care of Stock on a wooden rifle

Knottaclu

Well-Known Member
Linseed and walnut oil are 'drying' oils and have similar characteristics.

Linseed oil 'dries' through polymerising and in its 'raw' (untreated) state, is a slow process. Consequently, it is important to wipe off as much as possible after applying a coat to shorten drying time (by reducing volume) and reduce the amount of atmospheric dust etc. that is entrained whilst wet.

True 'boiled' linseed oil is made by heating and/or oxygenating (normally bubbling air through it) raw oil to begin the polymerising process and therefore (often only slightly) shorten the drying time. The end result is thicker than raw oil, building a finish more quickly but potentially not penetrating as far. I'm not aware of a commercially source for this but you can make your own.

The 'boiled' linseed oil found in shops could be more helpfully described as 'modified'. Normally, it will include a solvent additive and metallic driers (various metals in various forms that act as oxidation catalysts) and careful quality control will give a quicker and more reliable drying time. It is thinner than heat/oxygen treated oil and so penetrates better. For these reasons, it is the best variant for most situations.

All variants of linseed oil have relatively poor resistance to surface water and particularly water vapour. They darken noticeably with exposure to UV (I was once brought a linseed finished stock to refinish which had a perfect '7' on one side from sunlight shining through a signpainted shop window) but are forgiving to apply and easy to refinish.


'Raw' Walnut oil dries more quickly (and more thoroughly) than raw linseed, and has a longer shelf life. It is available commercially in a heat treated form which builds finish quicker and dries a little faster, as well as lasting indefinitely. There is also a alkyd blend which is very rare. It has similar characteristics to linseed in respect of water and UV, and in application.


The other widely used 'drying' oil is tung oil. Some commercial preparations described as tung oil are actually either wiping varnishes (mixtures of small quantities of drying oil with varnish) or other oils. Raw tung oil dries faster and harder than either linseed or walnut, and a polymerised version (via heat treatment) is available which builds faster and dries a little quicker. Unlike linseed and walnut, tung oil does create a finish resistant to surface water (but not water vapour) but is more difficult to apply.

Knots
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
The correct treatment for Enfields is a 50:50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine.

Not "turps substitute" but the real thing, which doesn't cost much more, if you can find it.

I'm still not sure what "boiled" linseed oil is, but I suspect its been treated with "driers" to ensure it goes off in a reasonable time.

The turps thins the oil, enables it to penetrate, then evaporates. I suspect any volatile solvent would do, but the real thing is readily available.

0.5 litre of boiled oil plus 0.5 litres of turps cost me £7 last week. Will likely see me out. And its very "eco".
 

Olaf

Well-Known Member
I had my wooden stock rifle out in the snow the other day and, after wiping it down and drying it out in the airing cupboard, the wood has a sort of grey sheen over it.

What is the best stock oil type stuff to get to rub on bring the shine back to it?

I had a look on the net and there are bloody hundreds of different oils, conditioning, polishing, wax etc that all claim to do the job.

Not looking for something that will change the colouring as it has a nice tiger stripe effect just something that will bring the shine back.

Cheers

David
Hi David, sorry but I've not read all of the posts on this because I'm a bit busy this morning but here is my answer. In case nobody has told you what to use (the proper method) I thought I'd best point you in the rite direction. Frankly, ignore all commercially available oils, they are ok but not up to the job in my opinion. I've been a bespoke furniture and cabinet maker for over 20 years now and whilst I do use the occasional pre made wood oil (for speed on cheap work) I genuinely stick to the old classics which work way better, they take a little time for the finish to build up but its a much deeper and lustrous finish which is easy to top up.
What you need to use for the 1st 3 wipe downs and then periodic cleanings thereafter is an even mixture of Turpentine (you will usually only find Turpentine substitute but this is fine to use), Methylated spirits, and Raw Linseed Oil, it has to be Raw Linseed oil, NOT Boiled Linseed oil. Just wipe the wood down with that and let it dry off a few times before using your main finishing oil which is a 20% Turpentine and 80% raw linseed oil mix. Apply that pretty much whenever you feel like it, let is 'dry' for a few hrs to a few days, in a warmish place and then buff it off well with a clean rag.
The good old chap who apprenticed me, now long, long gone, taught me that the rule of thumb for using raw linseed oil was "once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and after that; whenever it needs it Boy"
The good thing with it is that its cheap, you can make it up anywhere if your travelling, it doesn't go all sticky and gooey, like many do, if you don't rub it back within an hour of putting it on, and it really penetrates the wood and hardens it off and builds up to a superb finish. It also doesn't stink and freak out everyone in your house and more importantly does not scare the Deer. All the other oils only go 'skin' deep because of the accelerators in them and cost loads of money. The Raw Linseed oil is the king of finishes an always will be, it just takes a little time to build up, seeing as your stock already has some of the lesser stuff on it, it won't take that long to get going though.
Just remember, oily rags can catch on fire spontaneously so dispose of them whenever your finished or lie them out flat in a well ventilated area.
Happy Hunting, Olaf
 

