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ZvenoMan 02-01-2015 04:17 PM

Zvenomans Stock tips
Occasionally people ask me about how I work on my Milsurp stocks. To be clear, my knowledge is from reading the old Surplus Firearms magazines, trying different methods, and reading forums (mostly here and SurplusRifle Forum; the stock care section is the best).
To start, I never use chemical stripper (unless there is some chemical on the stock). Generally a good water based cleaner is all I need. I have tried Purple Power (in spray bottle, with about 50% water), Simple Green (also cut with water, Citrus Cleaner (dollar tree) and dollar tree knock offs of purple power. ny of these work best; I use whatever of these is handy, purple power probably being "the best", but I don't rush it. Wipe off what you can, then spray on your cleaner, let it sit a few minutes, then scrub with a sponge with the built in scotchbrite (again, dollar store). Wipe off, maybe use some warm water on the sponge, and repeat as necessary. This works on 90% of my milrurp stocks. I got an M14 stock from CMP that had some funky clear stain, looked like tape residue (but GooGone did not affect it), that was the only time I used a chemical stripper, and it did not impress me.
Soviet Stocks that are painted in lacquer are different, generally just a wipe with a damp cloth, maybe purple power, is all they need.

1. M14 stocks; I wiped off dust and any visible grease/cosmo then sprayed with PP and let sit.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

2. 2nd spray, note the stains on newspaper of what the PP was removing.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

3. When done they will look like this. Note middle one still has a few stains, I kept working on it.....
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

4. If you want to stain, now is the time. I used USSR stain (available from forum member USSR) on one just to try it out, great stuff. Otherwise I rarely add stain, most stocks I work on are milsurp so I just clean and re-oil, they don't often need stain.
I generally use BLO (generic from Lowes/Home Depot). I tried Tung once, it did not seem better (I used pure tung oil from Woodcrafters). Note: Make sure you buy Tung Oil or Boiled (or Raw) Linseed Oil. WM generally does not have it, but they carry (as does Lowes, HD) "Tung Oil Finish" (from a few companies, Fornbys is one). Some have used this with great results; I suggest you use pure oil for your first job.
I use Fairtrimmers Military OX oil frequently as my first few coats. It is a BLO base, with thinners (Turpentine?) and tints, formulated to accent grain and cartouches. Sme don't like it, some claim it doesn't work. I have had good results, the tints get into the broken fibers of cartouches (and gouges!), as well as soak up differently in different grain. It is very subtle, one coat and you can't tell much. It is BLO based so can be removed later like BLO with mineral spirits if needed (I never have). I generally do a few coats until I like the look, then cover with a few coats of BLO (more on that next).
Here are those same stocks:
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

Top one I used USSR stain, other two just Fairtrimmers.

Regarding BLO: I used to apply it straight, usually with a 0000 steel wool pad, let it sit 30-60 min then wipe off. After hearing enough about thinning it I mixed a bottle with turpentine, I like that method. So, after cleaning, use Fairtrimmers if needed, then 2-4 coats of thinned BLO (1 do one coat per day, approximately!). You will know when the wood is not soaking it up much more. Then a few coats of straight BLO. I apply with the 0000 steel wool, then rub in by hand. The heat from rubbing helps penetrate. Let sit 30-60, wipe off. 2-4 coats. The bottom Birch M14 stock was done this way.

Tom's 1/3 mix: Saw forum users with it, gave it a try. It is his packaging of "Gunny's Paste", known by a few other names as well; it's a mix of BLO, Turpentine and Beeswax. You can make your own, but I'm told finding the right manufacturers (even generic) is trial and error, and I like to support fellow hobbyists, he sells it cheap enough. It's like shoe polish, but sort of clear. Rub it on by hand, create heat; let dry 30-60 min and buff off. A few coats gives a great looking glow. This can be your only finish, or can be the top coat over BLO, Tung, whatever.
Here is a CMP Refurb Daisy 853. I cleaned the stock with denatured alcohol and 0000 steel wool, and as it had "HC", the DA dissolved it, I kept the "H" obviously. When dry, all I did was rub in (wood was pretty dry!) a few coats of Tom's 1/3 mix.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
By the way, the CMP refurb Daisy's are a great deal; they have allegedly been overhauled and seals replaced; they come with a new accessory kit that has front sight inserts, sling and rear sight. Mine shoots great; Zvenoson can pump it himself finally.
More to follow

ZvenoMan 02-01-2015 04:50 PM

Links for stock care that I find useful. I have received no product from any of these guys for free, and my comments are based on my experience; your results may differ. If anyone has links for milsurp stock products PM me and I'll post them.

