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Old January 6, 2013, 09:09 PM   #1
pabuckslayer08
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Im going to refinish a stock, heres my gameplan

This will be my first time doing a start to finish refinish on a rifle stock. So I want to share my gameplan and see if you think Im missing something

First off the gun is a Browning A Bolt with a few discolorations and scratches,

I plan to first use acetone to remove the old finish, using a toothbrush in the checkered areas lightly, then I plan to start with a 320 gr just to remove any scratches and smooth it up, then go to 400 and to 600. From the 600 I will probably apply some water and do a light wet sand. I plan to let it dry good, then steel wool the stock and clean any dust off the surface, from there I plan to use either Birchwood Casey Tru Oil or Minwex Antique Oil. Ill add 1 coat at a time and start by wet sanding between coats for the first 3 or so, then add 3 more with a steel wool in between each and see where Im at and if the grain is still showing through, if more coats are needed I will apply to cover the grain, once completed I will likely buff it with some wax and call it good

Does this sound like a good idea or should I add something else in
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Old January 6, 2013, 10:23 PM   #2
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Browning's stock finish is notoriously hard to remove and to sand.

320 grit is very fine, much too fine for initial sanding after stripping. 600 grit is finer than the grain of the wood. Start with 220 grit, move up to 320 grit, then 400. If you want it smoother, sand the finish lightly between coats with 400 grit. Do not use steel wool at all.
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Old January 7, 2013, 01:10 AM   #3
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You're probably not going to get that Browning finish off with just acetone. You might try carb or brake cleaner, with a combination of solvents.

You might get some scrapers (or use a safety razor) to scrape softened finish off the stock.

Agree with Scorch - don't use steel wool. Until you have the grain filled, you can end up with steel wool pieces in the pores of the wood, which will rust or look like crap when you're done.

Use some backing when sanding to maintain edges.

BTW, when repairing scratches on Browning finishes, I soften the edge of the nick or scratch, then use some Pro Custom Oil, then allow it to dry. Then I sand down the PCO patch with 400 grit, then 600 grit. Apply a second coat, try to make it blend into the surrounding finish. Let the second coat dry and harden well - maybe put a heating source over it to accelerate this.

Wet sand with 600, then 800. Then get some 3F, then 5F rubbing compound and shine up the area. After you're done, you can't see where the scratch/nick was if you get it right. I use this technique all the time on Brownings that have nicks/scratches in that high-gloss finish.
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Old January 7, 2013, 01:16 AM   #4
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Instead of using acetone, have you considered using something like Citristrip? From what others are saying you might need to get creative in getting the old finish off.

And before you do any sanding, get yourself a tee shirt and an iron, like the kind used on clothes. Cover the wood with shirt, and go over the places with dints and dings with steam and heat from the iron.

It will allow you to get out the majority of the imperfections with less sanding.

Check out some of the videos of others refinishing stocks on youtube, lots of good tips about the process.
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Old January 7, 2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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Once you have the old finish off, however you accomplish that, I agree with Scorch that you can't or shouldn't start with 320 grit sandpaper. If the wood looks to be in good shape, you can start with 220, but you might just want to start with 150 grit. As you move through the grits, sanding with the grain, you'll remove the scratches from the previous grit. You can check to be sure if the scratches are removed if you'll wipe the stock with Mineral Spirits. Any scratches will show up then, and you'll know that you still have sanding to do before moving to a finer grit. As for what final grit, I used to stop at 320, but following directions from a professional woodworker that I know, this last time I went all the way through to 600 and it looked great. As you said you'd do, raise the grain a few times (at least 3 times) and sand the whiskers off with the 600 grit. As for what finish to use, that's your choice. I have plenty of finishing history with Minwax Antique Oil, and when I apply that I soak the wood on the first application until the wood won't accept any more oil, then wipe off the excess completely. The next day, I apply and wet sand with the 600 grit, then wipe the excess. I'd put on at least 4 coats, then wait a few days and then rub the stock with a medium dark paste wax applied with steel wool. The more coats of the Antique Oil you do, the more you'll fill the grain on the stock with a fine oil/sawdust mixture. Some say that when you wipe the excess oil off the stock, you should wipe across the grain so that you'll be less likely to pull that oil/sawdust mix from the pores of the wood. And if you leave the oil on the stock too long, you'll see that it gets sticky and hard to wipe off. Just rewet it a bit and it'll wipe just fine.

