Stock Finishing

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30-06 lover

Mar 2, 2006
I just ordered a new stock and forend from Gunstocks Inc. for my Savage 99. The stock only comes rough sanded, so I need to finish it when it gets here. I read that French Red stock filler /stain works well. Is it? Would that color be a good choice on a Savage 99? I also read that Birchwood Casey makes a good water based walnut stain. Is that one good? Is there a filler and stain you would recommend? I am a novice at finishing stocks, but I have been researching like crazy and think I have some know how, just not experience. I am trying to get a factory color, but with a tad bit more gloss. Thanks!!!
I have stained stocks using Birchwood Casey, Minwax, and Bartley's Stains. The downside to the Birchwood Casey is that it only comes in one color (e.g. walnut). You can get Minwax and Bartley's in just about any color you would ever want to stain a gun and many colors you wouldn't. One major upside to the Bartley's is that it is actually a Gel Stain which makes it slightly easier to apply. After I stain I will use Danish Oil, Tung Oil, Varnish, or Poly depending on the finish. If you want to get a real glossy look you can find some VERY glossy poly. Thats just my $0.02.

MinWax makes both thin liquid as well as gel stains in the more common colors. I have used both types in various colors several times and it works well. personally, I think the gel is too easy to apply too thick and dark compared to the thinner stuff, but it could just be me.
I redid a couple of our department shotguns that were horrid when I got them.
One had a natural walnut stock so after sanding it down I hand rubbed boiled linseed oil on it and it turned out pretty nice.
The other was a hardwood stock that ended up being AK-47 blond when I finished it as I didn't use a stain before oiling it.
The advantage of linseed oil is easy repairs when it gets dinged up.
Over the last 40 years I have refinished a great many rifle, shotgun, and pistol stocks using TruOil with no stain and no filler. Sand down to 600 grit and clean surface with tack cloth before wiping on VERY THIN coat of finish. Apply as many coats as desired, sanding lightly between each. You can obtain gloss finish, semi-gloss finish, or matte finish with this material. I find Brownell's 5X and 3X polishing liquids very useful in obtaining the desired gloss.

Good shooting and be safe.
+1 on the TruOil. Just finished a Civil War era kitchen clock. Had four coats of different color paint on it, top color black. !?! After getting down to bare cherry wood, applied the TruOil in thin coats, lightly sanding. Nice glossy finish in the original cherry wood color. Haven't tried it on gun stocks, but should work well there too.

If ya decide to go with the linseed oil, be sure it is boiled linseed oil. Also, I have always added or mixed my oil with about equal parts of mineral spirits and just a dab of "japan drier" you can find in most any art shop where they sell oil paints. You also have to have a very smooth finish to start, and I like to seal /fill the wood grain first. Rub in the oil by hand using only VERY thin coats and allow to dry a couple days between coats. You can put on as many as you like to get the look you want. If I'm trying to get a "pre-64 winchester look" to the stock, I'll also mix up a bit of oil based stain (using a mix of cherry, mahogany, and walnut) to get it just a bit on the reddish side) and ad a dab of the oil stain mix directly to the linseed/mineral spirits mix. Shake well before use.
Where people mess up most with linseed oil is they don't use boiled and apply it too thick - trying to speed up the process. Using this oil (and depending on the condition of the stock) it can take 4-6 weeks to get finished. Just my .02 worth.

I have used Tru-Oil for several stocks, I usually apply 6 to 10 or more thin coats depending on how much grain I have to fill. I also sand with 220 or 320 after about every 3 coats to help level the finish and make sure the grain is filled. As far as I am concerned, bare fingers are the best applicator for Tru-Oil, apply it thinly and rub it vigorously to get a very thin smooth coat, I usually rub it enough so that it feels like my hands are starting to warm the surface, just before it gets a sticky feel. If the weather is not too humid I can usually apply 2 or 3 coats a day.

Thin your finish 4 to 1 with mineral spirits "4 parts thinner 1 part tru oil" then paint it on the stock and let it dry . Repeat this process until the stock stops soaking up finish . Then get some wet dry paper "not black it will bleed" and wet sand the stock with your 4to1 finish and build up a slurry then let it dry"mudding" . Repeat and repeat until the grain is filled . Then go down tru the grits of paper until you get to the desired tone/finish always wet sanding . Thinning out the finish will allow it to penetrate deeper into the wood while allowing you to have a oil finish which is easily repaired if needed . Plus if you go fine enough it can be as shiny as a sprayed on finish.
I just finished building a stock from the wood of a black walnut tree that was in my dads yard in Natchez Mississippi. I had the wood since '87. I filled the stock with the Birchwood Casey and finished it with Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and it turned out to be a nice "Remington" stock look.:D

Good luck, main thing is take your time, let it get completely dry between sandings.

I have finished stocks with the boiled linseed oil also and it does make a beautiful finish, little more work but is a really nice durable finish.:rolleyes:
I just recieved my stock and forend form Gunstocks Inc, and have to say it is a JOKE! The rear stock has a crack! and the Rough sanded is more like rough grided. I requested a refund...I will post when he gets back to me.
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