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Old 11-25-2009, 09:58 AM
IditarodJoe IditarodJoe is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: New Hampshire
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Default Gunny's Paste

IditarodJoe’s Guide to Gunny’s Paste

By the time a soldier or sailor has served in the enlisted ranks long enough to achieve the pay grade of E-7, he has usually accumulated a considerable store of wisdom in the fine art of keeping wheels turning smoothly. The story, as I heard it, says that sometime between the two world wars, a well seasoned Marine Gunnery Sergeant found a way to protect his rifle stock by rubbing in coats of a special paste that he had concocted from materials he had at hand. Other Marines learned about his paste, tried it, and found that it indeed worked very well. As more and more of his fellow Marines started using it, it came to be referred to simply as . . .”Gunny’s Paste”..

How I Make Gunny’s Paste

· a hunk of real beeswax (usually available from the local hardware store)
· a few ounces of turpentine
· a few ounces of boiled linseed oil (BLO)
· a wide-mouthed, 8 ounce glass jar with a screw on metal lid
· a Pyrex 1-cup measuring cup
· two kitchen Dixie cups
· a Sharpie marker
· a popsicle stick
· a saucepan

1. Cut off a single piece of the bees wax that’s about 2 ounces in volume. . . oh, maybe about the size of a walnut or a little bigger. Measure the wax by filling a measuring cup exactly half-full of water (4 ounces) and pushing the piece of wax completely under the water’s surface, IMPORTANT - how much did the water level in the cup rise? If it rose, oh lets say, to 6-1/4 ounces, then you have 4 ounces of water and 2-1/4 ounces of wax. If yours is more or less, that’s fine . . .just remember the number you came up with. Blot the piece of wax dry and set it aside.

2. Into one clean kitchen Dixie cup measure a quantity of water that’s exactly equal to the volume of the wax that you just measured. In our example, that would be 2-1/4 ounces of water. Use your Sharpie marker to make a line on the outside of the cup exactly at the top of water. Next, pour the same water into the second Dixie cup and mark it the same way. Now throw away the water and dry the insides of the cups.

3. Fill one Dixie cup up to the line with turpentine; fill the other one up to the line with BLO. You now have identical quantities of wax, turpentine, and BLO, Set the turpentine and the BLO aside, a good long distance from the stove or other heat source. I normally use the porch, the patio, or the garage

4. Clean and dry the inside of your glass, wide mouth, screw-top jar and lid. This is what you’ll be making and storing your Gunny’s Paste in.

5. Place the wax into the bottom of the jar and put the jar into the saucepan. Put some water in the bottom of the pan - but not enough to make the jar float. Don't get any water inside the jar.

6. Place the pan on the stove and heat it on LOW heat until all of the wax is melted. This takes patience. Stand there with a pair of kitchen tongs to steady the jar and watch it the whole time or … sure as anything … the jar will tip over. If it starts moving around too much, remove the pan from the heat for a minute. If you get any water into the wax, throw it out and start all over again. And be careful - WAX IS FLAMMABLE!!!

7. Once all of the wax is thoroughly melted, remove the pan (with the water and jar still in it) from the stove, carefully carry it to wherever you put the Turpentine and BLO, and let it cool slightly.

8. With the jar still sitting in the hot water, pour the turpentine into the melted wax and stir it in well with the popsicle stick.

9. Next add the BLO to the mixture and stir it in well with the popsicle stick.

10. Carefully remove the jar from the pan (CAUTION - HOT!) and set it on a wood surface (like a piece of 2 X 4) somewhere out of the way. Let it sit undisturbed until it's completely cool, at which time it will be about the consistency of shoe polish. Screw on the lid, write the date on the jar with your Sharpie marker, and store your Gunny's Paste in a cool (not cold) dry place. If you measured carefully and paid close attention to detail, you'll have a really great product. It will be usable for a year easily, although it can start to get a little granular after several months.

