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Old December 4, 2005, 10:17 PM   #4
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Join Date: March 2, 2001
Posts: 683
I have tried all three types that you mention, tung oil, poly, and spar varnish.

You may find that when you sand the stock that the stain that is in the present coating also goes away. The wood underneath may or may not be uniform in color. I have an old 50's era Remington .22 and I was real surprised to find the wood beneath the stain to be part very light and part fairly dark!

The minwax tung oil is actually a combination tung oil and varnish and is a bit tougher than regular pure tung oil. But it still has the properties of letting you control the sheen from satin to glossy. You can put a bit of stain in the tung oil itself and it will darken up as you add coats. I did a target rifle stock once. It darkened up a lot with no stain added. It took over 12 coats of the tung oil, drying 24 hours between coats and then sanding with a progressively finer paper. If you put the tung oil on, then wipe it off, then let it dry, then sand it smooth again and repeat you will know when you have filled the grain and you can progress to a wet coat. Mine came out nice.

The poly is ok, its functional but it is difficult to get a superior finish (this is just my humble opinion) because it builds up faster than the tung oil. Its durable but I would never use it again just because its a shortcut you do not need.

I used spar varnish on a model 70 stock. It builds up real fast but is tough as nails and gives a great gloss shine once you are done. In four coats you can have a nicely sealed stock. It does not darken as much as tung oil.

I have a soft spot for shiney pretty stocks. If there is checkering on your stock you might try taping it off with masking tape. It makes for a nice contrast if you don't go too wild with the stain color you choose.

If you can take over a closet or set up a box in the garage to hang your stock in it will help you keep the dust off as you progress with your coats.

Post a picture for us when you are done.
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