Applying finish to the outside of the wood is not necessary but can increase
sheen, depth and add some extra protection to the wood surface. It is much
easier to remove future damage without a surface finish since all such finish
will have to be removed in order to sand out scratches and dings. With only a
classic 'in the wood' finish (the kind you have now if you've gotten this far)
all you have to do is refill the grain where the repair was made. If you want
a surface finish the stock should be
before proceeding. Do not apply surface finish to the barrel channel, action
area or places other components attach to.
If you are one of those that can spray paint without causing even the tiniest
run a spray on finish should turn out great for you. You can build the coats up
pretty thick giving a deep polyurethane finish. The usual method for
non-factory and custom stock makers is hand rubbing the finish on. Regardless
of the method chosen, first check closely for any overlooked sanding marks or
unfilled grain before applying finish on top of the wood. The wood will not be
accessible once you begin and all surface finish will have to be removed in
order to correct any missed imperfections.
If you spray the finish on be careful not to allow dust or lint to
contact the stock during or after applying finish. You will not be able to
remove them wet without leaving a mark behind. The stock must be
completely clean of anything foreign that will be trapped inside the finish.
the gloss the more fibers, dust, whatever will stand out. The only way I know
of to get them out is to take the stock down to the wood surface and start over.
You should already know how to properly spray a finish if this is what you want
to do. Other than to remind you that the last coat should be dry before the
next is applied and the number of coats is whatever your heart desires, I will
move on to hand rubbed finishing.
Hand Rubbed Oil Finish
Here you will not have to concern yourself about dust embedding into the
finish. Each coat will be applied so thin that anything foreign will be wiped
off. However, start with a clean stock and be just as sure as before to allow
at least one full day (two days is better) for drying before applying a
proceeding coat. You will begin to notice a visible increase in gloss after
about the third coat. The number of coats is up to you and how long your wife
(mine is good for about seven coats) will tolerate having your nose stuck in
that piece of wood.
You can continue with tung oil here if you like. Tru-oil and lin-speed (brand
names) will give higher sheen and is more commonly used for surface finishing
and accessible at about any gun store. As before, the oil will be diluted
with mineral spirits and you will need a couple large lint free squares of clean
cloth. Very little oil/mineral spirits mixture is needed per coat. About 2
tablespoons total mixture should be more than enough to work with. Since the
oil that gets into the cloth stiffens when dry, they will eventually need to be
replaced. If you can find them, cotton baby diapers are great for this kind of
work or sneak out some soft cotton hand towels. Stay with the same oil you
choose to surface finish with. If you start with tru-oil or whatever stay
with tru-oil or whatever. It is okay that our sealer and filler coats are of
Wipe the stock clean of dust. Mix 1 part or a bit more mineral spirits to 1
part oil. You do not want the oil thick. If thick it will get
tacky too quickly and not spread evenly. With fingers I apply a small amount
to a starting point on the stock. I start at the forend tip on one side of
the stock and smear the oil down toward the pistol grip area. When the oil
will not not spread any further I wipe it with the cloth in the
direction of grain flow
. I act as though I am wiping all the oil off but a very thin coat of oil is
behind. Do not be afraid to wipe well and you need to. You want no high spots
in the finish and you want all finish to blend together. That is why we want
each coat to be very thin. It takes me about four dips worth of the fingers to
coat one side from fore-tip to pistol grip. While the oil can be rubbed on in
any direction, even circular, it is
that the stock be wiped
with the grain
. Keep working at a comfortable but uninterrupted and steady pace. Do not
jump from one part of the stock to another. Rather, keep the work connected.
Do not stop until all the stock is coated and wiped down. If spots are missed
they can be wetted and wiped dry if not much time has elapsed. After you have
finished wipe the stock down again and always in the direction of grain flow.
It takes me about a half hour each time I do this, not counting cleanup time.
Be sure this time will not be interrupted.
Put no less than four coats on the stock. Keep it out of direct sun light and
heat above ambient room temperature between coats and after the final coat
until the stock has completely cured (several weeks). On the next to last coat
you may want to polish the finish with a super fine polish such as
Five "F" Stock Rubbing Compound. This will smooth the finish. If you have
applied quite a few coats, say seven or more, you may lightly polish with Three
"F" compound followed by Five "F".
the final coat as that will dull its gloss. If there are any checkering
patterns clean them out with a checkering tool. Brush them clean of dust and
apply diluted tung oil to
the patterns only. Let dry then apply one diluted coat of finishing oil to the
After the final coat has dried the stock is ready for assembly or