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rec.guns FAQ: VIII.B.4. How to Refinish a Rifle Stock
                              VIII. TECHNIQUES

B. Rifle Techniques

                                    by Norman F. Johnson (
   How does one clean up and restore stocks to a "military type" finish?
       Remove the finish.  This will require a lacquer remover, or  if the
      finish is polyurethane it may have to be sanded.  If  sanded use a
      hard block behind the sandpaper on the straight  surfaces of the stock
      to preclude dishing out the softer areas of  the grain.
       Take a moderately wet towel and place it on the stock.  Use a  very
      hot iron to steam the indentations back to the surface.   This is very
      effective but any actual cuts in the wood will be  slightly visible
      when the wood is re-stained.
       Run water over the stock quickly but briefly to get it  thoroughly
      wet but not to let it soak.  Dry it over a flame or  overnight in a
      good drying spot.
       Using #0000 steel wool, rub down the stock to remove the fuzz  that
      the water/drying process has (intentionally) raised.  This  step is
      important to obtain a good finish. Be sure that ALL of  the steel wool
      fragments are removed (I brush and then use tape  to finish this
       Re-stain as you see fit.
       The best and easiest final finish that I have found is Tung  Oil.  It
      can be applied with your hands and 3 or 4 coats can be  applied in a
      day in geographic areas where drying conditions are  good.  Simply rub
      on a HEAVY coat. Keep rubbing (only a few  minutes) until you feel the
      oil starting to set up.  Set the  stock aside for a couple of hours
      and repeat except use a thinner  coat of oil.  After the second coat,
      rub lightly with #0000  steel wool. I have used a minimum of three
      coats through a  maximum of eight.  Higher gloss is obtained with each
      coat but  this can be dulled by the careful use of #0000 steel wool.
      A final rubbing with rotten stone and oil can also provide a very nice
      low luster to the tung oil finish.  Rub carefully along any sharp
      edges on the wood such as along cheek pieces. It is easy to cut
      through the finish there.
       Let set for several days before placing in a soft gun case to  be
      sure of a complete cure.  Soft gun cases can impress the new  finish
      with the texture of the gun case material if the finish is  not
      allowed to harden.  Handling (shooting) a day or two after  finishing
      does not seem to hurt the finish.
       After thorough cure, wax if you like.
   After trying all the commercial finishes, this is the most  satisfactory
   that I have found.
   Note:  Tung oil is expensive and once opened, will start to  cure in the
   container if an airspace is above it.  I buy it in  1/2 pint quantities
   so only a small amount of air space is above  it when some has been used.
    It is supposed to be water proof  whereas linseed oil is not.
   God Bless!

From: "Mahlon G. Kelly" <>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Swedish Mauser: thanks, more help needed.
Date: 15 Sep 1994 18:25:24 -0400

# They used to boil stocks in linseed oil for a couple of days in order to
# weatherprooof them.  My dad says that the sticky stocks were a
# horror on the parade square, but they were easy to grip in the field.
# Because the stocks are saturated, cleaning is only a temporary fix.  I
# have an Enfield and a Mauser stock that weeped for years despite repeated
# scrubbing.  The best thing you can do is to clean them and then seal them.
#  I have found that TrueOil and tung oil both work.  I prefer tung oil
# because it does not get as shiny as TrueOil. 
Household ammonia, applied with gentle rubbing with 000 steel
wool will remove the oil, and ALL the finish. So you will want
to put on a coat or 2 of True-Oil when you're done. I find that
American military rifles look about right with 3 coats. Most of
it soaks in, but then, the original boiled linseed oil did too.


From: "Mahlon G. Kelly" <>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Japanese World War II Rifles
Date: 4 Oct 1994 21:56:21 -0400

#     - What is the best method of removing the rust without destroying the
#       metal underneath?  I typically use Hoppes No. 9 and Tu-Foil gun coat
#       on my other guns, but have never had to deal with anything this
#       neglected.  I would prefer not to have to physically scrape it off
#       with steel wool.
#     - Restoring the wood.  I am planning on lightly sanding it, applying a
#       sealant and linseed oil.  Is this the best course of action?
# Thanks in advance for your help.

Don't hesitate to use steel wool as long as it is 000 or finer.

DO NOT sand the stock. Use household ammonia to remove the old
oil finish. Raise any dents by putting a wad of soaking wet
towel over the dent and then steaming the dent by applying
something red hot to the wet paper (I use a big bolt). You
could use boiled linseed oil if you want to be authentic, but
Birchwood Casey True Oil, probably no more than 2 coats, will
dry much faster.

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