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Thread: Boiling a Wood Stock for Grease/Grime removal?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    John 242's Avatar
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    Boiling a Wood Stock for Grease/Grime removal?

    I found the following video on YouTube concerning boiling a rifle stock in order to get oil and cosmoline out of the wood. This is a new one on me and I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not. I figured I'd get guidance from you guys.

    The author of the video runs a restoration and refinishing operation in the Detroit area. The name of the business is Vucan Gun Finishing.
    http://vulcangun.com/gun_refinishing.htm

    What are your thoughts on this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrP1l...kDXiih9oIEkTQ=

    I've read quite a few threads here a Cast Boolits and on the Surplus Rifle Forum about cleaning up military surplus stocks, but don't remember anything about boiling wood.

    The process really isn't explained in this video, but the author mentions using some sort of tank and sometimes boils the stocks twice to get all of the gook out.

    Thanks guys,
    John T.
    Last edited by John 242; 03-09-2012 at 06:36 PM. Reason: bad grammer
    Yeah, I'll think of something witty later...
    John T.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I've done it - it works. Use detergent in the water. Paint thinners does a great job but makes the wood look totally grey and washed out. Oil or sealer restores the look.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

    ''Assume everything that moves is a human before identifying as otherwise''

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    Boolit Master Bren R.'s Avatar
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    I can't say I'd suggest the method - that kind of submersion creates more problems than it solves... a slow, controlled dry heat is still the best way to weep oil and cosmoline out of a stock.

    Bren R.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 303Guy View Post
    I've done it - it works. Use detergent in the water. Paint thinners does a great job but makes the wood look totally grey and washed out. Oil or sealer restores the look.
    How long do you boil the wood for and what kind of detergent?
    Dish soap?
    Yeah, I'll think of something witty later...
    John T.

  5. #5
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    I dont recommend boiling wood stocks as you can warp them severely.
    For cosmoline removal wrap the stock in newspaper and place in a Black garbage bag in the sun and let it melt out. Then wipe down with Mineral spirits.

    Repeat as needed. Mineral spirits will not harm the wood or soften the fibers like some alkali products will. It can then be oil finished or shellaced , etc.
    You Know You Might Be Facing your DOOM , if all you get is a click, Instead of a BOOM !

    If God had wanted us to have Plastic gun stocks he would have planted plastic Trees !

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I use Easy Off! and boiling water.
    Spray on the Easy Off!, let sit, then boil for a bit. Let dry after wiping it with a nylon pad and re apply the entire process. Works great.
    Let dry, then BLO several times. When the wood is the desired finish, I seal with Tung Oil with dryers.
    Makes a great finish. I reapply after a few years if I need to.

  7. #7
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    I have used whiting and denatured alcohol. Makes a thin paste, smear it on, let dry, steel wool to remove. Pulls oil from the stock very well. Pretty safe to use of done outdoors, not hard on the wood. Raises the grain a bit but not too bad. This is a great way to get the cosmoline out of old military gunstocks.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Do not immerse your stock in water, it will open all the pores, the wood will whisker badly and as it was mentioned will more than likely warp. Easy off or mineral spirits to clean the surface cosmoline. Once removed, get some Whiting (Brownells sells it) Mix it with alcohol and paint it on with a brush, let it dry. It will turn brown as it absorbs the oil. It will take a couple hours to a full day to dry depending on the air temperature and humidity. Repeat until most of the whiting no longer turns brown. Wipe the stock down with household bleach and let it dry for a couple days. The stock will be rather pale at this point. Fill your holes or cracks and steam your dents then lightly sand with garnet paper. Your ready for stain and what ever your favorite finish is. The bottom line is no finish or adhesive (if you have a crack to repair) will take if there is any petroleum present in the wood. The biggest secret is taking your time. It isn't difficult and pretty boring. If you do it right, you will be enchanted with your stock. It may be difficult to believe that over the years I've come across many military stocks during refinishing that would of look good on any trap gun. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    the "whiteing " is hydraded lime and it works good put in old bath towl and in plastic bag. dont let plastic touch the wood

  10. #10
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Dish soap, yes. Warping? Very much a possibility but then again if it's going to warp under boiling it's going to warp, period. It must not warp if it's a gunstock. But if boiling warps it it's kinda ruined! Mine didn't, luckily. About raising the grain, raising whisker and opening the pores - that's what you want. Use a fine sandpaper to rub of those whiskers or fine steel wool. That improves the finish of the stock. In fact, if that process is not done a London Oil Finish cannot be done. Stock finishing requires wiping with a wet cloth then when dry, rubbing of those whiskers then repeating until no more whiskers form. Then a deep lustre can be achieved on the stock.

    I would go the solvent route. Lacquer thinners, toluene and MEK or stuff like that takes the oils right out. Use after the warming and bleeding out is done.

    Boiling lifts out the dents.

    Ammonia solution helps too.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

    ''Assume everything that moves is a human before identifying as otherwise''

  11. #11
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    How do (wooden) boat makers bend the wooden planks? They use steam. Same with bowyers making wood bows. I read in an old gunsmithing book about a method to straighten warped stocks that involved soaking them in water. It worked.

