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Old January 7, 2009, 03:58 PM   #1
J S Machine
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How do I stain and seal wood grips?

I have an old Bauer .25 auto pistol that I am working on. I made a set of wood grips out of a piece of oak I had laying around. Now I want to stain them and seal them.

The gun is all stainless and I can't decide if I would rather have light colored or dark colored handles. It looks good with the lighter color they are now, but I'm still not sure.

Will the oak respond well to something like mahogany or will I be better off with something lighter? I am afraid that the mahogany will turn a little more orange than red because it is oak.

When I get done do I just seal them with linseed oil or polyurethane or what?

Thanks
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Old January 7, 2009, 05:09 PM   #2
Croz
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Best thing to do is try some stains on a piece of the oak that you cut off in the process of making the grips. That way, you know the wood will have the same alkalinity, moisture, etc.

Linseed Oil (have to use boiled linseed oil - regular linseed oil basically never dries) is a finish that will wear off pretty quickly on something you handle all the time. But it doesn't have the 'plastic-y' look of polyurethane.

Poly will hold up much better, or you can look for products that are specifically designed for gun stocks, etc.

(BTW: boiled linseed oil is bought that way. You don't want to try boiling linseed oil on your own.)
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Old January 7, 2009, 06:21 PM   #3
J S Machine
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Here are some pics.


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Old January 7, 2009, 08:10 PM   #4
bluetopper
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They make small cans of a stain and poly seal all in one. I'd get the walnut or pecan stain & poly and give it a whirl.
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Old January 7, 2009, 08:18 PM   #5
zxcvbob
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What if the wood was *white* (American holly) and you wanted the grips to look like ivory? I have some holly and want to make a set of grips for my BHP and maybe one of my revolvers. The wood is drying now; still in a big block with the endgrain painted, so it's going to be a while until I get to it.

I don't want the finish to be yellow because it would show. Should I use a water-based polyurethane varnish?
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Old January 7, 2009, 08:18 PM   #6
robhof
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robhof

Have you considered Arrow wood finish, it's a hand rub on finish, that you rub until it's dry, with several light coats, you can go from matt to glossy, your choice. I've done several stocks and grips with this finish over the years and found it to be easy and much quicker than linseed oil, it's also very durable and easily repaired with a dab of finish and a little hand rubbing. I watched the fix at a gun show and bought some on the spot. Search arrowwoodfiish on line.
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Old January 7, 2009, 09:32 PM   #7
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I've had good luck with Velvit oil. Several hand coats will give a nice flat finish. Several more will give a nice gloss coat.

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=836637
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Old January 7, 2009, 10:00 PM   #8
chibiker
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I offer no advice as a "gun expert" in regards to finishing grips or stocks, my advice comes from 30 years as a cabinetmaker and master finisher.

The poly/stain mixes...word of caution, they are usually tinted with dyes that are not very lightfast and the color will fade. (Major importance on a piece of furniture, prolly not so much on a gun kept in a pocket or safe). The first coat will raise the grain leaving it feeling rough. A quick once over with some 320 paper will get rid of this but you will need another coat. Another coat will then darken the color as will all subsequent coats. If you want to go this route then I would ever so slightly dampen the surface with water, to raise the grain, then the 320, then your color coat. If you are happy with the color then any added coats should be clear.

As far as keeping the Holly white, all coatings, ALL will yellow over time. Almost all woods will darken as well. Woods like holly and maple yellow. Coatings that are least prone to yellowing usually have substantial amounts of UV inhibitors in them. These don't last though, one reason sunscreen has to be reapplied to be effective. Again this all plays into wood exposed to sunlight and the elements not going to be such a rapid effect on guns I would think. I can think of several dozen coatings that would be far superior on grips and stocks to anything you would get at the local hardware store. Problem is these coatings are usually not available to the general public and require a little bit of experience to use with good results.

That being said, tongue oil or some of the wipe on polys would be a good choice for do-it-yourselfers. Tongue oil holds up great, is easily touched up and the sheen can easily adjusted from satins to gloss. It does have a pronounced darkening effect though. If using a poly just look for one that promotes it's non-yellowing ability. It may yellow in a year on your kitchen cabinets but would probably take several years to do so on your grips.
Also make sure whatever coating you use on the finish coat to also apply to the backside as well. Wood, for a lack of better words always breathes. Having both sides coated will even up any moisture absorption and cut down the chances of splitting or warping.

Oh and geez, another thing...on the oak, seal the inner surface of the screw holes well. The acids in the oak can interact with the steel and turn the oak black around the holes. Oh and by the way... there are great ways to stain woods that don't rely on stains but instead chemical reactions with the woods using things like steel wool, or drain cleaner and on and on. Since I could type for the next three weeks (and don't want to) on the subject I would suggest a Google search in you have any interest in it.
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Old January 7, 2009, 10:22 PM   #9
LHB1
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Try some Caseys TruOil (available at gun stores) on a piece of that oak to see if you like the resulting color/finish. TruOil will seal and finish. Best results are obtained by applying multiple coats. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying next coat.
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Old January 7, 2009, 10:56 PM   #10
zxcvbob
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Real ivory turns yellow with time too. I'm OK with that. I just *really* don't want to end up with grips that look white-with-a-yellowish-film.

Maybe holly polishes to a high gloss and doesn't need any finish? Or should I look for a non-yellowing spray lacquer? Or white (clear) polyurethane?

Thanks.
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Old January 7, 2009, 11:42 PM   #11
Bill DeShivs
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Nice routing job on the Bauer grips. I prefer Arrow brand wood finish. It takes multiple coats, but the result is worth it.
The problem with holly is polishing it without getting anything in the grain. I would sand, steel wool, and use Krylon clear acrylic spray.
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Old January 8, 2009, 07:31 AM   #12
J S Machine
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Thanks for the complement. I started on this pistol my junior year in high school. A friend of mine's father had thrown it away because the slide was malfunctioning. Determined to make it work, I did everything I could but my capabilities were really limited to wood. I started on the grips in the ag shop at school, but I gave up because of the complex routing in the back of them. I put the pistol away along with the old cracked and busted plastic grips and the oak ones I had started on.

The other day I thought about it so I pulled it out. I am much more capable of working on it now. Since I graduated high school I have become a toolmaker and cnc programmer. I didn't even know what a mill was back then, now they are tools I use every day.

I cleaned up all of the gun's parts and got it working smoothly. Turns out that it was only a burr in the slide rail that was causing it to hang up. I filed and stoned all the critical friction areas and it works perfect now. I also had to build a trigger for it, which was a real challenge in itself. The trigger is aluminum.

The hardest part about milling out the back of the grips was that they were not square or parallel in any way. When I started on them years ago I had gotten them pretty close to the way they were supposed to be shaped. Holding them in a mill vise was the problem. I ended up putting one of the flat sides against the back jaw and putting a round dowel in between the front jaw and the front side of the grip. A sharp cutter turning high rpm and light cuts did the trick to finish them. They were also supported by parellels underneath to keep everything flat.

I bought some rosewood colored stain and boiled linseed oil to finish them. After a little thought I decided red mahogany may have looked a little awkward, so I went with something commonly seen on grip color. I did them last night and finished them up, but I don't have pics at the moment. I will post some when I get home from work today.

This gun was simply and old project, and I thoroughly enjoyed working on it. Even if it is only worth $100 or so, the time I put in to it was well worth it.

I look forward to doing some more projects, and repairs.
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Old January 8, 2009, 10:30 AM   #13
Bill DeShivs
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Any time you want $100 for it, let me know!
BTW, I understand the gun was a project, but the parts are available commercially.
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