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01-16-2011 08:48 PM
I am purchasing a Rifle Kit with the stock made from Figured Maple. I will have to do the finish myself. When the builder of these rifles delivers a gun that he finishes himself, he will: "completely seal the gunstock by submersing the stock for 20 - 24 hours in a tank with a hardening, penetrating sealer. The sealer prevents any moisture from entering the wood, ..."
1st question: Is there some type of sealer out there that you do this with?
2nd question: He also provides a stain to stain the stock with when you purchase the kit. I was under the impression that stain does not work very well on non-porous woods like maple. It becomes blotchy. Is there something I am missing here?
Below is a picture of one of his finished stocks.
Thanks for any imput.
01-16-2011 09:02 PM
He is misinformed about the sealer that supposedly prevents moisture from entering the wood. It's not true.
Yes, maple is know for blotching when stained. That's exactly what you want with figured maple--that's just maple where the blotches are in more regular patterns. But, it is hard to get the dark, dark coloration of your picture--so dark that even allowing for the vagrancies of computer screens it looks like the figured maple has be significantly obscured, apparently in an attempt to make the finish look old. He may have used a fairly heavy gel stain to achieve that darkness. Dye, or chemical treatment, could darken the maple without obscuring the grain to nearly as great a degree. So before we lay out a detailed schedule, it would help if you described exactly what you want. Do you want it dark and antiqued like the picture. Medium darkness with more dramatic display of figure, or relatively light with a naturalistic display of the figure. Also do you want the stock to have in-the-wood finish, or are you looking for something with a shiny film that displays the figure.
01-17-2011 08:45 AM - edited 01-17-2011 09:11 AM
The rifle is an 18th century Flintlock. Therefore the antiqued look is what I am after. That being said... My two most important concerns are: 1.) Moisture Protection 2.) A dark finish with as much a display of figure as possible.
I would rather have the "In-the-wood finish" look, but I am thinking I will need a film finish such as Waterlox for the added protection. This rifle will not be for display only. I will be taking it out and using it.
Am I asking for too much?
01-17-2011 10:56 AM
I would start with a very dark brown, nearly black powdered water soluble dye. After this has been applied in a wet application and allowed to dry, I would then sand the stock with 220 grit paper. You will be removing dye from the harder portions of the stock but more will remain in the softer figured portion of the maple thus emphasizing the figure. Then use a redder or dark amber dye, depending on which maple look you are after, to achieve the general darkness you seek. You can then seal with a thinned coat of waterlox,or with shellac and apply a gel stain to add some depth. Over the sealed surface most of the gell stain will wipe off, which is good, the dye will have achieved nearly enough darkness and too much pigment stain will obscure the figure. Then finish with more coats of waterlox.
Alternatively, instead of Waterlox, you could use TruOil, which is a polymerized linseed oil for a very traditional in-the-wood finish. The Waterlox will protect more but except in the field live most their life in relatively sheltered environs. With a flintlock you won't be shooting much in miserably wet conditions.
01-19-2011 03:52 AM
…to the rifle making skills of the builder, his understanding of finishes and finishing appears (if your quote is accurate) to be a bit flawed. As already stated by Amateur60, there is no finish (no matter how long the wood is soaked) that will “…prevent any moisture from entering the wood”. I will go so far as to suggest that all of the soaking, after an hour or so, is a complete waste of time in terms of penetration of the finish into the cell structure of the wood.
But, that bit of marketing hyperbole aside, I would like to focus your attention on the visibility (or lack thereof) of the curl figure on the gun stock in the photo. If this is an example of the result of using his recommended stain I would suggest that it should be all you need to set his finish recommendations aside. Yes, the stock looks “antique”; Antiques-Road-Show “antique”, which translates into “dirty”. You can achieve the aged maple look you want without completely obliterating the subtle (and in this case not so subtle) figure of the curly maple by using water-soluble dyes and an in-the-wood oil finish. To do that I offer the following finish schedule that a number of our customers have used to finish and refinish gun stocks.
Begin by sanding through 220P using open coat sandpaper. Depending on the delivered condition of the stock I would begin at 120P (rough surface) or 150P (smoother delivered surface). Remove all of the manufacturing milling marks with the coarser grit and then proceed, without skipping grits, through 220.
Next apply a reddish brown water-soluble dye that you have mixed in a somewhat concentrated ratio equivalent to one-ounce of dye to 24 ounces of distilled water. Our usual suggestion on curly maple is our “Cherry Tone Maple”, but any reddish brown to reddish amber dye will do. When the dye is dry (a few hours) re-sand the stock with 220P open coat sandpaper. Your objective is to sand just enough to remove most of the dye color from the “field” between the curl figure while leaving the color in the more porous figure.
Next, mix more of the same dye in a less concentrated ratio equivalent to one-ounce of dye to a quart and a half (48-ounces of distilled water) and apply the more diluted mix to your stock. This time, when the dye is dry, apply a liberal coat of BLO (boiled linseed oil) to the stock and wet-sand the oil into the stock with 220g Silicone Carbide (the black wet/dry sandpaper). This sanding step will produce colored sanding slurry that will pack into the open grain of the figure thus further emphasizing the grain. Take care while sanding to evenly cut color from the “field” without producing a streak pattern. Using a sponge as a backer block will help control and evenly spread sanding pressure. You won’t need to sand much; your objective is simply to provide a base coat of oil and further fill the grain (figure) with darker color. Wipe the excess oil and slurry from the stock and allow the oil to fully cure for a couple of days.
We usually suggest the use of Tru-Oil® for the final finish. Tru-Oil® is polymerized linseed oil specifically intended for finishing gun stocks. Follow the instructions and apply as many coats as you need to obtain the look & feel you want to achieve. This will produce a highly moisture resistant finish, impervious to liquid water, even in heavy field use. It will also give you the look of antique, naturally aged curly maple stock on a gun that has been properly maintained and cared for over the years as opposed to an “old gun” that has set forgotten in a corner accumulating so much dirt and grime as to become almost unrecognizable as “curly maple”.
Your plan to test the finish on curly maple is an excellent idea. I am confident you can do much better than the dark and dirty look (opinion) onj the curly maple in the photo...
01-19-2011 11:09 PM
Thanks Steve for your input as well. I was quite suspicious about what he (The rifle builder) said concerning sealing and staining. That is the reason for my post. It looks as though you an Amateur60 are basically on the same page with a few minor differences.
Between what the two of you said, I think the Tru-Oil will be the final finish. I will try a couple different samples, one being your finish schedule and the other being Amateur60’s schedule and seeing which is more appealing to my eyes. I’m guessing his (Amateur60) schedule of using shellac and then some gel stain to give it depth, he means a sort of 3-D look to it. I certainly do not want to cover up the curly figure in the Maple.