Now...having said all that, the pro woodworker also suggested (for indoor use) that I switch to Waterlox if I wanted an even better finish than I could get with Antique Oil. I did that on the last project and it was by far the finest finish I ever put on wood. Fantastic. And Waterlox makes an exterior version of that material. It's got 'water' in the name, but it does not contain any water and is not water-based. It's really expensive ($40 for a small can), but some day I'm going to have to try it on a gunstock. If any of you do want to try Waterlox, the first finish you put on the wood can be Danish Oil or Antique Oil. That acts as a sealer/primer. Then 4 coats or so of Waterlox. Be careful that it doesn't run, since you don't have to wipe it off like you do with the Antique Oil. You can wipe if off like you do with the Antique Oil, but you'll need more coats to fully and finally close off all the grain. The final look is like that of lacquer. Look it up on Google. There are some application videos on Utube.

Just to say it, after that first coat of Antique Oil or Waterlox, the finish looks crappy. It's only after the next coat or two that the finish starts to look really good.

The Waterlox should work great, but Antique Oil will work just fine, and is much cheaper.
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Old January 7, 2013, 10:07 AM   #6
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From having been down this road, Citistrip works.... but it really only seemed to soften the finish a bit for me. Lots of scraping was involved, followed by other solvents. Citistrip certainly smells a whole lot better than many petroleum-based solvents...
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Old January 7, 2013, 03:49 PM   #7
pabuckslayer08
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I guess I should say this rifle is not a gloss A Bolt it is one with no shiney layer at all, does this make a difference.
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Old January 7, 2013, 06:27 PM   #8
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I started in on getting the edges around where the checkering is with a razor blade, The outer layer is peeling very easily it seems. Tomorrow Ill be going to Lowes and look for some citristrip and maybe grab a bottle of brake clean at work tomorrow. Once I get the outer layers off Ill start my sanding. Ill prob start at the 320 maybe 220 just because there is no real dents in the stock, just finish scratches, so all Im really trying to achieve is get the finish off. Once I have it off I think Im going to go with the Minwex finish. Ill probably raise the grain 2-3 times to before I start finishing. Anyone have any idea of how many coats of Minwex I may need to fill the grain and start to protect. I estimated 8 at first
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:28 PM   #9
603Country
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I still wouldn't start at 320 grit. I highly recommend starting at 220. The fact is that 320 grit just won't remove enough wood to remove any scratches or nicks. And the question about how many coats of the Minwax Antique Oil is hard to answer. It depends on how big the pores of the wood are. Some Walnut is more open grained.

Don't be thinking that if putting a little Antique Oil on is good, then more is better. If you leave too much of the oil/varnish mixture on the wood it'll bleed out of the pores and you'll have shiny spots where you don't want them. So for the first couple of coats, apply the minwax oil and let it soak until the wood won't take any more (5 minutes max ought to do it, but before it gets real tacky and sticky) and then wipe and then buff the wood with soft t-shirt cloth. Then keep an eye on it so you can wipe off the tiny spots where the antique oil is bleeding out. There will be some of that. After maybe 2 applications of the stuff, which is one application per day, then you can start wet sanding. And try wiping sideways to the grain to try to not wipe all the sawdust/oil mixture out of the pores. The more coats, the more the shine, though it'll never be glossy. More than 4 or 5 coats may not improve things considerably, but there's no reason to not have a go at it. I did my Winchester 9422 and my Marlin 39A both like that and they turned out great. The Winchester had much better wood than the Marlin did, and it's the prettiest.
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:41 PM   #10
pabuckslayer08
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Awesome thanks a lot, care to show a pic of yours so I have an idea what to shoot for
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:42 PM   #11
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Oh last question, what did you apply the oil with
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Old January 7, 2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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On application, it's a bit of a messy process, since it isn't a flat piece of wood like I'm usually finishing. I'd probably use a small sponge type applicator (the kind on the end of a dowel), but you could use your fingers or a well-soaked rag. I'll usually take a plastic dish of some sort, like the bottom of a gallon water bottle that I've cut off. I like to have a shallow container that I can pour some Antique Oil in so I can dip the brush or rag into it, and if the shallow container is big enough, it can catch some of the drips from the stock. Just keep putting it on to the wood so that there's always an excess that the wood can absorb. So you're applying and it's dripping and it is a mess. If you use a soaked rag as the applicator, you'll be able to tell easily when the oil is getting sticky and tacky and needs to be wiped off. And I usually put a small screw eye into the end of the stock (where the butt plate was) so that I can hang the stock once I've wiped off the day's oil application.

