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Thread: Any Problem Using Tru Oil on old Garand Stock w/o cleaning it?

  1. #1
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    Any Problem Using Tru Oil on old Garand Stock w/o cleaning it?

    I picked up an early serial number Garand. The stock has definitely been through hell, and it almost feels damp to the touch with the grime in it. That said, I actually like the color its taken on, as it looks vintage and like it has seen some use. But I'd like to put some sort of finish on it to protect the wood and shine it up a bit.

    I've used Tru Oil on my WASR stock to good effect, though that stock was new and bare wood. Is there any problem putting Tru Oil on the Garand stock without cleaning it first? If so, is there another finish that would suit my purposes? thanks!
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  2. #2
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    I would clean the stock first. Mineral spirits will do if its not too bad.

    If its really grimy, there are several good methods for cleaning stocks.

    You can use Tru oil after that; I prefer BLO or tung oil. YMMV.
    "If I said it, I must have meant it; so I owe him an apology, or nothing at all." -HST

  3. #3
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    Why would you clean the stock first? Is there any reason beyond aesthetics (ie, will putting Tru Oil on without cleaning damage the stock, or cause the dirt and other nasties in the stock now to damage the stock?)
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  4. #4
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    Any oil is going to loosen some of the gunk build up. You'll likely see some of it on the cloth you use to apply your Tru-oil. Clean it first.

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    I've had really good results with culver's recipe. If you're interested in getting something that looks original I'd follow the directions below. I've done this with garand, 03, and m14 stocks both with and without the preliminary sealing with tung oil & have been very happy with the results.

    I've also had pretty good luck applying this finish to stocks that were cleaned but not stripped of all finish. You can use simple green and a toothbrush to remove the buildup of gunk. A rubbing with 0000 wool will shear the whiskers that come up.

    You do want to at least clean the stock before you use a finish. Any finish you apply has no chance of penetrating through the builtup gunk.

    Here's the link to the original article (see method 3):
    Refinishing the M1 Garand

    Here's the text:

    Method Three:

    Refurbishing Old M1 (or M1903) Stocks

    By Dick Culver

    There are a couple of ground rules here:

    1.

    If the stock is in reasonably good shape, and looks right for the rifle, sometimes it’s well to just leave it alone.
    2.

    If it definitely needs cleaning, Walt Kuleck recommends the use of oven cleaner (see Walt’s article in this dissertation). While I haven’t personally tried oven cleaner, I have seen the results and it does a most serviceable job. If you are gonna’ go that far, make sure you don’t screw up or degrade any remaining (existing) cartouche(s) (usually located on the left side of the stock, sorta’ below the rear sight and/or receiver horseshoe). The very early IHC stocks have an "Ordnance Wheel" cartouche on the RIGHT hand side of the stock and a small (un-circled) "p" on the BOTTOM of the pistol grip... DO NOT REMOVE THESE!
    3.

    Being a basically lazy character, instead of using oven cleaner, I usually take a really dirty and oily walnut stock down to the local furniture stripper and have them throw it in the hot tank (this works for Birch Stocks also). The hot tank boils all the old oil and dirt out of the stock, and at least partially steams the smaller dents out... It truly cleans a stock down to its "undernothings". I usually wait a day or two before starting the finishing process if the stock was exceptionally oily, as sometimes a little bit of oil will bleed out after the initial treatment. These small oily "bleed outs" could probably be taken off/out handily using the oven cleaner treatment, or make a deal with the furniture stripper to dip the stock a second time after a week or so if it does start to get a little "after immersion seepage" – if you arrange for it before hand, they will usually throw in the second dipping gratis. After using the furniture stripping method, I then refinish the stock as described below.
    4.

    Many dings and dents can be steamed out of the stock using a wet wash cloth and a steam iron. It’s par for the course to have to do this several times for each dent. If the edges of the dent are "broken", the dent will usually not come all the way out.
    5.

