View Full Version : At what point does a reconditioning become a refinishing?

May 5, 2010, 02:03 AM
At what point does a reconditioning become a refinishing? I just took delivery of a Mannlicher Shoenauer model 56. The metal is very good the stock is tired. Very few dents, the only cuts are in the top layer of the finish. Some of the finish is flakey and on the sharper edges like along the cheek piece it is rubbed down close to the wood. I was thinking of just hitting the wood lightly with some fine steel wool and rubbing it out with paste wax or furniture polish.

I'm interested in hearing opinions on when a reconditioning ends and a refinishing begins. And...where does my plan fall in terms of retaining value in the continuum between original and refinished.

A previous owner did a hack job on drilling and tapping scope mount holes on the top of the chamber and along the side of the receiver. The ones in front will be covered under the new front scope mounts but the blemished will still be there. The ones on the side of the receiver are neater and will look ok with plug screws. The metal is roll stamped under the mounting holes so any attempt to fill the holes will look worse than being plugged neatly with screws.

Bottom line, the gun is butchered enough that I wouldn’t be afraid of to strip the stock to the wood and start over. But if doing a touch up will get it looking good and preserve the guns value I will stop there. Having a nice looking gun that I can shoot is more important to me than collector value.

May 5, 2010, 07:56 AM
credx, refinishing the stock will only improve the value of the rifle, I doubt at this point "used but original finish" makes a difference, this is not antique furniture.
I disagree so with your described method of repair, from what you say about "finish flaking off" the stock is varnished, not oiled. Once you start going at it with wax or oil, it's going to get worse and you can't fix the varnish anymore. Remove an damaged varnish with the fine steel wool, roughen up the rest and recoat with shellac or similar. Or sand it down and give it an oil or wax finish.

May 5, 2010, 10:11 AM
Brownells has a spray on finish called Pro-Custom Oil , it is a urethane modified Tung Oil available in Gloss or Satin ! I have had good results with a combination of hand rubbed (3to4 Coats) Pro- Custom liquid under the same number of spray on coats . Spray one coat on the checkering then mask the checkering so as not to fill it with finish . Light coats is the trick as soon as it starts to look wet let it dry for a few hours before applying further coats .

May 5, 2010, 10:39 AM
I've redone Mannlicher-Schoenauer stocks before, and I wouldn't think of touching a stock, in the condition described, with sandpaper.

I would use Formby's Furniture Restorer, a liquid stripper, to remove/wipe-off the varnish via following the can directions with a new pad of OOOO steel wool, followed up with dent raising and an oil finish.
I would use a stain only in light-colored areas (if any) or if the stock's overall color when stripped was too light for my taste.


May 5, 2010, 01:34 PM
I don't know why people say not to refinish older rifles. Seriously. If the rifle has been drilled and tapped, it has little collector value, so keep it in good shape so it does not become damaged due to deterioration of the finish that is on it now. If the finish is as bad as you describe, waxing it will not help. Strip it (gently!!!), raise any dents, and refinish it. Use whatever finish you like (lots of gun wood finishes are available), but don't use furniture finishes, they are typically not solvent-proof, and are not known for being wear-resistant. TruOil works well, why not give it a go? PermaLyn is quick and easy. Want something more durable? Try Acra-Wood from Brownells.

May 5, 2010, 03:13 PM
I have to admit, I really like the looks of a nicely refinished firearm. There will always be a place for that "untouched" gun for collectors with the high dollars. But, a historical firearm that has been nicely restored has value to me. Maybe someday it will have value to others. Afterall, no one manufactured a gun with the intent that it should live with perpetual rust stains, scratches, and warn grips never to be refinished. If a Sig pistol is factory restored, it enhances its value. But if a WWII lugar is nicely restored, to some it's "worthless". I just don't get it.

Big Shrek
May 6, 2010, 02:21 AM
I agree with SKANS...

If it's a Holy Grail type thing where it was bought and stuck in a safe for 100 years...it shouldn't need any touchups...leave it be, it's all original.

But a working rifle usually got repaired over the years as it was used...usually by the owner or the local blacksmith/gunsmith.

Great example, I've got a Marlin 99-G with a Walnut stock, Gold trigger, and a Marbles Bullesye sight...sure didn't come that way from the factory ;)

But it's a 50-yr old rifle...and was well used, and when things broke, they got repaired with better items that happened to be available.

So I had zero problem taking the stock off, sanding it, and refinishing the wood. It looks ten times better than it did when Marlin finished it (Mar-shield SUCKS, IMHO), so when I pull that bad boy out of the case for a day at the range, it draws a lot of admiring looks.

Once you determine if it's a "Safe Queen" or a shooter...the choices become a LOT more clear.

Another example...this 1913 Marlin model 37...

Looks pretty decent, but it's quite well-worn and in need of a re-bluing & a refinishing. The blueing is pretty much brown...and must be redone...the only thing I'm still trying to figure out is whether to switch it to a Case-Color job. The stock has many dents & scratches and needs some love as well.