As for pictures of the 9422, forgive me but it's in the barn and I'm watching the Alabama/ND game and you'll just have to envision the final result.

As far as finishes go, the Antique Oil is pretty easy to use. I was turned on to it by a friend's dad, who had been a woodshop teacher for 35 years. He said Antique Oil was his favorite, so I bought some.

Understand that the Antique Oil is just an Oil/Varnish mixture. It looks good and it is somewhat water repellent, but it is designed as an indoor type wood finish and isn't what you'd call a hard finish, so you do have to take care of it. If I was hunting in the Amazon rain forest, I'd probably pick a different finish, but I'm in Texas and that finish works just fine. As a matter of fact, I just blasted the armadillo that has been digging in the wife's flower bed, and the stock on that old 39A is a smooth as a baby's butt.
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Old January 11, 2013, 06:03 PM   #13
pabuckslayer08
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I bought a cheap finish remover that was like jello an it peeled the finish right off, ill be finishing up with my 220 grit sanding tomorrow I believe an it already looks better. No messed up checkering but I did scratch my black plastic piece before the butt pad since its glued tight
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Old January 12, 2013, 08:41 PM   #14
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A member at rimfirecentral that goes by Woodstock describes a method of using Armor-All as a rapid drying agent for TruOil (I think it worked with Minwax too) that really worked well for me. It may be worth reading about. I don't like linking to other forums, but it should be easy to find with the info provided.
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Old January 12, 2013, 08:54 PM   #15
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I've done a lot of furniture and small boxes and such with Minwax Antique Oil, but no stinkin way I'm going to put Armor-all on the finish. No how. No way. Not a chance.

Put on the Antique Oil. Let it dry. Put on another coat. Repeat until satisfied with the finish.
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Old January 12, 2013, 09:49 PM   #16
pabuckslayer08
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I looked today at the brand of finish remover I picked up, Citristrip was 30 bucks so I got a jar of Zar, it was 8 dollars and wow did it ever work. Let it soak 3 minutes and the entire finish wiped right off. Little work to do on the checkering yet and some more sanding and im ready. Any tips on reviving my recoil pad where its glued to the stock. Theres about a 1/2" black strip between the pad and the wood and I messed it up pretty good sanding with rough grit, can I just sand it down to 600 grit and polish it up you think
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Old January 27, 2013, 02:47 AM   #17
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Buckslayer, how's the job coming along? Any pics of the final product? If so, can you give a quick overview of the whole process you ended up using? I'm thinking of re-doing one of my stocks. Thanks
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Old February 2, 2013, 12:45 AM   #18
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Stock Refinish.

I am a wooden boat guy and a gun owner. I do more wood refinishing on one boat than most people would do working with rifle stocks in a lifetime.
Different finishes require different removal products. Epoxy, varnish, clear coat, who knows what you have. Call the mfr and find out!
Then get the right product for the job. Lots of environmentally safe stuff out there now. If you have a poly, acetone would be the best. COAT the entire wood surface at one time. If you try to do it peacemeal you can wind up with spots on your final finish.
I no longer use a sealer, clear coat, etc on my wood. Guns or otherwise. I use baby oil. And then anytime you clean your gun, reoil the stock. Shows no scratches but if you do want to remove a scratch, sand it out lightly and reoil.
AND if you ever want to refinish, you wont have to go through the removal process again! If you know the finish on an M1 then you can visualize what you will have when you are done. If you want shiny, you may even be temped to use one of the water based products which are in use by firearm mfrs today. It is not a durable finish but it is awful to remove. I love my natural looking oil finishes.
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Old February 2, 2013, 02:49 PM   #19
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No water!

Well if you don't have enough to consider, here are a few more tips:

1) The finer 600 grit papers are called wet/dry sandpaper but the caveat is that the wet sanding process applies to metal finishing primarily. Water and unfinished wood just doesn't mix - it stands up and softens the fibers so the sandpaper doesn't cut well.