    Once you have steamed out as many of the dents as possible, it’s time to "whisker" the stock. Filling the remaining small indentations that defy the "steaming out" method can be filled as outlined in "T.he F.inisher's method above. "Whiskering" is best done with a sopping wet washcloth. Just thoroughly wet down the outside of the stock and let it dry. When the stock dries, it will leave a raised grain (usually known as "whiskers"). These can be gently taken off with very fine steel wool (OOO or OOOO) – CAREFUL with those cartouches. This process should be repeated until the dry stock no longer has any raised grain. The stock should now be as smooth as a baby’s posterior, and ready for the application of the finish. I am told that the Scotch-Brite pads do an even better job than the ‘steel fur’ (0000 steel wool) and doesn’t leave those pesky little metallic little pieces of the steel wool hanging in the irregularities of the stock grain.
    6.

    Once you have used the hot tank or oven cleaner treatment on the stock, it will probably be considerably lighter in color than it was when you started. If you wish to bring it back to its original (and traditional) color, I personally use Dixie Antique Gun Stock Stain (made for them by the Fiebing’s Dye Company and costs about $2.00 per bottle). This stuff is obtained from the Dixie Gun Works in Union City, Tennessee. One bottle will do several stocks! You will probably have to use several coats, but make sure to let each coat dry thoroughly! After you have attained the desired color, wipe the stock down with OOOO steel wool followed by a clean dry (old) skivvy shirt. This stock stain will come as close as any I have ever seen to exactly duplicating the Springfield Stock Color.
    7.

    If you have a very early M1, the original finish was RAW linseed oil. According to the story, the linseed oil tended to smoke under the heat of prolonged firing (from the handguards, I assume) which was seen as an undesirable trait in a combat rifle ('03s did not usually get hot enough to cause such problems). I once charred the handguards of an M1 during a live fire Squad-in-the Assault exercise and bubbled the Linspeed Oil finish I had applied to the handguards. It looked pretty, but wasn’t the most practical military finish I ever used (except for inspections!). The Springfield Armory solution to the "smoking problem" was to use a 5 minute submersion of the M1 stocks in "China-wood Oil" (vice Linseed Oil). China-wood Oil is/was sometimes called Japanese Dryer, (better known as "Tung Oil" today – made from the nut of the Tung Tree). The Tung Oil finish was tested in early to mid 1941 and approved in the latter part of 1941. Using Tung Oil as the base coat is a really easy way to finish a walnut stock, as it dries rapidly and is essentially waterproof... "Tung Oil" can be rubbed in with the palm of the hand (until it starts to dry). If you wish to remove any shininess, this can be done with the 0000 Steel Wool, again wiped with an old towel. The end result can then be wiped down with a silicone cloth. This is the correct finish for an "as issued" stock (after 1941) from Springfield Armory... I will go through my personal "hand rubbed" finish below.

    NOTE: NOTE: As far as I know, all stocks finished by Springfield (and others - Win, HRA and IHC) after 1941, were finished with Tung Oil including the post WWII production rifles (including the M14). It would be hard to pin an exact date on the total changeover to the new finish, but surely by early 1942, all stocks were Armory finished utilizing the TUNG Oil process. It was intended that all FIELD maintenance of rifle stocks would continue to be linseed oil (Boiled Linseed was the favorite since it contained a drying agent, and was much more practical for the individual soldier)

    My personal advice is to make the stock finish fit the era and wear of the (individual) M1, and add a little character to the amount of remaining metal finish, rather than try to make a piece of furniture out of the stock. Doing too good a job is much like a gal who dyes her hair jet black when she’s in her ‘70s... It MAY be her natural color, but...

    If you are doing a total restoration, then it’s OK to pull out the stops.

    If you want a finish that rivals the most meticulous hand rubbed finish applied by the professional soldier (or Marine) in the days prior to WWII, you might want to try the following:

    This is a finish I got from an old-timer at Perry back in the mid-50s who appeared to be old enough to have used it on his issue Trapdoor Springfield in the Indian Fighting Days. I went home and tried it and am still using it to this day:

    1.

