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Old June 22, 2002, 05:59 AM   #1
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How to refinish a laminated stock?

My desire is to refinish my rifle with walnut filler, walnut stain and true oil. It has no grain as such but there are different 'tricks' I have used in the past to create stunning effects with birch stocks such as swirls and tiger stripes. My question is are laminated stocks porious and will the stain penetrate the wood after the finish is removed? If possible I want to make this stock look like it was made from the highly twisted roots of a walnut tree.
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Old June 22, 2002, 08:39 PM   #2
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The deal with laminates...

They're very dense, by design and construction, and as such are nowhere near as porous as normal wood stocks. The resin used to bind those colored plies of wood soak into the 1/16" sheets, and are kept under pressure and heat until the whole laminate blank cures.

Because of that density, it's almost as if you're working with a composite stock. I've seen some good-looking laminate stocks that came as unfinished blanks, then were sanded and finished in clear polyurethane. Stain and sealer probably wouldn't work, since the wood grain is already filled with resin.

Here's my laminate:

"Bother", said Pooh, as he chambered another round...

Neural Misfires
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Old June 22, 2002, 09:26 PM   #3
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For nonporous woods, you might have better luck with a gel stain instead of a penetrating stain. Minwax and Behlen make gel stain, and there are probably others.

Nice rifle, Gewehr98.
Remember, many times what we view as a curse in the present turns out to be a blessing in the future. Don't worry about it a lot. Things have a way of working out. Trust me on this one. - - Uncle Bill Martino
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Old June 22, 2002, 11:14 PM   #4
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As you can see from Gewehr98's rifle, your biggest battle is going to be the end grain of each layer of laminate, which will soak in more stain.

There's a few things you can do.

Number one, you may just want to go with it. A properly finished laminate stock is a real head turner, and really doesn't need any graining or striping. Strip and finish as you normally would, paying close attention to getting out all those harsh milling and heavy sanding marks that are so common to laminate pieces.

Or, you can to fight it. Strip as normal. Wet the wood, let it dry, hand sand with 120. Wet the wood, let it dry, hand sand with 180. Wet it again, let it dry, hand sand with 220. Continue on, working your way down to the autobody work grits - like 800. That will help fill in the mopre porous spots in the wood, like the end grain. Then, apply one or two coats of sanding sealer, rubbing out in between coats.

Next you'll need to dye the wood. Dyes are available at the better paint supply stores, usually by special order. Pick a light tan dye if you want to end up walnut. I'd sayyyyy, ohhh, ponderosa? Well, you'll see a color chart, just pick a light one, in a natural tan tone.

Apply the dye with a rag, in a very light coat. Wet sand with 220, and rub off immediately. While it's still damp with the dye, repeat, only with a heavier coat this time. Really rub it in with the 220. Let it set into the wood a little longer this time, giving it time to soak in. Repeat this procedure as many times as you like, until you have a fairly uniform color.

Now you can stain. Use a quality stain, without the new junk they put in them nowadays for Harry Homeowner. Real stain - no urethanes, no gel. Stain much in the same way as you dyed the piece - rubbing it in well with the 220. Keep recoating until you get the desired color, keeping mind it will redden up when you apply the topcoats. If it's not going weel, and not getting as even as you want, stop after about 4 stainings and let it sit overnight to dry. Repeat the staining process the next day, and it should even out a little for ya.

Apply topcoat of your choice. I prefer uncut tung oil for stocks. Uncut tung oil is thick as molasses, and provides a very tough coat without making it shiney as glass. You'll know the cut tung oil - it's like friggin water, and is pretty worthless for much of anything than chair seats. 7 coats or so should do it - just rub it on, rub it off, rub it on, rub it off, etc. A very professional looking top coat, in my opinion, and very weather resistant.

The look will be like a deep walnut, with a crazy subtle underlying grain - that's the laminates. From a distance, the endgraining of the laminates will unnoticeable. Close on, the stock will have a shocking look to it, and people will be asking you to finish their stocks the same way. Do give up the secret!! The trick's in the wood dye.
Right turn, Clyde.
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