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Old 07-25-2018, 12:38 AM
69Shelby 69Shelby is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 342
Default Hackberry Stock Refinish - 1 way anyhow

I've had several forum members ask how I refinished a Hackberry Stock off of one of my recent CMP Field Grades. One Forum Member suggested posting a "How To". Here it is for those that may be interested.

I am no expert and hopefully other members that have better luck or more knowledge will add their experiences as well.

To remove the original finish, I used alcohol and a grey scotch bright pad. The finish removed very easy for the most part. I am sure that acetone, stripper etc. would also work but I wanted to try something on the mild side.

I let the stock dry for a few hours.

The stock had an excess of wood overhang at the butt plate but other than that the profile felt really good to me.

I removed the butt plate and rear sling swivel. I left the other stock metal in place since I did not have any plans of heavy sanding in any areas other than the butt stock area.

I covered the remaining stock metal with several layers of "3M Blue Painters Tape" (3 - 4 layers) to protect the metals finish from sanding, stain etc.

I used 80 grit sandpaper with a rubber hand sanding block to remove the excess wood at the butt plat area. Pressing the butt plate into place occasionally to check how the fit/fair was with the butt plate. Once I was happy with the fit/fair, I blended the last 1/3 to 1/2 of the butt stock from the butt toward the pistol grip to maintain the original contour.

I then sanded the entire stock with 120 grit paper using the sanding block and bare hands in the tight areas. I sanded as light as possible since I did not want to change the profile or contour. This also helped remove any of the remaining original finish on the stock.

This may have been a good point to try stain (the pores of the wood were pretty open) but I wanted a bit smother stock so I continued on without staining at this point.

I did a final sanding using 220 grit paper over the entire stock until it was uniform. I dusted the stock off and prepared to stain.

*****This is where the challenge began*******

I first tried a water based die, hoping it would soak into the pores and allow me to tint the stock...trying to achieve the "USGI red tinted look". The stock didn't absorb much if any at all. After leaving what ever didn't bead up and roll off, for a lengthy period, it just wiped off and would not stay.

I sanded the stock lightly with 220 grit again to clean off the fiber hairs and the little residue of the water based die.

Second shot was with an alcohol based stain which did better than the water based but not by much. The Hackberry wood does not absorb or retain stain like any other wood that I have worked with. I presume this is why the original finish is a sprayed on finish.

I sanded the stock lightly again with 220 grit to get back to a uniform starting point.

The Third time I used Minwax Red Mahogany #225 Stain. This stain absorbed a little and the wood retained it best of all. I let the stain dry for 24 hours, It remained tacky so I let it dry another 24 hours. I am in Houston and it was very humid which may have been a factor. I put on another coat after 48 hours (trying to get the shade/tint I was after). The new stain appeared to pull up the first coat to a small degree so I had to use a light hand to apply the second coat. I was pretty happy with the results. I let the stain dry another 48 hours.

The stain felt ok to the touch so I decided to put on Linseed oil over the top....bummer...the Linseed oil began to remove a lot of the stain causing it to streak. Not down to the bare wood, but ruining the nice stain character. I tried to go back over the stock again with more stain but that seemed to compound the problem. After several attempts, cleaning, sanding, staining, using Tung Oil etc. I was pretty frustrated and took it back down to bare wood.

Starting again from bare wood, I applied 2 coats of Minwax Red Mahogany #225 and let it cure as before. Once again the stock looked pretty good to me. CAUTION, use a very light hand when applying the second coat of stain to keep the first coat in tact.

Once the stain was cured ( I let it cure for 48 hours because of my previous experience) I sprayed it with Minwax Fast Drying Clear Satin Polyurethane. I applied 3 very light coats allowing it to flash dry about 45 minutes between coats. I let that cure 72 hours. I lightly went over the stock with 0000 Steel wool, just enough to allow additional coats of Polyurethane. I sprayed 2 more even coats allowing it to flash dry about 45 minutes between coats. I then let the stock cure for about 1 week to make sure the Polyurethane had cured very well (the Houston humidity makes things cure slow) and I didn't want to take any more chances and relive the previous experiences.

Once I was satisfied the topcoat was cured, I very lightly went over the whole stock with 0000 steel wool to bring the sheen down a bit. The Clear Satin was still a bit shinier than I liked.

Here are some photos of the finished stock, stain and polyurethane.
I wish I would have taken some photos of the process but didn't anticipate doing this. If I do another, maybe I can post those as well.

I hope this helps some of you avoid a few headaches if you are considering doing this.
I originally wanted to stay with the "purist" type of finish (BLO or Tung Oil etc.) but had to abandon that idea once I saw how fragile the standard stain finish was. The stain does not penetrate deep enough into the wood to survive bumps and bruises of normal wear/tear. The under layer of very light wood shows through very easily. I opted for the Polyurethane top coat to (hopefully) protect the stain layer somewhat better. I know many on the forum may frown on the use of Polyurethane, but Hackberry is a new addition to most of us. This option may allow some of us to be able to enjoy and use our Garands for years to come. I didn't get a Garand to hang on the wall the rest of it's life....and look pretty.

Last edited by 69Shelby; 07-25-2018 at 12:57 AM. Reason: addition
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