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How to do a Three Step Stain Finish -Images Missing-

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Zeliard
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How to do a Three Step Stain Finish -Images Missing-

#1 Post by Zeliard » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:43 pm

Original authors in bold.

Note:Missing images in italics.

Note: Superfluous posts, and posts that were useless without images have been removed.

Candyman

This is a finish I came up with a few years ago while trying to get light color Birch stock to look more like Walnut.
The problem with staining Birch is that it does not care for Oil base stains. You need to use a Water or Alcohol base stains. This post will show you how to combine the two stains into one good looking finish.

As always we need a victim and for this post we will be using a very ugly Savage 110 stock.
The stock is made of light color Birch and looks like it will have some nice grain in it.

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First you will need a few things to work with.
Rubber gloves
Scrub brush
0000 steel wool
Fine sandpaper, 150 or 200 grit will work
A sanding block
Some old clean rags.
And here is what you will need to make the stock look good.
Wood striper
Rit liquid dark brown #25 dye.
Brown leather dye.
BLO.
And some good Tom's 1/3 Mix. :wink:

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The key factor to this finish is that you start with a clean stock. If the stock is oily, the water base dye will not stain the stock.
First strip the stock and steam it if needed. Then do a light sanding.

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Once you have the stock all cleaned up you are ready for the first step of the finish.
Apply a coat of the Rit dye to the stock. This can be done with a foam brush, rag or paper towel. Do not cut the dye with water or alcohol, just put it on straight from the bottle.

Allow the dye to dry for about an hour. The stock will look like an old chocolate bar.
Then lightly buff the stock with the 0000 steel wool to remove any raised grain. If you buff too much the stock will become too light and you will need to apply another coat of stain and buff again.

This is what it should look like after you have buffed it.

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Now for the 2nd step of the finish.
Apply a hand rubbed coat of BLO. Let it sit for 30 min. then wipe it dry.
As you can see the stock is taking on a nice brown color but it is missing that hint of red.

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Now for the next step. The Alcohol base stain. Here is something you need to know. All brown colors have red in them. Birch tends to take on more of the red color when using a brown alcohol base stain. If you go with a dark brown leather dye, you will not get as much red due to the black in the dark brown.

Now apply the brown leather dye. You can use a foam brush or the daber that is attached to the inside of the lid. If you use a rag or paper towel, they will soak up and hold most of the pigment in the dye and your stain will not work as good.
Apply a good coat to the stock and let it sit for an hour or more. The longer you let it sit the darker your color will be. You can wait from one hour to 24 hours. Then you apply another coat of BLO. Allow it to sit for 30 min. then wipe it dry. Be sure that you are wearing the rubber gloves. Some of the stain will come off and your hands will look funny.

What I have found that works best is to apply the BLO within a hour or two. If the stock is not dark enough for you then just apply another coat of stain.

Here it is after the alcohol base dye and then BLO after one hour.

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Now for the hard part. You need to allow the stock to dry for 48 hours. :shock: You need to allow the time for the BLO to cure and lock in the stain.
Once you have allowed the stock to dry apply the Tom's 1/3 Mix. My 5 year old son, Isaac, loves to rub in the Tom's Mix. :lol: If you have never applied Tom's Mix, just read the can.

Well here it is after the Tom's 1/3 Mix was applied.

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The natural color of the wood will have a lot to do with your final color on any type of finish that you apply.
Here are a few other stocks with the same finish on them.

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jimvac49

Candyman,
I've always had trouble getting that "reddish" hue using walnut stain. I switched to Red Mahogany stain and it worked great! The Tru-Oil doesn't hurt either.

What do you think?

Candyman

Red Mahogany is a great color but most of the time you can only find it in a Oil base stain. There are a lot of hard woods that will just not stain with an oil base stain.
I used oil base dark Red Mahogany stain years ago to stain hard woods and would always end up with a different color brown. :?
On this type of finish the brown water base stain gives you the base coat that gives you the deeper colors. The BLO keeps the brown leather dye from taking over the base coat so that it only highlights the base coat.
This is just one of many finishes that I use. This finish is very easy to do. Someone with just basic skills can use it to make a stock look good. The finish can be tweaked but it helps to have a good understanding of the type of wood you are working with and the way different types of stain will react with that wood.

