Clogged pores in walnet

I'm in the process of refinishing a walnut gun stock (M14 BTW). I've stripped the old military finish and preservatives, steamed out all the dents, sanded from 220 through 400, and would be nearly ready to start applying new finish - except that the pores are now completely clogged with the light-colored dust. I've tried getting it out with compressed air, vacuum, tack cloth, and denatured alcohol. Nothing is helping at all.
I've done quite a bit of work with cherry, but this is actually my first walnut project. I'd sure appreciate some advice. Thanks!
Mike
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Walnut even.
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Mike - I'm just going to take a shot at this here, it is hard to say without the piece in front of me. I going to guess that you have it cleaning stripped, with the mechanism, barrel, etc. all removed from the wood parts. I will also assume that you have cleaned all powder residue from in front of the reciever (around the piston), and the trigger assembly. Solvents and cleaners could redissolve anything in those areas and contaminate your finish.
This could be an easier fix than you think.
Most of the older military stocks I have seen were finished with some kind of modified lacquer or varnish, then they were often touched up by someone in the armory with linseed oil from time to time. Moreover as they wore, they picked up a generous dose of all manner of barrel cleaners, solvents, and lubricants just like your other guns.
The cleaners, ground in dirt from wear, and deteriorating age of the finish cause it to break down and the resins to become brittle. When the resins become brittle, they are a snap to sand off - unless in your case you have residual oils, dirt and many other contaminates in the mix. My experience in refinishing would lead me to believe that the pores are probably clogged with the old finish, not sanding dust.
This is the way to get that stuff out. Go to a paint store (HD may have this stuff) and get the Bix stripper in the orange and black can. It is called something like K5 or similar. Look for the orange in the label. Don't substitute one of those organic removers or orange oil products - they don't work. The Bix on the other hand should lift off the finish easily, but wear gloves and work with it outside. It will easily burn your skin as well.
Get yourself a about half a gallon of clean sawdust. Not planer shavings, not chainsaw chips, but sawdust. One of my refinishing buddies gets his from a guy at HD that runs the cutting saw for sheet goods if you need to find some. Make sure it is clean - no cig butts, nails, pieces of wire, gravel or anything else.
Put the stripper on one piece of the wood and wait about 10 minutes. You may need to re-wet this, don't let it dry out. Put some of your sawdust (this is your deep cleaning abrasive) on the wet wood, and scrub hard with stiff brush. You won't believe how much stuff will come off. With a stiff brush and plenty of elbow grease, that you can clean those pores out completely.
This is exactly how I refinish doors on site. I don't dip them, steam them, heat gun them... nothing but stripper, sawdust and stiff brushes (like a tile grout brush).
You may need to do this more than once to get the wood really clean. A couple of tips; try to time the how many minutes you leave the stripper on in each area you work. This will help you keep the wood from turning out different colors when stripped. DAMHIKT. Same when scrubbing.
Allow the cleanly scrubbed stock to dry thoroughly. Soak a rag to just before dripping with lacquer thinner and wash off any residue of gunk, stripper, dissolved stuff, and anything else from the stock. Let it dry (10 minutes). Wash again if needed.
Sand to the desired grit. Clean with lacquer thinner one more time, then apply your finish.
So tell me. Is this a newer repro from someone like Springfield Armory or is this the real deal from late 50s/early 60s? When I had a chance to buy one a few years ago, I didn't, and now I never see them anymore except with the composite and fiberglass stocks. Still kicking myself in the ass as all it came down to was the fact I didn't want to let go of the dough and I didn't want to pay for the ammo.
Robert
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Ditto
oil, no problem. Otherwise mineral spirits and fine brass brush.
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Why do you say no problem? The dust will still show through the oil, no? I thought about a brass brush, but then wouldn't I have to sand again? Thanks.

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brushes, though you could use nylon if you're overly concerned. Check it out and see.
The oil finish you apply should float the dust back up out of the pores to the degree it's still there.
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I've refinished numerous 1903 and M1 Garand stocks in my shop. The cosmo, oils, finger greases, and other battle crud is really the issue, not the dust.
Others have said as much, but really you need to start by removing the oils and greases from the stock, generous amounts of mineral spirits and time.
But DON'T SAND THE STOCK!!!! You utterly ruin any history that stock may have had (I'm assuming its an arsenal stock not an after market one). I've many many WWI and WWII battle stocks in my possession from all armies and I've never sanded ANY of them to any appreciable amount. Mineral spirits, degreasers (purple power works wonders), followed by their original finish (if available).

