View Full Version : Refinishing a wood stock

January 19, 2012, 05:50 PM
I have a stock for my old 98 mauser sanded down and ready to be fixed up to show room shine. I was just wondering on how is the best way to get a good quality finish and what is the best stain/sealer to use. Walnut stock and I would like to have lighter finish. Thanks for the help

January 19, 2012, 06:14 PM
Do a search on this site. There are numerous threads that give excellent advice on the subject.

January 19, 2012, 06:28 PM
If you want a glossy finish get a can of MinWax spray poly, it comes in gloss or satin finishes. use it after staining the wood.

January 19, 2012, 07:38 PM
I don't know what grit you sanded the stock to, but I'd suggest 220 grit at least, and maybe 320 if you are going to use something like the Minwax Polyurethane. Their Fast Drying Polyurethane in Satin looks real good on Walnut. If you are going for an oil finish, I'd go as high in grit as 400. And after that you should raise the grain with water at least once and up to 2 or 3 times depending on what quality finish you want. That said, about the fastest finish that looks good and is durable (that I have in my inventory of finishing stuff) is that Minwax Fast Drying Poly. I'd put a screw hook in the butt end of the stock and hang the stock and spray the poly on it in thin layers. You don't want it to run. If it does run or sag, a rag wet with Mineral Spirits will wipe the run, but you run the risk of 'uglifying' it. So just go slow with thin coats and try your best to avoid the run. Practice on something else first.

As for the color, the Minwax won't darken it. The oil finish will darken it.

January 20, 2012, 01:46 PM
I have a stock for my old 98 mauser sanded down and ready to be fixed up to show room shine. I was just wondering on how is the best way to get a good quality finish and what is the best stain/sealer to use. Walnut stock and I would like to have lighter finish. Thanks for the help

The better your prep work, the better the end results.
Steam out all dents, sand out all scratches until flawless.
Then apply your choice of color stain (or leave natural) and apply Tru-Oil.

Use 0000 super fine steel wool between coats of Tru-Oil until you get the results (shine) you want.

Again, the end result will only be as good as your prep work.
Take your time and have fun! :)

January 22, 2012, 10:14 AM
Dino was spot on.

De-hair it before refinishing. While not necessary, it helps.

March 11, 2012, 04:52 PM
Thread ressurrection here.

I have a Yugo Kar98. The stock is in pretty good condition, and has a really nice grain pattern. However, it is a bit swelled. I'm looking at sanding it just enough to smooth the grain, and then oiling it.

I do not want a shiny finish. I have been told to use boiled linseed oil.

Will the linseed oil give me a dull, natural finish? Will it damage the blued metal parts?

March 11, 2012, 09:46 PM
Boiled LInseed Oil won't damage metal. It will dry on metal and be a pain to remove, so wipe the oil off any metal surfaces before it dries. Before adding the oil, sand the stock to whatever grit you want (220 at least) and wet it to raise the grain and then dry and dewhisker it a couple of times. Once it's sanded and dewhiskered, wipe it down with Mineral Spirits and have a good look at the wood surface. Mineral Spirits will show up any big flaws. If you like the look of the wood surface, let the Mineral Spirits dry and then add the BLO. Just put plenty of the BLO on the stock and let it soak in and add more as you see areas on the stock soak up the oil. When it won't take any more oil, you're about done unless you want to add some more the next day.

And remember...DO NOT wad up any linseed oil soaked rags or paper towels and throw them in the trash. Either lay the rags flat to dry or put them in a container full of water. Spontaneous combustion of BLO soaked rags almost burned my garage up once. I had an attack of stupid and was lucky to not get punished for it.

March 12, 2012, 05:43 PM
Thanks for the info.
The only metal left on the stock is the cap near the muzzle end, and the disk in the buttstock. I figured I would mask them off when applying the BLO

I'm aware of spontatious combustion. My father had a small fire in the garage when he was younger and preached to us as kids about the risks. All my shop rags get hung up to dry before they get stashed

Could you explain what you mean by "dewhisker." Is it the process of smoothing the grain after it is wetted?

