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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(EDIT: if you'd like to see much larger images of any of these pictures, I've saved them as a set on my Flickr page.)

I've been doing a little (read A LOT) of work on some new Boyd's birch stocks that have been recently arriving on CMP rifles lately. Many people do not seem to like the new birch stocks too much; they are either "pumpkin" or are difficult to make look "USGI" walnut.

I for one don't at all mind birch stocks. Albeit, they are a bit more difficult to make "look" good other than their natural blonde. But birch is, IMHO, a fine small-pore wood for use in our M1s and M14s.

That being said, I wanted to provide a pictorial as to how I went from the "pumpkin" to, well, something else. Please note that I fully understand that these are not "USGI" stock, especially from a historical standpoint. I'm not looking to making something new look old, nor am I trying to make something look "correct". I guess I consider myself a new type of collector, especially with the M1 and M14 clones, and am looking for something that will be both used as a shooter (sorry, no safe queens for me) and that can stand up to the elements if need be. In so doing, however, I also want something that is aesthetically pleasing to eye... the better looking, the better. So, here is my first foray in some real experimenting with Birch.

Oh, and before I begin, I really need to give a lot of thanks to those who have helped me (both directly and indirectly) on this project. This is not my first stock restoration, but it has been the most extensive. Almost everything I've learned, I've learned it from here or on the CMP forum. To that, thanks to Gus Fisher's thread which has provided the most help. Also thanks to Doug Carlton and his thread who also provided me with some sage (and real-time) advice on how to use alcohol-based stains.

Several months ago I purchased from a fellow CMP board member two full stock sets that were recently sent out on CMP Service Grades. When I received them, I first tried to remove the stain with a stripper. Now, this is not the first CMP "pumpkin" birch stock I've worked on. However, I don't know what they (or Boyd's) is doing different, but BOY was that stain worked in there! After using two or three times with regular paint stripper, I then tried Acetone (didn't work much better) and finally tried some Soy-Gel paint remover available through Rockler. After three hits with this stuff, I was finally make a little headway. Unfortunately, I didn't take any "before" pics, but here are some pics of the two stocks I worked on along side another recent birch stock on a CMP HRA SG (which is a little bit more red than what the other two stocks started out as):




From this point on, I only worked on one stock set and put the other aside for later. I then started with some 80 grit sand paper to remove the rest of the stain. My goal was to get down to virgin birch wood. Boy, I spent HOURS on
sanding these things! Again, I don't know what the CMP/Boyd's is doing different than a year ago, but this stuff is soaked in. Here is a pic of one side of the butt stock with some orange still in it:



And here is the other side that I've sanded a bit more on (and you can see the difference in the color of the wood):



After many more HOURS of sanding, I was finally down to the virgin wood on the entire stock set. After the 80, I went to 100 then 120. Finally finished if off with some 220 grit sandpaper.

Here are some comparisons between the two birch stock sets:







For an even better comparison, here are the three butt stocks we saw earlier, the one on the left being the control as sent from the CMP, the one in the middle after stripping, and the one on the right after (A LOT OF) sanding:



And here is the entire stock set after sanding:



After sanding, per Gus Fisher's instructions, I applied a penetrating layer of Tru-Oil as a sanding sealer, then lightly sanded down to the wood. I then dabbled for my first time with some alcohol-based stains. Per Doug Carlton's suggestion, I used some guitar stains, ColorTone Liquid Stains, as made available through Stewart MacDonald. I first tried the Vintage Amber mixed with some denatured alcohol, but I think I may have put it on a bit too heavy as it came out looking a little jaundice, as can be seen here:



Hmmm... wasn't too sure about this. After that dried, I then applied a coat of some Tobacco Brown. However, again I think I applied it a little too heavy as it came out looking like a new CMP walnut stock:







Not that I have anything against walnut, but if that was the look I was trying to get, I'd just use walnut. So... removed ALL the stain with the denatured alcohol and decided to start again from scratch.

This time I first tried several coats of a much lighter Tobacco Brown. As these are alcohol based, it only takes an hour or two before you can apply another coat. After about three or four coats of the lighter Tobacco Brown, I then applied two or three coats of the Vintage Amber. Thereafter, I applied a mixture of 2/3 Vintage Amber and 1/3 Tobacco Brown. Two or three of those coats later, this is what I had:









 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
To be honest, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I first started out. I really was hoping to get some areas of the wood to "pop" out. I had also hoped for greater variation/contrast in the light-to-dark areas. However, and as I've found out, when working with birch, no two stocks are the same. So... I decided to start applying the Tru-Oil. After two coats, things were starting to look a little better.











As you can see, I was starting to see some striping in the lower hand guard. Also, the knot in the butt stock was starting to take on new meaning. I started calling it "The Mothman" from the movie "The Mothman Prophecies". I would turn out looking even better.

