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Old 03-13-2010, 02:35 PM
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Default How to- Grip / Stocks Refinishing with photos! FINISHED!

I purchased the almost new looking model 29-2 recently and after a thorough cleaning and application of Renaissance wax I noticed a strange looking blush or hazing on certain areas of the stocks that was not there before waxing. I posted pictures of this on the forum as I had never seen this before and wasn't happy at all about it. I received several replies and a lot of you suggested sending the stocks to Mike Kieffer or VM for refinishing. Now I am sure he does good work from the feedback he has received and I am not trying to steal his thunder in any way, but I am a do-it-yourself kinda guy and decided to not only refinish my stocks but thought this would be a good opportunity to contribute something of value to the members of this great forum who may like to try doing this also.
First a few photos of the gun and stocks before refinishing.







So, this will be a little step by step tutorial with photos of how I accomplished the refinishing. Now for the disclaimer....In no way will I guarantee that your results will be identical to mine, as a matter of fact, they may even be better.

Here is a shot of the materials I used for this project minus the wood filler...oops.



I read almost all of the posts covering types of top coats to use and it seemed like the majority of you felt that Birchwood Casey TRU-OIL was the best product for this job. Now I most likely would have used Mohawk brand toning lacquers and topcoat as that is what I have used on other wood projects but several of you felt that Lacquer would not hold up well and I really don't care for Polyurethane but I wanted a gloss similar to the factory finish on the 60's - 70's guns. I thought of using Formbys Tung oil but never having used this before, I was not comfortable experimenting on my vintage stocks and wasn't sure of the stripability if it didn't come out right. So, off to the local gun shop to buy a small bottle of Tru-Oil. As luck would have it, they were out of everything but one big can of spray Tru-Oil so I bought that. It was around $9.00.
To begin the project, I knew from the posts that I would have to strip the original finish from the stocks with Acetone. I happened to have a can on the shelf in the garage and found an old baking pan to soak them in. After about 10 minutes, I started scrubbing the stocks with a fairly stiff tooth brush and the old varnish began to just dissolve and wash away. Now I see what you mean about "the rest is just gravy" as that is exactly what the varnish soaked Acetone looked like in the pan.





After about 10 to 15 minutes of scrubbing all of the varnish was gone and I removed the stocks and blew them dry with my small compressor. You really don't need a compressor as the Acetone dries almost instantly on its own. I then washed them down with Denatured Alcohol for the last good cleaning and allowed them to dry completely.





Now, at this point many of you stated that you may elect to "chase" the checkering with a tool to deepen any unevenness or flat spots. (There were some flat spots in the checkering straight from the factory.)That is a good idea and if I had a checkering tool, I would have done that but, I wanted to move on.
Using 320 grade sandpaper, I very lightly sanded only the smooth wood portion of the grips with the grain only. DO NOT sand across or against the grain. This is basic woodworking 101.



While inspecting the stocks I found two faults that I wanted to correct. One was the grips were slightly mismatched in the front near the top where your middle finger wraps around. The right hand panel stuck out proud of or beyond the left hand panel by a good 1/32" to a 1/16" just in the curved area. This was corrected by wrapping some sandpaper around my finger and working it down until they were even and then blending in the area. That came out fine and now they are exactly flush along the leading edges.
The next fault that became very obvious after washing was a crack heading north and south from the logo medallion on the left hand panel. The crack was not all the way through the wood and it appeared to end just a quarter inch each way. Almost like when they pushed the logo in it was a little tight and after almost 40 years, I would say it has done what it was going to do. I did not want to try to force glue into the crack as I was sure you would be able to see it after finishing so I used some Elmers Pro Bond wood filler in Walnut color that I have used before with excellent results. I used a small screwdriver to force the putty into the crack, avoiding spreading it around too much. This was left to dry over night and sanded smooth the next day with the 320 grit being careful to avoid the medallions. Now the crack is almost unnoticeable.







After a final sanding and close inspection I felt I was ready to mask off the checkering and medallions in preparation for the first application of finish. For this I used regular blue painters masking tape and an X-Acto knife with a fresh blade. Pressing the tape down firmly on the medallions and kind of burnishing it into the design with my fingernail allowed me to see the outside diameter and then carefully cut around it with the knife using only enough pressure to go through the tape.
The same was done with the checkered areas and I used the outer edges of the routed groove as my trimming guide.