This is my first foray into stock work.:o

March 12, 2012, 08:34 PM
Dewhiskering is the last step in one cycle of the grain raising process, but you'll want to raise the grain and dewhisker at least 3 times. The logic here is that you will eventually get the rifle stock wet in the course of hunting. When that happens and the wood dries, the grain will raise up like your chin whiskers in the morning. You don't want that, so before you put the BLO on it, and after you have done the final regular sanding (to 220 or 320 grit) you wet it, dry it, and use a fine sandpaper (320 or 400 grit) to lightly sand off those little whiskers of wood. I do the fast method, where I wet the stock and then use a blow drier to dry it. The more times you go through the process, the less likely that when you do get the stock wet, the grain will raise up. After all that, apply the BLO. It'll penetrate better if you warm it (be careful doing that. No open flame) and/or mix in a bit of Mineral Spirits for just the first application. I'd suggest you flood the wood with straight BLO for several days until it just won't absorb any more. Wipe it off after each application because you don't want it to dry on the surface. Then, if you are willing to put in a bit more work, put a few drops of BLO on your hands once a day and rub the oil into the stock. After all that, wet weather shouldn't raise the grain. But if that eventually happens, you can use some wet/dry sandpaper in 600 grit and with an ample puddle of BLO you can very lightly wet sand it as smooth as a baby's backside. Or you can use Johnson's paste wax instead of wet sanding and rub it in with OOOO steel wool. Personally, for the sake of water repellency, I use the BLO and very fine sandpaper for touch up purposes. And every now and then put a few drops of BLO on your hands and rub it into the stock. Keeps it looking great. You can skip the hand rubbing with oil if you just want water repellency.

All this is said with my assumption that you are reworking a military stock. If you're actually doing a fine walnut stock, there's even more you can do to make it look great with a BLO finish. Google up "hand rubbed Oil finishes", and I'm sure you'll get all the detail you want. If not, PM me.

I hope that answered your questions.

March 13, 2012, 09:35 AM
Great thread. I was searching for information on this topic and found all I needed here. Thanks for this.

March 13, 2012, 05:22 PM
I used very fine steel wool and overn cleaner on the stock, afte repeating that twice the stock was ready and I used linseed oil rubbed into the stock in several coats, its very nice and accurate to wartime standards depending on your mauser mnfctr

March 13, 2012, 06:21 PM
Thanks again, 603Country. That detailed write up is great.

Yes, I am refinishing the military stock. The buttstock is just selled enoug to raise the grain a little. I am considering giving the rifle to an old friend for his 40th B-day, so I just wanna get it smoothed out before then. If it turns out really nice, I may just put it back into MY safe:D

March 13, 2012, 06:31 PM
Respectfully, oven cleaner on wood tends to damage the natural 'glue' that holds the wood together. I would not recommend that method although many people swear by it. It's what I'd call a 'harsh' cleaning process. I also hate to be negative on steel wool, but it tends to leave little bits of steel wool in the wood. On walnut, I've sanded with 100 grit, which is approximately the finish that would have been on a US military stock when it was new in the '40s. Personally I didn't like it and I didn't want to wait until handling smoothed the wood. I went up to 600 grit, and then I used very fine scotchbrite. I'm sure there's a dozen ways to get the finish desired. I used many many coats of boiled linseed oil and many many sessions of vigorous hand rubbing with a soft cloth. I'm always surprised that in threads like this, people don't show the results of what their refinishing came out like; the photos might be helpful. This is my M1 rifle stock, just an oil finish, and it's dry in the photo.

March 13, 2012, 07:41 PM
here is a very good tutorial by Dfariswheel. http://TheFiringLine.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231310&referrerid=24896.
Do a search under his screen name if the link doesn't work.

