Refinishing stocks: stock wax options and DIY stock wax

This is mostly for me to reference, because I keep forgetting, but maybe someone will find this useful too.

First, why wax and not oil? Wrong question. You should be doing both.

Being that I like to play with old clankers and restore them into something I enjoy shooting and having in my safe, I tend to work on stocks quite a bit, in 3 different ways.

#1
The worst case scenario - a complete make over.
Full strip, sand, oil, wax, etc. Not important in this post, but here for completeness.

  • Birchwood Casey – True Oil is really good stuff for a complete refinish (has polyurethane additive, pretty much all modern stocks have that). Tip: use your fingers, no gloves. Best approach.

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  • Do NOT use on old stocks that are being cleaned/preserved/refurbished, only on stuff that’s getting a complete work over.
  • Research ‘wet sanding’, before you start. If the wood is in shitty shape, you’d probably want to go with Boiled Linseed Oil and ‘wet sanding’ - an entirely different, very labour intensive and very time consuming task.

#2
Birchwood Casey – Stock Wax.

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Very easy and economical option. A little goes a long way. DIY is not always the best – in a lot of situations, this is the best. I found that if the wood is in overall good condition, specifically not dry, this is the best option. It’s hard to explain ‘not dry’. However, you’ll ‘just know’. It’s pretty obvious when you see something in good shape vs dry.

#3
DIY stock wax concoction.
Somewhat of a collaboration from quite a bit of research, and help from @Supaduke and @Gwion.

I find that this wax works very well on dry wood. A little goes a very long way. Dab it on a cloth and rub, rub, rub that wood. This needs rubbing, to generate heat, which thins out this compound and helps with absorption.

N.B.
Boiled Linseed Oil vs Linseed Oil. Boiled has a drying agent added to it, so you won’t be waiting for months for it properly dry. As far as I know, Linseed Oil is an oldschool traditional way… And purists will swear by it, but these are the same people who are all about making faster horses, while everyone else is driving cars. Boiled Linseed Oil dries faster and gives you the same results. The End.

Alright, so, what I have been using on stuff that’s in really bad shape or was in bad shape, rather:

By parts:
2 part: Boiled Linseed oil.

2 part: Natural beeswax (eBay is your friend)

1 part: Turpentine

Do NOT use Mineral Turpentine. It has petroleum additives and you don’t want it anywhere near your wood or wood finish.

Method:

  1. Put everything into a microwave safe dish.
  2. Microwave it until it melts and blends together (4 minutes to start with, but maybe longer. It gets extremely hot, so gloves are a must).
  3. Remove from microwave
  4. Mix well to make sure all wax has dissolved and everything has been mixed together
  5. Pour into storage container
  6. Let cool and solidify
  7. You are done.

Personally would never wax an old stock. Raw Linseed oil was very seldom used for gunstocks, but BLO used then is not the same as the BLO you buy now. What was once referred to as Boiled Linseed Oil was actually Stand Oil, and todays BLO is a mixture of Raw Linseed Oil, Stand Oil and metallic dryers. It is inferior, in my opinion, to Stand Oil (which still dries quite quickly), and would probably be replaced by Tung Oil if Stand could not be found. Raw oil has one advantage over all of them, and that is it tastes quite good with boiled potatoes! Seriously, good source of Omega 3. By the way, what’s wrong with a faster horse? In some countries, it keeps them from being hamburger! Cheers.

Yeah, I don’t know, @no1mk3. At some point that petina and wood character is just rust, dirt and overall lack of care. I don’t see anything wrong with cleaning it up.

I’d go at it with wax, before I’d try oil. I think oil, even original really destroys whatever was there that I was trying to preserve. And if I am working with oil, I’ll generally be doing a full strip. In which case, I’ll pick TruOil any day. In general, sure, oiling will bring things out and make it nice looking, bit if that’s not the point, then I’d always go with wax option to simply preserve and protect what’s underneath.