At this time I was now ready to begin the first coat of finish. I laid the stocks on a piece of 1/4" thick wood I had to keep them off the surface of the newspaper so they would not become bonded to the paper with the Tru-Oil. I shook the can well and sprayed some test sprays on a piece of scrap wood and to my horror the spray came out not in the fine mist that I had expected but big wet drops that trickled down my fingers or splashed all over the paper. The nozzle looked brand new and there was plenty of pressure but something was definitely wrong. Because I use spray cans quite a bit, I have a habit of saving the old nozzles after cleaning them out with lacquer thinner. I picked one and pressed it into the can and gave it a try. It worked just fine and the spray came out like it should, a nice fine mist.
Ok, so I apply the first light coat and it pretty much soaked right into the wood.





I let that dry for about 10 minutes and gave them another light coat. Good so far. After about two hours, I applied another coat and noticed that it just sort of laid on the surface and was pooling very lightly so I did what many of you suggested and holding the grip between my fingers on the blue tape and the back, used the index finger of my right hand to smooth the Tru-Oil and rub it into the surface going against the grain and then with the grain. This worked very well and produced a nice even coat. You have to work rather quickly as the Tru-Oil starts to set up in a matter of minutes. I let that dry two hours and did the same thing one more time and let them dry for about 24 hours.
For those keeping count that's four coats at this point. I wanted a nice glossy finish but didn't want that "dipped in honey" look that is not appealing so I am going to say that 4 coats are enough at this point.
After the 24 hour drying period it was time to sand the finish and I decided to go with 800 grit wet or dry automotive type sandpaper. I don't like using steel wool (0000) between coats as it has a tendency to just smooth over the high spots instead of knocking them down. I left the blue tape on the checkering and the medallions while I was sanding to avoid any damage to those areas. As you begin to sand there will be places where the finish is not totally dry under the top and you may start to see little balls of dust rolling up under the sandpaper. Just wipe them off with a clean rag and shake off your sandpaper and keep going. If your piece of paper starts to get clogged, switch out to a new piece. A word of caution is in order here: you want to avoid sanding through the clear coats if at all possible. Just use a light touch and smooth down the finish a little. The photos show how my stocks looked after sanding.





When I was satisfied with the sanding, I removed the blue tape from the checkered areas and wiped the grips clean with a TACK rag which is a type of cheese cloth that is sticky and lifts any dust left on the wood surface prior to painting. I applied the first coat of Tru-Oil lightly over everything and allowed that to dry for about two hours. Then, deciding that enough was enough, I applied the last coat and used a small flat artists brush to smooth out the finish by just lightly dragging over the wet spray going in the direction of the grain. If you don't have one of these brushes, you could also use your fingertip. This type of finish, because of the fact that it dries slowly, will level itself out nicely as it dries. After about two hours, I removed the blue tape from the logo medallions.



So, that is it for now. Right now, they look really glassy smooth with only a hint of grain showing through. This is almost too hard of a gloss finish. I will allow the stocks to dry for about a week before I get into the final process of sanding with 1000 or 2000 grit paper and a final rub down with polishing compound. I will post the finishing technique and photos as soon as possible. To be continued........
Thanks for looking, Bob

Last edited by MAG-NUM; 03-20-2010 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Change title
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:37 PM
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Default Great Job...

Great job Mag-Num......maybe this ought to be a "sticky".

The stocks look really good. I've refinished several of my own and used a very similar method. Can't wait to see the "end of the story" pics.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:36 PM
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Very pretty stocks and a very nice job. Looking forward to seeing how you remove the gloss.

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Old 03-13-2010, 09:48 PM
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Thanks for the complements guys.

How about some of you letting me know your choice or favorite finish: glossy, semi-glossy or satin and why. Thanks, Bob
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:53 PM
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EXCELLENT JOB!

I would offer one tip...........please be careful with acetone. A sealed coffee can works well and strips the grips on their own if totally submerged.
Good ventilation is neccessary when using this chemical - I also use rubber gloves.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:55 AM
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Thank you Mike I appreciate the pat on the back.

You are right about safety, I did forget to mention the dangers involved with solvents like Acetone, Lacquer thinner and Alcohol. Not only are these flammable but can be absorbed into the skin or the fumes can be inhaled. Just use common sense.

How about you Mike, do you like glossy, satin or something in between? A lot of your expensive rifles and shotguns had glass like finishes, why not hand guns?

Last edited by MAG-NUM; 03-14-2010 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAG-NUM View Post

How about you Mike, do you like glossy, satin or something in between? A lot of your expensive rifles and shotguns had glass like finishes, why not hand guns?

