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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hopefully, this will become a repository of methods, materials and pictures of successes and failures so that all can learn.

My methods vary by what is wanted and expected from a stock finish. I have tried, seen tried and experimented with a vast multitude of 'ways to finish a stock'. Some worked and some didn't. So, I don't use any lacquer, shellac or water-based finishes. That's not to say they won't work, but they don't do what I want to do so they're abandoned.

A basic finish can be had with nothing but a half pint of good varnish and a pint of turpentine. A basic re-finish can also be done with nothing but those ingredients.

I'll post detailed instructions with pictures eventually. I have a stock to shape and finish this winter that'll make a good test bed.

Just because I just found the pictures, here's a re-finish job meant to closely match the original. No special pains were taken to 'rub out' the finish, just get it done.

The stock was sanded while attached to the metal, before engraving and saturated with thinned by turpentine 2 to 1 with Spar Varnish. (two parts turp, one part Spar)
During the several months of engraving and gold inlay work, the stock dried and the grain raised and it became rough and 'dusty'. With it reattached to the metal, the stock was sanded with 400 wet or dry silican carbide paper, with a hard rubber block (made from hocky pucks) and more thinned spar varnish. The goal was to wet sand off the raised grain and any remaining varnish above the wood. You have to be able to recognize what is wood and what is left over varnish. Nothing but wood, but the varnish is IN the wood now.
On this particular gun, I wiped on a coat of pure spar varnish with a ball of old, tee shirt and let it dry. There could have been two coats wiped on, but not rubbed out with anything but a very light wet sand, more of a glide-smoothing with 600 wet or dry and thinned oil. Rub in the thinned oil with the heel of your hand and let it hang a week.
This stock was sent to a lady in Colorado to be checkered. She 'sealed only' the checkering much more shiny than I wanted, but it's acceptable. The owner of the gun, a friend since first grade, is dead now and it's in a display case in a small museum. Not bad for a hundred dollar barn find.
The arrowheads have special meaning to the owner and me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
YES. Any non-alcohol thinner works with any of the 'oil' finishes. Tru-Oil is basically spar varnish.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oil Finished stock, Hand rubbed oil finished stock, and several other descriptive terms are used for gun stocks. At first, about 1500 AD, it meant it was not lacquer or shellac. Over the years, it's changed some. ;)

If a factory today says their stocks are 'oil finished', I'd call BS and put money on the line to disprove it. Even the most basic 'oil finish' as seen on Garand rifles and M-1 Carbines took about ten times longer to dry than any factory can stand today. Look and guitar makers to see many of today's stock finishes. Ten minutes start to finish.

Linseed oil is a hardening, polymer producing, natural oil of flax seeds. It hardens on exposure to oxygen, but not too much. Sometimes it seems to take forever to dry.
Tung oil is a hardening oil that produces polymers that harden with exposure to oxygen, too. It comes from Tung Nuts that looks like walnuts in a thick husk. They are deadly poisonous if eaten.
Spar Varnish is different from other varnishes in that it contains phenolic resins in addition to the alkylid resins contained in other 'varnishes'.

Japan Dryer--- is a benzine compound with metallic salts added that increases drying by oxidation of the above oils. It has changed over the years. When you see a stock or furniture that has a slights yellow-green tint, that is the first change to Japan Dryer to get rid of some harmful chemicals and it didn't work. The new stuff retains true colors.

Mineral Spirits-- thins all the thick oils and aids in penetration of woods. Most 'paint thinners' are mineral spirits-based.
Turpentine ---is the refined gum resins of pine trees. I grew up with a turpentine family in Florida and was doctored with it as a kid and I like the smell, so that's my thinner of choice.

How 'thin' is 'thinned oil'? How deep does it penetrate various woods? How water 'resistant' is it?
At Colorado School of Trades where I taught stockmaking, we ran some experiments and several students got serious at trying alternates to speed up the process and get better results with less work. THAT is always a goal but you have to work hard at it. :)

Spar varnish thinned to Vermont Maid syrup consistency will leak through an 1/8" hard paper fax roll in 12 hours. It makes it almost .025" in dense French Walnut, but almost .100" in American Black Walnut. There are special thinned epoxies that will penetrate two feet of end grain pine 2x4. Need dictates what suits your needs.
In 1983, I was accepted as a Charter Member of the American Custom Gunmaker's Guild (ACGG) as a stock maker and metal worker. I specialized in metal and did very few stocks in the following forty years, but I did rub shoulders with the best stockmakers in the world and absorbed some of their methods and wisdom.