    Go through the cleaning process described above, whisker the stock as outlined and apply the Dixie Antique Gun Stock Stain. Make sure all the dents are steamed out (or filled) and you are happy with the finish.
    2.

    Apply Tung Oil liberally to the inside of your stock and let dry (this is basically a "waterproofing" treatment. Apply a light hand rubbed coat of Tung Oil to the outside of the stock and allow to dry (this acts to do a preliminary sealing of the grain/pores of the wood.. Use the 0000 Steel Wool (or the Scotch Brite pads) to remove any evidence of the Tung Oil from the outside of the stock. Allow the dried Tung Oil to remain on the inside surfaces.
    3.

    The "magic finish formula" consists of equal parts of Boiled Linseed Oil, Turpentine (essentially a solvent) and Beeswax. (1/3rd Linseed, 1/3rd Turpentine, and 1/3rd Beeswax. Melt the mixture over a "flameless" heat source (hot plate, radiator or the manifold of your vehicle). Stir the concoction and allow to cool into a paste. Put the paste in a convenient container (I used to use a typewriter ribbon can when they still had such things). You might get a can of Brie Cheese in the Grocery Store, those round cans work well and will fit in your shooting stool most handily inside of a zip-lock bag.
    4.

    Take your prepared stock and start to rub the Beeswax mixture into the outside of the stock with the palm of your hand. Allow the friction (and generated heat) of your hand to melt the paste into the grain of the wood. You can do this while watching the "tube" and not screw anything up. After you have rubbed in the first coat, rub it down with an old towel. Repeat the process until you are satisfied (you can always add more, and this is one of the beauties of the finish, as it can be used until you get tired of rubbing). The last coat is always burnished with an old (Terrycloth) towel. The final "piece-d-resistance" is a quick final rubdown with a silicone cloth. The finish gives the appearance of a hand rubbed stock with 20 years of effort applied. The Beeswax imparts a waterproof finish to the stock, and any minor scrapes, or scratches can easily be rubbed out of it with a small addition of the Magic Paste. The finish looks good, has a non shiny military appearance, it’s waterproof, doesn’t smoke or bubble the finish in rapid fire and appears to be an original well rubbed rifle stock from the days prior to WWII. It truly IS a hand rubbed finish!

    This method works equally well with any military stock and is a really practical finish for your hunting or "head for the hills" stock.

    NOTE: Beeswax can usually be found in shoe and saddle makers shops (they wax their sewing machine thread with it), leather stores (Tandy, The Leather Factory, etc.) or even from bee keepers... You ain’t gonna’ need a bunch. I’m still using a block I found 25 years ago. Beeswax can usually be found in shoe and saddle makers shops (they wax their sewing machine thread with it), leather stores (Tandy, The Leather Factory, etc.) or even from bee keepers... You ain’t gonna’ need a bunch. I’m still using a block I found 25 years ago.

  6. #6
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    If you decide to wash it--take it to the slop sink or tub, if wife is away. Just use hot water and dawn dish soap ands scrub the hxxl out oif it. The water(suds) wuill probably be pretty black the first couple doses of soap.

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    IMHO, and after refinishing dozens of stocks, I'll say it'd be FOOLISH to put any kind of finish on a grimey stock. When the wife's away, pop it in the dishwasher. It'll come out spotless, and despite all the naysayers, this is the fastest, easiest way to clean a stock. Then, as another poster said, go after it with boiled linseed oil. I cut mine with 2 parts pure gum turpentine. Stocks look like a $1,000,000 after several properly applied coats of BLO.
    35W
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  8. #8
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    "...Just use hot water..." That'll raise any cartouches. Mineral spirits will not.

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  10. #10
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    +1 For Guntoter. I use the CMPs method with very good results. Wrap in paper towels and a black trash bag out in the summer sun to bleed the oil from the stock.

  11. #11
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