I LIKE all purdy wood
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:50 AM
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Excellent tutorial!
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Old 03-14-2010, 03:16 PM
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I am more of a satin kinda guy....I am tough on my handguns, and since I either shoot, use or carry all of them, satin just seems to last longer, it offends me if a gloss finish gets banged up a bit, not so much with satin....

FWIW, I agree, this SHOULD be a sticky....lots of good info and good photography in this post
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:42 PM
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Very nice job those grips came out beautiful. I like tru oil also but the little bottle dries up after a couple years. Hope your spray can holds up. Larry
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:32 PM
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Going once, going twice....anyone else want to chime in on their choice of finish? Glossy, semi or flat?
This model 29 will only be shot a couple of times a year and never holstered, I have other guns for that. The more I look at these grips in the glossy finish and next to the bright blue of the gun....I don't know, they might just stay that way for awhile.

Never the less, this weekend I will give them the final rub down and wax and post the final pictures. Thanks again to all who have posted comments. Bob

Last edited by MAG-NUM; 03-15-2010 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:48 PM
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I vote for a semi=flat finish like a piece of fine furniture. Very classy.

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Old 03-16-2010, 07:56 PM
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STOCK REFINISH PART-2

Today I decided to put the finishing touches on my N-frame grips and I had a plan in my mind but as you know, things don't always work out as planned.
My first thought was to lightly sand over the glossy finish with 2000 grit Wet or Dry paper and then use rubbing compound to bring up a little shine. Here are the materials I planned to use: KIT brand Scratch-Out which is a great fine polishing compound. I have used it many times on paint with excellent results. White cotton surgical sponges....super soft. And of course the mighty Micro fiber towel.





Started sanding on the right hand stock and quickly realized this was not the finish I was looking for.
Even though I was using very fine paper, the scratches looked bad.



So, I thought I better try the rubbing compound to see if the scratches would come out. Well they did and they didn't and all the compound did was make them shiny again except much smoother.
Next I thought I would just try the compound alone on the left hand stock and it did not give the finish I wanted either



NOTE: I know these stocks look totally different color wise in the photos, but they aren't really that bad in natural light and its hard to tell on the gun. The front of the right hand stock fades into the color of the left hand stock.

Well, this was just not working out.
Now I had tried the stocks on the gun after they were dry with out doing anything to them and they just looked too gaudy. Something wasn't quite right and they were just too glossy.
We will just have to save that finish for the fancy rifles and shotguns.

I remembered a few of the members saying they just use 0000 steel wool so I thought what the heck....the worst that could happen is that I will have to apply another coat of Tru-Oil to shine it up again or strip em down and start all over.
Taking a small piece of the steel wool, I gently rubbed the stocks down..with the grain...and just blended the finish out.



Hey, this isn't bad! I went over both stocks ever so lightly until everything looked good and then dusted them off. At this time I decided to use the blue Micro Fiber cloth and just kind of hand rub the finish a little to bring up a slight sheen. This actually worked well. I think I like this finish.

They look a little milky in the photo taken outside in the evening light but I think this will change a little with the wax job and the correct lighting.







I think I will leave them continue to dry until the weekend and then I will apply a coat of Renaissance wax and install them back on the gun.
I will post the before and after pics side by side and we will see if it was worth the effort. I think it will be.

Thanks for all the input, Bob
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:12 PM
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Nice job! I like the satin finish you ended up with very much. Thanks for the informative post and great pics,

Jerry
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:50 AM
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Stocks completed and reinstalled!

After allowing the stocks to dry for a couple more days, there was only one thing left to do. I wanted a little more sheen, to make them a little more like a hand rubbed finish and it took nothing more than several coats of Renaissance wax. Wow, what a difference. This took away the slightly frosty look after steel wooling. I don't think I could improve on the finish and I am glad I decided not to leave them with the full hard gloss. Here are the installed stocks.

The before shot



The after shot

















For the first attempt at refinishing gun stocks, I am happy with the results. Thanks for all the comments and tips. Bob
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:05 PM
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And oh yes...she's not only a looker, she can cook too!!
I pulled a couple of wingers the other day anticipating the bark from this little monster. What a blast to shoot! Bob

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Old 03-21-2010, 01:25 PM
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Stocks completed and reinstalled

The after shot








For the first attempt at refinishing gun stocks, I am happy with the results. Thanks for all the comments and tips. Bob
Great job, I think you've found the right balance.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:31 PM
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Bob, I think all your efforts were well worth it!! I've saved this thread for when I find just the right wood for my 27. Thank you very much.
Tom
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:07 PM
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Nice gun , nice work , nice tutorial . 0000 steel wool and then a last hand rub is my finish texture of choice for all gun wood . I was cheering for you . lol
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:30 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement and complements. It really wasn't that difficult a task so if you are inclined to give it a try...go for it. Bob

