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Wood stock preventative maintenance

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by larueminati, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. larueminati

    larueminati Member

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    What's the best way to maintain a wood stock from season to season?

    Last year I picked up a savage lightweight hunter with the wood stock and used it all deer season. Prior to the season while it was still brand new I added a coat of gunstock wax to help it repel water. Needless to say it took a beating from the snow, ice and being near the wood stove and I want to make sure it doesn't get dried out and/or crack down the road. The color of the stock faded quite a bit by the mag well from my glove being there. Overall the stock still feels good, it doesn't feel rough or dried out. I know virtually nothing about wood stock maintenance.

    What do you guys use as a "moisturizer" or treatment for storing your wood stock all summer until the next season? I searched around but I don't really come up with anything other than truoil which i'm under the impression is an entire new finish not just a surface protector.
     
  2. Col. Harrumph

    Col. Harrumph Member

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  3. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I have a few wooden stocked guns from the 40's-50's with original finish. Perhaps a time or two, I have put Johnson's paste wax on them or wiped them down with Ballistol, even though I am not a big fan of Ballistol.
     
  4. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    JPW or any wax from the auto parts store. Treat the stock finish the same as paint on your car
    or furniture in your house. It is not rocket science.
     
  5. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    Every time a wood stock gets wet, you should disassemble it and dry it out.

    Care depends on the finish. Is it a classic oil finish, where the finish is in the top layer of wood? Or more like cabinets where the finish is on top of the wood?

    The classic oil finish should be waxed with a paste wax. I like Johnson's and Old Masters. Whatever you choose, carnauba should be in it. That is the best protecting wax. Finish with 0000 steel wool or FFF pumice stone.

    For a high end cabinet type finish (think lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, or varnish), a simple cleaning with lemon oil is sufficient. These finishes are more impervious to water, but can chip or dent much easier. They also have more chance of popping/flaking off if moisture wants to escape the wood through it. For shellac finishes, a light wiping with denatured alcohol can improve any surface blemishes.
     
  6. mrmeval

    mrmeval Member

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    It will look fantastic, there are several techniques but just cleaning off the old finish, steam out the dents, light sanding and applying BLO with vigorous hand rubbing to get it warm will work wonders.
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/linseed-oil-for-stocks.203495/

    I have a bolt action shotgun I did that to the stock. Water still rolls off and it works just fine in the field.
     
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  7. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    If you don't feel confident with boiled linseed oil, Watco Danish Oil is a good product. It has drying agents in it, and will protect well, and won't leave a mess if you don't know your way around BLO.
     
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  8. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    You can mix BLO with Turpentine to dry it faster. Up to 50%

    Dont use raw linseed oil. It takes forever to dry.

    Danish oil is great. I use it on all sorts of wood stuff. But I always wax them afterwards
     
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  9. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I have never disassembled a woodstocked gun just because it got wet. I wipe the metal down with oil and stand the gun up in a corner overnight. Never had a wood issue or rust in a hidden spot.
     
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  10. rpenmanparker

    rpenmanparker Member

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    Every time I clean my 12 ga O/U, I wipe the stock with the oily rag I have used elsewhere on the gun. Amazing how good it looks all the time. Such little oil soaks right in and isn’t oily/greasy at all.
     
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  11. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    Then you are luckier than I. I deal with wood finishes every day, and that makes me cautious I suppose.

    I just cleaned a marlin 17VS and there was "rust" under the stock on the stainless barrel. For as little time as it takes to destock most rifles, I'd prefer to clean the underside when it gets wet.
     
  12. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I suggest wood does not need regular PM, but to avoid using a wood-finish-damaging solvent when cleaning the gun. Use something harmless to wood like Ballistol for cleaning and maintenance on the metal. Alternatively, remove the wood stock. Which method works best will depend on how often you shoot and how involved the stock removal is.

    For preservation, I like Rennaisance Museum wax. It's good for both the wood and the metal. I would expect it to have durability similar to an auto wax, so if you're handling, shooting and cleaning it a lot, it would need to be reapplied more often, but if the gun is sitting in the safe most of the year, an annual or biennial wipe-down might be sufficient.
     
