stock refinishing question

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by wpshooter, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. wpshooter

    wpshooter Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    When refinishing a rifle stock, should stain, etc. be put on the butt of the stock or should it be left unfinished ? Why or why not ?

  2. larrymac1

    larrymac1 New Member

    Jul 21, 2011
    Austin TX
    I would stain it personally. I built and refinished stocks when I was much younger and the only areas I did seal and stain were the areas that actually touched the metal parts. Sometimes too much finish can cause them not to fit together anymore and you have to scrape away what you put so much work into. There are probably better products today that back when, but I used Birchwood Casey and applied it literally by hand. I used a minimum of 7 coats and preferred 15 for a deep finish. Your butt plate will make no difference in the finish, but the finish will keep moisture out when you lean your gun against a tree in snow or rain.

  3. sting75ray

    sting75ray Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2011
    I never put anything on the butt other than the buttplate or recoil pad after I am done. Be sure and post up some before and after pics.
  4. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    You should put at least a sealer coat on any bare wood areas of the stock. Behind the recoil pad, any action/barrel inletting, wherever.
    Otherwise, you've got this nice open-pore area where moisture has a direct route into the wood which will cause problems with warping/rot/water-staining/etc sometime down the road.

    Doesn't need to be the full-blown completed finish that you're putting on the exposed surfaces, but you do need to seal the grain.
  5. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    end wood is susceptible to moisture changes, splitting , molds etc

    while options of finish i'll leave to the user , but something to seal it is always wise , then the butt plate or recoil pad can go over again

    if at a loss as to what to use .. 5-6 drops of candle wax rubbed in well does fine .. ww1 LE's where done that way and dont show up after its worked in
  6. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

    Mar 30, 2011
    Lompoc California
    The primary route for moisture into wood is through the end grain. Wood expands axially to the grain of the wood, and when moisture enters the wood it expands preferentially from the point of entry. That means that the wood gets bigger near the entry point, putting strain on areas that are in contact with non-expanding parts like the action. By sealing these points the stock becomes more stable when exposed to different climates. Also; sealed wood does not pick up foreign material as easily. Always a good idea to seal any surface not finished.
  7. Charles Christensen

    Charles Christensen New Member

    Nov 13, 2011
    One of my other hobbies for many year was wood-working and I think I can add something here.

    One of the greatest problems when building furniture out of solid wood (as opposed to engineered stuff like plywood, etc.) is the fact that it never stops moving due to moisture absorption. Pieces of wood that are fastened together with the grain running cross-wise to each other can induce stresses that will break the wood as seasons and humidity change. No amount of finish short of encasing a piece of wood in a block of plastic will stop it. Yes, a good finish will slow the process but not stop it. That said, probably the best finish for a gun stock that is headed for a trot through the mud, the blood and the beer is polyurethane varnish and wax. EVERY surface including that under the metalwork and, especially, all end-grain such as under the recoil pad or butt plate need finishing.

    Now, a word about varnish and end-grain. Polyurethane varnish is a synthetic and provides a tough and durable finish which is a good idea for a working gun. However, it should be applied the same as any other varnish.

    1 - Varnish is never applied straight out of the can. Always dilute it about 15 percent with the thinner recommended on the can to eliminate surface tension that causes bubbles.
    2 - Always use GLOSS varnish. If you wish a more mat finish you can rub it down with steel wool after it dries. Semi-gloss varnish has particulate material that dulls the gloss but requires lots of mixing.
    3 - I always recommend applying initial coats at 50 percent dilution with a careful eyeball application to observe what areas of the wood absorbs more. Solid wood can be annoying to work with and one of those annoying things is the fact that varying grain and pore structure will absorb differently. The 50 percent dilution will get deeper into the wood.
    4 - Apply more varnish to those areas that absorb more until they seem to get their fill. This should be done in one session to get the maximum amount of varnish as deep as possible into the wood. Don't worry about general appearance at this point, just keep it smooth. After several days to dry a good sanding and a finish coat or coats at a lower dilution, possibly sprayed, will do it.
    5 - I always give a good soaking to any end-grain. This the place where you will get the most moisture intrusion.
    6 - After all of this, a good wax job won't hurt. You might even wax all the metalwork.

    In spite of all that work you still will not be able to stop all moisture from getting in. Probably the best things to come along to solve that problem are those laminated stocks that are assembled under high pressure with plastic resin or just solid synthetic stocks.
  8. da357mag

    da357mag New Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    As has been noted, the end grain will absorb moisture with no finish on it! and you don't want this at all, but since that isn't happening, the finish will slow it down to tolerable levels. I have a model 70 stock I am either going to replace, or repair. I am going to "semi"
    refinish it to see how the grain looks. If it is OK I will bed the action. The reason is I don't know how many people owned this rifle, but I think all of them did something to it to screw it up!:eek:Take a look at the inside of the stock,


    It looks like someone used fiberglass resin on the barrel channel, and the recoil lug looks like it was "bedded" and most of that is now gone! So If it looks OK after I get done staining it, I will repair the inside and it might shoot decent. I can't get any better than about 3" groups @ 100 yards! and this is a 22-250. I had one in the 70s and it would shoot 1" at 200 yards with no problem! and all surfaces will be finished! I have done it that way for 35 years, almost every firearm I have owned I have found a reason to refinish it!:D Doug
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  9. BETH

    BETH Well-Known Member

    Jul 10, 2009
    pictures when u are finished please
  10. gunplumber

    gunplumber New Member

    Apr 14, 2010
    My method on Walnut: Set the stripped stock in a water proof paper plate and pour a little Laurel Mtn sealer in the plate and let the butt soak as much as poss while you apply more to the rest of the stock with a brush; esp the nose. Coat it good. Repeat the next day. 3rd day wet sand the wood lightly and remove any runs using sealer as wetting agent (400 grit). Let stock dry 1 day. Spray on Custom Oil (poly Satin from Brownells) 1 coat per day for 2 days then sand it back and recoat once per day (sanding back each coat) until you are pleased with the grain fill. You can then rub it down to your desired sheen. You can also use 555 grit and rub it to Weatherby shine if you like.
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