View Full Version : Wood Solvent - i.e. to break-up wood in a rifle bore

March 25, 2008, 08:39 PM
I have a wooden dowel jammed into the bore of my AR. It's being removed by a gunsmith.

He's warned me that once it's removed, it's likely that there will still be wood embedded into the rifling of the bore, and that this may require extensive brushing to clear-out.

What I'm wondering is whether anyone knows of a solvent that will break-down wood but not damage the bore. I'd like to avoid having to scrape compressed wood from the rifling.


Here's the story

I was cleaning my AR with a pull-cord (i.e. a cord w/ a loop at the end) and the patch got stuck in the throat of my barrel. So I inserted a wooden dowel from the muzzle-end and attempted to tap it out. Well that wasn't a very good idea. The dowel compressed and jammed in my bore with the patch and a short length of pull cord. After a few attempts to tap out the patch, cord, and dowel with a brass rod, I've given-up and taken the upper to a gunsmith.

He'd mentioned that he's seen variations of this problem several times. Wooden dowels will compress, causing their radius to increase, and they mold themselves to the rifling of the bore. Once this happens, they're a real chore to remove.

March 25, 2008, 09:01 PM
Never heard of that. Hard to imagine how wood could enter the grain structure of a metal barrel. btjm

March 25, 2008, 09:05 PM
I think you just use elbow grease and a bore brush. Anything that dissolves wood may dissolve your barrel too. If you block the bore and soak it for a couple of days with gun oil (fill the bore) or one of the less aggressive bore cleaners (Hoppes #9) first it may soften the wood and help to get some lubrication between the wood and the grooves. A brush would probably break it up from there I would think.

March 25, 2008, 09:07 PM
"Never heard of that. Hard to imagine how wood could enter the grain structure of a metal barrel."

I think what he's saying is that wood is stuck in the grooves... That pieces of the dowel were broken off when the dowel was removed.

March 25, 2008, 10:03 PM
I think what he's saying is that wood is stuck in the grooves... That pieces of the dowel were broken off when the dowel was removed.

That's right.

March 25, 2008, 10:07 PM
Unuathorized use of wood huh? :)

WAs First Rule of Setting Gunsmithing Fees is:

Wood is $50 extra, just as punishment:D

WilduseasteelbrushgentlycleanitrightoutAlaska TM

March 25, 2008, 10:10 PM

March 25, 2008, 10:13 PM
dont worry, when something gets stuck in the bore the shooters instinct is to FREAK! haha I once used a cleaning rod to tap out leading....I ended up smashing the stock .22 barrel with a sledghammer it aggrivated me so bad, and got one of the many spares i had from a buddy :P

March 26, 2008, 12:47 AM
Well I can only hope that others learn from my mistake :rolleyes:

What's especially embarrassing is that once I bothered to analyze the wood that the dowel was cut from, it was apparent that it was much too soft for this sort of application. It doesn't look like a soft wood, but it behaves like one.

The funny thing is that this gunsmith was able to guess the wood right down to the appearance and orientation of its grain.

March 26, 2008, 11:35 AM
Scrub it with a bore brush, any microscopic peices left will probably be removed with the first shot fired, there is quite a lot of heat in a barrell upon firing. On the other hand if it was an old growth dowel you may be required to leave it alone as habitat for the spotted owl, which also could be removed by the first shot fired.

March 26, 2008, 06:59 PM
The only things that will break down cellulose are strong. Strong acid or strong alkali, like drain cleaners. Nothing I'd recommend for steel.

Splinters in the bore should not hang on too hard. If you think they are glued in with sap, I would plug the bore and fill it with Ed's Red for a few days so the grains swell up. Drain it, then run a brush and a dry patch through. If you don't see anything on the dry patch and don't see anything with your naked eye, you're going to be good to go.