  13. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    The best way to protect a wood stock is to replace it with a synthetic stock. This way your wood stock will look brand new when the gun is old and worn.
    But if you insist on keeping the wood stock on your rifle, it’s really not that hard to care for. The first thing to keep in mind is what finish is on the stock. Most stocks come with a poly finish that has been cured with UV light. Most of the lower priced guns use a type of hard wood instead of walnut to keep the price down. Most often Birch or Beech is used. Both of these hard woods hold up very good but they lack the dark rich colors of Walnut. Also hard woods don’t take stain very well. So most often the poly finish on your stock will have a color added to it. If the finish is scratched or chipped the wood will be exposed and will be light in color.
    But before I get to far into this, I’ll cover basic care of a wood stock.
    If your rifle will be exposed to harsh weather you should remove the rifle from the stock and wax the stock inside and out. You want to use a wax that is recommended for the use on wood. Mimwax and Johnson & Johnson’s paste wax will work great.
    I also use Tom’s 1/3 Military stock wax and highly recommend it for stocks with oil finishes. I’ve known Tom for years and he makes his wax with only the best ingredients.
    http://thegunstockdoctor.com/
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    By waxing the stock inside of the stock, this will keep water from soaking into the stock when hunting on those rainy days. Remember that the wax is just a top coat to protect the finish and with use it will rub off. So depending on how often you use your rifle, wax will need to be reapplied.
    If your rifle gets wet it is best to remove the action from the stock to make sure that no water has gotten between the metal and wood.
    Do not over oil your rifle. If you over oil it oil will get on the wood and soak in. This happens most often in the action area of the stock. The problem here is that petroleum base oil is bad juju for wood. When it soaks into wood it starts to break down the natural glue that holds the wood fibers together. Basically the wood will become soft.
    Now to get a little deeper into the the finish on the stock. The problem with poly finishes is that they scratch and chip. This will expose the wood to the weather. By waxing your stock you will protect it. But if you wish to repair it you can easily do so with Tru-Oil. Just lightly feather the edges of the chip or scratch with fine sandpaper and blend the Tru-Oil in with your fingers. If the scratch or chip expose light color wool, you can touch up the color with water or alcohol base stain. Remember to not go to dark, lighter is better.
    For those with an oil base finish, you want to make sure that you keep a good wax top coat. If you get scratches just apply a little of the same oil as the finish and the wax when the oil has cured.
    When your oil finish starts to look dirty and dingy, it’s time to clean. Use denatured alcohol on a rag. You just want your rag to be damp. Wipe the stock down and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Next apply a small amount of oil and rub it into the stock. You do not need a lot, just enough to do what is called a polish coat. Rub it in very good and let sit for 30 minutes. Use a clean dry rag, or paper towels to wipe down the stock. Then set it in a cool dry area for 48 hours before applying your wax top coat. If you don’t wait long enough for the oil to cure, your wax top coat will turn milky in a day or two.
    Also remember to keep your guns with wood stock away from high heats, like open fires and heaters. These will cause the wood to dry out.
    I hope this info helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 10:04 AM
  14. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    I don't own a wood stocked rifle that I haven't disassemble and used a thinned mixture of polyurethane varnish to coat the inside with to protect it. The metal parts get coated with Johnson's paste wax before reassembly. Then I apply wax to the entire gun without disassembly fairly regularly. if one is disassembled for something it gets the wax treatment, wood and metal, inside again before reassembly. After a shooting session the entire gun is wiped with a liquid wax. I've been following this procedure for many, many years and have had NO rust or wood issues.

    Hmm, I just realised I only own one plastic stocked rifle and it's in the process of getting it's very own wood stock. Use plastic if you wish. Nothing at all wrong with it. I just don't wish to.
     
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  15. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    That is a good idea and I regularly urethane stocks to keep them water proof. I did a lot of wood removal in the pre WW2 M70, to get the barrel to float, and once I had the clearance I wanted, I painted urethane over the bare wood to keep it from absorbing water or oil.

    kjo8otz.jpg

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    I over oil things and to keep wooden pistol grips from becoming oil saturated from the back, I make sure the back sides of grips are urethaned.

