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Suggestions for dye/stain/oil M1A stock

6544 Views 21 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  M1Army
I have a new walnut heavyweight NM stock that's unstained, no metal, and I want to stain/dye/oil it for a flat/satin finish. I've been reading all about PTO/BLO, but that's after you apply a stain (if I'm correct). Any suggestions on the dye/stain/oil and what color am I looking for (walnut/med brown/dark brown/etc)?
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589 Posts
I've never used a stain on a rifle stock of any kind. I use the mix mentioned on this, and other sites, exclusively. It's a mix(sometimes called Gunney Paste, or Toms' Mix) of one part beeswax, one part odorless mineral spirits, and one part BLO, or RLO. Then, oxidation provides the tone one sees' on fine old military rifle stocks. But this process takes a little time.

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1,600 Posts
Go to the CMP's website, www.thecmp.org , click on sales, then the Armorer's Corner quick link. Click on the Wood Cleaning link, this takes you to a very detailed article that covers almost every aspect of cleaning, dyeing, upkeep and repair of wood stocks. It'll give you answers to questions you never thought of asking.

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556 Posts
I've had good results using Fiebing's leather dye (dark brown and cordovan). Clean your stock off with acetone before applying the dye. Put on some deposable gloves and a shop apron before you start applying the dye. After you get desired color seal with BLO, PTO or Birchwood Casey.

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9,089 Posts
I use TransTint dyes for wood staining as they are made for that specific application and therefore the dye particles are very small to facilitate wood penetration. Many dyes just sit on top, they never really penetrate the wood fibers. Also, I wouldn't use any dye that was not alcohol soluble. Speeds up the process and multiple coats can be added in minutes. Sections can be feathered, as you want more stain just squeeze the rag. Let dry for 5 minutes and go for another coat.

Oils...I like BLO from Ace Hardware. Blue-red gallon jugs sold there. Most of the other BLOs I've tried are junk in comparison to the luster this specific kind produces. It is also much thicker than the kind that smells like green beans. Kleenstrip sold at Lowes/Home Depot is like water in comparison. I also like Teak Oil, not Teak Oil finish, but pure Teak Oil also sold at Ace Hardware stores in a white plastic bottle.

Take your time with the oils and make sure to test the stock first. May not need any dyes at all. Most don't.

Finally, make sure to clean the stock well prior to starting anything. I use Naphtha to clean my stocks.

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9,089 Posts
Many like Tru-oil, but I don't. Builds up on top of the wood and is very shiny. I prefer my finishes to be in the wood, not on top of it. Also don't like a shiny look, but a GI look.

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8 Posts
Another Finish Option

I posted this in another thread last week. It may be another consideration for stock finishes. Minwax Provincial stain is very close to the original SA color.

Minwax Antique Oil Finish Method
The following reciepe is from another forum...it does produce a beautiful finish, either glossy or matte. To completely fill the grain on some walnut, will take quite a few coats. However, as the coats build up, they dry very quickly. It's possible to do two coats in one day.

The last project I did with this method, I left some grain visible. I thought it looked "perfect" enough. It was a M1A, not a Purdy. I had to be a bit careful, because I had just cut checkering on my stock, so I matched the Original Springfield stain removed in the checkering cuts with Minwax Provincial Stain. Then, I needed to be cautious not to "fill-in" the fresh cut checkering too much with the finish. This stuff is very thin, and easily wiped off areas that need less coating if done quickly after first applying. As it dries (10 minutes) it starts to get tacky, but additional oil can be applied to ease the buffing if necessary.

Here's the method as described by the OP (dfariswheel):


Buy a pint can of Minwax Antique Oil Finish: (Gaff: I purchased my quart on Amazon. A pint is more than enough for one stock)

I have no idea what's in this stuff, but it drys to the absolute HARDEST, waterproof and solvent-proof finish I've ever seen, with the possible exception of an epoxy finish like Remington's "Bowling pin" finish.
This stuff is totally unaffected by lacquer thinner when fully hardened, and unlike tung and linseed oils, on a hot day a sweaty face on the stock won't raise the grain.

Here's how I apply it.
First, do as the directions on the can specify, by applying a thin coat, allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to get sticky, then buff off with a clean, lint-free cloth.
An old linen sheet works great.
Let dry 24 hours, then apply again.
I put on 3 coats this way.
This starts to fill the grain, and speeds drying for the later steps.

After three coats as a sealer, apply a thin coat and allow to dry BONE DRY on the surface.
This may take 24 hours or more, and in some cases of really open grain wood, the first may not dry at all.
Using finer steel wool, steel wool the finish off the wood. As you steel wool, the surface coat will turn "muddy" looking so you can see it.
Be careful around proof stamps and sharp edges to not round edges off or thin stamps.

After steel wooling the stock down to bare wood, clean the stock with brushes or compressed air, then apply another coat, allow to dry and steel wool off.
Continue this until the grain of the wood is 100% FULL, and you can see NO open grain.
When held up to a light and sighted along the grain, open grain will look like tiny scratches in the surface.

Usually 4 coats will fill all but the most open grain.
After the last coat is steel wooled off, THOROUGHLY clean the wood.
Then, apply a thin coat and allow to stand for several minutes until it starts to get sticky.
Using several clean cloth pads thoroughly buff the surface until all traces of finish are off.
This is a "color coat" that will give the bare wood more of a color without any build up on the surface.
After buffing, allow the wood to age out and fully harden for 3 to 4 days.

After aging, buy some new burlap at a fabric store, and make a small pad from several layers.
Briskly buff the wood to burnish the surface and bring out the egg shell luster.

The advantages of the Minwax Oil finish are:
It's HARD and incredibly tough.
It's water and solvent proof.
It can be repaired or overhauled by adding more oil and buffing.
Scratches can be filled by coating and steel wooling again.
It's a REAL oil finish that looks like those seen on British double guns and American custom rifles.
It's a life time finish that never has to be done over ever again.
All the finish is IN the wood, not ON it so it looks like an original.

I can attest to the fact that it is bullet hard, an looks wonderful. Lots of labor, but the results are worth it. I chose a slightly more gloss look.

Shoot straight, and do the right thing.


· Super Moderator
2,409 Posts
I have a new walnut heavyweight NM stock that's unstained, no metal, and I want to stain/dye/oil it for a flat/satin finish. I've been reading all about PTO/BLO, but that's after you apply a stain (if I'm correct). Any suggestions on the dye/stain/oil and what color am I looking for (walnut/med brown/dark brown/etc)?
If you are still interested in responses and opinions, please post a couple of pictures of the stock. It will assist greatly in suggesting a solution.
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