View Full Version : having trouble removing oil from stock

May 20, 2005, 08:08 PM
I have one of the first pump shotguns made by Stevens for Sears & Robuck back many of a moon ago.I got the big idea to refinnish the wood on this gun because after about 80 years it was in need of some attention. Well, the fore arm finnished up real nice with tru oil but when i stripped the stock i ran into a problem. Where you place your hand and cheek on the stock there is many a year of skin oil build up, not to mention many quarts of petro oil soaked into this area. I have soaked it in denatured alcohol and the stock looks good until all the alcohol evaperates from deep inside of the stock then more oil is brought to the surface. :mad: Can anyone help me with this problem. :confused:

May 20, 2005, 11:25 PM
There's any number of methods, but the old time stockmaker and furniture maker method is the safest for the wood and most effective.

You'll need a good solvent, preferably non-inflammable. The best is Triclorathane, commonly known as Clorathane.
Also a jar of "whiting", which is Calcium Carbonate. This is a white, flour-like powder.
You can buy whiting from Brownell's and from many local drug stores.

The actual method depends on whether your solvent is inflammable or not.

Mix the solvent up with whiting until you have a pancake batter consistency.

Apply a thick coat of the solvent-whiting to the wood, including the butt area and the inletting.
Depending on how big the stock is you can coat it a section at a time.

IF the solvent is non-inflammable, apply heat with a heat gun, or hold the wood over an ELECTRIC stove burner.

The solvent will soak into the wood and dissolve the grease and oil, and the heat will cause it to "boil" to the surface, where it will be absorbed by the whiting.

Normal methods using solvents, soaps, or other chemicals can bring the grease to the surface, BUT they can't lift it ABOVE the surface.
As soon as the solvent evaporates or the heat is removed, the gunk is re-absorbed into the wood before you can wipe it off, no matter how fast you try.

The whiting actually wicks the oil out of the wood and absorbs it, where it's held. This turns the whiting orange and brown.

Simply wipe the dirty whiting off and re-apply.
Usually 2-3 applications will return even a black grease soaked stock to it's natural color.

If you don't have a non-inflammable solvent, apply the whiting with whatever solvent you do have, then quickly wrap the stock up tightly in a black plastic trash bag, and lay it on a driveway or roof top in direct sunlight on a hot day.

Allow to stand for a few hours, then unwrap, brush off the dirty whiting and re-apply.

This method is much less damaging to the wood than using dishwashers, oven cleaner, or strong liquid cleaners, and unlike them, there's no chemicals or moisture to leech out of the wood later and damage the gun metal.

May 21, 2005, 08:16 AM
thanks for the tip i have been racking my brain trying to figure it out thought i had messed up the stock for good. again thanks :)

May 21, 2005, 11:45 PM
Get a jar of Red Devil lye and heat up a couple of tablespoons to a gallon of water. Scrub the stock with the mix. Make sure to use rubber gloves and eye protection. I like to use a heat gun to bring the oil out of the wood. I wipe the oil down as it comes out. Takes a few minutes to get most of the oil out. I then clean the stock up with simple green.

May 23, 2005, 12:31 AM
A note on the lye mixture. I did this with regular "mechanics" latex gloves. The lye doesn't appear to go through the rubber, but by golly it sure does burn your hands!

I would suggest using those heavy-duty chemical or grouting gloves.

May 23, 2005, 01:36 PM
I don't recommend using these harsh chemicals on gun stocks.

Remember, you can't put something ON the wood, it also goes IN the wood.
What goes IN, comes OUT, sooner or later.
It's the "later" that can ruin a nice firearm.

Anything applied to wood will soak in, and at some point it leeches back out.

I've seen guns damaged by chemical leech a number of times.
One customer had a near-mint Argentine Model 1909 Mauser action, probably the finest Mauser rifle ever built.

He bought a used military stock to restore the rifle, and it was grease soaked.
He took someone's advise and used oven cleaner on it.

Everything looked good, until he removed the action some months later, only to find the action and barrel horribly corroded.

The lye and other chemicals leeched back out of the wood over time and ruined the rifle.

I've seen too much damage to wood and metal caused by using methods and chemicals that were never intended for use on wood.

Wood gunstocks don't "like" harsh chemicals or moisture, which is also why I don't recommend the current favorites of using dishwashers and various liquid cleaners like Simply Green.

The old stockmaker's "whiting" method does a better job than any other and over several hundred years has proved not to be harmful to wood or metal, and that's why I recommend it.

May 24, 2005, 08:32 PM
I've used the whiting method on old Garand stocks. It can take many coats but it eventually works. You can substitute garden lime for the whiting, saving a good bit over stuff sold specifically for the purpose you have. However, precipitated silica works faster and wicks more effectively. You can find it sold as an epoxy filler sometimes. I happened to work where they had some, so a free lunch. About 1/3 part by weight makes a thick gel with the solvent that is very easy to apply.

You can make the slurry with denatured alcohol, since tri-chlor is hard to come by these days. The liquid paint strippers that evaporate away completely work even better. After the flammable solvent evaporates off, set the wood part on an old cookie sheet and shine a heat lamp on it or put it in an oven at about 150°F. CAUTION: if you are going to use an oven, let the thing dry twice as long as it takes to appear and smell dry. You don't want solvent vapors igniting in the oven. You will see the oil stain the thick layer of lime or silica powder. The heat gets the oil thin enough to run and rise to the surface, and the powder wicks it out as Dfariswheel said. Dramatically more comes off with each application if you use heat. Still, be prepared for the number of applications to be on the order of a couple of dozen if the oil saturation is really bad. You'll know you're coming to the end because the oil spots start getting really small.


May 24, 2005, 08:52 PM
Ihave tried the whitting method and that seems to work the best. i had to use denatured alcohol , also i soaked it in a coffee can full of alcohol for 20 mins. then made a slurry of whitting and coated it real good. after i figured out to soak it for 20 min or so it worked better. and not to get in a hurry to scrape the stuff off. A few more apps and this old stock will look good . :)

May 28, 2005, 09:46 PM
well, i got tired of fooling around with denatured alcohol and tested some non clorinaded brake cleaner . real fast evaporating but great oil removal i am gonna mess it up or clean it up. will post more info later :D

May 30, 2005, 02:10 AM
I use Easy Off oven cleaner to get cosmoline out of wood stocks. Only it will really open the grain up and you'll have to refinsh for sure afterwards.

Desert Dog
May 30, 2005, 09:46 AM
Heat gun and a acetone soaked rag here. Just be careful with the proximity of the heat gun to the acetone. :eek: :rolleyes:

Be careful with the distance of the gun to the stock surface as well as a heat gun, well, gets HOT. :)
It is very easy to scorch the stock. If done properly the oil just flows out of the wood, soaked up by the acetone rag you make a pass over it with every so often.

I did a mauser gunstock this way and it lightened up considerably after all the oil was removed. There was actually a nice piece of wood under there!!!

Harry Bonar
May 30, 2005, 07:03 PM
Dear Shooter:
You'll NEVER get ALL the oil out. After preparing the wood by "whiskering" it several times I put the rubber gloves on and with fine steel wool soaked with potassium permanganate (an oxidizer, be careful) I let it soak till dry then go over it with fine steel wool - works great for me - leaves a dark walnut finish you can lighten with linseed and steel wool.
Let it oxidize for a week and use Caseys Tru-Oil - I like it. Harrty B.

June 2, 2005, 05:38 PM
i used almost 2 cans of the stuff with whitting and then i baked it in the oven at 150 deg, that did the trick i have a nice looking stock now.

June 3, 2005, 10:01 PM
Congratulations! It does work, but patience is key.