View Full Version : Is minwax OK to seal a barrel channel?

October 20, 2005, 03:51 PM
I had my barrel on my VLS floated by a gunsmith but I don't think the channel was seal and the forearm is touching the barrel. I'm going to refloat the barrel and seal the channel off. I picked up a can of (interior) Minwax Fast-Drying polyurethane along with several grit sandpapers and a 1 inch dowel rod. Is the Minwax OK? If so, how best to apply it as far as how many coats and over what time?

Thanks, Flip.

October 20, 2005, 04:21 PM
Work fine, sand a few thusands down and lay on three or four coats


October 20, 2005, 05:13 PM
I've heard a couple of poeple saying that they used paste wax as a final layer to the urethane sealer. Is it better to use that instead or both togther.


October 20, 2005, 06:13 PM
I prefer a good Spar varnish to the Minwax since the varnish is desiged to be used outdoors where the climate can and will be very wet. Minwax is designed as an indoor finish where the wood stays dry. Just sand it out like you planned to do and then use a rag and wipe on a light coat and allow to dry. Then apply 2-3 more light coats. If you wipe it on smoothly, there won't be a need to rub it back out since it wll be smooth and not be shown. There won't be a need to use a wax on the varnish.

October 21, 2005, 12:14 AM
Why not just Tru-oil? Easy to apply and find.

October 21, 2005, 12:39 AM
If you sand it out and aren't trying to match up an existing finish, TruOil or Tung oil or arrow's wood finish will work very well. The spar varnish will cost you a few bucks though versus the others costing you $10 and up.

October 21, 2005, 04:15 AM
True oil will not really be waterproof. Better to use polyurethane.

Harry Bonar
October 23, 2005, 02:29 PM
Dear shooter:
The sealing doesn't worry me; CNTRYBOY1289 has cured that
- but I am worried about your "floating job!"
I have always free floated 95% of my barrels, and by floating I don't mean a "dollar-bill" passage down the barrel channel - I mean two or three business cards! That bbl, if you use a sling will flex and warp with the weather.
I like to see a 1/16 gap around that bbl. And, if your barrel tapers from the action out I want it floated FROM THE ACTION FACE OUT! If you have a straight section right in front of the action ring then the rifle should really be glass bedded at front recoil shoulder and on PART of that straight portion.
You should have a great rifle - 90% of accuracy problems are not mechanical - they are bedding problems.
Harry B.

October 25, 2005, 09:23 PM
I sanded what I though was the crap out of the channel last night and sealed it with Spar-urethane over the course of today. After the third coat was dry enough, I put it back together and tightened everything down and lo and behold, it was touching in the same place. Before tightening everything down, the channel would clear a folded dollar bill all the way down to the just in front of the bedded action. When sanding it last night, I would put the action/barrel in the stock every now and then to gauge how it doing with clearance betweenb the stock and the barrel. I never even though it tighten it down during this time. I pulled the gun apart and put the action in a gun case since it won't fit it my cabinet and left the stock on my reloading bench. I have to work over the next two days and needed some much needed chill time tonight. I'll sand the living **** out of it this weeked. I was hopping to put some first reloads out of it this weekend but, I guess that will have to wait.


October 25, 2005, 10:20 PM
The dollar bill treatment will only lead to the stock warping and touching the barrel again. Sand it out to where you can slide 2 business cards betwen the stock and the barrel and then reseal it. Make sure you have it torqued down properly when you check it out as well and things should be fine.

Get yourself some stripper and save yourself some time. I use Zip Strip myself, but any good stripper should work. Remove the urethane and then sand the stock using a piece of pipe that almost fits the barrel channel and some good 80 grit paper. Once you get it sanded down, then rub the urethane back on the stock forearm a couple of times.

October 28, 2005, 12:10 AM
Now, all I have left to do is seal off the stock tomarrow. I took a 1" dowel rod and stapled 80 grit sand paper to it and sanded the entire channel to the clearance of two or more buisness cards. There is plenty of clearance between the stock and the barrel now, I don't suspect it will be a problem from here on out.

Thanks, Flip.

October 30, 2005, 10:49 AM
I am coming a little late to this conversation, but I'll throw my two centavos worth in for others considering the same problem.