March 28, 2012, 07:30 PM
I'd like to thank all members who gave advice and offered instructions. my Kar98 stock turned out very nice. I thought of posting pics, but the "before and after" pics don't do justice to the improvement.

I like it so much that I just stripped down the M1896 Swede for the same treatment.

Thanks again guys:cool:

March 29, 2012, 10:54 AM
It makes me happy to hear that the refinish turned out nice, and I'm glad that we could offer suggestions on how to do it.

I have a couple of well used 22 lever actions that I've had for many years, but had been way too busy to take time to refinish the stocks - but last year I finally just couldn't put it off any longer. I used the method outlined above on the Winchester 94/22 and found that the walnut was terrific. The walnut on the Marlin was no where near as nice, but it still turned out much better than before. Whenever I look at them or use them I'm happy that I finally took the time to do it right.

As for your rifle, you could put just one picture up so that we could see how it looks. And did you give it to that old friend or did it go back in your safe?

March 29, 2012, 05:44 PM
OK, just a few pics.
I was trying to keep the vintage military look, rather than a high gloss shine. I didn't remove any of the dings, and wanted to retain the cartouches(sp?) that are on the stock.

I found my buddy a few circle10 mags for his SLR106, so the Mauser went back into my safe.

The Swede gets it's first coat of BLO as soon as I finish supper:cool:

March 29, 2012, 08:47 PM
Got to wonder where that old rifle has been, who carried it, and if they survived. If the gun could only talk.

It looks nice. Show us the Swede when you're finished.

April 2, 2012, 04:15 AM
Thats a great look. Did you use the hand rubbed linseed oil method?
and what grit sanding did you end up using?

April 2, 2012, 05:08 PM
I used 150 grit for the initial work. I wetted and dewhiskered twice, switching to 220 grit.
I did 3 coats of linseed oil over a three day period. For the first two, I used a rag soaked with BLO, the last day I used the hand method. I did no buffing or shining of the final coat.

This was my first attempt at refinishing. I'm very happy with the results, and grateful for the advice given on this thread.

April 3, 2012, 05:49 AM
I think that look really suits some rifles like german mausers, VZ24's etc but not so much on others like mosin nagants and swede mausers.

Great job BTW.

April 3, 2012, 01:28 PM
More oil , three coats doesn't come close to sealing the wood from the weather . I can tell this because of the flatness of the finish . When the grain is sealed it will start to shine . You can knock the shine off in several ways , with steel wool being the most popular . Looks great so far !

April 3, 2012, 01:49 PM
this thread started with a 98k with a walnut stock i have a 98k with the laminate stock i want to refinish. i stained it with dark walnut stain but it doesnt get dark enough for my taste. does anybody know of any tips or tricks to refinishing a laminate stock as opposed of a natural wood one?

April 3, 2012, 08:46 PM
Otto, I've never tried to refinish a laminate stock, but if I was going to try it I'd probably use Trans-Tint concentrated dye in Dark Walnut. You can order it from Rockler or Woodcraft, and you can mix it with water or alcohol to whatever strength you want. I've used it with water and with alcohol and I prefer the use with water (distilled water). After all the sanding and grain raising/dewhiskering is done, apply the stain to get the darkness you want, and once the wood is dry, then you can apply the finish. If you are going to use a varnish, you don't need the wood sanded any finer than 220 grit. If you're going to use the Boiled Linseed Oil, I'd sand and grain-raise to 400 grit before I applied the stain. I do wonder how well a laminate stock will accept stain evenly. I'm thinking that the various layers of wood will probably each accept stain differently. Maybe someone else on the forum has experience with that.

Mix the stain with the distilled water and try it out on small hidden spot on the stock so that you can find the darkness you want.