Brithunter

Well-Known Member
Olaf,

Can you answer a question please?

Now this is fine for furniture but a rifle or gun stock is subjected to a bit more extremes of temps in use plus of course our dreadful weather. Would your finish stand up to this?

I know that the Brno ZKK 601 I stripped and finished using that commercial "Walthog" Purdy's oil finish kit has done and that used "Slackum" oil as they called it which i believe is a mixed Linseed with driers. In fact that one was out in weather no sensible person would have been out it :rolleyes: the rain was actually running out of the magazine floor plate. Due to the weather we had "taped" the muzzle before setting out. After stripping the rifle and wiping down with kitchen towels it was set aside in the corner of the room on newspaper and kitchen paper to dry off. The bolt needed stripping as it was drenched. The finish suffer not at all I am pleased to say.
 

dvbookshop

Well-Known Member
Hi. Try Birchwood Casey Tru-oil. I have used it on rifle stocks, longbows and arrows (which need a tough finish because of impact friction). You just rub on as many coats as you wish and can top it up with another coat or too whenever required. It creates a very attractive hand-rubbed finish which also penetrates. It's also cheap.
 

Olaf

Well-Known Member
Olaf,

Can you answer a question please?

Now this is fine for furniture but a rifle or gun stock is subjected to a bit more extremes of temps in use plus of course our dreadful weather. Would your finish stand up to this?

I know that the Brno ZKK 601 I stripped and finished using that commercial "Walthog" Purdy's oil finish kit has done and that used "Slackum" oil as they called it which i believe is a mixed Linseed with driers. In fact that one was out in weather no sensible person would have been out it :rolleyes: the rain was actually running out of the magazine floor plate. Due to the weather we had "taped" the muzzle before setting out. After stripping the rifle and wiping down with kitchen towels it was set aside in the corner of the room on newspaper and kitchen paper to dry off. The bolt needed stripping as it was drenched. The finish suffer not at all I am pleased to say.
Hi, in answer to your question I'm happy to say that in my experience, involving finishes that I've built up and ones which friends have built up, done in the correct way, I've always been amazed how tough a linseed oil finish is. I've sat out in torrential rain for hrs on end with very similar levels of soaking to which you described earlier and have never been disappointed. Yes, following a soaking the wet and muddy rifle has had a wipe down with a dry cloth, and the finish has looked somewhat duller than before, but this is only on the very top surface of the finish and is instantly fixed with a wipe with a smidgen of linseed oil.
If its really been soaked and I'm out for several days on a Cull etc I just wipe it down, let it stand somewhere warmish and dry (for example, in the lodge, next to my chair that's in about 10 meters away from the fire) and then rub on a 'cosmetic' smidgen of oil and leave it over night to soak in. The following morning I just give it a wee rub with a cloth or a bit of toilet paper or my hat or gloves and the head off out, no bother and no great fuss.
The lovely thing about the linseed oil is that it is drawn deep into the timber, the turps is to thin the oil to aid this penetration further, and it builds up into layers of oil which sort of crystalise in the wood cells and harden them off. As you know, water won't penetrate oil so once its in there it becomes part of the wood and is there to stay, It actually toughens the wood up, this is why people rub it into cricket bats. Indeed, I was taught to take the handle out of my mallet every weekend and put it back into the head upside down (to block the bottom of the mortice off) and then to fill it up with 20 % thinned linseed oil and let it soak in until monday or whenever I went on holiday etc. This was not to give it a shiny finish ! No, indeed it was not, it was to make it a harder wearing tool.
Yes there are finishes like the one that you just mentioned which have hardeners in them which make a very good SURFACE finish, they also do it in a fraction of the time that raw linseed oil and turps does but they are not as deep and 'structural' as the true diligently earned raw linseed oil finish. There are all sorts of chemicals in many thousands of different finishes and who knows what they do in the long run ? Maybe they are better or maybe they ar far worse. I don't purport to say that the old 20% linseed oil is better than all of them, as I've not tried all of them, but I do know that the linseed oil finish is one of the oldest and is in my opinion the hardest and best all round finish that I've used, and I have used many.
I would not dream of putting anything else on my rifle stocks. My rifles get taken out and used on the farm where my workshop is most weeks and they get all that the British weather can throw at them, I don't stay in when its raining ! And, they get mud on them and all sorts of stuff, obviously, including blood. I 'wash' away mud and blood with water and then clean the rifle with a quick wipe with the turps meths and oil solution followed by the 20% turps and linseed oil finishing oil before putting them away.
Its not an immediate finish, it requires many applications and lots of good hard rub downs (the friction warms it up and aids the hardening off) but its a truly unique finish and is super hard wearing. In today's instant everything culture its way, way, way, too expensive a finish for me to apply fully on most bespoke furniture orders unless the client is willing to continue with its use for the following 12 months after delivery, but I always recommend it to them.
The application of linseed oil is in my opinion a pleasure, it becomes part of your normal cleaning routine and its lovely to watch the finish deepen over time and feel it build up and harden off. Its the oldest and the best. I can only speak from my experiences as a Cabinet maker and Joiner, I'm not a chemist, but it works for me and has done for millions of other folk over the centuries on thousands of different items from gun stocks to phenomenally expensive dining tables to exterior joinery.
Kindest regards, Olaf
 