1. SurplusRifle Forum's stock care for milsurps. Great info on many different ways to clean up, repair and restore Milsurp stocks.

2. USSR US Service Rifle Stain: It is a small bottle, he says 1-2 stocks per bottle, I suggest maybe 2-3! In my opinion this is a great price for an already mixed stain that is a good match for the reddish tint on older USGI rifles like 1903s, 1903A3s, M1 Garands and Carbines, etc. Sold by CMP Forum member USSR, read about it and order it here.

3. Tom's 1/3 mix: Look on the CMP "How To" section, Aladinbama (Tom's 1/3 mix) has videos on stock cleaning (using BLO and turpentine) as well as how to use his stock wax, and other great stock care videos. Research and buy his wax here:

4. Fairtrimmers Military OX oil (I have no idea where the name originated). Learn about it and order it here:

5. Chestnut Ridge. I have not used their stain but I have heard many people on forums talk about it, seems like a good alternative to USSR's stain.

6. I have not ordered from them, but they sell a kit that contains a citrus cleaner in a spray bottle, and a bottle of thinned oil (thinned with the same citrus cleaner they sell!) and a bottle of full strength oil. They sell it in Tung oil and Raw Linseed oil. I heard about them on some forums, people seem to like the kit, and if I was a first time refinisher I would consider it.

7. Fred's M14 stocks. Do a search on Google or Bing about his reputation. I have ordered a few times, got what I ordered fast, and the product was much better than described. But he has a reputation; like I said I and just telling you what I know and experienced with these links! Why do I list him here? His M14 stock prices are excellent, but more to the point, he has cut off M14 stocks he sells, 3 for $10.00. Great for practicing; want to see how a stock product will look, try it on one of these. I have some, they are what he advertises, and I try stock products new to me on these first! Someday I'll do something creative with them, like make these into feet for the Mosin Nagant crate I will turn into a glass top lighted coffee table.....


ZvenoMan 02-01-2015 05:09 PM

Tru Oil:
Here is my observation on TruOil (from Birchwood Casey, it is sold at any store that has gun stuff, including Walmart, sporting goods stores, etc).
I heard about it, have seen it forever, and have seen some posts where Milsurp stocks were done with this and looked pretty good. It is known for its shine. It is a mix of oils and thinners and who knows what else, iced teas for all I know.
Like any stock finish, the preparation is the key. I like linseed and similar as if, when applying them, I see some areas that need more prep (not uncommon for your first few stocks), you can address that and go back to oiling. This will be harder with TruOil, it needs a good prep.
It seems very thn out of the bottle, but rubs on by hand (per the directions), drys fast and gives that pimp shine. I sanded with 0000 steel wool. per the directions, each coat when dry and recoated. To me, it looked "pimpy", or at least plasticy and not how a Milsurp should look. I tried the 0000 steel wool and I couldn't get it to look "military". I do think it would work great in a Ruger 10/22 or other stock that you want to produce a nice deep and shiny finish. It was very easy to apply and dries quick (I think I said that).
I am not saying TruOil is not a good product, but it is not in my Milsurp toolbox. If anyone has some good TruOil Milsurp stocks, let's see them.
Here's an M14 stock I did, it has 4 or so coats of TruOil, 0000 steel wool when dry on each coat.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

Why M14 stocks? Every time I am in the south store I look at the rack of M14 stocks and one always seems to come home with me. $35.00, great stock projects, and they usually have a great selection, some appear new. Fred's cheapest are $35 or so, and he can sell you very fancy stocks, but there is a price for that grading. My M1A has a stock for every day if the week, and then some....
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

The top 2 are not wood stocks, they were my first Duracoat test stocks......

Here's a $35 stock from Freds; I'd love to see what $100 or so gets you. I have seen some pictures of some nice M14 stocks, this one is not too bad.
[IMG] M1A by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]


