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Thread: Gunstock finishing

  1. #1
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    Aug 2009
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    Gunstock finishing

    Hi everyone, my first post here at the creek. I've had some downtime due to a back injury, and I decided to refinish a rifle stock while waitng for my surgery date. Well the first one came out great, I stripped the poly finish that Remington uses, then I finished with the low gloss Formsby's Tung oil finish. It's hard to believe that a finish as clear and shiny as the original could hide so much character. Well I'm moving on to my third stock and it's made from birch instead of walnut. I've been searching the internet trying to figure out how to finish it. In the process I've learned about using dyes instead of stain, and that the dye can be water based or denatured alcohol based. I think what I'm going to use is alcohol dye. While googling different techniques I found an old post here that described dyeing the wood, do a light sanding that'll remove dye from the harder part of the grain, then dyeing again with a different color. The colors that I'm thinking about using are black and dark red. What do you think, am I nuts or can this be done. I want to dye it black first, sand, then use a deep red dye with some black in it. Where the wood is lightened from sanding I'm thinking that there'll be a reddish hue. Will this work?

  2. #2
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    Jun 2009
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    Dublin, OH
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    Yep it will work - but there's a difference between what will technically work and what will give you the results you're after. Dye is tough to remove, so don't take any chances, test your process on spare piece of Birch - preferably some of the same stock you cut your gun stock from.

    HTH
    Todd

  3. #3
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    Aug 2009
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    Hi Todd, Problem is I don't have a spare piece of birch. I'm removing the factory finish which is a very bland brown. This particular gun is known for being hard to refinish, some blame it on some sort of sealer that penetrates deep into the wood. If you try to give it a natural or a light finish they usually turn out very blotchy. The only decent ones that I've seen are dyed with a dark alcohol dye, and a lot of people just paint them. I really wouldn't mind if it turned out all black, I just wanted to try something different. A lot of people are using laminated stocks that are dyed different colors and it got me thinking about trying this.

  4. #4
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    Tomball, TX (30 miles NNW Houston)
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    Hi Mike,

    Welcome to the Creek.

    As for the stock being very difficult to refinish; it may be the wood, not the sealer they used that is causing the blotchiness. Do you know the type of wood used on the gun?

    I also wanted to let you know that Formby's Tung Oil is an alkyd resin/soya oil varnish thinned 80% with mineral spirits (MS) to make an incredilbly thin bodied, and very expensive wiping varnish. The only "Tung Oil" is on the label, there is exactly NONE in the can...

    You can make 5 times as much for the same money by using a quality varnish, say Pratt & Lambert #38 (another alkyd resin/soya oil varnish) and your own MS and you don't need to thin it 80%; 50% is plenty.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Scott Holmes View Post
    Hi Mike,

    Welcome to the Creek.

    As for the stock being very difficult to refinish; it may be the wood, not the sealer they used that is causing the blotchiness. Do you know the type of wood used on the gun?

    I also wanted to let you know that Formby's Tung Oil is an alkyd resin/soya oil varnish thinned 80% with mineral spirits (MS) to make an incredilbly thin bodied, and very expensive wiping varnish. The only "Tung Oil" is on the label, there is exactly NONE in the can...

    You can make 5 times as much for the same money by using a quality varnish, say Pratt & Lambert #38 (another alkyd resin/soya oil varnish) and your own MS and you don't need to thin it 80%; 50% is plenty.
    The gunstock is made from birch, it's off of a Ruger 10/22. The factory finish really blocks the wood grain, I read that they seal it, then color, then topcoat. It's a very bland uniform brown finish, if they used any more pigment it would be called paint, not stain.
    Thanks for the tip on the "tung oil" finish, just doing a few gunstocks for now so the can that I bought should last a while.

  6. #6
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    Tomball, TX (30 miles NNW Houston)
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    Birch is one of the woods that gets a blotchy look; that's why the manufacturer uses toners and glazes to build the color IN the finish as opposed to in the wood.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2009
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    Sorry for asking so many questions. I've never had much luck making finishes look good. Now that I've had some success with the Formsby tung oil I'm excited to do more. I just wen't and bought some Danish oil for more of a satin finish. I have several questions so I'll just number them, any help I can get will be greatly appreciated.

    1: Any suggestions on how to avoid the blotchyness with birch? I read somewhere that suggested to only sand down to 150 grit before applying the dye so that it'll soak in more evenly, does this work?

    2: Is an alcohol dye the best and is it possible to rub the dye in, I'll be using black so I'm thinking that overlap lines shouldn't be too much of a problem?

    3: If it's not recommended to rub in the dye, could I use a preval sprayer?

    4: Since the Danish oil that I just bought is supposed to give a satin finish, can I put a layer of danish oil over low gloss tung oil to cut the shine?

    Thanks for all the help with my newb questions...........Mike

  8. #8
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    I thought that I'd try posting a few pics of my recent work.






  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Tomball, TX (30 miles NNW Houston)
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    1. That will work better with pigment stain; reason bigger scratches for the pigment to lodge.

    2. & 3. Yes you can wipe it one; I would spray the dye. Water (only) soluble dyes are a bit more colorfast than alcohol/water dyes e.g. TransTint. Not a big problem with black dye oon a gun stock.

    4. Danish oil is an IN-THE-WOOD finish, it can't be used to build a film finish. It will not penetrate the the existing wiping varnish (low gloss Formby's? right?)

    Low Gloss Formby's is a satin wiping varnish. Make sure you shake it very well before you apply it so all the flattening agents are in suspension.

    Another option is to buff it with steelwool after it has cured for about 30 days.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

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