I eventually put on a total of 14 coats of Tru-Oil. From coats 1 through 5, I would later hit it with some 0000 steel wool. Coats 6 and 7 I hit it with some wet 400 grit (BE CAREFUL 'CAUSE THIS WILL GO TO THE WOOD WITH VERY LITTLE EFFOR AT ALL). I then went up to 600 grit for a few coats, and ending the last several coats with some 1000 grit, all done wet. For a good tutorial on how to dow this, visit this [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkIDm_2lN1c"]YouTube link[/ame].

After the last coat, I took some TurtleWax polishing compound to all the wood. Now... technically, I'm not done. I still need to apply some wax, and there is something else I'm going to do, but here are the results.















What is really remarkable here is how this has turned out to be somewhat of a "sunburst" type of look, very much similar to a Gibson Les Paul guitar. What is really astonishing, though, is how the color of the wood literally changes as you move the piece in the light. My "Mothman" literally appears and disappears before your eyes as you move the stock in the light. For example, take a look at these two pictures. They are taken under the same type of lighting conditions. The first one makes it appear that the handguards are completely different in color than the butt stock. But in the second one they look the same.





Overall, I am quite pleased with this stock set. I'm going to be using it on freshly manganese parkerized parts with a 308 barrel that Shuff's just did. Now, the grey metal on the handguards is gonna look out of place... but I have an idea, or maybe a vision, of how I want the end product to look like... and I'm almost there.

It's been nearly two months since I started working on this stock set. I haven't worked everyday on it, but it has taken a little bit of time. It's not too difficult to do, but you do need a little patience and be willing to make mistakes (I made several).

Oh... and if you'd like to see much larger images of any of these pictures, I've saved them (and some additional ones) as a set on my Flickr page.

Hope you enjoyed!
 

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Really very well done. I don't mind the birch stocks either and I have one with some great figuring and one that is just run of the mill. I think I will strip down one of them and see what happens with different stains. I really like the way yours came out. I know a lot of people on the cmp forums have some great methods for trying to make birch take the appearance of walnut, but as you said, if you want a walnut looking stock then just buy one.

ETA: Did you fit the stock to the rifle before refinishing? Both of my birch stock needed a considerable amount of wood removed on certain areas to fit properly.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
ETA: Did you fit the stock to the rifle before refinishing? Both of my birch stock needed a considerable amount of wood removed on certain areas to fit properly.
When I began his project, I only had the receiver with shot-out barrel. So, I didn't take the time to fit it beforehand. However, with the exception of taking down the forward right portion where the OpRod rides against, I left the internal portion of the stock basically untouched (I did put one penetrating coat of Tru-Oil). If it needs further fitting, shouldn't be too difficult to do. But... we'll see. GI1 I'm almost ready to put everything together. Just got one more thing to do.
 

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Duce - OUTSTANDING!!!

I am really impressed. Very professional finish and I LOVE the color. The shimmer is exactly what we all strive for in the finish and you nailed it.

Cannot wait to see that rifle fully constructed.
 
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I'm working on the nerve to start in on a Freds Birch E2 stock. Your tutorial will come in very handy. If mine turns out half as good as yours (but a little closer to Walnut color) I'll be one happy camper.

Congratulations, good work and thanks a lot!
GI1
 

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Duce, all your hard work certainly paid off! Thank you for taking the time to photo document your efforts and beautiful results. That is certainly a stock set to be proud of! Congratulations my friend!

BEERCHUG1
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the all the kinds words. I should be finished with this project by the end of the week, and will post pictures of the final rifle. Should look very good. Different, but good.

I've got three or four other stock projects in the works. Two USGI M14 walnut stocks salvaged from the CMP (1 walnut (I think) and the other a Winchester "Big Red" birch with some REAL tiger striping). Also going to finish that other Garand birch, and then I have a CMP walnut that came on a Service Grade Special. Will try to post results if they are at all interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Project finished.

FYI, this entire project started out as a HRA Rack Grade from the CMP. Parts were went out to Shuff's for parkerizing, and receiver was rebarreled to 308. Refinished the original stock, but wasn't satisfied with it, so I sold it off.

As this is the only Garand I have in 308, I wanted to do something special to it so that I wouldn't accidentally get it confused with its bigger brothers. I know that this is considered sacrilege, but I ultimately decided on painting some of the metal red to distinguish it from the others. I wanted it to be a dark maroon, which I think would have complimented the wood color a bit better, but I simply couldn't find that color. In any event, this stuff comes off rather easily with some acetone if I get tired of it, or if I find a different color. Overall, though, I am quite pleased.


I'll be taking this out soon to see how it functions.
 
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