    Knowing all that, I don't think I'd try boiling a stock to remove grease and grime. You might get lucky, and then you might not. Knowing my luck, I wouldn't. Get lucky, that is.
    'I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more, Toto!' Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.

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    I figured the "Oven Cleaner" would rear its Ugly Head..
    DO NOT USE Oven Cleaner on wood stocks ! Lye Breaks down the fibers of the wood and softens them...It attacks the fiber bonds.
    Lye is what is used on wood pulp to break it down for paper...

    You Stock is Not a Freakin oven !!!
    You Know You Might Be Facing your DOOM , if all you get is a click, Instead of a BOOM !

    If God had wanted us to have Plastic gun stocks he would have planted plastic Trees !

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Whether the stock would warp was what I was most curious about. I'm not sure what the exact process the guy in the video uses, but I was thinking that the stock could warp. Maybe not... I don't know.

    On my No.1 Mk. III* Enfield, I used some orange smelling stripper to get the gook off. I then washed the stripper off with a garden hose. I didn't soak the stock, but just washed off the stripper. Afterwards, the stock was pretty dry looking. I hit it with 0000 steel wool and finished up with BLO. It turned out, alright, but I should have taken the dents out.

    I know that there is more than one way to skin a cat. It's really great to be able to pick your collective brains.
    Yeah, I'll think of something witty later...
    John T.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    I dunno about boiling, but I've done quite a few by running them through a dishwasher, set for the hottest water possible, and using hardware-store trisodium phosphate instead or the now-worthless stuff they sell today, (thanks to the EPA and a bunch of Chicken Littles).

    Despite the naysayers, this does not warp the stock, nor does it saturate the wood with water. Wood is not a sponge. The stock is dry enough to start refinishing within a few days, unless you live in a steam batch.

    Boatbulders steam their wood, and then put in restraint while it dries. Not the same thing at all. Been there, done that.

    If boiling warped a stock, it was already such a bad piece of wood that it should not be a gunstock anyway!
    So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 303Guy View Post
    Dish soap, yes. Warping? Very much a possibility but then again if it's going to warp under boiling it's going to warp, period. It must not warp if it's a gunstock. But if boiling warps it it's kinda ruined! Mine didn't, luckily. About raising the grain, raising whisker and opening the pores - that's what you want. Use a fine sandpaper to rub of those whiskers or fine steel wool. That improves the finish of the stock. In fact, if that process is not done a London Oil Finish cannot be done. Stock finishing requires wiping with a wet cloth then when dry, rubbing of those whiskers then repeating until no more whiskers form. Then a deep lustre can be achieved on the stock.

    I would go the solvent route. Lacquer thinners, toluene and MEK or stuff like that takes the oils right out. Use after the warming and bleeding out is done.

    Boiling lifts out the dents.

    Ammonia solution helps too.


    THIS!!!!

    I've boiled a number of original L1A1 Stocks with great results. My biggest issue was raising dents. The wet towel with iron didn't do it, but the boiling did.

    The only thing I do different from this post, is that when I de-whisker I wipe with a wet towel and hit it with a hair dryer. It works great, and you don't have to repeat it. Just one, and done.

  16. #16
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    how about a heat gun

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Bren R.'s Avatar
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    While I'm sure some people have had success with boiling a stock, I'm sure some people have had success with running a chambering reamer in on a drill press, stoning a sear with a Dremel or crowning a barrel with a countersink bit.

    There are less harsh ways to remove cosmoline. They've been covered many times:

    -bag it, wrapped in something to absorb the liquified mess (paper towel, calcium carbonate, etc) and put it in the sun in warmer climates

    -build the trash can/light bulb "EZ Bake Oven" and rack the stock

    You wouldn't use a stock as a canoe paddle if there was a canoe paddle available... why would you immerse it completely in boiling water unless you were trading off speed for a good chance at ruining perfectly good furniture?

    If it doesn't warp, it's at least going to swell. Inletting, wood-to-metal fit are all out the window.

    Ever built a deck, even with kiln dried lumber, then seen gaps between the deck boards a year later? That wood sure FELT dry when you put it down, didn't it?

    Anyone remember Browning's Saltwater Stock fiasco? They quick-dried stocks in salt to get them to dry faster and "thought" they'd gotten all the salt back out until Superposeds started rusting like crazy. Haste makes waste.

    Wait the week, do it right, give your inner Bubba a few beers to quiet him down while you wait.

    Bren R.

  18. #18
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    You may remove the cartouche if you boil the stock on a milsurp rifle, reducing its value.

    John

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    There is no way I would boil a stock! The old surface grease and grime can be removed with a good cleaning. Mix denatured alcohol and boiled linseed oil 50/50 and scrub a stock with it using 0000 steel wool. That will do the cleaning with no damage to the wood or original oil finish.

    Oil or grease that is deep in the wood can be removed via the black bag method described by Mooseman. Some folks have placed the wood in the oven at low temp to get the stuff out.

    Boiling a stock...no way!!!
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Bren R.'s Avatar
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    I would suggest a "green scrubby" or Scotchbrite pad instead of steel wool. Steel wool can push a steel fibre into the stock that you don't notice until it rusts later.

    At the very least, run a rare earth/neodymium magnet over the stock after wooling.

    Steel wool on metal, synthetics for wood.

    Bren R.

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