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Old November 24, 2012, 10:22 PM   #1
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Cleaning Bare Wood

Hey everyone. I'm refinishing the stock for a Glenfield (Marlin) Model 60 that I found at the pawn shop a little while back. I got the old finish off and it's down to the bare wood. Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of grime soaked into the pores of the wood that I'm having a bit of trouble getting rid of.

I've tried sanding and wetting the wood to raise the grain. But it doesn't seem to be helping much. Nor does rubbing it with mineral spirits. Is there any sort of soap I could try that might get this stuff out? I'm a woodworking noob, so any and all advice is appreciated.
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Old November 24, 2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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I refinished a stock for a friend a while back, and the wood looked much like that. I couldn't sand off the discolorations, unless maybe if I took a lot more wood off, which I didn't want to do. But, why the need to get rid of that discoloration? That isn't Walnut. It's just a plain inexpensive wood that Marlin put a covering finish on. Now you've taken that beat up covering finish off. You aren't likely to make that wood look really good as it is, so I recommend that you put another covering finish on it. That will actually hide the wood and if done well, can have the look of a good walnut. If you want to go that way, I'd suggest that you sand it to 320 grit (150 grit, then 220 grit, then 320 grit and then raise the grain a few times, like you did). Then I'd spray on a couple of light coats of Zinsser dewaxed shellac (spray cans available at Home Depot or Lowe's) being careful to not let it run, let dry and then sand very lightly with 320 or 400 grit. Then you can wipe on a Walnut colored gel stain varnish. The Hickory gel stain varnish that I have looks pretty good also. Use a bunched up rag to wipe on the stain/varnish and once you get the hang of it, it'll look just like wood grain. If you put some on and don't like the look, just wipe it off with a rag and Mineral Spirits and try again. Once you've got it looking good and looking like it's a walnut gunstock, you can put on a couple of coats of Minwax Spray Fast Drying Polyurethane (sand lightly between coats) and don't sand the final coat. Then, once good and dry (a few days) rub the Polyurethane finish with OOOO steel wool and paste wax.

When I finished the stock that I did for my buddy's old single shot 22 rifle, he thought that it was a good walnut stock. I'll admit that it took me a while to get the hang of how best to wipe on the gel stain/varnish. I had tried about half a dozen other ways to make that cheap wood look good and I failed miserably each time. That's when I decided that the finish would have to actually hide the wood and be a 'fake' finish. Now if you don't want to work that hard, and if you don't care if the wood looks like well finished walnut, just brush on some Minwax Walnut or Special Walnut or Hickory oil based stain and spray the poly on after that. Won't look as good, but it's your call as to what you want. If you do it the easy way, the stain is likely to blotch and look really bad. That's what happened to me and why I finally decided to take the longer approach and hide the wood. I had promised the guy a nice looking stock rework and that's what it finally took. I probably put $100 worth of manhours into a stock for a gun that was probably worth $25.
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Old November 25, 2012, 07:45 PM   #3
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The traditional method to clean wood is to use Oxalic acid.
This is a crystal-like material that looks like small grain rock salt.

You mix it with hot water and use a sponge to apply it to the wood. It cleans and removes organic staining.
It's also used to clean leather before dyeing.

You can buy it from Tandy Leather Co and most woodworkers supply houses.
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Old November 25, 2012, 08:46 PM   #4
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try a water based stripper and a nylon brush
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Old November 26, 2012, 12:34 AM   #5
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The "grime" is stain that is trapped in the grain of the stock. You can strip it repeatedly and it will look grimy. The stock in question is most likely birch, so you will need to stain it before finishing it, so don't worry about it. Just stain it and apply whatever finish you are going to use.
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Old November 26, 2012, 10:35 AM   #6
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Scorch is right about where that remaining discoloration comes from. The wood absorbed the stain in varying amounts and went deeper where that color is. That is the problem you are going to encounter when you try to stain it. The uneven rate by which the stain soaks in will lead to what's called "blotching". It's rarely attractive, which is why I earlier recommended a surface finish rather than a stain. There is a middle ground approach where you could use a gel-stain, which doesn't penetrate much. I'd still go over the wood first with a light coat of spray Zinsser dewaxed shellac and then some light sanding with fine sandpaper. The shellac will limit penetration of the stain and will therefore limit the ugly blotching. The good news is that you can take Scorch's suggested approach, and if it doesn't give you the result you want, you can (after it all dries), seal it with the spray shellac and then go with what I suggested in my first post above. You wouldn't need to sand it all off, though you should rough it up with fine sandpaper.

The approach I've laid out would, hopefully, result in a nice looking stock, but it's a lot of work and may need some experimentation to get it just right. In the instance of this fairly inexpensive rifle, you may just want a basic finish on the stock, so my approach may be overkill.
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Old November 26, 2012, 04:29 PM   #7
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When the domestic supervison (wife) is not home run it through a high temperature pot scrubber cycle in the dishwasher.

I've done this to several milsurp stocks. When they come out they look like bare wood that a deranged beaver has worked them over but the grime is gone as are many of the dents.
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Old December 16, 2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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Chlorine bleach in water. Don't need much. Rub it in and wait 30 minutes.

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