Restoration Tips: Stock Restoration

Restoration Tips (July 1997 Newsletter)
by Cyrus Chun

Poor stock refinishing can ruin a good collector gun if you don’t know what you are doing. My techniques are the results of years of trial and error with advice from other restorers. There are many ways to restore a stock but essentially you need to visualize the final product; aged, mint, used, etc., that you want to achieve.

  1. Color; if you can’t duplicate the original, forget it and live with what you got, e.g., the orange color of Moisin Nagants and light color European military stocks are difficult to duplicate.
  2. Dents; you need to strip the stock finish. Remove all oils and grease or else filler/epoxy will not adhere to the wood. Steaming lifts finish/and oils out of the stock. If it’s not too bad, live with it; after all it was a combat weapon at one time.
    1. Steaming will raise small dents. Place a damp cloth over the dent and apply a hot clothes iron on top. Repeat until done. Sometimes the wood grain is too crushed to be raised.
    2. deep gouges and cracks can be repaired with wood putty or epoxy stained/dyed to match stock color.
  3. Stock Stripping;
    1. paint stripper (rub-off or water washable types) is sufficient and does not raise the wood grain too much.
    2. lacquer thinner is best in a 5 gallon can. Just stand the stock in it and the lacquer thinner will remove the finish and draw the oils out cleanly from the interior of the wood. Raises the wood grain a bit and dries the stock out completely
    3. Oven Cleaner Easy-Off with lye readily removes all the oils from inside the stock. But be thorough in removing all the lye or it’ll continue eating into the wood. The water rinse raises the wood grain a lot.
  4. Finishing; I rarely use sandpaper and if I do it’s for major reshaping only. There are 2 methods (carding and/or boning or a combination of both). These are 19th to 20th Century (1800’s ­ 1900’s) stock finishing techniques.
    1. Carding: Do not stain/finish stock. Take a sharp implement, i.e., a straight razor, hold at a 450 angle and scrap the stock while applying even pressure along the grain of the wood. This will cut the raised wood grains off and keep stock lines sharp. This method removes little wood and keeps the stock edges from being rounded. Edges of markings will be sharp and not rounded.
    2. Boning: Stain/dye the stock to the desired color. Oil the stock with linseed oil or Tung oil. Linseed oil gives a flat military finish and Tung oil gives a semi-gloss finish. Use a flat piece of bone (-10″L x l”W), apply even pressure on the flat part of the bone to the stock and rub along the grain of the wood while the stock is still wet with oil. This lays the wood grains back down into the stock and forms a hard smooth surface/finish. No wood is removed.

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