david1976

Well-Known Member
Well, thank you for all of your ideas and recommendations. I have decided to try Olaf's method and bought all of the items yesterday. Have just applied the first coat of meths / linseed / turps and after one coat of this initial wipe down mix the tiger stripes in my stock really stand out - I am very impressed. I have taken a before and after picture and when I have completed a number of coats I will post the results so other members can see the difference in stock appearance. All the items needed, the raw linseed, meths and turps cost me under a tenner in total to purchase.
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
Ive found a fascinating article at Linseed oil - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which explains what commercial boiled linseed oil is, and confirms Knottaclu's excellent post.

I think this is the stuff I've got, i.e. plain oil, with a drying catalyst to speed up the process. The labelling confirms this, and it seems to be just as runny as plain oil.

Traditional boiled oil is just that, oil that has been heated up in the presence of oxygen to partially polymerise it, so make it dry quicker. It also thickens it, hence the use of 50% turpentine in the pukka armourers' recipe for the enfield.

I daresay my modern stuff would work just as well as raw oil, but I'm going to change it for plain. Reason is that the metallic drying agents are nasty stuff, i.e.:

"Not for internal consumption. Keep out of reach of children. After contact with skin wash immediately with soap and water or a recognised skin cleaner. In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and if necessary, seek medical attention."

I don't fancy rubbing this in with my bare hands.

Whereas raw oil is non toxic, indeed used as a dietary supplement and flavouring agent.

The article also describes how the raw oil works, to penetrate deep into the wood and toughen it, as Olaf describes. It does however explain that the surface finish is not at-all waterproof or durable.

"When used as a wood finish, linseed oil dries slowly and shrinks little upon hardening. Linseed oil does not cover the surface as varnish does, but soaks into the (visible and microscopic) pores, leaving a shiny but not glossy surface that shows off the grain of the wood. A linseed oil finish is easily repaired, but it provides no significant barrier against scratching. Only wax finishes are less protective. Liquid water penetrates a linseed oil finish in mere minutes, and water vapour bypasses it almost completely.[4] Garden furniture treated with linseed oil may develop mildew. Oiled wood may be yellowish and is likely to darken with age. Because it fills the pores, linseed oil partially protects wood from denting by compression."

With a new dry stock I use a process of wetting the wood to raise the grain, followed by sanding with paper soaked in thinned oil. The sand dust then forms a slurry which acts as a grain sealer.

With a commercial stock there will already have been an initial treatment, so this is probably unnecessary. Unfortunately this also means the full benefit of the traditional approach my not be achievable, as the wood is already partially sealed.

Perhaps a combination of the initial linseed treatment to seal and toughen, topped off with a modern durable waterproof finish on top might be ideal.
 