And the OP's stock, which looks fine, could be smoother and shinier if he wet-sanded (with Linseed Oil) to finer grits like 320 and then 400 and then maybe 600 if that's what he wants. That'll put a paste of fine dust and oil into the wood pores and smooth out the appearance of the wood. Hand rubbing daily after that will add more shine. An old book I have (from the 1930's) suggests that hand rubbing should be done daily for no less than 90 days for best appearance. And back in the day they'd use real sharkskin and Rottenstone and oil to fill the pores prior to getting to the hand rubbing part. Personally, I've never gone to those extremes, though I have considered it (not the sharkskin). If I had just the right walnut stock, I'd probably have a go. I wouldn't work that hard on mediocre walnut.

April 4, 2012, 07:04 AM
oneoldsap is dead on. Your stock is not sealed yet. As he so eloquently put it " MORE OIL "! Your stock is sealed when it looks smooth, with little or no surface texture from the wood grain. If it is too shiny for you hit it with 4/0 steel wool and a final coat of Johnsons PASTE floor wax. Tru-oil is my choice for an oil finish. Don't forget the places you don't see like the barrel channel, under the butt plate, anywhere moisture can get in.

April 4, 2012, 06:34 PM
Just because the surface of the wood isn't completely smooth doesn't mean that the oil hasn't penetrated enough to seal the wood. For instance, if you took an open grained wood gunstock (Walnut has some open grain, but isn't real bad about it) and put it in an oil bath for 2 weeks, to let the maximum amount of oil penetrate the wood, and then let the oil dry (would take probably a month to dry completely), the wood would be effectively sealed, but the open grain would still show. Just the oil penetration would not smooth the wood out. That's where the wet sanding with the fine grit comes in. You fill the holes slowly with the oil/wood dust mixture until the surface is smooth. Both ways are effectively and equally sealed against moisture penetration, though the smooth wood is much prettier.

Linseed oil, as good as it is, will not prevent some water absorption by the wood. That's why you should occasionally put a few drops of oil on your hands and work it into the stock.

April 4, 2012, 07:44 PM
The stock on my K98 is laminated. When I sanded, I did so just to dewhisker the grain and took off very little of the surface.

On the first coat of BLO, I could tell it was penetrating a little. The second coat didn't really soak in much at all, so I figured that a final hand-ribbed coat was all that was needed.
If 60 years of use and storage only raised the grain as much as it was, then I think I should be good for another 60 at least. (if I live to 100.)

I'll hit it periodically with some more BLO and see how it holds up.

April 5, 2012, 05:44 PM
You should thin your first coats with Mineral Spirits , to enhance penetration !

April 5, 2012, 08:59 PM
OK, I'll try that on my shotgun stock, which I'm doing next.

The Swede is going to get re-assembled this weekend, (after 5 applications)then I'm doing my Rem 870. Which will get extra coats, since it's my upland gun and gets alot of wet, snowy, soggy use.

At this rate I'll have all my wood stocks refinished by the time I stop:eek:

April 5, 2012, 09:18 PM
I used acetone with 0000 steel wool then Formby's Tung Oil which is really a varnish. I sand with 0000 steel wool, blow the dust off with an air compressor and apply 6 to 8 coats. I sand between each coat with 0000 steel wool. I like High Gloss but also comes in semi gloss and satin. Excellent product. Tim

April 7, 2012, 06:29 PM
:) Hope you wore gloves, Tim

Steel wool will leave little bits of steel in the grain- I just proved it again (as if I needed to do it yet again :rolleyes: ) today. Even lightly rubbing a black walnut stock with 0000 steel wool left bits, and I changed the steel wool often. All I wanted to do was remove some type of varnish-like finish from an old stock to prep for a BLO finish, and was using odorless mineral spirits. Two hours and I'm only half done...

Anyway, I reverted back to my old stand-by: very fine scotchbrite. I'll be getting a needle and a magnifying glass to pick out a few bits of steel wool tomorrow morning.

To each his own but I won't try steel wool ever again

April 8, 2012, 09:42 AM
Wipe with a Tack cloth after rubbing with steel wool , and after sanding ! The problem with the scotch pads is , they scratch like crazy .