It's a shooter...I still take this rascal out and shoot it...my wife thinks it's more fun than her Model 60. So eventually, it'll get a good refurbishing that will make it look brand new...and I'll shoot the heck out of it and love every minute!!

Granted there ain't many of the model 37's left...but I want mine to look GOOD!!!

May 6, 2010, 02:44 AM
Thanks for all your input. I was getting caught up in preserving the guns value over making it the way I like it. I only ever sold one gun in my life so collector value and resale are really irrelevant. After looking at your posts I think I have come to the conclusion that a full restoration of the stock is in order. I found some nice scope rings that will cover the holes on top of the receiver and I have a line on a good local guns smith that can fill and re-drill the holes so the front mount will be straight. With the metal blemishes addressed, I will bring the stock back to life. I have done some restorations in the past and a couple of stocks from raw wood and like the way hand rubbed linseed and teak oils turns out. I thought about giving the true-oil a try this time with a darker stain. I don’t like the original color; it is a little orange for my taste. I'm going to darken it a bit with more brown, less red. Oh and thanks for the tip on finishing the checkering. I'll post some before and after photos and the project progresses.

June 6, 2010, 03:25 AM
I finished this project today and it turned out better than I thought it might.

The wood was OK, a few dents and dings most of which I was able to steam out with a wet cloth and a hot cloths iron. The finish was old shellac and was cracking and pealing. The bore and rifling was like new. The metal was pretty good but it must have had three different scopes mounted on it over its life span. I filled two unused scope mounting holes on the side with blued screws rather than plug screws (they look like they have a purpose other than filling unwanted holes). I found scope mounts that matched the original factory holes in the rear and the two that had been drilled and tapped (poorly done) in font of the breach. The original scope mounts are rare and original reproduction were $500 + and needed to be installed by the manufacturer, Even if I had gone that way I would have had visible gaping holes.

I was able to find a period correct Weaver K-4, 4 power scope on eBay. I won the bid, $32 bucks. It was a little rougher than depicted on the website but I took some 0000 steel wool and Vaseline to it and it came out real nice.

For the finish I mixed Bone Black with the second coat of linseed oil. The black got into the pores of the wood and set off the grain that was pretty plane Jane under the old finish. It has about eight coats of linseed oil (I lost count) and three coats of wipe on polyurethane (great stuff) and then a couple of coats of brown shoe polish as it's stiffer and more heat resistant than paste wax.

I replaced most of the screws that were damaged with new ones. The ones I couldn't replace I cleaned and re-cut the slots if they were stripped. There are some places where the bluing has been rubbed off but they are subtle blemishes that add a little character to a 54 year old rifle. I haven't found period correct rings yet. They are out there it's just a mater of looking for them. Once I get them and the scope installed I'll take her to the range and see how she shoots.

This was a fun project. It took about 15 - 20 hours over the course of about 10 days.

Because all the extra holes had been drilled for scope mounting it lost all it's collectors value so a complete refinish didn’t do any more harm to its value. Besides I wanted a shooter not a collector.

The polyurethane I used is a Min Wax product called "Wipe on Poly". It is really easy to use and looks fantastic over a stained or natural finish. In this case I wanted a final finish that would harden the wood to prevent dents and seal out moisture.

Ive got the bug. I'm already looking at an old model 70 to restore.

June 6, 2010, 08:57 AM
That turned out very nice, congratulations. Let us know how it shoots.

June 6, 2010, 02:35 PM
That looks very nice. Good job.

August 8, 2010, 04:22 AM
I finally got my Mannlicher Schoenauer to the range today. I put about 10 cheap American Eagle rounds through her. The MS action is like a new gun tight, not metal on metal tight but precision machine and engineering tight. I now understand why that action is famous. I laser bore-sighted the Weaver scope before we left the house and was disappointed that I couldn’t find paper. On a fluke I found one bullet hole about 9" high. I cranked the scope down a bunch of clicks and by sheer luck nailed the elevation. The windage was already on target. The trigger pull was heavier than I expected, maybe 6 or 7lbs with a tiny bit of slack up front. It broke nice and had very little if any over travel. The trigger blade was a little thinner that I would prefer but I shoot a lot of target handguns and am used to a wide trigger. The 50 yard group was two rounds through the same hole and a third overlapping about half way. Total size was less than half an inch. I took it out to the 100 yard line but it was at the end of the day. I was tired from a bunch of 270 and 30-06 rounds so my shoulder was tender. The cross hairs on the old Weaver are pretty thick to so it wasn't as precise a sight picture as at 50 yards. The group opened up to about 2.5”. I know that it'll do far better than that but I wasn't up to it. Next time out I'll shoot from the 100yd line first. I'll also work up work up some hand loads. Based on the 50yard performance I would bet she is sub moa but even if not the accuracy is excellent for a 50+ year old rifle with a 40+year old scope. I sure like this rifle!!! :)