil if you keep applying it. It will not soak up as fast as it does with the first coat or two.
    Also BLO is a finish that is rubbed into wood and not built up on the surface. If it’s allowed to dry on the surface it will gum up.
    Not all wood is the same. Hardwood stocks tend not to soak up oils very good. Cutting your BLO will help it get into the stock. Wood like Walnut soaks up oil very good.
    Your stock will tell you how much oil it needs. You first rub in a wet coat. And then let it sit for about 30 minutes. If your stock has soaked up all the oil and looks dry, then your stock is thirsty and needs oil. If there’s oil still on the surface after 30 minutes, your stock doesn’t need much oil.
    For the thirsty stock, just rub in another wet coat and wait 30 minutes. Wipe it dry and let it sit for 24 hrs.
    If there’s standing oil on the surface after 30 minutes, wipe it dry and wait 24 hours.
    At this point both stocks should be about equal in the amount of oil the will soak up. Apply another wet coat, wait 30 min. and wipe dry.
    What you describe, a few drops of oil at a time, is called a polish coat. These thin coats don’t soak in much and are rubbed until your hand is hot. But then the same as the other coats, it need to sit for 30 minutes and then wiped dry. You may only need one more polish coat but you still need to wait another 24 hrs.
    Now BLO does need time to cure. Allow the stock to sit another 48 to 72 hours then run the surface of the stock with a dry paper towel to see if any oil comes off. If oil comes off, you need to wait longer. If the stock is dry, it’s time to apply a wax top coat to protect the oil finish.
     
  14. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    This is for those thinking about using BLO and it applies to certain other oil finishes.
    One thing to be aware of on Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) is that often the drying agents added to it are heavy metals which are not good for you. The linseed oil (flax oil) itself is harmless and even consumable. Polymerized linseed oil is also similar in that it is heated under special conditions to cause the oil to polymerize and dry faster (true boiled linseed oil). The cheaper BLO at chain stores usually has those nasty drying agents. Drying agents like heavy metals combined sometimes with synthetic oils and permeable human skin is not a good thing. Wear appropriate gloves when using the stuff or there is something like a liquid glove that can seal your skin (not sure how good that is for you over time either).

    A second thing is that you should always safely discard the rags/paper towels etc that you use with linseed finishes as they can under the right conditions spontaneously combust. Spread them out to dry and do not pile them up to allow the heat to accumulate to the flashpoint of the volatile oils. As linseed oil oxidizes, it releases heat and the greater the heat, the more the volatile oils are released and so on. Greater environmental temperatures also raise the risk as it increase the speed of the reaction. Get it out of your structure when finished and saturate with water and allow plenty of air flow around it. 100% tung oil has a mixed reputation on whether it can self combust like linseed but treat it like linseed in flammability and it will cause no harm.

    Useful discussion of oils, including natural ones, and their flammability/self-combustion issues.
    https://www.firehouse.com/rescue/article/10528863/the-phenomenon-of-spontaneous-combustion

    As per Gunny's mention above on linseed's penetrative abilities, here is a pix of this
    Per https://thecraftsmanblog.com/how-to-use-boiled-linseed-oil-safely/

    linseedoil-penetration-300x225.jpg
     
  15. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    That's the gist of what I said...The minimum time between coats in 'my' adage is 24 hours...

    Your way is saturating the wood too quickly according to the old timer I learned from back in the 60's...

    Six of one, half dozen of the other...

    As for the picture, I suspect that level of saturation was done through the end grain...

    You can see clearly on the top that penetration through the edge grain is not that deep...
     
  16. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    What I posted does not saturate a stock.
    What you posted was what was thought to GIs between the 40s and 60s.
    The pic is correct.
    Here is a picture of a cosmoline soaked stock that was cut.
    F2D78A46-947C-4968-B075-DBCA9733E656.jpeg
     
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  17. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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  18. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    Are you using PTO(Pure Tung Oil) or Tung Oil Finish? There’s a difference in the two. One has little to no Tung Oil in it.
    I use PTO by Real Milk Paint Co.
    BB65C851-E715-47A5-AB62-0D2139993723.jpeg
     
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  19. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    He used Hickory for his test. Hickory is a very dense wood that doesn’t soak up oils like Walnut. This is one reason it is used to make handles for tools.
     
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  20. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Wish I had known this years ago. I was just annoyed about how sticky your hands are when you try to wash off the residue after rubbing it in to a project.
     
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  21. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    A nice thing about BLO I noticed is that it blended well into a tune-up that I did on my Marlin 1894 REM carbine.
    I had to sand away some wood at the fore end tip because it was wedged up against the dovetailed-in fore end cap retainer.
    It was quite tight and was chipping the fore end wood under the cap, and wasn't helping accuracy either..
    Unlike a varnish the BLO just soaked in and I really could not see where the satin finish ended and the BLO finish began.
     
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  22. WheelGunMan

    WheelGunMan Member

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    When I use my long guns and clean them I have always wipe the barrels inside and out with a little gun oil. What ever is left on the cloth is used on the stock. Been doing this over 50 years and my stocks have a lustrous patina to them.
     
  23. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    Easy to find if you know where to look. Real Milk Paint makes some of the best.
    Be sure to get the air out of your container, or your PTO will start to dry up on you. Marbles or clean rocks can be added to the container to fill the air space.
    Warning! If you have net allergies, you don't want to us PTO.
    https://www.realmilkpaint.com/category/oils/
     
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  24. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Looked up the link and found that they are also selling Hemp Oil for wood finishing. I find that amusing just like a warning on one wood working site that this stuff was not hash oil and would not get you high.

    Apparently the stuff is pretty useful in wood finishing after I looked it up as it is one of the hardening oils and appears similar in use to linseed oil. https://fusionmineralpaint.com/products/finish/hemp-oil-wood-finish/
     
  25. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I found a gallon of raw linseed oil when I cleaned out my parents house, and have been using it to finish some milsurp stocks. I mix it about 50-50 with gum turpentine. My MO is to apply it with a rag, and then hand rub it until I can feel the heat from the friction with the wood. I've found that, on walnut, the first coat soaks in fairly rapidly, and is dry within 2 days. I rub with steel wool after it is dry, and then put on another. Each subsequent coat takes longer to dry, which tells me the pores are getting filled and less is soaking in. My patience runs out after about 4 coats, but I get a nice finish that seems fairly durable. Judging from the rag, the oil drys into a semi-pliable amber color.

    I did a birch stock once, and the second coat never wanted to dry. I'm talking about a month and I put it in a hot attic in the middle of the summer. Birch must be alot denser than walnut.
     
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