Stock finish restoration

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by orpington, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. orpington

    orpington Member

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    Is it possible to restore this finish rather than refinishing the surface? IF the finish can be identified and maybe the same finish applied to it, either blending well or softening the old finish such that it can be incorporated into the existing finish.

    The rest of the firearm is in great shape, so not sure what caused this?

    It’s a Fox Sterlingworth dating from 1933. 6059EDA8-F7AF-4E5F-BAA0-9B6AE8079003.jpeg B6E865AB-9161-4DDA-8D1A-64727F82F1C3.jpeg
     
  2. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Most of the finish is already gone. I'd suggest removing the butt stock, taping it off along the line between the grip checkering and then strip and refinish the butt. Putting another finish over the top of what's there now is just going to produce a blotchy result with uneven color and sheen. Doesn't matter what the existing finish is; same applies.
     
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  3. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    Recently tried a product called Howard's restore a finish on some cabinetry damaged by exposure to steam from a coffeemaker. I believe it dissolves the original finish and adds its own. I have tried it on military finishes and it seems to do ok.
     
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  4. DocRock

    DocRock member

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    Howard’s Wood Finish will give you A finish, but it’s not the original finish. Which is fine, that looks like an shellac type finish, so Howard’s would be an improvement.

    Were it mine, I would strip it (Citristrip and Zep) and then give it an oil finish with BLO. Looks great and super easy to touch up.
     
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  5. nac7789

    nac7789 Member

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    I find most strippers leave a nasty mess and won't usually touch an old hard varnish like I'm seeing here. The best way to manage these I've found is to carefully use a cabinet scraper and remove the hard finish then progressively sand, raise the grain, sand more, then refinish with an oil based product whether it be tru oil, oxygenated blo, or a homemade oil/varnish blend.
    It's really not that enormous of an undertaking and the results are worth the time invested.

    There is absolutely no proper way to save this finish by adding more, using restore-a-shine (has to be a finish there for this to work), or blending. It must be removed and refinished properly.
     
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  6. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    Been in business for 4 decades and seen every gunstock finish imaginable from motor oil to varathane. Yes the old methods are the best and longest lasting. I also had no faith in "restore a shine" stuff but it does seem to work in some cases. I heard about it over at the big milsurp forums and gave it a try. I do think high quality sporting arms deserve a fine, hand rubbed, oil finish
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
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  7. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I do have the ability to remove the existing finish and apply a hand rubbed boiled linseed oil finish, applying several coats and then steel wooling between several coats, rinse & repeat, etc. So that’s not the concern.

    But I’ve increasingly become a purist and truly believe it’s only original once and really frown upon anything refinished. However, I might try Howard’s Wood Finish to attempt to improve. If not satisfactory, I will be forced to refinish, which will likely cause me to eventually sell this otherwise nice 20 ga Fox Sterlingworth.

    The finish by 1933, when this one was produced, is a far cry from two very nice Model 1911 Sterlingworth shotguns I own with the recessed hinge pin.
     
  8. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Yes, well, as good as Howard's might be ... and I've never used it so have no cause to criticize it - actually might want to try it on my next project ... it is not original and your stock no longer will be after using it and so it seems to me that your logic for using it doesn't really hold together.

    Either way, please keep us updated on your project progress and results - w/ pics, natch.
     
  9. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I suppose I didn’t intend to fool anyone into thinking the finish is original and unaltered, but rather to create less of a contrast between patches of bare wood and original finish.

    Any ideas what might have caused this as the metal parts of this shotgun are not pitted or rusty and much original metal finish remains.
     
  10. nac7789

    nac7789 Member

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    The problem is that this is a hard, layered finish that is applied and appears as a film that is visibly above the surface of the wood. Howards is more of a polish/stain/solvent and can occasionally buff out rings, heat or water marks on certain finishes but in this case the film finish is literally gone and there are chips missing. Howards- may- give a little color to the now bare wood but it will not in any way fix this or do anything to stop further deterioration or build up the surface layers.
    Unfortunately this is a case where really the only option is to refill the missing chunks to bring it back up to level and the only way to do that is a full strip and refinish because if you apply on top of this it will just further flake and chip. This could very well be linked to poor surface prep when that product was originally applied.

    I have refinished several old browning T bolts who's stock had done the same thing. I was told by an older gunsmith I once knew that Browning prepped these stocks by soaking in salt water.. years down the road it caused the hard thick finish to flake off around the action and other parts of the stock.
    This can also be caused by movement in the wood. Perhaps it wasn't totally cured at the time the finish was applied and over its lifetime as the wood moved the unyielding finish wouldn't and simply chips off.
    I do understand what you mean about the potential value loss associated with a refinish. Just remember that any stop gap or filler products you use now will have to be stripped later and may cause further issue when a refinish is inevitable. IF you apply howards to the stock in these areas just imagine that when the rest flakes off it will be a blotchy mess and depending on how that stuff ages may be various colors and shades. At that point the endeavor to keep it original will be really botched.

    Whatever you do don't put wax on it!
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
  11. nac7789

    nac7789 Member

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    Oh entirely.. restore a shine has a very specific place in my chemical cabinet and yes it can sometimes work magic bringing back a finish or hiding nicks but it isn't howards replace a shine! lol
    Agreed on the rubbed oil finish. Truly the best. I've developed quite a dislike for hard film finishes over the years between the spider web cracks, haziness, chips, and difficulty of removal. Remingtons RKW finish is notoriously difficult to get off for a refinish in the areas it isn't chipping. Remington developed that from bowling pin finish back in the 50's I believe.
     
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  12. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I might just end up selling this one in its present state.
     
  13. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    FWIW: Browning "salt cured" stocks are still an ongoing disaster. The finish failed and then the salt leached out attacking the metal in contact with the wood. This would leave heavy damage to both. There was a big recall and for years a large number of replacement stocks were sent out. "salt stocks" continue to put a huge ding in resale value because the damage is concealed and the rifle must be fully disassembled to see it.
     
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  14. Armorer 101

    Armorer 101 Member

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    Remove the metal from the wood and strip the wood to the bare wood, butt stock and forend. Refinish with gun stock finish, not interior cabinet or furniture finishes. Stay away from brush on finishes or polyurethane. Do not try to use that present mess on the stock as a base.
    A good oil finish takes time, because it takes days between coats to dry completely.
    I personally prefer Brownells Pro Custom Oil using a sanded in oil application with a satin final finish on my personal guns. The finish is as personal as the selection of the wood itself.
    There are several postings about doing a “sanded in oil finish” on the net. I have written several myself. It is a couple of pages to describe, but very time consuming to do right, like up to 8 months depending on humidity. The oil finish is repairable, durable, and weather resistant.
     
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