I don't do 'fast' finishes but have been the advisor and instructor in charge of students that used lacquer, shellac, super glue, epoxies, floor finishes and magic antique restoratives. I can tell you how they were done, how the looked and how they were graded, but not how they've lasted.
Browning experimented in the '60s and ended up with cracked finish below 20F. Many have seen it. Mossberg experimented with a stain and finish for 'white woods' that melted off when wet. Remington did a polymer finish for years that lasted until the 'shell' of finish was penetrated, then the water stained the wood black.
Plastic stocks also suffer failures in finishes, but any kid that can spray paint graffiti can refinish one. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Two rifles, finished with the same stuff, two entirely different 'lives'.

The dark one is my Whelen. Built first in 1977, hunted with but reshaped, refinished, new bolt handle, pad removed and Niedner plate fitted, new bottom metal from 1909 Argentine box and guard with Talley-made straddle plate fitted, finished, engraved and the bear inlayed, new grip cap made, engraved and inlayed. This is one of the jobs that got me into the Guild. It has been as wet as a day of rain can make it. Its' spent days hung on a tree limb under a slicker during Colorado blizzards and been backpacked above timberline countless times. It has been held while the horse does his rodeo thing but never put in a scabbard. It's killed a truck load of game from deer and a bear to elk and varmints. It has been exposed to years of everyday carry as an elk guide and still in good shape.

The unfinished one was built in 1990 for the invitational prairie dog shoot in Colorado. I didn't get a chance to blue the bolt handle, safety and sling mounts but I'll get to it. This gun has never been outside but for sunny days shooting rock chucks. It's got a Douglas reject (big) barrel, air gauged for consistency in 6x51BS, which is a 6mm Rem made two inches long. It shoots in the .3s with 70 gr. Nosler Bal Tips. This rifle has never been wet, froze, dropped, or carried more than a hundred yards. It's still in good shape, too.

Both are finished with thinned spar varnish and top coated with poly-urethane from a spray can and rubbed out smooth as the inside of a Beagles ear. The grain is filled with finish and stock wood nothing else.
The blanks for both rifles came from N. California in the '60s. The light one is 'French' and the dark one 'Paradox' from a tree that produced some spectacular stocks. It's naturally (and rarely) dark red.

I have several good stock blanks with nothing but wiped on spar varnish. If you like, I'll refinish one from bare wood to demonstrate, but our beards will be long before its finished. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
OIL FINISH START TO DONE--
Start with bare wood sanded to a 320 garnet paper finish WITH a sanding block, never just sanded with fingers. A back-up block at least as hard as the rubber Beahr blocks sold at the hardware store. A hockey puck sawed to shape and sanded flat is the perfect blend of stiffness and that slight bit of softness that lets the abrasive work better. For tight radii like the flutes of the comb and right behind the grip cap, use pieces of rubber or plastic tubing that's had a section split out of it so it'll fold and fit whatever needs sanding. Sanding blocks are important just like in auto body work. Nobody likes ripples unless they're fishing.

STEP ONE--
Mix up a batch of 'thinned oil' (you'll hear that a lot). Start with two ounces of oil of your choice and four ounces of thinner of your choice. Stir well. It should run off the stir stick with just a hint of thickness: 5W or so. Add whatever is needed to make it so. Mix the following batches about half the first one. you'll need less as you go but need it fresh.
Sacrifice a cheap two inch paint brush, put a glove on the holding hand, and start slopping finish on the raw wood. Notice it immediately turn dark on the front of the grip and under the buttplate and most of the inletting. That means the oil has soaked in, hit it again, and again, and again. Twenty minutes of so of feeding thinned oil to a bare stock usually means its running off instead of soaking in, now. Repaint the dull places until they stay shiny. That could take all day. Let it hang in a well ventilated spot for a week. It might be slightly 'gummy' after a week but it's ready if you are.