BobVZ

Great tutorial Candyman! Permit me to offer a suggestion- forty years of furniture and gun stock finishing has taught me a few things about birch. Birch has millions of tiny open pores that suck in stain like a sponge where its been cut on the bias or cross-grain(like a gun stock). Conversely, it also has streaks of hardwood that seem to be nearly impervious to stain. The result is a rather blotchy appearance with any stain. Beech is the same way.

On a previously stained piece that I've already stripped, I like to use the following procedure:

Apply wood bleach solution(oxalic acid) and remove any traces of old stain and rinse with water. When it dries, de-whisker with steel wool or very fine sandpaper. To even out the stain absorption, apply a thinned (50:50 w/methanol) coat of clear or better, orange shellac. This is called a "spit coat" in the trade. When this dries, use fine sandpaper or steel wool and lightly cut down the surface. Take the sandpaper and wrap it around a dry foam sponge to prevent cutting too deep. This will remove the shellac from the hard wood but it will remain in the deep pores. Then apply the water or alcohol stain and you will get a nice even tone. It will also improve the drying time and finish build of subsequent BLO applications.

Savage and other gun makers get around the issue by often spraying their birch or beech stocks with lacquer or varnish that has the stain in it. That way they can quickly get the tone they want by building coats - a production expedient. Unfortunately the color is laying on top of the wood and is subject to peeling/flaking like paint. That's why you see light wood where the finish chips. The Russians did the same with the red shellac/stain finishes on Mosin-Nagants that notoriously flake.

The best way to finish gun stocks in my opinion is how it is illustrated here - the finish is in the wood!

Candyman

Hey Bob.
You are a man that understands wood. :thumb:
The sealer coat that you posted is an old one that has been used for years on hard woods to get an even stain finish.
You can also buy pre-stain that pertty much does the same thing.
And you are right, The finish is in the wood. :D That is why I posted three stocks with the same finish applied to show how it can look on different stocks.
I don't use a sealer coat on gun stocks but do when doing new furniture because, Gun stocks tend to be dryer then new wood.
It is always nice to have another woodworker's insight.

Candyman
Littlejon126 wrote:
]Mr. Candyman, what does this finish look like on a Mosin-Nagant stock? I've got an M38 that needs to be redone and looks to me like this would really turn out nicely on it!
Most likely your stock is made from Birch, which would be the same type of wood. If the wood is dry this finish will work the same. If your stock has oil in it that you are not able to remove, use the Aged Oil Finish that is in the stickies.

Phantomrig
b32dominator wrote:
So I'm having a heck of a time tracking don the RIT liquid, every walmart or craft store either doesn't have the liquid or is out. Can I use the dark brown powder mixed with DA and still get the desired effect??
Yes, just be careful as it doesn't require that much die powder.

notorious_m1

Candyman,

what color of Feibing's Leather Dye will be a match for what you have posted on how to do a three step stain finish?

The colors I see available are Light Brown, Medium Brown, Dark Brown, and Chocolate.

Or is Chestnut Ridge Dark Walnut Military Stock Stain a good match?

Thanks in advance!

Candyman

The leather dye used on the Savage stock was Light Brown. I find that Medium Brown gives a little bit better color. Just remember that the darker the color the less red tint you will get.

Chestnut Ridge Dark Walnut Military Stock Stain is very good and will give you a dark red tent.

surbat61

I was wondering whether you tried Fiebing's dye as a possible alternative to Rit (question answered above). I use Fiebing's almost exclusively, sometimes using oil-based wood stains to modify the finish to the desired shade. Have you tried Fiebing's tan colors for a more reddish tint? I often fiddle with the dye application, either mixing two colors or layering one on top of another to match stock and forend colors.
Your 3-step process is a great way to get consistant, even color on a stock. The photos speak for themselves.