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Sharpie

Well-Known Member
'Raw' Walnut oil dries more quickly (and more thoroughly) than raw linseed, and has a longer shelf life. It is available commercially in a heat treated form which builds finish quicker and dries a little faster, as well as lasting indefinitely. There is also a alkyd blend which is very rare. It has similar characteristics to linseed in respect of water and UV, and in application.

The other widely used 'drying' oil is tung oil. Some commercial preparations described as tung oil are actually either wiping varnishes (mixtures of small quantities of drying oil with varnish) or other oils. Raw tung oil dries faster and harder than either linseed or walnut, and a polymerised version (via heat treatment) is available which builds faster and dries a little quicker. Unlike linseed and walnut, tung oil does create a finish resistant to surface water (but not water vapour) but is more difficult to apply.
This makes sense. I have been using the Phillips walnut oil preparation on my walnut stocks with great results. I had heard that ordinary walnut salad oil was just as good, and it seems this may be correct (and so much cheaper), but I hadn't risked trying it.

The linseed/turpentine mix will be kept for the enfield, as the authentic method.

Please advise, how do I boil the raw linseed myself ?

I'll consider using Tung in future, for stocks that need to be water resistant. I think that "Danish" oil is based on Tung, and is easily obtained, would that be suitable ?
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
You buy boiled linseed oil from DIY outlets such as B&Q.
The stuff they sell is not the original boiled oil, which is what I want, and seems unobtainable nowadays. As I explained above.

Its plain linseed oil with chemicals added to make it dry more quickly. The chemicals are toxic, to the extent that there are severe warnings about getting it on your skin. It also doesn't meet the standards for using on childrens' toys and furniture.

No way am I going to risk rubbing it on by hand. I have bad enough eczema without taking unnecessary risks.

Turpentine is nasty stuff too, but has evaporated from the final finish, so I will use it, but wear gloves.

Detailed info here:

nontoxicprint | Nontoxic Printmaking & Printed Art

If I can't get some real boiled oil, I'll use the raw stuff which takes much longer to dry, and perhaps doesn't dry quite so completely, or I'll try boiling it up myself.

I've done some more homework and there are many articles. Even leaving it in a clear jar in strong sunlight has a similar effect, and would be risk free.
 

Knottaclu

Well-Known Member
Sharpie - It's a bit of a performance but if you would like to try boiling your own linseed, I can certainly give you an idea of the technique I was taught when I did my apprenticeship forty years ago by a master that was born so long ago that Cecil Rhodes attended his christening!

This technique was intended for fresh cold pressed oil - commercial raw oil (particularly if it's been sitting on the shelf in a warm shop for a while) might give more unpredictable results. I've also updated it to dispense with the need for things like a coal brazier and a stirrup pump.

You will need an air pump - in the absence of a stirrup pump and an india rubber tube, I would suggest a little aquarium air pump and silicone tubing with something heat resistant at the end (such as a 12" piece of new brake pipe from your local garage). You will also need a gas ring, camping stove or similar to provide heat outside - do not do this indoors or without excellent ventilation.

The oil has to be heated in a glass container (I'm not sure why - perhaps to avoid reactions with metal pans) and it works best if the container has a large surface area. Don't use your best Pyrex because it will never clean up but the glass dish bit from the door of old washing machines works well. The oil expands considerably so make sure that the container is deep enough.

Put a large pan on the heat to act as a water bath. Put the container of oil into the water, start the air pump and put the pipe in the oil, and bring to a rolling boil (without spitting). Be very careful and don't smoke, play with your lighter or put your finger in it to see what happens!

Knowing when it is done is very hard to describe - it can take as little as five or six minutes or twenty minutes (or more) depending on the nature of the oil, the ambient temperature and humidity, and how thick you want it. You will notice a slight change in colour and the appearance of the surface, and an increase in viscosity as you agitate it (carefully) with a wooden stick. Look for a slight 'drag' on the stick and when you are happy, turn off the heat but leave the air pump going until it cools.

Bottle when it is warm, store out of the sun and if it turns out to be too thick, thin with a little raw oil. This technique is rather more art than science, and so I apologise in advance if it takes several tries to get the result you require.

Knots
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
Sharpie - It's a bit of a performance but if you would like to try boiling your own linseed, I can certainly give you an idea of the technique I was taught when I did my apprenticeship forty years ago by a master that was born so long ago that Cecil Rhodes attended his christening!

