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Old 02-28-2016, 09:02 PM
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Default Strip and refinish factory wood grips

Looking for recommendations. What products or methods work best for stripping the original finish? What IS the original finish - and what works best for restoring the original appearance of the finish? Tung oil? Linseed? A combination?
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:15 PM
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Acetone will strip the old finish off quite well. I don't know what the original finish is, but I'm going to try Birchwood Casey Tung Oil next.
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:24 PM
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Acetone will strip the old finish off quite well. I don't know what the original finish is, but I'm going to try Birchwood Casey Tung Oil next.
+1
I'm not an expert but in my limited experiences, after stripping with acetone, truoil is an easy and fairly foolproof method. The amount of luster is dependent on the number of coats and the use of 0000 steel wool.
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:39 PM
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I rarely strip one to the wood. . .too risky when it comes to the checkering in the middle of each grip. I clean them with spit and a toothbrush. Then I inspect them closely and sand out any damage to the grips. . .usually the bottoms of each. Then I use steel wool lightly on the entire grip except the checkering. . .toothbrush again for that part. Like everyone else has said. . .Tru-Oil is the only thing to use! It can take days, but you can use as many coats of Tru-Oil as you want to attain the depth and gloss of final finish you desire. When I'm done, I lightly apply Tru-Oil to the checkering. The contrast is stunning and the fine checkering is preserved. The exception to this is if you have a pair of grips that are totally destroyed! If that's the case, get out the sand paper and go for it.
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:51 PM
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What grips are you looking to refinish?

My experience lies mostly with grips from the 1950's to the 1980's.

The below are generalities for the most common/standard grips issued by S&W.

1950's-1960's diamond grips tend to be a bit darker wood. I have found Minwax Tung Oil finish matches the color and hue very well. Well enough that if your grips have no finish issues with the checkering you can refinish just the non-checkered parts of the grips and it matches excellent.

1970's -1980's grips tend to be a bit lighter. I have found Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish reproduces the finish well enough that, if the checkering is in good shape, you can refinish just the non-checkered portions and it matches well.

Strip with acetone and soft bristle toothbrush.

Less is more. Do the least amount of sanding possible. Apply with clean cotton cloth (old T-shirt) thin layer rubbed in, anywhere from 2-5 layers. Less layers with Birchwood Casey (2-4) and more layer with Minwax Tung Oil (3-5).


Below grips refinished with Minwax Tung Oil. A .32 Hand Ejector, i.e. Model 30.

[IMG][/IMG]

Below grips refinished with Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil. A model 25-5 in .45 Colt. The reflection makes it look like I went a little heavy with the finish on the speed loader cutout area but in person it doesn't look too heavy.

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:54 PM
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S&W used different woods throughout the years. They started with Walnut and then went to Goncalo Alves. They also used different stains and finishes as well so it depends on what period you are trying to restore them to. Do a little digging and decide what finish and look you want to achieve.

When I used Factory wood grips on my CCW (M60-7) I would refinish the grips with 100% Tung Oil. NOT tru-oil, but 100% Tung Oil so that at anytime they started looking a bit tired, I'd just hit them lightly with some #0000 Steel Wool and apply another coat or two of the Tung Oil. When you carry a gun with wood grips every day they do get worn rather quickly and so I opted for Tung Oil which never had to stripped again to be refinished. Tung Oil does not flake off or chip off which was another huge advantage to me. If you are not carrying them then just go with whatever you like or whatever was original to the gun. I was not concerned about originality when refinishing my CCW grips - just durability and longevity.

And yes, Acetone with a brush is known to be the stripper of choice. Wear heavy rubber gloves (or two of the Nitrile kind on each hand) and do it outside to be on the safe side.

Last edited by chief38; 02-28-2016 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:56 PM
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If you use Tru-oil, do the flats first, then cut the mixture to 50/50 with mineral oil to do the checkering. Lightly go over it with a toothbrush, preferably your wife's!
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:33 AM
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What grips are you looking to refinish?

My experience lies mostly with grips from the 1950's to the 1980's.
I've got a couple of pairs I want to refinish.

The first set is a pair of K-frame targets from the 80's. They have a slight crack along the grain through the middle of the speed loader cutout area on the left grip and some chipping around the butt of the right grip.

I plan on gluing a sliver of wood into the crack on the left grip and then reshaping the bottom edges of both grips to create a set of "magna targets". The finish is already all cloudy and looks pretty poor, and since I only have $20 into them, I figured I haven't got much to loose.

I also have a couple of other sets of 70's-80's grips that are in good physical condition - except for the finish. Looks like my next stop is Home Creapo for a can of acetone...

Last edited by BC38; 02-29-2016 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:33 AM
g8rb8 g8rb8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC38 View Post
I've got a couple of pairs I want to refinish.

The first set is a pair of K-frame targets from the 80's. They have a slight crack along the grain through the middle of the speed loader cutout area on the left grip and some chipping around the butt of the right grip.

I plan on gluing a sliver of wood into the crack on the left grip and then reshaping the bottom edges of both grips to create a set of "magna targets". The finish is already all cloudy and looks pretty poor, and since I only have $20 into them, I figured I haven't got much to loose.

I also have a couple of other sets of 70's-80's grips that are in good physical condition - except for the finish. Looks like my next stop is Home Creapo for a can of acetone...
For the "slight crack along the grain" the following technique has worked well for me and others on the forum (this technique was employed on the .32 Hand Ejector grips in my previous post): When the old finish is off use a small amount of a thin super glue. Either gently pry the crack open a fraction of a millimeter with a very thin blade or not and place a drop directly over the crack and wait about 5-10 seconds and then sand over the semi-wet area with about 220 or finer sandpaper. The dust generated by the sanding mixes with the tacky super glue and both bonds the crack. Sand until traces of the super glue are gone except from the crack.

For the "other sets of 70's-80's grips that are in good physical condition - except for the finish" - if the checkering is in good shape you can probably get by with just gently sanding off the old finish and refinishing the non-checkered areas.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:07 PM
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If your "Tru-Oil" finish looks a little too shiny, you can smooth that out and "mellow" the gloss with rubbing them out with a slurry of mineral oil and Rotten Stone. Mix to a thin paste, you won't need a huge amount, and rub out with it on a soft cotton rag, (old sweat shirt/T-shirt, etc). You will see the "glow" of a great finish without looking like a mirror. Then apply a coat of Renaissance Wax and buff.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:16 PM
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If you use Tru-oil, do the flats first, then cut the mixture to 50/50 with mineral oil to do the checkering. Lightly go over it with a toothbrush, preferably your wife's!
I cover the checkering with painters tape, then brush a coat of the 50/50 mix on the checkering when the flats are done.
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Old 03-01-2016, 04:00 PM
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Never attempted to refinish myself but I remember seeing this 2010 thread a long time ago and thought it was pretty thorough but I have not done it so I will let you decide if it is good or not.

How to- Grip / Stocks Refinishing with photos! FINISHED!
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