Next post will be the plans of a drying cabinet I no longer have but need. Then, on to the next stage of a genuine (make up your own name) oil finish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
STOCK DRYING CABINET--

Most of us have been exposed to a military wall locker. The tin box about six feet high with a hat shelf a foot below the top and a door that had vents top and bottom. Make one out of plywood, if needed. Here are the changes to the basic locker:
Take out the hat shelf and skeletonize it by cutting out the center but retain the rim. Mount it about a foot above the BOTTOM, just above the bottom door vent. Mount a light bulb fixture in one of the bottom walls and cut an air conditioning filter for the hat shelf. A 100 watt (old fashioned) light bulb will heat the air in the bottom chamber which sets up a thermo-cycle of cooler air drawn in the bottom, sent through the filter and over the stocks hanging in the top section where that air is pushed out the top vent. You'll be amazed at the difference in results. My son bought ten lockers and made the air filter shelf from old concrete form plywood. At the end of the big job he put back the hat shelf, took out the air filter shelf, removed the light socket and re-sold the lockers for a full refund of (my fronted) money.
CST students sometimes made the same things from refrigerator boxes. Air flow is key and if its clean, it's a double positive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OIL FINISH-- STEP TWO

Two things needs to happen with this stock that's still just a might gummy in places but has absorbed all the thinned finish it can hold. It needs (?) the wood pores filled with something. (Not all wood has filled pores and some like it because it doesn't look 'plastic' when done. I'll include a picture.
The second thing that needs done is the grain raised by the thinned oil cut back down to level wood. Both are accomplished with 400 wet or dry paper, thinned oil and the very careful use of elbow grease and sanding blocks.
Custom rifles are usually finished sanded with the metal in place, then the barreled action and furniture taken off for the initial bath of thinned oil. Re-install any removed furniture like inletted sling mounts, grip caps and steel butt plates. Ebony or horn fore-end tips have been epoxied in place and need no further sealing. Re-install any butt plate or pad so it is finished with the stock. Sometimes a surface, like the grip cap or butt needs wiping with thinner to remove any built-up finish. Just wipe it right down to bare wood and re-install.

Mix a fresh batch of thinned oil, wrap a new strip of 400 wet or dry around your sanding block of choice, dip the new paper in the new oil and start lightly sanding in about one inch circles and wipe the area clean with an old tee shirt or towel. Wipe it cross grain and REALLY look at it. You want to see wood, not finish. Get the light right and you'll see and feel a difference in the wet sanding when the surface of the wood is hit. Wipe cross grain and keep working the stock, I usually pick on the biggest, flattest part of the buttstock to start because its easier to get a feel for what is needed. A light touch and extreme care on sharp edges will take off the raised grain that was hardened by the initial slop coat and now that raised grain and excess finish is gone. The grain is not filled yet but there is oil and micro-wood debris in the bottoms of them. The stock is water-resistant to use now, if you like, but there are more steps to get it 'right'.
Let it dry at least two days. Sometimes more grain will raise at this point. No problem.

After two days of drying, the stock should feel like a school teachers leg with day-old stubble.

Mix on new batch of thinned oil and break out a new sheet of 600 wet or dry. It is lighter gray in color and the finish hand polished custom knives and Purdy water tables are polished to. Clean the goo off the sanding blocks and go to work lightly sanding in circles and wiping cross grain until its so smooth it buzzes the hormones and still doesn't have any finish built up on top of the bare but really smooth wood. The pores in the wood are almost completely filled (my choice on my guns) but a few open pore areas remain. Polish with the wet 600 and wipe it hot and dry with the heel of a hand to fill those problem spots. (It validates 'hand rubbed', too.)
Let it dry for a week.
Redo the wet 600 step with the grain but wipe cross grain. In American walnut, this step might become a stairway to fill all the grain. French and other thin shelled walnuts, maple, ash, bass, beech, N. Elm (sako) and laminates usually fill in two or three applications of wet 600 and thinned oil. The real secret is in patience to let the oil harden between steps so the micro-goo doesn't come back out of the pores. Wet sanding with a block means the surface has remained flat but now SO smooth as to defy experience.

This pair of Merkels have a different spec finish. It is oil but one is filled and the other partially filled. They are a true pair. (photoed at Vegas International y2k.)

Lenard Brownell's Spar varnish finish. Stay tuned for how its done.

Look at the detail that was retained by very careful and fully blocked wet sanding. The chin strap behind the grip and the double eyebrow flutes too attention to detail to finish in this manner. This is a 'car gun'.....cost the same as.