    P83Nc4M.jpg

    I think True Oil is a urethane mix, and it works great on the outside. Just rub it in and let it dry.
     
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  16. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    I believe you are right about it being poly. I've used the spray Tru-Oil in the past and liked it. You can have my share of the rub on stuff. I really can't tell any difference between Min Wax spray poly and spray Tru-Oil except for price and Min-Wax is cheaper. I use the clear gloss to build up coats and leave it if I want a glossy finish. Not so glossy, satin for the last coat and dull calls for matte. Min-Wax just became a little hard to find. Walmart and Home Depot don't carry it any more and LOwes only has gloss and semi-gloss. Ace has their house brand. I need to check Amazon as the stock project I'm working on needs matte and I'm out.
     
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  17. entropy

    entropy Member

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    It depends on the stock finish. Until the OP comes back and specifies, I'm calling drive-by.
     
  18. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    As stated it depends on finish. Most people’s mistake (including myself when I first started) is using synthetic gun oil on your stock thinking it’s still “oil” so it must be good. Gun oil like Rem oil will break down the wood and make it soft. You must use something like Boiled Linseed Oil or Tung Oil to treat a stock.

    I use a thin layer of BLO on my milsurps and other old guns (not too much or it gets tacky and shiny). It keeps the wood hydrated and good to go.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 12:31 AM
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  19. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    The OP said that he bought a Savage lightweight hunter which most likely has a hard wood stock. Mout likely a Birch stock with a poly finish.
    You must remember that BLO and other oil have to be rubbed into the stock. If left on the surface they will become tacky. If this happens just wipe the stock down with a dampe rag and mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.
     
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  20. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    I don't think the OP wanted to finish/refinish a stock. Just maintain what he has.
    BLO in any form is a finish and has to be taken care of, It's not wipe on and forget finish.
     
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  21. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Guess I was tired! :oops:
    It's probably a light polyurethane, as you said. A light wipedown with and buffout if the same wax he used on it before should be fine. I'm sure the discoloration by the magazine is just the wax.
     
  22. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    For oiled finishes, the old advice (this from furniture making, but same oil, same wood) was to apply linseed oil:
    • Every day for a week
    • Every week for a month
    • Every month for a year
    • Every year forever
    With extreme conditions like it gets wet, another application is fine. You always must over apply, so once done applying, wipe the excess off.

    I tend to be one who believes in minimal or no finish under the action. This allows water that gets in to get out. For permanent finishes (polyurethane, etc) you can actually crack the wood if you over-finish it and then get it wet enough.


    And... now you can see why I have as few wood stocked guns as I can. The best maintenance for harsh condition items (as mentioned above) is lower-maintenance materials. My tools (shovels, etc) have very few wooden handles for the same reasons.
     
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  23. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    This is what you do when you want to oil soak a stock.
    • Every day for a week
    • Every week for a month
    • Every month for a year
    • Every year forever
     
  24. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    There is a you-tube video about Purdy gun makers.
    During the video they show the finishing of a high end gun stock with
    their "oil" it is a mix of several different things???? Their own mix and they are not
    tell what it is. But the gun stock winds up with a oil finish over many months
    of work.
     
  25. larueminati

    larueminati Member

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    Thanks guys, I really appreciate all the replies. Alot to take in, i'm going to have to reread everything again.

    As mentioned it's a savage LWH and savage says it's an "oil finish american walnut stock".

    When it was brand new I took the action out and waxed the inside and outside of the stock with birchwood casey gunstock wax. I liked the dry tacky feel that has to it. It did shed water pretty well in the woods.

    ^ This exactly. I'm not looking to refinish the stock. I'm not interested in tru-oil or BLO which is much more of a process and is refinishing the stock. I'm also not interested in that high lacquer, shiny, slippery finish. I want the factory dull appearance I just want to take care of it. Simple as that.

    I had figured it dried out some, and like I mentioned it got discolored where my hand was near the magwell, grayish in appearance where the rest of the stock is a deep brown.

    From the sounds of it I think i'll just wax it again. Although I don't think that's providing any moisturizing benefits. The car wax with canoba I might look into further. Same with the Johnson Paste Wax, i'm going to give that a look.
     
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