P.S. You can always wash off your mistakes with the finish and start over if you don't like the way they come out.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:07 PM
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Nice Write-Up MUG-NUM..
I didn't know Tru-Oil was available in a spray..
I've always used a liquid that I applied with my Index finger..
The grips turned out looking "Super"
Congrats
Gary/Hk
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:36 AM
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One Word!
Beautiful!
Very nice craftsmanship Mag-num!
They look awesome!
G
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Old 03-27-2010, 12:06 PM
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Thanks for posting this.
Great job, like your choice on the finish too.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:33 PM
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Very interesting info, and great looking results!
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:23 PM
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Great job. Thanks for all the info, I think I'll try to get the same results on my Model 15.
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Old 04-25-2010, 05:59 PM
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Awesome write up. Something I may just do myself on a "beater" set of wooden grips I have.
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:49 AM
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Default about Tru-oil

From the shotgun side ....

several years ago some shotgun guys started comparing results with Tru-0il. Some praised it and some cussed it. Main complaint was it remained soft and tacky in some cases. The conclusion was that the dryers in Tru-oil would evaporate in a used bottle, if there was an air space left in the bottle.

Most concluded that you should throw away any used bottles and buy new on the next project. Some would add marbles to the remaining product to raise the liquid level, eliminating the air space.


Charlie

Last edited by crsides; 05-16-2010 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:07 AM
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Bump to top
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:14 PM
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What a BEAUTIFUL job you did. Thanks for the post.......
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  #30  
Old 12-27-2010, 09:06 PM
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I do almost the same thing. I don't use acetone though. I start sanding with 220. It takes a while. I use it till it is worn nearly smooth. acetone only on the checking. I tape like you, then sand with 400 grit wet or dry after matching the right and left hand panels to each other. I work my way up to 600 then 800. The finish I use is Formbys tung oil. The first application is rubbed into the wood like waxing a car. I let it stand for 24 hrs. Then I use 000 steel wool, wipe clean and smooth another coat on and let it stand for 24 hrs. I repeat this for 5 coats, letting the 4th coat set for 3 or 4 days. After the final coat is applied with a clean piece of T-shirt I don't touch it for at least a week. The Formbys I use is the high gloss. If I want a satin finish I simply take the gloss off with the steel wool. That tung oil is tough when applied in this manner. My .22 rifle was done this way with 8 coats about 15 years ago and still looks like the day it was finished.
great pictures sir. Great post as well!
Peace,
gordon
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Old 12-27-2010, 11:47 PM
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Awesome....and thank you for the tutorial !
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:26 PM
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A little more gloss than I like for MOST of my handguns but very nice job.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:17 AM
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I like the before picture much better! NOT! Awesome job, almost as good as some of my work.

What a rewarding project and so helpful to others out there as well. Well done!!
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:25 AM
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You do nice work! Now I see what the pros go thru when they're working their magic. TACC1
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:08 AM
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Thank you for this post. The target stocks on your 29 are simply beautiful. I've never really liked lacquer as a gun stock finish. Your choice of TruOil is a good one. The results of your work are a dramatic improvement. This summer I expect the S&W target stocks on my 28-2 will get similar attention. Hopefully everything will turn out equally well compared to your very successful project. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:59 AM
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CLEARLY EVIDENT , YOU'VE DONE THE PROCESS BEFORE. NICE. I have two old sets,one Walnut the other ..Goncalo Alves that could benifit from same technique. Have you ever tried the old blend of Beeswax , linseed , and Danish oil . (Heated and applied; -- 3 coats? A more semi gloss natural finish.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:35 PM
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An alternative finish. These have 10 coats of pure tung oil (first 5 coats were 50/50 tung oil and mineral spirits). Wiped off all finish on the surface after 5 minutes on each coat. After they dried I put a coat of Johnson's paste wax for the shine. All the finish is in the stocks, not on the surface.

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Old 03-17-2012, 10:21 PM
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Wow they came beautiful!!
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jebus35745 View Post
Very nice job those grips came out beautiful. I like tru oil also but the little bottle dries up after a couple years. Hope your spray can holds up. Larry
Larry,
Store your bottle of TruOil upside down. I've done that for years. Then if it forms a skin, the good oil will be on top when you open the lid next time.
Dick

MAG,
Good job on the stocks!

