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 - 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
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.
Shouldn't have to sand again if you use one of the fine-bristle brass
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.