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Thread: Your favorite way to clean surplus wood?

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    Your favorite way to clean surplus wood?

    What do you use and how do you do it? I want to clean up the dirt, grime, and gunk off of my 1903A3 without hurting the original finish. I have seen many products and methods on youtube. I'm thinking a good soaking and wipe down with my go to cleaner mineral spirits. My intention is to clean it real good and apply a few coats of BLO.

    Thoughts?
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    apachedawg's Avatar
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    My method may seem a little aggressive but it’s not and I’ve used it to clean all sorts of dirt and gunk off of my stocks. They start out black from all the crud, I clean then and after several coats of BLO they look pretty good. It will not get out the deep stains but all the surface stuff comes off.

    I use 000 steel wool soaked in lacquer thinner and scub. When they wool starts to dry out I add more lacquer thinner. The grime starts to run off. Once the wood lightens up and the grain starts to show I stop and wipe it down with a rag. I do about 10” of stock at a time. Once it’s dry I start applying the BLO.
    "EX ALIS PUGNAMUS"

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    I watched a video of steel wool and lacquer thinner but thought it might be to harsh on the original finish and wood.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    Anybody else have a good way they do it?
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    Depends on how much dirt, how much original finish is there, and how genuine you want to keep it.

    Rubbing down with a rag and solvent works well if there is still some finish on the wood and you just want to clean dirt & oils off the surface. I try both mineral spirits and denatured alcohol to see which picks up the most grime on the rag. Usually it then needs a wipe with some tung oil or wiping varnish to make it look good again.

    Lacquer thinner works also as a solvent, and is more universal than either mineral spirits or alcohol, but it is also a hotter solvent and will tend to attack any existing finish that you might want to preserve. Usually that isn't much of a problem because you're wiping pretty fast, and if you're going over the old finish with some oil when you're done, that should cover any additional dulling that the lacquer thinner will cause. If the grime is really ground into the old finish, lacquer thinner & steel wool would be the way to go.

    If the wood looks pretty dry and open, then lacquer thinner would probably be my first choice, and I wouldn't worry about using steel wool either. If I wanted to preserve an existing film finish, I'd be pretty careful with the steel wool as it will buff down to bare wood pretty easily when combined with solvent.

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    I think I will go with the lacquer thinner or mineral spirits with a rag way. It's not too dirty and I plan to do a few layers of BLO when I am done.

    Thanks.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    Senior Veteran ptrthgr8's Avatar
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    For anything with an oil-based finish (like your 1903A3), I only use mineral spirits - slather it on with a paint brush, get the stock good and wet, and then scrub, scrub, scrub with the paint brush. (I buy those cheapy 2" brushes that you can get in a 2-pack from Lowe's for $6 for this work.) If the wood is fairly grimy, I may also break out the 4/0 steel wool. And if it's *really* dirty and oily, I'll chuck it in the oven first for a couple of hours at 180 degrees (the "warm" setting) to let the deeply soaked oil leach to the surface. Then once it's cooled down, I give it the mineral spirits treatment. And then once the cleaning is done, I normally apply 3-4 coats of Behr's #600 tung oil finish - again, slathering the oil all over the stock with a brush, making sure it's good and wet. Let it sit for an hour or so between applications, and then slather with the #600 again. Keep repeating the process until the oil stops soaking into the wood. Once done, wipe down with a clean rag, buff it to your heart's content, let it sit overnight, check again in the morning and wipe down again (there's always some residual tung oil seepage), buff to your heart's content again, and then call it good. Then let it sit for a couple of days before putting it back on the rifle.

    I used to spend my time hand rubbing the oil finish into the wood, but I found that the results on these milsurp stocks just wasn't worth the effort. I *do* have a Garand with a nice Wenig maple striped stock set that received a proper hand-rubbed finish by Dean Dillabaugh at DGR. There's a time and a place for a hand-rubbed oil finish.

    Cheers,

    ~ Greg ~

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    Planning's Avatar
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    No sanding.

    I started using FORMBY'S Furniture refinisher several years ago.
    If it is something that I just want to get dirt, oil, blood, etc. off of it.

    I just rub it on with an old rag and let it do its thing.
    After a little while I wipe it off with a clean rag. I get a bundle of automotive rags at Sam's to use.
    It may take a few times to get it like you want it.
    Most of the older surplus guns had BLO on them and it will take most of it off first time.
    Some of them have dents and I us a Q-tip and use it to get down in the dent.
    Let it dry for a few days. Don't put it out in the sun to dry, it will warp the wood.

    I go back with BLO and add a small amount of ritz red die to it. ( mix up a small amount at a time)
    Let it dry good before handling it, You will have finger prints on it.
    I use to use Tung Oil, but it is hard to find now days. Tung oil has a short shelf life.

    For more modern wood I use Marine varnish or a Polyurethane if I want a shiny look.
    31B

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    Senior Veteran ptrthgr8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planning View Post
    If it is something that I just want to get dirt, oil, blood, etc. off of it
    Have lots of bloody rifles, eh? LOL

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