Last edited by Reddog; 03-18-2012 at 01:04 AM. Reason: correction
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:04 AM
TACC1 TACC1 is offline
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Default Thanks to MAG-NUM For The HOW-TO LESSON

Grips on early I-frames leave a lot to be desired, when it
comes to shooting. Great for CC, maybe, but not shooting.
And, while grip adaptors help a lot, there's just not much to
grab a-hold of.
I'm looking to re-grip these old warriors, with J- or I-frame
magnas. Same as on the Terriers. I can't really afford the
better examples out there, but there're some beat up sets
available, that work okay.
Back to the OP's thread....With the step-by-step example,
I'm re-finishing grips, to make them worthy of the guns they
are on. Over the past week-end, I did four sets. Not so hot as
to post pics; they would look pretty amateurish next to the
ones MAG-NUM did. His look really good. I need morepractice.
And thanks to those who suggested alternative finishes. The
only thing I'm lacking right now, is my 2000-grit wet-or-dry
sandpaper. I seem to have stored that with my Carbine mag,
which I haven't seen in a month. Two more sets to go this week.
TACC1
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:40 PM
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Well, there you go! Just finished my fifth set of grips.
They weren't bad as far as damage was concerned, but the finish
was chipped, making them look a little ratty. Still not up
to the mark set by the OP, but decent.
Now it's time to try the grips from an old Police Positive. They're
almost black, wonder what they'll look like..
TACC1
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:45 AM
Frank46 Frank46 is offline
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I bought a couple rem 870 police shotguns for $225 and $195. After getting the rust off them with CLP and 4/0 steel wool the stocks were next. The two sets of forends and buttstocks presented a challenge as they were scratched, chipped finish and wear. Sanded down to bare wood, 1 coat of stain sealer and about 6 coats of tru oil. First few coats were sanded between coats to get the finish level and no high or low spots. Last two coats were put on with those cheap disposable acid brushes. Let sit for a week to make sure they were dry. Cut the sheen with 4/0 steel wool. And used some old classic car wax which has a mild abrasive in it. Nice low sheen just the way I like it. You can also use pumice and rottenstone for polishing when mixed with a lite oil such as mineral oil. But I like MAG-NUM's post as he showed what can be done with some care and skill. Frank
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:49 PM
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Hey Mag-Num
After reading this post on your stocks, I thought I'd give a stock refinish a try on a 1937 Remington SportMaster .22 rifle I gave to my daughter. Its amazing the wood they covered up "back in the day".
Here is a before and after shot of the butt of the rifle. This is after 6 very light coats of Tru-Oil. I used 0000 steel wool between every coat and let it dry 24 hours between coats. I'm going to put on a couple more thin coats and then wait a week to apply the Stock Sheen & Conditioner. The Stock Sheen will bring the gloss down to a Satin Sheen.

Before


After


Thanks for inspiring me! Now I've got a couple sets of Magna PC grips to re-finish!
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Last edited by BrewsterII; 12-09-2014 at 10:02 PM.
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  #44  
Old 12-12-2014, 06:55 PM
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Great post! Some very nice work. Having done a lot of refinishing on wooden boats I will pass this along as a helpful tip. Instead of steel wool use bronze wool oooo available at marine supply stores. West marine, jamestowne distributors. Steel wool leaves very fine remnants of steel that will rust after time the bronze will not rust . Fwiw.
Nice to see all the great work people have done . happy holidays
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:05 PM
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Re: OP. Very much appreciate your initial and subsequent follow-up posts detailing your project. Am currently in the process of thinking through how I will do a similar project adapting a pair of square-butt S&W target stocks for a round-butt N-frame revolver. Thank you for the detailed photographs as well as the explanations of material used, etc. This will doubtless prove helpful as I proceed with my grips. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slodraw View Post
Great post! Some very nice work. Having done a lot of refinishing on wooden boats I will pass this along as a helpful tip. Instead of steel wool use bronze wool oooo available at marine supply stores. West marine, jamestowne distributors. Steel wool leaves very fine remnants of steel that will rust after time the bronze will not rust . Fwiw.
Nice to see all the great work people have done . happy holidays
That is a valid point, but I'm sure I'm not going to subject this rifle to the same elements as I would my sailboat, LOL.

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Old 04-09-2015, 08:00 PM
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What a great sticky! I recently acquired an S&W 53 with an 8 3/8" barrel just because it looks so cool - and was way underpriced. All my other Smiths are 4" or less. Anyway, the diamond targets were just BLAH! So, I thought, what the hell, I'll try to refinish them as described by this sticky. They turned out great - and I did it myself. Thanks Magnum
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