I just used Diggers Boiled Linseed oil when I did my shotgun. Come up pretty good. If you do do one that way “less is more”

Wax is not a replacement though. Wax goes over the oil. Or existing finish.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to refurbish/rejuvenate/restore my Remington pump action in 32-20.
Being a 1923 era rifle I did not want it to look like a new gun and wanted it to keep all of it’s history complete with dents and chips.

After stripping it completely I went to work on the timber. As I wanted to preserve the appearance I did not sand it back to clean wood but just stripper the old oil/grime and finish off of it by using Lacquer Thinners and lots of elbow grease.

What I started with:

Lacquer Thinner:

After the first effort:

Finished cleaning:

At this point I will mention that other than clean rags and the Lacquer thinners I also used 0000 steel wool to get the grime that was in dents etc out.
I then oiled the stock with a 50:50 mix of Pale Boiled Linseed Oil and Mineral Turpentine. After 8 coats, leaving it dry for 24 hours, I finished up with this:

It was at this point that I started asking questions about waxing and was shown this post (which I had forgotten about). I followed @juststarting recipe but with a slight difference, I used Liquid Beeswax instead of the solid type. This meant that it did not solidify but stayed liquid.
This is what I used:


Looks like this when heated and mixed:

Applying it was very easy and after leaving it on for 15 minutes it was wiped down and buffed:

A second coat was done using the same method. The photo makes it look glossy but it is due to the lighting in the cave:

I will be giving it some more coats over the next few days but even in it’s present state I am more than happy. It came out as a satin looking finish which was what i was hoping for and it even feels a lot smoother than it did with just the oil finish and 100% better than before I started.

I want to thank @juststarting for his advice, pointing me to this thread and being a sounding board for ideas. It was most appreciated.

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@Supaduke time to shine with your oven cleaner science…

That looks bloody good mate, nice work.

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Looks great mate, when are you going to show us the rest of the rifle?

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As requested :grinning:

You will see that other than a good clean of the metal work nothing else was done to the metal.
It was just a rejuvenation and giving the old girl a birthday.




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gd that’s sexy.

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Thanks, looks great

Ha.
Some of you will cringe but I assure you it works and does not dissolve your gun or damage it in anyway.

To restore an old stock , try spray on foaming oven cleaner.
I use “Easy Off - Bamm” , available at any supermarket.
Put your stock in the sun for a while or warm it with a heat gun or hair dryer.
Spray onto the stock. Let it fizz and sit for about 15 minutes. Wipe down with paper towel (gets messy you will need most of a roll) rinse with hot soapy water , let it dry. Repeat until desired amount of oil is drawn out.
The oven cleaner emulsifies the oil and draws it out gently into the foam, it also cleans the wood.
Will pull out the top layer of old oxidised dark oil.
Repeated applications will draw more out.
Very effective, very safe.
Does not harm the wood.
Done it several times to several stocks, in perfect condition years later.
It’s a controversial technique , oven cleaner sounds harsh , people think their gun will dissolve into sludge. It’s actually quite gentle. All it really does is make oil water soluble and clean timber.
Try it, be amazed…
Or don’t.
This technique is for oiled stocks. Probably wouldn’t work on a poly coated stock.

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Damn, I should have tried this as it sounds like the easier way to do it with out resorting to chemicals like paint stripper.
Well I guess it is another reason to buy another gun to try it out on :wink:

You’ve got to think this one through a bit more… Next time your Mrs is cleaning the oven just throw a couple of stocks in there and walk away. By the time she’s done you should be just about finished your second or third beer.
A little pat on the ass with a “thanks honey” and the job’s done. :smiley:

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I suspect that stock may need to be surgically removed after that.

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Nah it’ll easily come out of the oven :rofl:

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As a side note. Don’t soak the wood with water when you clean it. Rinse and dry.
Leave it for a while between applications. Older deeper oil will seep into the newly cleaned wood.
1-2 applications is normally enough for a refresh. 3-4 applications for a full restoration. When you re oil the stock after its dried, apply the first two coats with a green scotch Brite pad. Will settle the wood and help close up the grain and pores.

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