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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It has a shiny finish. The stock is rough and seems water damaged in one spot. I applied lemon oil daily for 30 days, which helped the water damaged spot, but left the rest of the wood apparently unaffected.

I don't think the Lemon Oil pentetrated the shiny finish. I've already thought about sanding it down and slapping a nice coat of polyurethane on it, but I would prefer not to sand it, if possible.

Can anyone help?
 

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This looks like a job for dun-dun-DUN! C&R MAN!
Actually, I suggest you head over to Paralax Bill's C&R heaven:
http://www.milsurpshooter.net/
There is a forum there dedicated to stock cleaning and restoration.
The folks are real collectors and are dedicated to preserving these rifles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmmm, the K-31 has an amber shellac finish.

I may sand it, restore the wood, then apply a new coat of amber shellac, or maybe polyurethane? Sanding a rifle's furniture is not difficult. Here is a photo of what I did with my Norinco NHM-91. The previous owner had engraved his name and curly cues in it, so I really had no choice. It came out very well, showing some pretty wood:



Maybe, the K-31 will come out as good?
 

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I would suggest rubbing it down with a shellac remover to get the finish off and maybe a little 0000 steel wool. No sandpaper as it leaves rough marks that you might not see until you get a finish back on it.

That will keep the wood very close to original shape then find a shellac hue that matches it. You can get flakes for shellac in all different colors.

Check this place out for info on your rifle of all kinds.
http://www.swissrifles.com/

I have life long experince being around wood refinishing. My Mom used to restore antiques and my Dad has built many custom peices for people over the years and restored peices as well. It's a subject that I could probably write a lot more on as I have soaked up so much info from my parents.

The few things that I have done high end I usually start off with 230 grain paper then move to 400 then 600. After I get that far I might go steel wool or 2500 bodywork paper. Scraping with straight razor blades is another cool trick I use to restore stuff that has gouges and lines.

After I have something smooth as a playboy bunny's arse I clean it with denatured alcohol of some other solvent that evaporates and is not oily. Then a final inspection and finish. I have made some stuff that looks like glass when I'm done.

My Dad likes to finish with varnish and then steelwool the peice with 0000. Then he applies furniture wax with some stain tint to match what he's working on. He buffs the whole peice out and it looks superb. He built a cradle when our first was born and helped him finish it here at my house. It's outstanding and was done with the wax.

Water and a clothes iron can be used to steam out dents too. With some of my C&R stuff I have cleand them with purple power until the wood is saturated. I let it stand and air dry for a week in my basement or up in the house and I have found that on the less dense woods it will get all the dents out that way except severe ones.
Walnut or denser woods do not respond as well to that method and the iron is better. That is when the scraping comes in as to take a little of the wood off around the dent to make it look less noticeable or take it away completely.

When using the iron an old T-shirt of cotton wooks good as a buffer, but don't use a Gunco T-shirt:D

Hope that helps?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jeff, that is a great plan! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Jeff, can you recommend a good shellac remover? Did not see one at WalMart, but will look at Lowes.

I have experience with laquer, but understand it is a different product. I like laquer, because it dries quickly without leaving runs or bubbles. I did a beautiful old cherry bedroom suite with it. Not sure if it is still used?

Does shellac apply similarly to laquer, or more like polyurethane?

Thanks again.
 

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Like Laquer or stain.

A remover type escapes me, try and ask at Lowes or read the containers. I think laquer thinner willl work, but maybe acetone too? My mind is drawing a blank.

Furniture stripper will do anything though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just got advice from a refinishing expert. He suggests using alcohol. I should have figured that out after reading about shellac vs. laquer. Shellac is made from insect excrement mixed with alcohol, so a good alcohol bath should thin and remove the shellac coat. Will give it a try, but haven't decided whether first to take it shooting, or to disassemble it and work on the stock for a month or so (30 days of lemon oil rubs to restore the wood before refinishing it). Still have an Enfield and Winchester 94AE which haven't been fired, so I may just work on the Swiss K-31 for awhile. Decisions... decisions!
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Clay, I am finishing up my 1935 K-31 now. Walnut stock. It really had a rough finish at the butt stock and butt plate due to stacking the rifle in snow. Lemon oil will not save this one especially with the shellac coat stoping most if not all lemon oil penatration.

