Stock finishing for a beginner

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

45man

32 Cal.
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
430
Reaction score
144
I have used gel stains and used a base with a swab of mahogany on a rag to match my hickory kitchen cabinets I installed. I made a pie safe for Carol and it matched. I also did all the trim in the kitchen the same. pie safe.jpg It is from white oak I slabbed from a tree struck by lightening.
I love wood but it can be a challenge to finish and also protect from weather. Don't forget to seal under all metal, butt plate, etc. I seen factory ML's get ruined from rain. I watched a TC butt swell so bad the finish cracked. My Hawken with Tru-Oil held up perfect.
 

45man

32 Cal.
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
430
Reaction score
144
I found a way to get rid of coat break throughs when rubbing Tru-Oil. The thin hand applied coats would show the last layer and was hard to fix. Even rottenstone rubbed through.
I thinned the oil and used a touch up spray gun to apply a coat. Let dry to sticky and spay again so each coat melted into the last. 5 or 6 coats or more. Grain must be filled first of course. Now it is hard to harm Tru-Oil so I propped the stock in my truck cab in the sun to speed drying. Then propped in the basement until the finish smell was gone, about two weeks or so. It is dry down here. Now you can rub it out if you don't want shiny. I get one, very thick coat. Use your nose to determine when the finish is dry.
 

Dphar1950

40 Cal
Joined
Sep 1, 2019
Messages
187
Reaction score
99
That rifle is a masterpiece. I like to stain to bring the grain to life and I like Laurel Mountain stains so when turned in the light all changes. They have all kinds that can be mixed to test on scraps. Then I use Tru- Oil. Linseed is very hard to use and is not the best. Tung oil can work. Still not as easy as Tru- Oil. Do not use oil stains or anything from the paint store, it will deaden the grain.
I tried everything at the start, Nitric acid and heat, Baking soda wash, then potassium permanganate or other that old timers used. Don't go there. Yes, I also stain walnut with LM. LM walnut is beauty on cherry. You can mix some LM cherry with walnut to give a reddish hue. They also have maple color. Depth of the color in the softer grain is what you want.
Just remember that 1. Tru-oil is just a cheap modern linseed oil varnish. Its more usable when cut 50-50 with store bought "boiled" linseed oil. 2. Linseed oil. The "boiled" linseed oil you buy at the hardware store is not actually heat modified. Its just linseed oil that they add driers to. Its thinner for oil based paint or for painting on log houses or wood fences. Its good for this but its not stock finish. There ARE Linseed oil products out there that are stock finish. But I avoid anything with mineral spirits or other petroleum solvents in them. You can make your own stock finish by heating the "boiled" oil, reducing it's acidity with some crushed limestone or calcium carbonate. Adding a little more japan drier or more traditional stuff like some of the lead products (not recommended these days but it helps dying in high humidity according to my source) and stirring in some rosin. But I would have to dig to get the proportions. The small bottle I have right now was made by on of our guild members and I would have to find the video to refresh my memory on the amount used. THIS is the common gunmakers finish used in the 18th and 19th c in America. Remembering that we were not as affluent as the English royalty, peers and landed gentry and the firearms for the most part reflected this. You will see this finish on Kentucky rifles and Hawkens as well. The Bridger Hawken in the Montana Historical collection is a wonderful example of a somewhat worn reddish brown varnish finish. The red tint could be from the addition of a lead oxide. But not all Hawken or any other maker rifles were coated in this manner. It will also turn darken/blacken if exposed to the sulfur produced from burning coal.
Sorry for the quality of photos but its in a glass case in the museum. And the color of the finish is a little darker than it is in person. But its interesting that these fat oil varnishes never crack or craze or break down. Even the dull edged or rounded object dents do not break the film. This finish is ELASTIC and will move with the wood. Harder modern finishes or very hard varnishes of the time will crack and craze if the wood moves and it always does when used out doors.


DSC03031.jpg DSC03037.jpg
 

brewer12345

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 22, 2019
Messages
166
Reaction score
46
If I am remembering right, alkanet root is also a traditional means of coloring soap. I haven't used it in my soap making, but IIRC it gives a purply-pink color.
 

07Kingpin

36 Cl.
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
50
Reaction score
5
Nothing to contribute but thanks for the post and so many great replies. I am getting ready to start my first kit assembly- just a Traditions Hawken but really appreciate all the good information, thanks!
 

OldJoe212

36 Cal.
Joined
Dec 3, 2013
Messages
66
Reaction score
3
I will be putting together an 80s vintage CVA squirrel rifle kit. I have not done anything like this before so I am trying to study up before I get started. The bit that seems the most perplexing is what to use to finish a stock. There is a bewildering array of chemicals and I have little idea of the process. Do you stain and then apply a seal? Something else?

Anyone care to suggest a product to use? The unfinished stock is light wood and seems to have some attractive grain, but since this was by no means a high end kit I am not expecting that much out of it. My intention is to use this gun at the range and in the field for small game, so a durable finish will be important.
Zonie had some excellent advice for you. With Boiled Linseed Oil, BLO, the rule of thumb is: once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year forever. A big advantage with BLO is that it's in the wood, not really on it, so a scratch can be touched up with a little on your finger. I've been building since 1975, so I tell everyone to pick up a copy of "Foxfire 5". Excellent info on MLs. Also, watch on YouTube, Colonial Gunsmith. The real title is "The Gunsmiths of Colonial Williamsburg". Less than 1% of use can achieve his skill, but a lot of really great info. I can honestly say I watched it at least 50 times. Good luck and welcome to an addiction. Joe
 
Group Builder
Top