A 1970s built Holland and Holland with nothing but a thinned oil finish with a top coat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
TOP COATS--

Most stocks have another 'on the wood' finish applied to the filled and sanded smooth wood. Varnish of any type (I stay with Spar) and any of the commercial finishes NOT thinned or cleaned by water, will stick, slick and shine the filled wood. I like about three sprayed coats of poly-urethane with light 0000 steel wool between them. The drying between coats and till done is excruciating, especially if the client tells you he has his plane ticket to Africa...tap tap tap.... It takes weeks with a drying cabinet and shortcuts can usually be seen.
This top coat, made of multiple coats of wiped on, sprayed on or rubbed on finish is what determines the final look, but first it has to be re-flattened by wet sanding with another abrasive. WHAT abrasive determines the near final look. I like 1200 wet or dry automotive paper (parts store or paint shop) and more thinned oil with lots of wiping a careful looking. Don't go through the top coat.
ScotchBrite pads come in many grades of grit. Buy a sample pack. My Whelen's final top coat was lightly rubbed with a brown pad. The blonde varmint rifle with a finer, ivory pad.
A hard (!) felt pad wet with oil and dabbed in rottenstone gives a bright and shiny finish. There are car paint polishes that will make it a mirror finish.

The top coat finish is added to wood that is already finished. Going back to the wood with wet 400 is always an option if you want to change your results. Wiped on by hand or lint-free cloth can take up to a dozen coats to get a smooth, even finish. Wet sanding with extremely fine grits and a block can make spectacular results. Those results can be a dull finish or a bright. Your choice by how the top coat is applied and finished.

Rubber butt pads get covered in goo during finishing. Clean with a white cloth wet with acetone. Clean the rubber but not the black plastic spacer. If the pad is too grippy, mask off the stock with nothing but the rubber part of the pad showing and spray it with quick drying lacquer. Just a light coat 'ages' the pad in ten minutes and lets it slip on a shirt. That's important for shotgunners.

Leonard Brownell used half and half thinned spar to completely slop finish the stock and dried for a month or more. Then scraped it back down to the wood with a broken glass shard. One wet sanding to smooth it all out and then multiple coats of G-B Linspeed wiped on with cotton balls wrapped tight in a tee shirt. The top coat was rubbed out with pumice and hard felt. They felt like liquid silk and seemed an inch deep.

"Satin" finishes have little flakes or fibers that make them satin. I'd rather have the finish perfectly clear and I can fog up the surface however I want. The difference between my Whelen finish and Weibe's mirror finish is the treatment of the top coat....and a ton of patience.

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
ALTERNATE OIL FINISHES---

As said before, 'oil finished' is variable in application.
Most of the variations is concerning the use of fillers for the wood pores. US Military stocks are vacuum treated warm, boiled linseed oil and Japan Drier and nothing else. Wet sand one with thinned oil and suddenly have a very nicely finished, but totally ruined collector wise, stock. The difference between unfilled and filled and polished is astounding.
For a century or more, rottenstone has been used as a mild abrasive for finished wood and also a filler component. The old English method of stock finishing was a slobber coat of boiled linseed oil, sanded in only lightly and then 'polished' with hard felt with oil and rottenstone, rubbed in cross grained and then a dab of oil and a calloused hand as a top coat very thin. It is a great finish and has certainly stood the test of time.

Commercial fillers are readily available and just complicated enough on their composition to be too suspect for me to use on a fine stock. Some students had some new whiz-bang, semi-instant wood filler, that erupted like mini-volcanoes after being covered with Tru-Oil. Who's in a hurry anyway?

Tung Oil was grown near my homeplace and every year a tourist or two would eat a Tung Nut and make the local paper. They are Chinese in origin and used just like linseed oil in many Oriental wood finishes, but Lacquer was their 'thing' for fine things. Tung Oil was used on bows and boat paddles, so its got to be good for stocks, and it is. It dries slightly faster than linseed oil and the commercial Tung varnishes are equal to Spar to me. I've bought some and thrown it away when reading the label carefully. A couple percent Tung and the rest cheap, alykaloid resin varnish is a waste of money.

Poly-urethane in it's most plentiful form is great. Read the directions for thinning and cleaning brushes. If its OK for water, it is NOT ok for stocks until more test are done. The stuff thinned and cleaned by mineral spirits are proven to work. Wiping in on correctly is hard work. Spraying it on works as long as you keep the coats level and plumb dry before adding another. It IS tough. Scratches blend in with a wipe of nose oil and the heel of a hand.