ZvenoMan 02-01-2015 05:28 PM

Finn Pine Tar?
I started my Milsurp collecting on Mosin Nagants. "Fortunately' I did not get the Finn bug, but have a few (you could have 25 and that's not even a good start).
I acquired an M39 Finn about 20 years ago, and cleaned it up, and finished the stock with BLO because that;s all I knew. It was, and remains, one of my finest looking milsurps.
Recently I have learned that the Finns used Pine Tar instead of BLO on most (many? some?) of their stocks. You can get pine tar, tractor supply and any other farm type store will sell it, it is used to coat horse hooves. Many coat wooden tool handles with it as it weatherizes them well (kind of like BLO....).
Tom's 1/3 mix company sells a Finn Pine Tar mix; I do not know if it is pure pine tar or if he added anything to it (I have never opened the tubs of pine tar in tractor supply, it is under $10 for about a pint or so). Anyway, as I like to support hobbyists, and Tom's 1/3 wax is one of my go-to products, I dropped $10 on his pine tar.
Of course, I forgot to take "before" pictures. My M39 was in great shape, it was cleaned and finished with BLO 20 years ago, and BLO applied every few years as needed. Summer of 2014 I decided to redo it with Pine Tar. I performed my standard stock cleaning with dollar tree cleaner and a scrubby sponge. Below is after 1-2 scrubs, it took 3-4. It was 400 degrees in the sun so I scrubbed, wiped, scrubbed, all in about an hour, and it was dry enough for the pine tar after another 30 minutes.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
Per Tom's 1/3 company directions, apply the pine tar by hand. Use gloves per him; I didn't, no major issue. It has an odd smell, like pine plus an old campfire. I wiped it on, it is thicker than BLO, about like vaseline. My milsurp forum research indicated heat is needed to activate it, get it to soak into the wood, and 2 or so coats are best. As it is almost black (but when you rub it in it thins), I set it on the porch in the sun, and after 30 minutes it was easily 200 degrees (no exaggeration this time). After cursing because I burned my hand, I wiped it dry with a paper towel, and set it in the shade to cool. I re-coated after an hour, and cooked for another 30 min, then wiped it dry. Here it is cooking:
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
I let it sit in a corner of the garage (smell was strong for a few days; it was dry to the touch after a few hours).
Interesting finish, kind of waxy, dry and nothing oozes, but different from BLO. Really accents the arctic birch. I am looking for another project for the pine tar, while I am a fan of being authentic (that is how I decided to use it), if I see the right birch M14 stock it may get some pine tar.....

[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]


ZvenoMan 02-01-2015 06:03 PM

I use Fairtrimmers Military OX oil on just about every non-birch stock I work on (birch has enough character). I find it accents the grain well, and it seems to accent the cartouches as well. Essentially it operates like a wash, the tint is suspended in the fluid (a BLO mix) and will gather in low spots (cartouches) and some grain more than others. The effect is very subtle, and the directions tell you how to alter it from red to brown. I apply with steel wool or my hands, and rub it in (again, wood and BLO respond well to heat from the friction).
I have had a few tell me that it is a varnish or polyurethane; it is not. I have had some tell me it cannot make a cartouche look any different, and on some stocks I am sure it is true, but most of the time I find it works great. I think you can use it as the final finish, but as it is not cheap (compared to BLO, which is what, $10 for a quart at HD; Fairtrimmers is, as of today, about $32.80 shipped for a pint. As each coat adds tint, I find a few coats is all I need, but then I add a few coats of BLO, or Tom's 1/3 wax. However, find the price to be well worth it for me.
CMP rack grade 1917, Fairtrimmers, maybe 2 coats:
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
Yes, it highlights gouges as well! I see no need to sand stocks, I try a bit of blending if needed, but it is rare. This stock clearly showed the grain when I bought it, but the Fairtrimmers added some tint and accent.
This was sealed with a few coats of Tom's 1/3 mix.

Here is my SVT40. It came to me with the standard post-rebuild shellac. I have shot this OFTEN, maybe 2500 rounds, in many matches, and the shellac finally started flaking off. I have done some research, you can buy shellac, and some sell some allegedly similar to the "original" color (ugly orange?). I deviated a bit from my normal "restore) and decided to remove all the shellac and use an oil finish, as it would have appeared during the war. How do you remove shellac from your Soviet "dipped in a vat" firearm? Denatured Alcohol (WM sells it in the paint section, as does HD...). Varnish is just flakes of solid varnish (buy it on eBay, red and orange mostly) dissolved in DA. DA therefore melts it like butter. It took just a few minutes, and some lite encouragement with a scotchbrite sponge. To refinish it got a few coats of Fairtrimmers which really made the cartouches pop. I sealed it with 2 coats of Tom's 1/3 wax, and it sat for 2-3 years. I had it out a few weeks ago for it's annual cleaning and stock care, and decided to see about deepening the finish. Some have asked if you must remove Tom's 1/3 wax before using oil, I did not know so I decided to try. I had used it some since the original 2 coats of wax were applied, so it had thinned some. I used a thinned BLO mix, jus BLO and Turpentine 50%. I applied by scrubbing it in with 0000 steel wool, let it sit, and wipe off after 30-60 minutes. About 6 coats over a week, then about 4 coats of straight BLO, same application, 1 day apart. The finish just "deepened", very satin-like. I sealed it with 3 coats of Tom's 1/3 wax. I really like how it came out. The Tom's 1/3 wax just adds a satin glow in my opinion, I really like it as a final finish over BLO, or just plain.
Before the annual cleaning, so 2 or so coats of Fairtrimmers, and a few coats of Tom's 1/3"
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
After cleaning and many coats of BLO/Turp, then BLO, then Tom's 1/3"
[IMG] TULA 1941 by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
OK, not a stock picture. The "brake" is quite effective in converting the recoil to noise and wind. A spotter had a hat come off in the muzzle blast once (he wasn't that close), and it is by far the loudest whenever I shoot. The recoil is insignificant, like an AR. I have had no issues with malfunctions or breakage with mine. If it had a better rear sight, mounted on the receiver (like a Garand) I am sure it would be competitive with one; I have shot some CMP matches with it, and given my eyes it shoots well with the barrel mounted rear tangent sights.