2) If you a familiar with the use of a cabinet scraper, they can be used to effectively remove finishes. Care must be taken when using this tool. A proper edge must be maintained to facilitate the cutting action. No nicks in the edge are acceptable. I use an old putty knife and prepare the edge with a flat file by drawing it across the edge at a 30 degree angle and down about 45 degrees. This 'rolls' the edge under and provides the cut.

3) If you have dark oil stains you wish to remove, Brownells has a whiting compound for this job. If you are like me and want to save some time and $$, go to your kitchen and get a 1/4 cup of flour and a small glass bowl. Mix the flour with enough mineral spirits to make the consistency of pancake batter. Apply to the stock liberally in the areas needed (I used a 30cal cotton patch). Heat with a heat gun - careful though the stock will get pretty hot. The flour will dry and adhere to the wood and absorb the oil as it boils to the surface. This will take several or more applications to fully remove the oil - patience is key. The mineral spirits will leave a witness mark in the stock as it dries. To remove this, apply mineral spirits to a rag and wipe in the direction of the grain. Now start your sanding process.

Good luck with your project! It is both fun and rewarding.
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Old February 2, 2013, 05:39 PM   #20
603Country
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Good tip on the cabinet scraper. I've used that approach several times on gunstocks and it works great. As for problems with wet sanding with 600 grit, I do it all the time but never ever have used water as the wetting liquid. After the stock has been cleaned up and sanded through the grits (150 to 220 to 320 to 400 and then to 600), I'll raise the grain a couple of times and sand off the whiskers with 400 or 600. Then when I'm applying a finish, be it Tung Oil, Antique Oil, or just BLO, I wet sand with the liquid finish I'm applying, usually starting with the second application of the finish. That's what generates the superfine dust/oil mixture that fills the pores in the grain. Of course there are several other ways to fill the pores (rottenstone and BLO or even commercial wood filler in the shade that you want).
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Old February 4, 2013, 01:20 PM   #21
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Good tip!

"Then when I'm applying a finish, be it Tung Oil, Antique Oil, or just BLO, I wet sand with the liquid finish I'm applying, usually starting with the second application of the finish. That's what generates the superfine dust/oil mixture that fills the pores in the grain. Of course there are several other ways to fill the pores (rottenstone and BLO or even commercial wood filler in the shade that you want). "
That is an excellent tip! I have always hated applying a finish, but with revitalizing some stocks recently, I have to do it. I have just skipped the pore filling process, but your tip makes sense here.
I have filled voids mixing the fine dust with epoxy, back in the day of cabinet making. It was a quick way to fix a problem without compromising the finished product.

Thanks!
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Old February 4, 2013, 07:47 PM   #22
603Country
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You and I are so alike in that we hate doing the finish. I don't know a woodworker that likes putting on a finish. Anyway, the Rottenstone and BLO mixture works pretty good and it doesn't artificially darken the stock. The commercial wood filler that I have (in Walnut) is darker than most wood stocks, so it can't help but darken the wood. You may or may not like it darker. I used the filler (in red mahogany) on a desk I made for the oldest grandson and it worked great. But...it's messy and I honestly just hate doing it. Would you like some left over wood filler?
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Old February 5, 2013, 07:19 PM   #23
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The old Mashburn stock finish everyone swore by from the late 40's to the early 60's was 3 parts Johnson's Traffic Kote floor sealer to 1 part Faultless starch. The walnut tone had 2 drops of liquid brown Dyan Shine shoe polish added to each bottle. Art pulled it from the market when the price of Traffic Kote went up & he would have had to raise the price of the finish 25 or 30 cents a bottle. He considered that highway robbery & refused to try to sell it for that much.
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Old March 19, 2013, 08:36 PM   #24
pabuckslayer08
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Hey guys just wanted to let you know I finally finished. Started with a remover and removed everything, messed up one piece of checking and spent a week fixing it myself with a small chisel and sanding. Anyway from there I sanded from 200 to 800 then wetsanded at 800 2 times. Applied my first coat and sanded, did this 3 times then added 8 more coats. Took my butt plate apart and taped it all off and repainted it black and clear coated it. This gun honestly looks better than before and I couldnt be happier with the outcome. Thanks guys
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Old March 23, 2013, 03:19 PM   #25
Dusty Rivers
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wax an oil finish?

I have a very nice sako oil finished rifle. Trouble is when I handle it ( use it for hunting), or it gets wet, it gets smudges and finger prints. Once it is cleaned up is there a top coating wax that i could use or something completely different I should do?
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