Some folks may think that restoring an old gun stock is is quite a chore and may pass on an otherwise fine rifle at a show because of this reason. Iin fact, you may actually be looking at a diamond in the rough. With a bit of time and patience you may find a project like this very rewarding.
I bought this 1891 Argentine Mauser a few years back as a project rifle. While it did look very nice I had visions of it being returned to its original glory. Sometime in its past a previous owner decided to cut down the fore stock and lose the upper hand guard. The cut job was done well but still, it wasn't "right". But the project was doable since all of the metal parts and the barreled action were in near perfect shape.
It took me nearly a year and a half of searching shows and Gunbroker but I finally found a correct stock for the rifle (the hand guard was easy). What arrived in the mail was a 120 year old chunk of wood that seriously looked that old. It was grungy, dirty and abused. Tthe metal parts were rusty as hell. I seriously thought "I paid how much for this?" but I remained undaunted. Between the two sets of metal stock parts I found what was useable and ordered the rest from Numrich. http://gunpartscorp.com/catalog/Prod...spx?show=brand
Upon further inspection I noticed that the underside of the fore end had a series of, shall I say, abuse marks that looked like someone had forced the lower barrel band off with a sledge hammer. This was now getting interesting to put it mildly.
I took the stock out to the garage and hung it from a wire to clean it up. I use Purple Power, available at Wal Mart or most auto parts stores. This stuff works great on lifting grease and cosmoline out of wood. Put a bucket under the stock to catch the drippings and just spray the stock down heavily and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. The grease and nasty stuff will begin to loosen and run off. You may want to use a toothbrush to scrub out any cuts and crevices in the wood. Repeat this process as many times as needed and then spray the stock heavily with Windex to neutralize the degreaser. When that is done wash the wood down with your garden hose and hang to dry for a couple of days.
Now I really hate to use sandpaper, much less a file, on an old stock but what real choice did I have? After some very careful filing and a good dose of sanding I got it to look presentable. It wasn't going to be perfect but I didn't want to remove so much material that the new barrel band wasn't going to fit. Hopefully in the end it won't be too noticeable.
The stock was really beginning to come along. It wasn't quite a diamond....yet, but it wasn't a lump of coal either. The sand paper was put far, far away in lieu of 000 and 0000 steel wool. after a few rubdowns this is what I had.
Things were definitely looking up. Now it was time to get to the oil finish. I like to start with a 50/50 mix Boiled Linseed Oil and Mineral Spirits. This mix will soak into the wood very well and provide a good base for your finish coats. Apply the 50/50 mix generously allowing it to penetrate well but not run or build up too much. Let this dry over night and then rub the wood down with 0000 steel wool again. Use a tack cloth to pick up any fibers left from the steel wool and recoat with the 50/50 mix. Don't use as much this time but pay attention to how much of the mix the wood is soaking up. You don't want the wood to get a "gummy" feel. Let dry again over night. Depending on how dry the wood is you may need to do this 2-4 times total using progressively thinner coats.
For the finish coats I like to use Pure Tung Oil. I stress the Pure part. Brands like Formby's have additives and driers in them that can affect the final finish. Other folks like to finish with un-thinned Boiled Linseed Oil. Either one is fine and is just a matter of personal preference. Apply the finish oil in very thin coats using a lint free cloth in small sections at a time, rubbing with some vigor to create some heat. The heat helps the oil bond nicely with the fibers of the wood and will create a deep, glowing finish. Purists will use their bare hands to apply the oil. To each their own I say. Let each coat of oil dry at least a few hours, lightly rubbing with the 0000 steel wool in between.
This is what I got after 3 coats of the Pure Tung Oil. I must say that this old, nasty stock has sure come back to life!
Even the area where I had to do the sanding work didn't come out half bad. Sure, it's noticeable but only under the camera flash. In real life you have to actually look for the flaws. And the hand guard matched up nicely as well.