I also have a 1945 with beech stock and it is such good shape that I have done nothing to it but clean.

On this new one, I used denatured alcohol to get the shellac off. This stock was so dirty that I had to use purple power degreaser. Usually I just use Murphy's oil soap and a stiff nylon brush. I spray it with the purple power. Let it set a couple minutes and then rinse it off well in the stationary tub in our basement. An amazing amount of dirt will come out. Don't worry about the color being gone...it will come back. Might have to do this more than once.

Then I spent about two hours ironing out the dings and dents as Sang mentioned. I especially focused on the butt area of the stock which had the proverbial "beaver chewing" marks.

I think the key is keeping the washcloth wet and leaving the iron on the ding for 2-3 minutes, not seconds. Heat alone will not do as well as the cloth dries out. Keep the cloth wet. Patience and persistence is also key.

After that, I use nothing but 0000 steel wool and elbow grease. When smooth and dry, and dry is crucial, I use a 50-50 mixture of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. BLO will penetrate and bring the color back. Mineral spirits helps it dry faster.

The number of BLO coats depends on how dark you want it. 2-3 at least with some cloth rubbing and 0000 steel wool inbetween when dry.

I am doing one now and am at the point where I am putting the BLO only on certain parts of the stock to have it match the rest of the wood. Wood takes color at different and sometime unpredictable rates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks Custer!

I removed the amber shellac last night, using 000 fine steel wool and 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol). It came off fairly easy. Being ignorant, I had previously tried using lemon oil on the wood, of course without effect, although it contains mineral spirits.

After removing the shellac/finish, I was a bit irritated to find dirt and scratches, which apparently were on the stock before they shellacked it. I know it's a military rifle, but why put a shiny finish on top of dirt and scratches? Why put a shiny finish on a military rifle?

My wood is beech, and it has water damage on the butt, probably as you mentioned from being stacked in snow. The alcohol has improved it markedly. I had not planned on cleaning it with Murphy's Oil Soaps, or cleaning it with Purple Wizard, but that's a hell of a good idea. I had planned on ironing out the dings and divots, as you suggested first, but will do cleaning first.

Do you plan on shellacking the rifle after restoring the wood?

btw - This topic is going to be an excellent go-by for K-31 owners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Progress Report:

I'm a bit disappointed with the carelessness of whoever shellacked the Swiss K-31 originally. Mine had the dark beaver marks Custer mentioned. The reason for that is no one shellacked the rifle butt, so when it was exposed to water, it soaked it up. Just a dab of varnish would have waterproofed the rifle butt. A little effort would have made a much better, more enduring job.

Rubbing the stock liberally with alcohol improved the area, making it lighter and raising the grain. It is much improved.

Today, I rubbed Murphy's Oil Soap in the wood with 000 steel wool. There are less dirty marks, and the beaver chew area is even lighter, having improved maybe 65-70%. There is still a darkend spot and some rough surface, but it is lighter and much smaller than before I began. I really like Custer's suggestion of Oil Soap, because it cleans the wood while restoring oils to it.

The wood still has some scratches, which the 000 steel wool didn't remove. It also has some dings. I'm considering possibly sanding the wood down later, but I 'll wait until having scrubbed the stock with a stiff nylon brush and Murphy's oil soap and following the steps suggested by Custer (purple wizard spray, rinse, ironing).

I got my materials from WalMart (steel wool, clear rubbing alcohol, Murphy's soap oil). So, they are readily available and inexpensive. When I first saw the rifle, I could not have imagined the wood would come back as it has. Wood is a resilient material! I'm optimistic!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Progress Report:

I couldn't resist. I scrubbed down the wood with Purple Wizard, using the stiff nylon scrubby brush. It had almost dried before I soaked it in the bathtub in luke warm water. I didn't just soak or rinse it, I used the scrubby brush. When the wood no longer felt slippery, I took it out of the water and dried it down with a towel.

It was beautiful! By this time, the dark weathered patch on the lower stock near the butt was only slightly discolored. Frankly, I couldn't have expected it to restore as nicely. Now, I can see natural, subtle variations in the wood grain.

I then ironed the stock as suggested. It seemed to seal the weathered wood even better. The wood is very smooth.

However ... the formerly weathered part of the stock still has not healed up 100%... and there are a few very slight traces of scuff marks on the wood. They aren't very noticeable. I could quit now and be satisfied.

