Can a stock be sanded too smooth?

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by Kilted Cowboy, Apr 16, 2019.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Apr 23, 2019 #21

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    69 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,495
    Likes Received:
    97
    For whiskering you will wind up doing it at least 4-5 times, but probably more like 6-7. You can drop down to 320 grit for the last few, and ultra fine steel wool between coats of the varnish. Though technically you are smoothing the finish, you are also knocking any nubs off that stick through it too. I tried using rotten stone for 1 between-coat smoothing on my last gun, and the dust seemed to collect in every nook and cranny of the carving, so was pretty frustrating. I went back to steel wool and the buffing cloth after that. The fine London gun makers (Purdey, H&H, Boss etc.) use it, but they don't have stocks with carving, and their checkering is not cut to final depth yet.
     
  2. May 13, 2019 #22

    fishmusic

    fishmusic

    fishmusic

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Hutto, Texas
    I keep it to 200 grit but will sand any exposed end grain to 300 to keep the stain even.
     
  3. Jun 5, 2019 #23

    horsecavalryman

    horsecavalryman

    horsecavalryman

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    2
  4. Jun 5, 2019 #24

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Moderator Staff Member MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    29,024
    Likes Received:
    1,571
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Speaking of sanding grits, as I said before, I usually stop at 180 when I'm doing the finish sanding on my rifle stocks.

    Going off the subject of guns for a minute, I saw a TV show that showed how a Bentley Mulsanne was made. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a very fancy 505 hp car made in England. It's starting MSRP price is $304,670. It is among the premium cars in the world.

    The dashboard and interior door frames are made of walnut covered with thin sheets of walnut burl veneer finished with 8 coats of clear finish.
    The show had quite a lot of detail about the cutting and shaping of the frame and how the thin burl sheets were glued on and finished.
    My reason for mentioning this is the show was quite specific about the finish sanding done before applying the coatings, saying it "was finish sanded by hand using 120 grit sandpaper."

    This 120 finish sandpaper might seem rather rough to many of you but take my word for it, after the 8 coats of finish was applied with light hand sanding between coats, the parts looked flawless and totally glass smooth.

    IMO, this just adds reinforcement to my comment, sanding with sandpaper finer than 220 grit is a total waste of time. It's the finish that produces the smooth, finished look of your rifle stock.
     
    Cruzatte likes this.
  5. Jun 12, 2019 #25

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    69 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,495
    Likes Received:
    97
    When you use pumice powder or rotten stone, the particles are exceedingly fine. How to you keep them out of the crevices of your carving?
     
    Crane Senior likes this.
  6. Jun 12, 2019 #26

    b737tvc

    b737tvc

    b737tvc

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Where do you pick up pumice powder.
     
  7. Jun 13, 2019 #27

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Pilgrim

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    74
    Location:
    Maryland
    IMG_0445.JPG Original guns were finished using scrapers, which creates a subtle "washboard" effect, which some of the top makers still use. They didn't have, or use sandpaper back then. I've never done this myself, but use steel wool after block sanding to get the surface really smooth and the grain open. I also steam the wood to open the grain and remove dents between the last few sanding sessions. A damp wash-towel and an iron works just fine. Steel wool the fuzzies off, and repeat as necessary.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
    TScottW99 likes this.
  8. Jun 13, 2019 #28

    seaguy

    seaguy

    seaguy

    36 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2013
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Bayou Emanuel
    So,after all this the answer to your three questions are “yes, yes, and yes”.
     
  9. Jun 26, 2019 #29

    springfield art

    springfield art

    springfield art

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2019
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    69
    Plus, 'back in the old days', they didn't go to extreme lengths on the sanding. 220 sounds just about right. They didn't have access to super-fine abrasives, (no big box home stores around), and why someone would want a super-perfect finish is beyond me. These are muzzleloading guns, too modern of a surface makes them seem "too new" somehow. To each his own, of course.
     