April 8, 2012, 10:29 AM
:) Respectfully, that may be your experience but it is not mine; I have no alternative but to presume that you're scratching something on top of the wood.

I find no scratches in American walnut after using scotchbrite, with or without a lubricant such as boiled linseed oil or mineral spirits, or when dry. I've spent the morning doing this, dry. I have no special technique, although maybe I have an advantage because I was trained to do bodywork in a pro shop when I was a kid, and I'm good at it; I know when to stop and when to not stop, if you take my meaning. I rub by hand in circular patterns, with fairly light pressure. I don't 'scrub' the wood. I use very fine scotchbrite. It takes some time but I like the results.

On the previous page is a Walnut stock that I finished by sanding 150 grit down to 600 grit, then with Very Fine Scotchbrite, then with a few dozen coats of boiled linseed oil. You will note no scratches. Here is a photo of the stock I've worked over the last two days with scotchbrite; this morning I used it dry. No scratches. Here's a close-up photo of the results. I'm oiling in about 15 minutes.


April 8, 2012, 12:06 PM
If a fella goes through the sandpaper grits, say 150 to 220 to 320 to 400 to 600, and at each grit he makes sure that scratches from the previous grit are removed, by the time he gets finished at 600 grit there aren't any visible scratches. Any finer grit than that is probably wasted if he's working walnut. Certainly you can go finer than that, and if you are wet sanding, the dust/oil will go into the pores of the wood and eventually close them up. You could also accomplish that with 400 or 600 grit. The trick is to not pull the dust/oil mix out of the pores when you wipe off the excess oil.

As for which oil to use, in the past I used Boiled Linseed Oil. Nowadays I'll usually grab the can of Minwax Antique Oil. It's similar to tung oils and danish oils, in that they are a mix of Mineral Spirits, BLO, and varnish, though the percentages of each vary by brand. You don't even need to buy a can if you have all 3 of the ingredients mentioned. You can mix up your own, and you can get the recipes off the internet. None of these will be waterproof, but they will be water resistant. I use the Antique Oil because a fellow I know that taught woodworking for 35 years said that he always thought that Antique Oil gave the best finish. That was good enough info for me. Is it the best? Heck, I don't know, but I do like using it. It's faster than doing the stock in BLO and it gives a nice soft satin look finish (which probably all of the wiping varnishes/tung oil/danish oil will give). And you can wet sand with it. The more coats, the more shine. The first coat looks terrible. Second coat looks good, and successive coats look even better. Not much point in going past 5 coats or so.

April 8, 2012, 12:32 PM
Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil (http://www.woodcraft.com/family/2003979/2003979.aspx). So good I use it on furniture. Yes, lots of coats. Take yer time.

April 8, 2012, 12:55 PM
If a fella goes through the sandpaper grits, say 150 to 220 to 320 to 400 to 600, and at each grit he makes sure that scratches from the previous grit are removed, by the time he gets finished at 600 grit there aren't any visible scratches.

If this is in response to my technique and use of scotchbrite, I must emphatically assert that I didn't sand this one shown on this page. At all. I stated that the photo on the previous page showed a stock in which I employed sandpaper before scotchbrite. The lack of scratches in the photo on this page has nothing to do with sandpaper grit on this stock as none was used.

April 8, 2012, 03:46 PM
ChrisB, I wasn't commenting on your use of scotchbrite but was only pointing out that an extremely smooth wood surface can be reached with regular sandpaper. Going past a 600 grit with something even less abrasive is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, though probably 600 grit would be enough for most folks. At 600 grit I think we've hit the level where we are polishing as much as abrading. When I'm sanding things on the wood lathe, when I get to 600 I start to see the wood beginning to actually shine.

Regarding the use by some folks of steel wool, I rarely would use that on bare wood, though if a water based finish isn't used, the steel wool shouldn't cause any problems, particularly if a tack cloth is used to remove the remaining bits of the steel wool.