Waxes-- I like paste wax for wood and metal. High proportions of Carnuba is desirable. I've used TreWax for 50 years and bought a spare can when it was discontinued. It's release agent for epoxy, too.

Harmful substances-- There was a time when you either put up with big swamp mosquitoes in Spring Gobbler season or ruined your stock finish. The best of the skeeter goops would melt varnishes of any kind. It would re-harden but with your finger prints in it!

Alcohol-- in small amounts wont hurt anything but it takes the wax off and makes the stock dull. Just the bit of oil from your face, rubbed in will restore it.

Road rash-- In Florida, where deer hunting was done by CB radios, pick-up trucks and Walker hounds, it was common to have a gun come in the shop ground down to near nothing from falling off a dog box onto a paved road. Oil finishes don't help them at all. ;)

Here are the two pictures meant to illustrate the post above this one.

Note the not quite filled Whelen stock in the red circle. That would disqualify me from the fraternity of gunmakers in some opinions. Tony Barnes would pitch a squealing fit to see that. It ain't Formica!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I did. That's a 1903 my buddy and I bought at a gunshow for a hundred bucks. He was a world class wildlife artist and had given me some of his signed prints. I paid him back.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
REFRESHING AN OLD CLASSIC--

Several years ago, while back in Florida visiting kin and friends, and old friend I first met in the gunshop in '69 when he was fresh back from Africa, said he had some stuff he wanted me to have since he had no family. He gave me his grandad's hunting horn, old S&W hand ejector 22 rev, a Randall knife his grandad had given him when he went to Africa, the rights to a little 25 page hilarious booklet and a 1903 Mannlicher-Schoenauer 6x5x54M-S carbine that had spent its life in Florida.
It would be foolish to strip, sand and finish the stock and ruin not only the value but the looks, but it does need 'freshening some'.

The finish is original varnish with a dark filler that has swelled from a century in 100% RH and then subjected to 15% on a good day, so the stock is slightly rough. Mosquito goop and oxidation has colored it nearly black but a nice fiddle back shows through in the sun.

For demonstration purposes only, I'm doing an easy to see patch. the gun will be dismounted and furniture removed to get the sharp edges while leaving the sharp and flush with the metal.

My turpentine tin has evaporated away and every little can of hoarded finishes are petrified and I can't find my favorite sanding block, but I found a quarter sheet of 400 and 600 and a dab of paint thinner with a small can of 'plastic varnish' that had a top layer of Argon gas and stayed perfectly scum free. Worth noting. This will do. I have another stash of Marine Spar on the way for a thin top coat later.

Typical of old, oxidized finishes.

Very light, very juicy, circular motion, 600 wet or dry 'mud' before wiping with old (I hope) tee shirt.

Wipe all the mud off really hard with soft cotton and then run back over it, very wet, very lightly without a block...just your sensitive finger tips. You can feel the paper 'cut' the old finish and 'glide' across wet wood. Be sure all the old 'sticky' finish is smoother than smooth.

The difference in 'treated' and old is apparent.

MUCH more to go with the furniture off and tedious care taken of the sharp edges. I don't want to re-blue, but I will do some minor touch-ups in the rust blue without polishing.

This rifle has most likely never been out of the stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The barreled action of this gun was worse stuck than some glass bedding mistakes. It took many stout licks with an ebony block and hammer to finally get it apart. No rust, just super tight inletting that had never been taken apart.
Does anyone want to argue about weight savings in alternate stocks? This full stock weighs 1lb 8.9 oz.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Progress on the old Mannlicher. I wet sanded the stock with 600 w/d and found a bruised up but still sound stock that would take a complete strip, and sand to make it look original but that's not my goal.
First pic is of a severe bruise that stained from moisture entry. I used a pencil eraser wrapped in 000 steel wool, wet with thinned oil to remove the stain but the dent remains.
I let it dry a couple days with no finish on it, just impregnated and polished wood.
A wiped on coat of thinned Spar varnish brings out the color and begins the build-up finish.
The second wiped on coat hangs with supervision.