Tips for Using Gunny’s Paste

Applying Gunny’s Paste to a stock is a sensual experience. Bonding … man and walnut (or birch or beech). It’s not something you should ever do in a hurry. If it feels even the slightest bit like “a chore”, then you’ve picked the wrong time to do it. Figure on at least half an hour for a typical stock set.

Gunny’s Paste is for use on U.S. military rifles with U.S. military oiled finishes. I would never even think about using it on one of those shiny civilian guns with a commercial finish,

Gunny’s Paste has to be rubbed in slowly with your hand. Don’t use a rag. The heat from your hand is what melts the beeswax so that it can get right down into the wood. KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM YOUR EYES! (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

The best way to apply Gunny’s Paste is sitting on the porch with a good friend, sipping your beverage of choice and talking about the upcoming rifle match or maybe your last hunting trip. It’s just that kind of an activity.

Try to minimize the amount of Gunny’s paste that gets onto the metal parts of your rifle. When you do get some on the metal, wipe it off. I’ve never seen any signs of damage to the metal finish, but I can’t imagine that it’s too good for it either so why take the chance.

Apply the paste sparingly, working on one small area at a time. When you’ve finished the entire stock, go back over it slowly with your hand, warming and evening the wax. Finally, rub the whole stock with a piece of cheesecloth or an old tee shirt just firmly enough to smooth the finish and eliminate any tackiness. I’ve heard of people letting the wax dry and then buffing it to get a “glow”, but I’ve never tried it. For me, military rifles shouldn’t glow.

I try to Gunny’s Paste each of my rifles once or twice a year, depending on how often they’re used. In some cases that’s probably overkill, but it’s something I enjoy doing and it gives me an excuse to look them over well and make sure everything else is ok.

So give it a try … I’m sure Gunny wouldn’t mind.

November 25, 2009

Last edited by IditarodJoe; 11-25-2009 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:54 PM
jaw1947 jaw1947 is offline
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Thanks for the explanation.
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Old 11-27-2009, 09:40 PM
2thdoc 2thdoc is offline
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Or you could just get toms 1/3 wax and save the mess in the kitchen
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:39 PM
IditarodJoe IditarodJoe is offline
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Location: New Hampshire
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I suppose, I have no idea what's in the Tom's product . . . or you could just buy a synthetic stock and avoid any effort altogether.
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:57 AM
Rondog Rondog is offline
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Location: Parker, Commurado
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Thanks for the post and the recipe! But that's kinda involved...can't ya just basically melt a quantity of beeswax and put it into a large glass measuring cup, see how much is there, then add equal parts of turpentine and BLO and stir it up, then pour into a jar? Isn't that about it?
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:27 PM
IditarodJoe IditarodJoe is offline
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Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,068

Yup! That's about it. Hot wax will have a greater volume than unmelted wax, so your version might be a little firmer. Either buy your own measuring cups or get them cleaned up and back into the cupboard before the wife finds out.

I've never tried doing this with tung oil, but have always been curious as to how it would work.
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:36 PM
wd0bc wd0bc is offline
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Default 1+ FOR Tom's product...

All my USGI "real wood" guns sport a coat of it!
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Old 11-28-2009, 05:43 PM
warbabys54 warbabys54 is offline
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Location: Louisiana
Posts: 1,237

Another +1 for Tom's 1/3 mix.....Great stuff.....Easy on and easy to buff off...The finish is outstanding.....
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:56 AM
H.S. Mantooth Jr. H.S. Mantooth Jr. is offline
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I haven't tried Tom's 1/3 mix yet. I still have some Gunny's Paste from a couple of years ago. It's great stuff too. And then, I'm so tight, I just can't bring myself to toss out a proven product to try another that possibly may be equal or maybe even better.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:17 PM
LavaTech LavaTech is offline
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Alternatively, you can use the same recipe substituting Tung oil for the BLO.
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