March 26, 2008, 07:02 PM
Wood is $50 extra, just as punishment


March 26, 2008, 11:25 PM
I already gave my advice here... But since we're all being funny... Keep the wood in there. If you get lost in the woods it'll help you make a fire. Point it into some pieces of wood and pull the trigger. The wood will torch on it's way out the barrel and set you a nice little fire. Of course you'll have to make a choice between that option or firing it into the sky so the wood makes it work like a flare gun. :rolleyes:

James K
March 27, 2008, 11:55 AM
I wonder how long it will take for the word to get out that bore snakes and the like are BAD NEWS!!!!! Sure, I know I will get nasty answers from people who sell the damned things, but they are a BAD idea. If you use one and it hasn't broken off yet, it will. Then you will try to drive it out with a wood dowel, which will splinter and break. Then you will try to use a cleaning rod, which will bend and score the rifling. Then you will dump the whole mess in the lap of a poor gunsmith who will manage to get the garbage out of the barrel, but has (or should have) told you there were no guarantees on preserving the barrel.

Throw that damned string and snake and every other kind of pull-through away, and buy a good cleaning rod!


March 27, 2008, 12:33 PM
Jim the problem with bore snakes is not their use, but how they are used. They are fopr field and occasional right after shooting cleaning and not a subsittute for a rod and elbow grease.

WildtheyareeasytoremoveAlaska TM

James K
March 27, 2008, 12:48 PM
I would agree if we are talking about some extended field trip but field cleaning is not normally needed with non-corrosive ammo and the way hunting is done around here, with hunters going back home or to the cabin at the end of the day. I have heard that long periods in the field are common in Alaska and so the bore snake might well have a place, but I see no reason to use one for common home cleaning. Worse, some folks buy an oversize one under the impression that if you don't have to use a power winch to pull it through the barrel, you aren't getting the rifle clean.


March 27, 2008, 02:31 PM
I agree with Jim. Damn a snake!

March 27, 2008, 03:58 PM
Honestly, that the large organic molecules that make up wood's structure can "drive" themselves into the tightly bonded, small-molecular structure of steel of any type is about nill.

Go take a dowel outside, and hammer it into the surface of a coarsely finished I-beam or something like that. It will brush off. Now imagine how much harder it is to do that with a finely finished surface.

You have nothing to worry about. Just brush it out with a bore brush if there are any splinters in there - but they should just fall out.

March 28, 2008, 08:16 AM
I think if you plug end of the barrel(NOT WITH WOODEN DOWL:D) and fill the barrel with any liquid, it will soften the wood. Once it is softened you will probably have no problem bruching it out. Good luck.

March 30, 2008, 11:20 PM
Plug the bore and fill with automatic trans fluid, brush it out the next day. Its cheap, it's a great solvent, and it won't hurt your weapon.

April 2, 2008, 04:59 AM
If I were faced with this problem I would give the bore a good scrub, get maybe 50 or so blanks, shoot them in short order then scrub out the carbonized remains of any wood splinters that were remaining.

Double J
April 2, 2008, 09:52 AM
I,ll have to agree with Jim Keenan. Forget the bore snakes. I just got through removing one from a .303 Enfield. One of those cheap take-down clean kits cost lots less than I charge to clear a mess like that.
--As for the wood in the barrel, clean it as normal, with a good brush and clean patch. Since the plug was near the chamber end there should be no accuracy problems. Clean it. Shoot it. And I believe it'll be fine.

April 2, 2008, 12:55 PM
So I got the upper back yesterday. To his credit, the gunsmith cleared the obstructions and cleaned-up the bore as well - for a little over $40. I haven't inspected this with a borescope, but I can't see any damage w/ my naked eye and don't feel any abrasions when I've run patches through. The job had apparently required a reamer.

I haven't had a chance to test the barrel yet - we'll have to see whether it's as accurate as it was.

thanks for the advice.

April 2, 2008, 01:04 PM
I see no reason to use one for common home cleaning.

Jim I absolutely agree. No one should misconstrue my post to think otherwise.

WildlimitedapplicationAlaska ™

April 2, 2008, 01:16 PM
If it was mine I would shoot it once and brush it out a few times. I can't imagine that a little wood residue would not be quickly burned away.

Double J
April 4, 2008, 12:58 AM
Something to think about, there are wooden bullets loaded in both a 7.62x39 and the 6.5x55 as training loads.