I bought a 250 ml can of European Spar varnish "Epifanes", made it Holland. It assures me its the real thing. ;)
It's is thicker than honey and takes two parts turp to thin it enough to wipe on with hands or ball of tee shirt. They say it dries dust free in three hours. I have the stock hanging between floors with lots of air flow and it takes two days to touch and four to mess with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was asked by PM to address LACQUER FINISHES. They aren't as common as they once were, having been replaced by all sorts of UV fast cure polymers but they have a lot in common.
Cracking and crazing-- Common in mid '60s Brownings exposed to cold weather. Chips and flakes--- common in economy guns exposed to water. Use something rated 'weather resistant' or 'outdoor' if possible. Low temp flexibility is added bonus.

Lacquer is alcohol thinned, extremely fast drying and no doubt makes a nice stock finish. "Deft" is the brand name I'm most familiar with. It can be applied on clean, well sanded AND de-whiskered wood. Use alcohol instead of water to raise the grain and do it at least three times. Then mop on or spray on the 'gorilla snot' (CST dig at old Jewel Stevens, an instructor that loved Deft) and let it dry a few minutes and do it again. A stock can be finished by rattle can in an hour. The finish improves if lightly sanded/smoothed with 1500 auto paper used wet with water between coats.
For a quick, clean, but stinky stock finish, it's great. Last summer, I bought an old 788 for my cousin. It had ridden in many back truck windows and showed plenty of cowboy wear. I wiped the stock with window cleaner to get the grease and dirt off it and gave it a spray coat of Deft. Lacquer will stick to most old finishes but try a test patch first. It's like giving an old sun-bleached car a rubbing compound and wax job.
When I say 'alcohol' read it as 'lacquer thinner'. Not rubbing and not Everclear. :)
There are lots of stains for lacquer finishes, too. It covers the wood and doesn't actually stain it. The Beach, Bass, and Sycamore M788 stocks were 'Walnut finished' with brown stain in lacquer. (I know there were a few real walnut 788 stocks, too)
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
EPOXY FINISHES-- Several GS students did epoxy finishes using bar table finish. I'd love to know how they're doing 45 years later, but I don't.
The first instance was a slobber and sand job. He poured on the finish, rotated it and waved a propane torch to remove bubbles and force the drips to blend in. Then he wet sanded and polished the results. It looked like it was cast in plastic. :unsure:
The second thinned the table epoxy with acetone so the wood soaked it up hoping for a better bond. He didn't do a good job of de-whiskering and when he sanded it back down, he left patches of finish among patches of raw wood and it turned into a week-long battle until he had a passable finish.
I use thinned 5 min. Devcon clear, thinned with acetone for sheep horn things.
 

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This is one of my most favorite threads. It's given me the courage to 'refinish' several CZ stocks that I have.
Thank You Jack, it's meaningful to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Glad you like it. Here's more.
Three full days of hanging made the stock dry to handle but that slightly 'soft' feel to it. (Not baseball bat dry)
I mixed half a spoon of thick Spar with two and a dab spoon fulls of turp and stirred well in my little tin pan.
My local Ace hardware store amazed me with 1500 Wet or Dry (which they call 'sand paper').
Description of wet 'polishing'--- Plenty of juice and very light pressure. Use a sanding block around sharp edges but being able to feel the paper 'cut' the finish and then 'slick out' showing the surface of the finish is smooth. If it gets gummy, dip the paper again. Don't worry about drips, runs and smears. The next step is wipe it down.
Wipe it down like you're cleaning a window with a ball of soft cotton. I prefer old tee shirts to diapers but that used to be the gold standard of wiping cloths. Wipe it until you can see the differences in surfaces that didn't get polished down.
Direct sunlight shows the bad places and a bright desk lamp gives reflected light so the surface can be really seen. (but hard to photo)
The stock has been wet polished with 1500 and dried as much as can be with clean cotton. I'll hang at least 24 hours to harden and de-gas and I'll photo the third coat of varnish to go on and will be the base for several more very, very thin, wiped-on coats.

Note the dark, shiny area behind the cheek piece and the dark patches under the cheekpiece. Both are excess finish. The patches under the cheek piece I missed in the first wet sanding. The patch behind the cheekpiece is what two, very thin wiped on coats looked like before wet sanding with 1500.
Wet sanding with 1500 and thinned oil lightened the dark spots and took off the excess finish. Then I spent a couple hours wet sanding the rest of it.
 

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