Help with cleaning stock

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by bdfinst, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. bdfinst

    bdfinst New Member

    Dec 17, 2006
    Hi, I'm new to the forum and I'm hoping someone can help me with this.
    I have a Smith Corona 1903 in great shape with a stock so oil soaked it's black. Does anyone have a good method for removing some / all of the oil without destroying the markings on the stock?

  2. Welcome BD
    What I usually do is take the stock and bake it in the oven. Around 350 degrees. Just keep an eye on it while your doing it

  3. Mark

    Mark New Member

    Jul 1, 2006
    Southershooter, your wife must really love you. If I did that, I would wind up a grease smear.

    I've had good luck removing grease with furniture stripper. You will need to remove all metal from the stock, and just float the stripper on with your rubber gloved hand. DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL OR ABRASIVES!!!!!
    Ask at the hardware store for stripper that will remove finish but not effect the patina of the wood. Did I mention not to use abrasives?

    At this point you can use a steam iron and wet cloth to steam out any dents. Do not at any time use anything abrasive!

    Once you get the crud out of the wood, use a 50/50 mixture of turpentine and raw linseed oil to seal the wood again. This will be stinky, and you will have to let the stock dry 3 or 4 days between coats. 2 or 3 coats will do the trick. After the spirits from the turpentine evaporate, you will be left with a milspec finish.
    As long as you don't use abrasives, all markings will be left intact.
  4. Now is the time of year you should do it while she is gone all day gift shopping
  5. bdfinst

    bdfinst New Member

    Dec 17, 2006
    I don't think an 03 stock will fit in my oven. :)
    I'd never thought of the furnature stripper route. That sounds like just the thing. I'll try that out this weekend and post the results.


  6. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I have heated the wood with a propane torch (very carefully to avoid burning it) and watched the oil bubble out. Once the stock is wetted with the oil I then cover the stock in baking soda. It sucks that oil up and more from the wood. I let it suck for a day and do it again several times until no more oil comes out. But the oil leaves a stain. I seriously doubt that you will get away from the stain without sanding away the top layers of the stock and refinishing it. But maybe the stain makes it look more original.

  7. I've had good luck using that method on military rifles, Bryan. Once you get all the guck and varnish off, sand it down to the extent you want (rough or smooth), then apply whatever finish you desire. I usually use Tru Oil, but if you want a finish that looks more military, you can use linseed oil or even varnish.
  8. SouthernMoss

    SouthernMoss *Admin Tech Staff*

    Jan 1, 2003
    SW MS
    I can't vouch for this method, because I've never tried it, but I've had folks tell me that if you put the stock in a black garbage bag with kitty litter (the clay kind, not the clumping kind) and leave it in the back seat of your car on a sunny day, it will "cook" the gunk out of the stock, and the litter will soak it up.

    Of course, depending on where you live, you may have to wait until summer to try it. ;)
  9. Believe it or not what SOMO said does work it don't have to be summer just 50 or above
    Also if you do it on a sunny day you can put tinfoil on a picnic table and set it in the sun all day.
  10. Mark

    Mark New Member

    Jul 1, 2006

    The method I've given you is a restoration technique to salvage and return to service an artifact. Please don't use any abrasives.

    If you sand it, or use steel wool, the only comments you will get is, "It's been refinished".

    If you have to use anything use a natural fiber bristle brush. The furniture stripper will dissolve plastic ones.
  11. Popgunner

    Popgunner Active Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    A little twist on the car method I've done is to wrap the wood in newsprint paper (blank so printing ink doesn't stain. Your local newspaper will give you a roll end) & keep in the trunk for a couple of weeks, changing the paper every couple of days.

    I'm with Mark in that I don't ever want to remove anything with abrasives on milsurps. Alot of the mystique of milsurps to me is the finish that retains the bumps & scratches from whatever service the gun saw. The car method works best in the summer. After the wood sweats out most of the oil it's usualy good to go for me.

    Oven cleaners & such risk cracking the wood.
  12. bdfinst

    bdfinst New Member

    Dec 17, 2006
    Smith Corona 03A3 Results

    I meant to reply sooner, but work's been a killer. :)
    I found a citrus based furniture stripper at Lowe's and gave it a try in the barrel channel. The results were very good so I went to work on the whole shebang. There were a couple of areas that required two applications, but the results were very nice. The black was gone, but the wood wasn't bleached the way Easy-Off tends to do. I used a scotchbrite pad to lightly knock down the raised grain from the water based stripper (I covered all markings with my thumb). I didn't bother trying to steam out dents as I like my old rifles to look a bit old. Five coats of tung oil later, the rifle has a soft satin glow with the reddish tones and nice grain of well cared for walnut. Very happy. Next is my Springfield 1903. :)
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