Harry's comment about the dollar-thin gap goes double for a gun that has a bipod or which you will use with a sling. The stock’s for end is flexible and will bend some in either of these situations; up for the bipod and sideways for the sling in some positions. You need to be sure you have enough clearance that this flexed wood doesn't touch the barrel. So, when you think you've removed enough wood, have a friend re-run the clearance test while you try your positions. If you clear two cards when the stock is held by the grip or butt, you still want at least one card to clear when you are in positions.

A tooling suggestion: If you have a flexible shaft tool, one way to quicken the sanding process is to use it with a drill-type drum sanding attachment. Sears sells a set with 1/4" shafts. I used one in my Foredom tool to whittle out the lower hand guard for a Garand I was fitting with a heavy barrel. It took maybe two minutes to complete the major cutting. Finish sanding, then applying a finish were all that remained. The reason for the flex shaft tool is it's handle is narrower than the rubber sanding drum mandrels. This lets you snug the side of the drum cylinder up against the wood without interference.

Making wood water and humidity proof is a real job. Back when the U.S. Army Marksmanship Training Unit still used M14's, their armorers started with sap wood free unfinished walnut stocks. These were placed into a pressure vessel, heated to 300°F and evacuated for an hour to remove all significant moisture. While still at this temperature, the vacuum was allowed to draw in an epoxy resin. The vessel was pressurized to 100 PSI for an hour with dry air, then the pressure was slowly released. The stocks were removed (presumably excess epoxy was wiped off) and then put in a curing oven for three days to further flow the epoxy into any sap pores and cause it to set and cure. The result was a kind of cellulose-epoxy composite. I don’t know what epoxy resin was used? It would have to be a very slow heat-cured material with no thinning solvent. I don’t know what the final stock weight was? The MTU manual (U.S. Printing Office 1980-740-000/105) says the final finish was “a desirable dull finish, having better concealment characteristics than a normal stock”. They also recommended carbide cutters be used for any inletting for bedding material. Apparently the epoxied fibers dull steel tools.

So, assuming one isn’t equipped to undertake the former procedure, I will throw in two other suggestions: I have taken to using Deftoil Danish Oil Finish for finishing most stocks. This combines tung oil with polyurethane and thinning solvents that allow it to penetrate much more effectively than a straight varnish. A friend who is a cabinet maker put me on to this product applied as follows:

After finish sanding, apply the first of three coats, rubbing it in using 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper as the applicator. This raises the wood fiber and aids penetration. Once the wood is thoroughly wetted, use a brush to keep applying the product until the surface has remained wet for half an hour. Wipe off any excess and let it stand an hour. Apply a second coat with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper and again keep the surface wet for half an hour, wipe dry and let stand an hour. Apply a third coat using 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, and again keep it wet for half an hour, then wipe it as dry as possible. After the final coat, check every hour or so to see if more excess has come to the surface and wipe that off, too. Excess that is allowed to dry makes the finish uneven and is a pain to clean off and achieve a good looking result with.

This finish allows you to make subsequent surface finish application with Defthane after the final Danish Oil Finish has cured 24 hours. My personal preference doesn’t favor glossy exterior finishes, but using the glossy Defthane inside the stock for extra moisture resistance wouldn’t hurt if you are going to carry the gun into wet weather. Keep in mind that no polymer has a zero water permeation rate, so you will want to remove your gun from its stock after a wet excursion and dry the stock inside before putting it back together.

I should add that I usually put a stock I am going to finish into a heavy polyethylene together with a large pouch of color indicator desiccant. I let it desiccate in the bag for a month to get deep water out. The value of desiccating it is to maximize the wood’s ability to absorb the new finish. I make the bag by heat sealing 6 mil PE sheet I get in a construction roll from Lowe’s. I don’t open the bag until I have the finish out and ready to start going on immediately after cutting it open. I don’t do this on a humid day.

Another possibility: If you are only sealing the wood where it can’t be seen and you don’t have to match an exterior finish, go to West Marine or to Woodcraft and pick up a small kit of System Three Rotfix or of the West Marine store brand rotted wood repair resin. These resins are two-part epoxies that are water thin. They are designed to penetrate the fibers of rotting wood and adjacent un-rotted wood fibers to halt moisture damage, harden the soft fibers and secure them to any remaining good fibers. These products also penetrate good wood fiber better than any other type of surface applied epoxy I am familiar with. Mix some and keep the surface wet with it until is starts to thicken. Wipe of the excess and let the rest set up for 24 hours.