Ericc 02-02-2015 12:51 PM


Originally Posted by ZvenoMan (Post 1234695)

6. ... and a bottle of thinned oil (with turpentine) and a bottle of full strength oil. They sell it in Tung oil and Linseed oil.


Just a minor correction. The oil in our 50/50 bottle is thinned using the same orange oil that we supply in the small sprayer. We don't use mineral spirits or turpentine as the thinning agent.


ZvenoMan 02-02-2015 02:21 PM


Originally Posted by Ericc (Post 1235158)
Just a minor correction. The oil in our 50/50 bottle is thinned using the same orange oil that we supply in the small sprayer. We don't use mineral spirits or turpentine as the thinning agent.


Thanks Eric, I have corrected the post!
Wish I had seen your kit when I first started working ion stocks 20something years ago, would have saved me much time!


The Garandster 02-02-2015 06:08 PM

ZvenoMan, thanks for your very helpful information - I've got a SKS stock dripping with cosmoline and your info is very timely.

ZvenoMan 02-02-2015 06:16 PM

Show some pics please.
Today I had a day off (or an off day) and cleaned up and inspected my Albanian M59/66A1 SKS; I hope to photograph it tomorrow or Wednesday. I have had it for a few years but I am giving my collection a detailed inspection, cleaning and photography now. It has a non-chrome lined bore, hardest bore to clean of any I have seen. The stock is nice, it has full grain and is dark, hopefully someone can ID the wood type when I post it. Cleaned up well. SKS's may be cheap but the few I have had have been great shooters.

ZvenoMan 02-05-2015 11:44 PM

M59/66A1 Yugoslav SKS
I got this from Century about 2005 or so? Well used, but compared to the beaver gnawed Chinese SKS's that are available now it is fine.
The M59 is the Yugoslav version of the SKS, pretty much an SKS made in Yugoslavia, barrels are generally not chromed, otherwise the same.
The M59/66 added a NATO spec grenade launcher (yes NATO spec on a ComBloc design). The design included a gas system cutoff; to raise the grenade sight the gas system must be cut off, fairly soldier-proof.
The M59/66A1 added flip up glow in the dark sights, 2 dots on the rear leaf and one dot on the front post. They may have still glowed in the 70's? I don't think I have ever shot it.
This was in fine condition, as seen in the pics. The bore was very difficult to clean, I scrubbed with just about every chemical I could find, each had some effect!
All I did to the wood was clean it with water based degreaser and a scrubby sponge, a few sessions. It is clean, but the grain is course and dark so it almost looks iike it has soaked up grease and crud; I think the wood just looks like this. Then 2 coats of fairtrimmers to accent the wood grain (I did not see it have much of an effect; worth a try). Then about 6 or so coats of BLO/Turpentine mix scrubbed on with 0000 steel wool, sit for 30-60 min then wipe dry; repeat 1 coat per day. Then about 4 or so coats of pure BLO hand rubbed, sit 30-60, wipe dry. I am not sure of the exact number of coats, working on many rifles this week, and didn't keep up. BLO/Turp until the wood looks like it does not need any more (not dry looking) then a few straight BLO coats until it looks good. The stock is rough, I bet the wood would look spectacular if I used a vibrating sander and took it from 100 grit up to 400-600 or so, but I'll keep this Milsurp un-pimped. It has a few dings and scratches, nothing but soldier use.
I have a bag of Turk M1 Garand slings I got at the SS; several were clearly one-off soldier modified scraps so I pieced together a sling that looks like some I have seen on websites for the M59/66s. A unique web sling seems most common but until one falls from the sky this will do.
Here is the result.
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] by MrJHassard, on Flickr[/IMG]

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