Update #3 Mr. B - This update will deal with one of the most important parts of refinishing a stock as we finally get to actually start working on the wood! We will discuss my "made up term" of "Tactical Sanding."
So if you are following we have done a lot of work on this stock, but really have not started the actual work on the wood? Like I said, great refinishing is always accompanied by excellent preparation work.
Tactical Sanding - is really the process to remove certain dent's dings that don't steam out and that take away from the beauty of the stock and more importantly restore the classic lines of the M14 stock prior to doing any refinishing work. The tactical sanding that we will use on Mr. B is primarily to restore the classic lines back to this rare stock as this stock was sanded very badly in its past rounding off may areas that should be square and leaving heavy marks on the stock.
So just a few more comments - We are going to refinish Mr. B using using an "Open-Grain" refinishing method. In this case we are going to attempt to recreate the open grain look of the military stock after it came off the production line and went through the final sanding on a "Radial Sander." Yes all of your M14 stocks were sanded in final manufacturing. The guys that did this sanding were very skilled workers. I have a huge appreciation for these guys as I am sure they could just look and feel a M14 stock and know exactly what needed to be done. In my reading of stock production for the M1 Carbine some of the most skilled workers did the final sanding. I am sure the open grain of the un-molested stocks we see today came from the final sanding process.
Here is a great picture that I love [Iron Worker] posted this a long time ago and you can see this gentlemen manipulating the stock on the radial sander.
In my case - I do NOT have a radial sander and I would be afraid to use one as things could go wrong quickly without having training on that machine. I have the M1Army "Claws" yes my hands which are like vice grips! I hand sand the stock and wear magnifiers while I am doing the sanding so I can see everything well. I do have a small hand sander if I have a stock that is just horrible that I will use to reform lines and remove big imperfections, but I always hand sand.
Our objective is to have a open grain military look in the end and I will sand with 150 grit and do the final "Long Sanding" using 180 grit. Once i get all of the "Tactical Sanding" completed my final sanding technique "Long Sanding" is exactly that. I sand the stock using very long strokes without stopping, going with the grain to help give the stock an open grain look. So just two grits of sandpaper for this stock in the sanding process.
Ok now getting back to Mr. B...... You can't put wood back on the stock so you need a plan before you start sanding away on the stock. Once the stock is all clean and it has dried overnight put it up on the bench and come up with a plan.
So here is Mr. B all clean....
Now let's take a closer look at the problem areas.....
Take a look at the knob - it has been sanded and is all rounded off. This area should be flat and the angles on the edges should be sharp and clean - so we have some work to do here.
Next, below you will see two pics - look at the area around the mag well and the rear area of the trigger group. It has been sanded flat and that has to be fixed.
The next area that took the sander hard is the comb of the stock. It has been flattened on the top and down the sides so we have to fix that too.
We had some other areas that need to be addressed; however, the pics above create the biggest challenge in terms of tactical sanding and correction.
So before you get started be sure you tape off the front metal and any proof P and DAS. I use painters tape for this. It will not save you but it will remind you where to take care. Now I go to work on the areas that I outlined above to fix each one carefully. Remember you can put wood back on the stock so do the least amount of sanding to complete the objective.
Fast forward - I worked about 1.5 hours +- and fixed the problem areas the best I could. then I finished sanding the stock using my long sanding technique. So let's take a new look at the stock!
Here is a full view of the stock [comparing the old and new] - I say it looks sexy again and has the proper lines of the M14 stock.
Here is a view of the knob after getting all of the edgers sharp and crisp and making sure the top was nice and flat.
Here is a view of the mag well area - you can see the this area has been reshaped and looks much better versus the old flattened areas that were badly sanded.
here is another view......
After completing the tactical sanding and long sanding we are ready to take the stock out and get all of the sawdust off. As mentioned before I am NOT filling the grain of this stock for a furniture type finish so I use my air hose and spend a lot of time to get all of the sawdust off the stock and keep the grain of the wood open.
Now I finally get to apply the first coat of teak oil to see how she is going to look. Remember this stock had been used very hard and the black walnut has taken some hits which did bruise the stock a bit. Also, the stock is going to look shinny and wet because I just put on the teak oil. That is not how it will look when the stock is done!
I will briefly discuss the process now as it will be a while before the next update. I will continue adding teal oil [about 10 thin coats in total]. After applying a coat it takes 24 hours to dry. The stock will darken up as I work up the teak oil progression, but after coat 7-8 I will evaluate the stock and determine if I need to add any stain to help out the walnut. I have learned how to use stew mac stains and have several multi-color mixtures that really helps out the walnut if it is a bit washed out. One beauty of teak oil is that you can adjust the color of the stock along the way if it needs it.
That is the update for now and here are a few pictures of the stock with the first coat of teak oil. More to come when we have to evaluate the color of the stock and staining... Enjoy - M1Army
M1Army, Ive been and will continue to watch. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing something that most would not. To me, its like finding a new show that you just cant miss. Your work is fantastic. Thank you.
Beautiful work Wes. There's a big difference between restoring a stock from years of use, and fixing someone's past poor workmanship. A whole different story. I can imagine you having to reshape the wood quite a bit from each problem area to maintain the appearance of the original contours.
Update #4 Mr. B - Hi Everyone -> like I said it would be about a week or so before this update as I have been working up the teak oil progression and I have just finished applying the 8th coat of teak oil.
We are working with a walnut stock here so we have come to the point of the refinish to evaluate how the stock looks in terms of color and determine if we are going to have to stain the stock to help the walnut get back to its old glory?