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Thanks, Robert, for taking so much time to write a well-thought-out reply. Yes, I should've mentioned that the stock is completely stripped (well, except for the front sling swivel which is riveted on USGI stocks; that's OK.
In this case, though, I'm not so sure it's residue from the original finish that's holding the dust. Based on the advice of several other long-time M14 owners/restorers, I stripped the stock by drowning it in oven cleaner for about 10 minutes, then rinsing thoroughly with very hot water. At that point (well, once it was dry again) it was one of the most beautiful pieces of walnut I've ever seen. I can't believe Uncle Sam used to make mud & blood stocks out of such incredible wood. Anyway, at that point the pores were pretty much open. It wasn't until I sanded it again that they filled up. The stripping process gets *everything* off - you'd never know the stock had been used.
I know the original finishes were typically tung oil with arsenal- applied re-oils with either tung or BLO, but I'm not going to replicate that. I'll be using an oil based wiping oil with urethane (basically tung oil/urethane). Several coats with synthetic sanding in between. It's a combination I've used on other projects that I always love once finished. But - I'd like to get this dust out of it before I start.
This will be the "real deal" - all USGI forged, new-in-wrap old-stock parts, accumulated over a long time (and many paychecks :)). Except for the receiver, of course, which will be a new LRB Arms, the only forged M14 receiver still made in America.
If you thought the parts & ammo were high a few years ago, you should look now 8-<. 7.62 milsurp is approaching $.50/round, IF you can find it.
Thanks again.
wrote:

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Why not try the oven cleaner step again?
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Hmmm.... oven cleaner. Lye based, that puts it at the level of the old fashioned strippers we used long ago. But you should know the oven cleaner doesn't have anything to help you remove the finish after you break it down.
If you are using oven cleaner, say no more. It doesn't have the surfectants, the level of detergents, the cleaners/solvents, or the retarders in it to properly lift the finish off wood.
Since it is lye based, I am sure it burned the hell out of the old, worn finish right away. But the amount of oils, grime and dirt left behind by that product would certainly be my first guess as to what is attracting debris into the pores of your wood.
Before you start in on the stock again with another process, take a piece of soft cotton and douse it with lacquer thinner. Rub the stock briskly and take a look at your rag. Surprise!
As you know, you gotta get those pores cleaned out. Any kind of finish over them will simply encapsulate the stuff in them.

Man.... .50 a cartridge for surplus? Damn I'm glad I don't have one now! I had a beauty spotted, too. It was an accurized model (NOT sniper) that was used in speed shooting competitions. This one had all fiberglass (whatever the hell the tan stuff was) stock material, the receiver, barrel, etc, were parkerized, and it had a 4X Redfield Widefield on it.
I don't know how he got it, as it was obviously a military gun (arsenal markings). Nice gun, changed of course to semi auto only. I saw the targets the seller had, 2" groups at 100 yards, in hasty prone position with mil surp ammo. He claimed 1" when taking his time (read: bagged in) using factory.
It doesn't seem that long ago I was buying .45 acp for .15 a round (mil surp) and first reload military brass .223 for the same. The guy that was loading the .223 loaded it to XT standard, and put a >>really soft<< soft nose copper jacketed bullet in the cartridge. That was some fun ammo to burn.
Good luck on your project. I hope you let us know how it turns out.
Robert
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wrote:

Indeed I will. Sorry for the delay in replying, work's been eating me alive the last couple of days. Well, I'll try a different approach. The oven cleaner really did get everything off the surface - it looks exactly like a raw piece of walnut just out of the planer. But maybe you guys are right about it not getting all the stuff out of the pores, and then the sanding dust stuck and coagulated into it. I hope I can salvage this. I have tried wiping it with numerous different solvents BTW, and the white rag comes off completely clean. Next stop, the brass brush idea, maybe with a solvent applied to the stock.
I'm all for refinishing a military stock with the original type finishes, but disagree that doing anything else ruins them. The sanding I did was nothing more than a *very* light cleanup, never touching the cartouches, with the only thing resembling heavy sanding was in the area of the "back porch" (the flat area just behind the receiver heel) where on this particular stock it was machined *very* asymetrically. I just rounded that to be slightly more symetrical. The finish I hope to eventually apply will be more protective of the wood, make it appear *much* nicer, won't obscure its details, and will be far more durable, without being glossy or any of that stuff that horks up a perfectly good stock.
Thanks again for all the ideas, I really appreciate it.
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