March 31st, 2010, 10:15 AM
MGySgt USMC (ret)
Good tip on using spray shellac as sealer.
Finally had a chance to try Zinsser's Bullseye Spray Shellac as a sealer, that someone else suggested, on a birch wood set for the Garand. I used to use Birchwood Casey's "Tru-Oil" for that along with the surfaced finish.
Most of my customers don't want a somewhat polished look on G.I. wood. They want it to look like a G.I. stock set. I've had to learn to stop using too fine of sandpaper grits over the years and really refrain from putting too many coats of Tru Oil on the wood to do that.
I sprayed it on a bit too thick, but I was worried about getting on to corloring and having the time to get a surface coat of finish to dry. So sanding it back down took a bit longer than normal. However, I did not have to wait nearly so long for it to dry as I usually wait when using Tru Oil to seal the stock.
It sealed the end grain around the pistol grip and on the bottom of the rear of the stock well so the leather dye did not over penetrate and an even color be maintained throughout the stock. I deliberately waited for a birch stock set to test that as stain penetrates birch much more in the endgrain than and somewhat less in the rest of the grain than walnut. I.E. birch can be a PITA to get an even stain on it.
Even though all three pieces of birch varied in original wood color, they matched up well and not very hard using Fiebings dark walnut stain. I was "going" for the post war dark brownish red look and it is very close to the original and real hard to notice a difference when put up against an Arsenal refinish. I go for the darker stain when there have been a lot of dings on the stock prior to refinishing and sanding them all out would make the surface too thin or out of proportion. The darker color covers the surface stains you have to leave on the wood when you can't sand them all out.
I ran out of 150 grit paper, so I used cheaper 120 grit sandpaper with less grit than normal for the final sanding. I was a bit surprised it still looked like the Arsenal Refinish. I still think the Arsenal went to 150 grit as their final grit size, though, and got more of it for future use.
Then I used Tru Oil and wiped as much of it into the wood as the wood would take. Then I wiped the surface oil off with a wad of paper towels. It only took two days to dry and that's a bit faster than normal as we have a lot of humidity in the air from days of rain or mist. I'm really surprised the stock set looks like an arsenal refinish and with less work, thanks to the spray shellac. Since the Tru Oil top coat provides more protection than BLO, I'm pretty happy with this.