Below find a few pics of the stock after ~8 coats of teak oil. I apply thin coats of teak oil and lightly move the oil around with 320 wet dry paper. You might recall on this stock we are going for a military open grain look and I only dry sanded the stock to 180 grit. In this case, I am purposely saying I move the teak oil around with 320 grit because I don't use hardly any force I am not sanding. I take a clean cotton rag that I fold up into a nice rectangle and I apply teak oil to the entire stock evenly. Once I do that I take the 320 grit and dip it in the teak oil and just go over the stock lightly. Once I am done I take the same cotton rectangular rag and wipe the stock lightly so the teak oil is smooth and even [then it hangs for 24 hours to dry]. So I have done this process for eight coats.
Now let's take a look and determine our next steps:
You can see the stock is taking the teak oil well; however, the walnut has a bit of a yellowish washed out look. This is not all that uncommon with the old walnut particularly if it was not cared for over the years and sat dry for many years. So after evaluating the stock I have determined we need to help the walnut out a little - review the pics below and note the washed out look.
Staining the stock - staining stocks is another area of refinishing that has to be learned. I believe it is extremely important for walnut and particularly birch. Learning how to mix the stain, apply the stain and make the wood look great is only mastered through trial and error [ask me how I know?]. I pretty much use Stew Mac alcohol based stains for all my stain work. Using a combination of teak oil and alcohol based stains you can stain the stock deep into the oiling progression and can continue to adjust color to the very end of the refinish. In addition, by staining later in the process you do not lose as much color.
After evaluating the stock I have determined I am going to mix up what I refer to as my custom "Walnut Helper" stain mix. I am going to use a three color combination of tobacco brown, mahogany red and a few drops of cherry red. The dominant stain is the tobacco brown in the mixture. The Stew Mac stains are concentrated so you have to learn the mixing ratios with are included with the stain.
So the first thing is you have to build up your stain inventory - here is a pic of what I have on hand.
Next - I have picked out the colors that I plan to use for the "Walnut Helper." You also need a mixing jar and yes I prefer small Mason Jars - I do live in the South, I like a shot of moonshine every now and again and more importantly they make great mixing jars. You can mark the top with fine sharpie marker [indicating your custom mix] and when you are done take some acidtone and remove it and your are ready to mix and label your next batch.
So in this pic I have the stains picked out and my new mason jar. You can see a mark on the mason jar that will be my final fill line once I get my three color mix in the mason jar and fill it with denatured alcohol.
The pic below shows the total amount of the actual Stew Mac Stain concentrate that it will take to mix with denatured alcohol. A little stain goes a long way!
The pic below show the final result of our stain mixture. You can see I have a nice deep color that will hopefully darken up the walnut and take the stock to the next step!
You can see the folded up cotton rag I use to apply the stain just below the arrow.
Applying the stain - The 2 pics below you can now see that I have applied the stain to the stock. I start at the butt stock and work my way forward. The key is to get the stain on the stock [keep moving] and get it as even as you can [yes it takes a while to master this and get your method]. Don't be worried that I stained the stock too dark, you have to always go darker as your color will lighten up once you apply more teak oil. One last thing - after staining I always let the stain dry/absorb into the wood overnight. I have found that you lose much less color if you let the stain dry and absorb!
This next set of pictures shows the stock before staining, then after staining, letting the stain dry 24 hours and adding another coat of teak oil.
Here is the before and after pic.
Note - old Mr. B gave up a little striping and figuring on this side!
OK - this is a good stopping point for this update. We are getting very close to finishing the stock. A few more coats of teak oil - two days to dry, a quick buffing and waxing, install hardware and Mr. B will be ready for showtime!!!
I have had several folks ask about the mixing ratio for the Stew Mac Stains - you have a lot of latitude; however, you basically use .25 OZ of Stew Mac concentrate to 8 OZ of denatured Alcohol. I normally mix that in half .125 OZ to 4 OZ - unless I have a need for a full Mason jar.
You can add more color if needed into the same denatured alcohol if you want to tweak your color as you go.
Update #5 Mr. B - Well Mr. B's journey has now come to an end. This stock provided many challenges, but I am glad I was able to work on this stock and use it as an example showing how I approach the refinish and sharing some of my methods. Everyone has their own way when it comes to refinishing and many different ways work just fine.
The last phase of my refinishing process is the buffing and waxing process. My example pics don't really exist because I need all my hands to do the buffing & waxing. I use a finishing/grinding buffer that has an attachment to attach an automotive soft buffing disk. Once the teak oil dries for two days it will have a dull-ish finish but once you turn on the buffing wheel and manipulate the stock over the soft buffing disk the stock comes to life. So I buff the stock out then I wax the stock.
I hand wax the stock with three coats of Briwax and buff the stock again; then I finish the waxing with three coats of Renaissance Wax and a final buffing after the 3rd coat. The Renaissance Wax is excellent to keep in your shop as it has many uses including putting it on metal.
Here is a pic of the Renaissance Wax and the Briwax [for walnut I use the clear Briwax and for figured birch I use the Antique Mahogany].
I hope you enjoyed this journey and I believe Mr. B has another long life ahead of him now. The stock now has beautiful sharp lines and has been finished with an open grain method.
Coming across this thread in 2022 and incredibly thankful for the detailed descriptions and photos throughout! Thank you so much for this comprehensive breakdown! I'm about to try my hand at my first Garand stock (a cheap Italian one to practice on) and am going to apply as much of this methodology as possible.
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