Candyman


I do all kind of crazy stuff with stains and dyes to get colors to blend when doing repairs.
The stains and dyes can be substituted to get different results. To get a darker brown color, apply a 2nd coat of Rit Brown and do not buff as much before adding the oil. Or you can use a darked Brown Alcohol base dye.
To get a reded color, Buff the Rit brown dye till it is light and use a lighter brown color Alcohol base dye.

I did this post so that those that do not do much stock work can get consistent results.

notorious_m1

I've got another question - this time about applying the liquid Rit dye.

When I apply it, I get a salty residue that is heavy enough in some places that individual clusters of crystals are clearly visible - thank goodness I am using spare bits of wood for now. How do you guys keep this from happening?

Use a coffee filter to filter your stain before applying it.

flyfishdave

Candyman,

I wanted to ask you if the application of BLO or any other oil between the two different stains makes a difference in appearance/color/etc in the final product? I would guess that the oil coat after the first stain would seal the pores to some extent to minimize the coloring of the second stain?

Appreciate all this good information and dialogue about refinishing - sure give one the confidence to proceed without worries. Brings back memories of wood shop class in elementary school.

Candyman

It's all about appearance & color. The alcohol base stain will penetrate the oil but, not as evean or as much as it would if the stock was dry. This helps in giving you the look of an older finish and not one that was just done.

tbud

The only brown shoe dye I can find in town is a Tandy water based brown leather dye. Will this this work as well as the alcohol dyes

Phantomrig

Just mix alcohol into the water based die and you should be great.

Spavac

Did the "3 step stain finish" on my MN M44 refurb stock. I'm pretty sure I followed the instructions correctly but I'm thinkin' that the alcohol based brown leather dye made my stock just a bit too red.

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Too be sure, the stock had a reddish hue to it when I got it.

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If I could "dial back the red" a bit without a total redo, I'd give it a try. I've yet to apply the final wax BLO MS finish. If the consensus is that finish looks good, I'll just leave it as is. Thanks Spavac

Candyman
spavac wrote:
Did the "3 step stain finish" on my MN M44 refurb stock. I'm pretty sure I followed the instructions correctly but I'm thinkin' that the alcohol based bown leather dye made my stock just a bit too red.
This is where you went wrong. You need to use a water base brown dye for your base coat. Birch takes ib the red colors, in the brown alcohol base dye, more then the brown colors.
spavac wrote:
If I could "dial back the red" a bit without a total redo, I'd give it a try. I've yet to apply the final wax BLO MS finish. If the consensus is that finish looks good, I'll just leave it as is. Thanks Spavac
You might try an alcohol scrub and then try the brown water base dye.

Spavac

I DID use the Rit brown dye just as your instructions specified. I was amazed just how much the stock looked like it was covered with chocolate! Perhaps too much of the Rit brown was removed with the BLO. Anyway, I've decided that I kinda like the "red" hue. For now, I'm going to live with it and proceed with the final finish. Just so I know where I'm at with this, at what point does the "red" become permanent? Thanks. Spavac

Candyman

When the finish dries it is pretty much permanent. If you apply a dark brown leather dye it will take on a more brown color.

Tikirocker

Good stuff Lee ...

I am just about the tackle a very tricky little project ... matching a stock with no less than 3 different types of wood with different tones ... one maple ... the other two are darker ... wish me luck! I have already decided to go with an Alcohol based stain for the Maple and to build that up until I've got the tone close to the others. This is going to be a challenge but that's the fun! :thumb:

Candyman

When trying to match a lighter piece to a darker one, it is sometimes best to start with a MED brown and have some black on hand to add to the brown if needed. I sometimes test my stain on the inside of the stock first.

Tikirocker

All went well mate ... the way I worked it, it could not have been easier. Both the fore-end and butt stock were closer than I thought - I gave a damp cloth rub an hour before to raise the grain. This was to ensure a more even absorbtion of the stain in the case of maple and once I did that I just cut the walnut alcoholic tint with some turps and applied one wiped on coat ... the match was perfect and instant. Did not need to do anything else ... I'll apply the BLO today and it will be job done.

So what I thought might be tricky turned out to be simple. :thumb:
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"Vertroue in God en die Mauser".-Faith in God and the Mauser.

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