This technique was intended for fresh cold pressed oil - commercial raw oil (particularly if it's been sitting on the shelf in a warm shop for a while) might give more unpredictable results. I've also updated it to dispense with the need for things like a coal brazier and a stirrup pump.

You will need an air pump - in the absence of a stirrup pump and an india rubber tube, I would suggest a little aquarium air pump and silicone tubing with something heat resistant at the end (such as a 12" piece of new brake pipe from your local garage). You will also need a gas ring, camping stove or similar to provide heat outside - do not do this indoors or without excellent ventilation.

The oil has to be heated in a glass container (I'm not sure why - perhaps to avoid reactions with metal pans) and it works best if the container has a large surface area. Don't use your best Pyrex because it will never clean up but the glass dish bit from the door of old washing machines works well. The oil expands considerably so make sure that the container is deep enough.

Put a large pan on the heat to act as a water bath. Put the container of oil into the water, start the air pump and put the pipe in the oil, and bring to a rolling boil (without spitting). Be very careful and don't smoke, play with your lighter or put your finger in it to see what happens!

Knowing when it is done is very hard to describe - it can take as little as five or six minutes or twenty minutes (or more) depending on the nature of the oil, the ambient temperature and humidity, and how thick you want it. You will notice a slight change in colour and the appearance of the surface, and an increase in viscosity as you agitate it (carefully) with a wooden stick. Look for a slight 'drag' on the stick and when you are happy, turn off the heat but leave the air pump going until it cools.

Bottle when it is warm, store out of the sun and if it turns out to be too thick, thin with a little raw oil. This technique is rather more art than science, and so I apologise in advance if it takes several tries to get the result you require.

Knots
Wow, thats involved. But still going to have a go. I cast my own lead bullets, so not afraid of complexity and danger.

Now this might amuse you:

Lawriter - ORC - 3741.09 Manufacture and sale of boiled linseed oil.

3741.09 Manufacture and sale of boiled linseed oil.

No person shall manufacture, offer, or expose for sale, boiled linseed oil unless it has been prepared by heating pure raw linseed oil to a temperature of two hundred twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit and incorporating not to exceed four per cent by weight of drier. Such boiled linseed oil must also conform to the following requirements:

(A) Its specific gravity at sixty degrees Fahrenheit must be not less than nine hundred thirty-five thousandths and not greater than nine hundred forty-five thousandths.

(B) Its saponification value, Koettstorfer figure, must not be less than one hundred eighty-six.

(C) Its iodine number must not be less than one hundred sixty.

(D) Its acid value must not exceed ten.

(E) The volatile matter expelled at two hundred twelve degrees Fahrenheit must not exceed one half of one per cent.

(F) No mineral oil shall be present, and the amount of unsaponifiable matter as determined by standard methods shall not exceed two and five tenths per cent.

(G) The film left after flowing the oil over glass and allowing it to drain in a vertical position must be free from tackiness in not to exceed twenty hours, at a temperature of about seventy degrees Fahrenheit.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953
 

Olaf

Well-Known Member
Likewise.

Olaf, I'd be concerned that the purple dye in the meths might stain the wood. Is this a problem ?
Hi, no is the simple answer to that, I've never detected any of the purplish hue staining anything. Indeed, its an interesting observation but nothing to bother thinking about.
Kind regards, olaf
 

Knottaclu

Well-Known Member
Hi, no is the simple answer to that, I've never detected any of the purplish hue staining anything. Indeed, its an interesting observation but nothing to bother thinking about.
Kind regards, olaf
The dye in meths is AFAIK methyl violet - it doesn't normally stain wood but can stain some textiles. Meths is usually 95% ethanol with about 5% methanol (which is not nice stuff). As an alternative, you can get non-stained ethanol cheaper from your local diy marketed as bio-ethanol for fuel.
 

Clunker

Member
I use "as-issued" military rifles while walking and target shooting on my land. I've found that the best stuff (IF you have the patience) is raw linseed oil. I apply it twice a day for over a month until it stops soaking in, then let it sit so the stuff hardens at the surface. This completely impregnates the stock and seals it from changes in the weather. It becomes as stable as a composite stock. I did that with my competition rifles when I was an active service rifle competitor. The zero never changed from summer through winter, humid weather or dry.
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
Carefully remove the stock and place it on Ebay!
Fit composite (or laminate if you prefer the feel of wood) and go stalking, as you now have a rifle that you can actually use in all weathers and not worry about!:thumb:
MS:norty:
 

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