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How do you guys prep your stocks before finishing? I'm starting to refinish a few of the plain stocks I've purchased before I move onto the nicer ones, I've been applying citristrip to them with a paintbrush, letting them sit for a few hours then scrubbing them thoroughly with a soft bristled brush under hot tap water (as hot as I can get it). I've then been setting them in the sun to dry. It does a great job, and removes most of the dents (hot water I imagine) but I'm a little worried about the stocks warping or twisting. I figured that it isn't terribly different than steaming it, and it's nice because it's really fast, only takes a few minutes of scrubbing with hot water. These stocks don't have any cartouches though. Anybody else do it like this?
 

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I used acetone and a rag on mine.
 

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I've then been setting them in the sun to dry. I'm a little worried about the stocks warping or twisting.
Cracking is the issue.

Learned the hard way not to do this. Nothing is more deflating than coming home with a on-of-a-kind stock, cleaning it up and halfway thru the finish discovering a crack that could have been avoided by stripping it without water.

I've gotten away with it many times, but I will never do it again.
 
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...well I'm glad I started with the plain ones...

The citristrip seems to work beautifully, would mineral spirits be a good replacement for scrubbing with water? I don't have acetone, is there a difference between say, paint thinner, mineral spirits and acetone for this application?
 

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Yes.

Preference is naphtha. Best cleaner out there for wood working and what professionals use. Denatured alcohol is also very good or even better is 100% ethanol.

Mineral spirits does not clean quite as well and fumes are noxious, but works well enough is you have it on hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've never heard of naphtha, is it commonly available? I do believe I've seen denatured alcohol on the shelf at Home Depot, I'll stop and get some. So is it generally accepted to apply the stripper, scrape off as much as you can and use the denatured alcohol to finish removing, dry outside, then finish?

Thanks for all the help guys,
Mike
 

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I don't strip my stocks, only use Naphtha or ethanol. Little more gentle and most of my stocks are presentation grade to begin with so I only need to remove grime and desiccants. Doug Carlton should provide his methods for this.

Naphtha is nothing more than lighter fluid and should be found at Ace Hardware and even perhaps Home Depot.
 

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Early on I bought some of the Minwax antique furniture refinisher, but opted to strip instead because I have, and plan on filling the cutout with acraglass. I wouldn't say the stocks I have are presentation grade, but they are really nice, as received from Fred's. It seems like a ton of crap comes off when I strip them completely, is there any rule of thumb to determine wether or not to strip completely?
 

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You really do not need to strip the USGI M14 stocks for the most part. Most of them just need cleaning up, either Simple Green or acetone has worked well for me. The only time that I have used soy gel on a M14 stock was to get rid of a stain that I put on and did not like how it turned out.
 

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I reserve the use of Soy Gel for removing old finish and junk that is just too stubborn to remove with Simple Green, Emerge, Citristrip or other grease/grime removers. In my experience, Soy Gel is the best, most organic and gentle stripper available but requires the Emerge treatment to stop the chemical process.

As for cleaning, I use either a reduced Simple Green or the Emerge and shop towels repeatedly. If it is a really tough job I will use a common sink scrub brush with soft bristles to agitate and move the degreaser around. I wipe it thoroughly and look for dirt or evidence of finish. If I see something troublesome I will repeat the process.

HOWEVER, more often than not I will get it knocked down and go after it with 100 or 120 grit. This will cut through most anything and if it does not, by the time I get to 150 with the wetsanding I am removing anything that has had the tenacity to hang around. It is not unusual to hit 220 or 320 and still see dirt being lifted out as the pores fill and take the finish oil.

Taking my time and doing all of the prep up front seems to work best. The more prep you do the better the finish. You'll do fine.
 

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How do you guys prep your stocks before finishing? I'm starting to refinish a few of the plain stocks I've purchased before I move onto the nicer ones, I've been applying citristrip to them with a paintbrush, letting them sit for a few hours then scrubbing them thoroughly with a soft bristled brush under hot tap water (as hot as I can get it). I've then been setting them in the sun to dry. It does a great job, and removes most of the dents (hot water I imagine) but I'm a little worried about the stocks warping or twisting. I figured that it isn't terribly different than steaming it, and it's nice because it's really fast, only takes a few minutes of scrubbing with hot water. These stocks don't have any cartouches though. Anybody else do it like this?
I use citristrip almost exclusively -> I rarely have presentation grade stocks to refinish and have chosen to work with difficult stocks [many times salvage stocks] - to really learn my way initially as I began re-finishing the M14 stocks. I cut 000 steel wool pads in half and apply the citristrip using the steel wool in a circular motion. I apply the citristrip and use the steel wool to rub a little harder in tough spots, but eventually end up with an even coat over the stock. You only need to let it stand for about 40-45 minutes max. Next - I take paper towles and start at the front of the stock and work/wipe my way to the back removing the sludge. If you use several sections of paper towles you will get it off easily. I normally have to repeat this step at least once and maybe twice [only letting it stand 40-45 min]. On the last paper towel cleaning I take extra time and get all of the citristrip out [including all of the hiding spots - stock liner holes in the mag area, rear swivel slot and butt plate area. Once I have it VERY clean and wiped down well - I put acid tone in a container and again use paper towles dipping them in acid tone and wiping the stock from front to back. This will get amost all of the citrisrip off, slightly raise the wood grain - and I repeat until I am happy. Next - in almost all cases I steam the stock with a wet cotton towel and iron - 1. to remove dents, scrapes, open the wood grain [particularly with birch] etc. and this process also helps remove any citristrip or old stain that is deep in the stock [re-wet the cotton towel each cleaning and you will see stuff come off]. Once I steam the stock I wipe it down with paper towels let it dry 10 minutes and then wipe it with acid tone one more time. I never submerge the stock in water or have to put it out in the sun. You will now be ready to sand [if required] and move to the next refinish step. I can get a stock cleaned up pretty fast now after doing this many times.
 

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If you decide to do a deep cleaning and refinish of the wood here is how I do it. Takes maybe 10 -15 minutes for a completetly clean bare stock . Its a really simple ,easy and alot less harsh than other methods
I first take Purple Power degreaser full strength and put it in a spray bottle.

I then spray down the stock with full strength degreaser, immediataly you will see years of grease. oil and dirt start to roll off. I do this in a utility sink but you can do it in a bucket or outside ,etc

I then take a soft nylon bristle brush and go over the stock.
Rinse very well with hot water while rubbing with brush .
I will usually do procedure one more time except the last time wipe dry with cotton towel.
If stock is very oil soaked it may take another cleaning .
I then let the stock set to dry out of direct heat source.


This is what the wood looks like after drying


I let the stock dry for several days before refinishing. Will need to knocks down the whiskers before refinish with a scotchbrite pad, or 600 grit paper
I have stripped atleast 2 dozen M14 and countless Garand stocks this way. Never warped or cracked and stocks or handguards
 
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