    Pete G likes this.
  10. Jun 28, 2019 #30

    dgracia

    dgracia

    dgracia

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Duvall, WA
    For about 10-years, I was a volunteer at the F&I period (1750's) Vause Fort at Explore Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia south of Roanoke, VA. The one paid person there was a fellow by the name of Eddie Goode. He was also a licensed contractor. His specialty was building historically correct buildings using tools of the era. He, along with his group of volunteers, built the entire fort including log and chinking 2-story main house, smoke house, bunkhouse, storage house (same size as bunkhouse) bear-proof storage, and stockade with gates around it all.

    One day when I walked into the compound I found him making an axe handle, which is a pretty simple item to make. He used a draw knife to make the rough shape and then used scrapers for the final finish. He was using a shave horse to hold the limb in place while he worked on it. In surprisingly short order, he made an axe handle that felt like it had been sanded super smooth. There was none of the "washboarding" you refer to on it at all. It was super smooth.

    Now bear in mind that Eddie was/is extremely skilled in period tools and construction and even made a sapling sprung lathe to make chair spokes. I was marveling at how amazingly smooth that handle was and he let me give it a try on a part of it that he had not done yet. I used his hand-held scraper, which was nothing more than about a 4" x 6" piece of thin steel with very straight edges, and I did pretty well...right up until I did that exact washboard you mentioned. Then Eddie took that same scraper and he smoothed it right out. Takes a fair amount of skill to do it right and he did it right!

    Twisted_1in66:thumb:
    Dan
     
    Jacobeen likes this.
  11. Jun 28, 2019 #31

    GunnyGene

    GunnyGene

    GunnyGene

    75 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    5,232
    Likes Received:
    63
    Location:
    MS Hill Country
    A properly sharpened scraper is an excellent tool for woodworking - provided you have the skills to make the hook, and apply it properly. I've used scrapers quite a lot. For those interested you can buy them here: https://www.woodcraft.com/categories/scrapers and other specialty retailers.

    Here's one of many tutorials on using a scraper: https://www.westfarthingwoodworks.com/use-cabinet-scraper/

    Actually the word "scraper" does a disservice to the tool. They don't "scrape", but actually cut thru the wood fibers like a very fine, razor sharp hand plane. Unlike sanding which grinds the wood down. With a scraper you'll not only get a very smooth surface, but it will result in more pronounced visual "popping" of the grain when the final finish is applied.

    A word of warning: They can cut your fingers if you're not careful or not using a holder.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
    dgracia likes this.
  12. Jun 29, 2019 #32

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Pilgrim

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    74
    Location:
    Maryland
    No surprise there, straight grain wood would be smooth, the washboard only happens with figured wood where the grain is wavy. The surface is harder or softer alternately where the grain runs parallel, or end-grain. Same reason the stain goes deeper into the end-grain to produce the "stripes" or figure. Great to see and hear about people using draw knives, spoke shaves, and scrapers, Thanks!
     
    dgracia likes this.
  13. Jun 29, 2019 #33

    Frontier's

    Frontier's

    Frontier's

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2019
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    102
    Location:
    Boncarbo Colorado
    2000 grit for me.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Jun 29, 2019 #34

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Moderator Staff Member MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    29,024
    Likes Received:
    1,571
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Carrying on with this idea of the wood grain running parallel with the surface or it exposing its end grain, I made a sketch of what the grain flow of a piece of curly wood looks like.

    CURLYWOOD.jpg
    The grain grows in a wavelike pattern with each layer following the one next to it.
    As it reaches the surface the areas that are running parallel with the surface resist stains or aqua-fortis from soaking into it so they remain light. The areas where the wood grain is bent towards the surface expose their end grain so they rapidly absorb the stain resulting in a much darker stripe traveling across the wood perpendicular to the actual direction of the grain.
    This "wavy grain" is also why a real piece of curly wood reflects the light differently depending on the direction the beam of light is hitting it.
    If your holding a finished piece of real, curly wood and rotate it the stripes will seem to move some making them seem to fade or grow more pronounced.

    Painted on stripes can look fairly real if they are done right but they will never show this "changing contrast" like real curly wood does.
     
    Rockvillerich likes this.
  15. Jun 30, 2019 #35

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Rockvillerich

    Pilgrim

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    74
    Location:
    Maryland
    Great illustration/explanation!
     

Share This Page

arrow_white