So, I'm, going to scrub it once more with Purple Wizard, rinse it again, then iron it. That should yield maximum restoration. Going to call it a night, though.
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Clay, I try to improve it as much as I can without using overly intrusive methods. Purple power is sort of a last resort for me. I try to keep as much as the military flavor to the rifle as possible since that is part of its history. It is a tightrope walk to be sure in deciding how much is restoring vs. refinishing. I have a fair amount of tolerance for that used look.

By the way, some of the dark spots seem to come back after the wood drys and you apply some whatever you are going to use as a finish. Seems to draw it out from deep into the wood.

I don't think I am going to apply any shellac to the stock once I am done. Since I don't use these milsurps in the rain, I think I can live without it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Custer said:
Clay, I try to improve it as much as I can without using overly intrusive methods. Purple power is sort of a last resort for me. I try to keep as much as the military flavor to the rifle as possible since that is part of its history. It is a tightrope walk to be sure in deciding how much is restoring vs. refinishing. I have a fair amount of tolerance for that used look.

By the way, some of the dark spots seem to come back after the wood drys and you apply some whatever you are going to use as a finish. Seems to draw it out from deep into the wood.

I don't think I am going to apply any shellac to the stock once I am done. Since I don't use these milsurps in the rain, I think I can live without it.
Point well taken.

One friend, who refinishes rifles professionally, warned that using Purple Wizard could turn the wood gray...

The wood did look grayish, until I rinsed it. As I wrote earlier, I rinsed it and scrubbed it at the same time. I ran my fingers over it until the wood lost the slippery feeling which comes from having detergent in it. His advice was to be cautious, let the Purple Wizard soak into the wood, but don't leave it in "too long." he didn't say how long was "too long," so I guess less is better. My wood has a fresh, natural color now.

Now that I look at the wood, it appears nice enough to finish. I'll let it sit for a while and think about it before doing anything else. It's easy to get into a project and lose perspective.

One choice I'll have to make will be to refinish it with a mixture of BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) and Mineral Spirits, or shellac it. Amber shellac would restore the wood to the look it should have had originally - if they hadn't finished over dirt and scuff marks. On the other hand, BLO would restore oils to the wood. Either way, it will be an amazing improvement. I would never have thought the wood would have healed up so well.
 

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I over used Purple power on my first Enfiled and it turned gray. I stained it with some slightly red stain and I get some good comments on it, but it's not correct. It's still a good looking gun. On my K31 I cannot decide if I should do anything to it yet.
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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I've found BLO brings the stain out and also darkens the wood again, too.

But, it can take a lot of coats to re-color it with generous rubbing inbetween coats to add some "heat" to get it down into the wood pores.

I use my variable speed drill with a buffing attachment to force the BLO into the pores. Make sure the BLO is pretty dry but you will still see some ooze out when you buff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another option ...

Now that I've had more time to think about it, I'm considering a poylurethane finish, much as I did with my Norinco NHM-91, as pictured above. I'll check Lowes to see if they have amber-colored poly. That will give me the look of the original, but with a more durable finish.

The most important part has been done - restoring the wood. It's been a big change. The rifle stock looked like bruised fruit, or a raisin where it had weathered from water damage. Now, it looks new.

Will put up a photo once I finish. Would like to see photos of Custer's K-31 and others, too.
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Clay, mine will not look that great. I would say it was a C- or even a D and it is now a B-.

But, as i said I have a pretty high tolerance for the used/abused look especially in a 70 year old milsurp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ahhh, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

I'm not sure how my rifle's finish will look, because I can't tell how the grain will react to the finish. It looks dry and clean now, reminding me of a new interior mahogony door. Once finish gets into it, the wood will change in appearance. Not sure how.

My Norinco NHM-91 had some pretty wood and finished up accordingly. Won't know how nice the K-31's wood can look until its done. In any event, it should be a big improvement.

Decided to finish with polyurethane. Went to Lowe's and hoped to find an "amber" polyurethane. None by that name, but there was one which was close in color, or so it looked. It was called honey pine. Will try it on the handguard first, and if okay will apply to the stock.
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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If I ever really re-do a gun stock, I think I will finish it with a marine spar.

I use it on my front door and porch pillars. Wears better than anything else I have ever used.
 
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