How are walnut rifle stocks finished?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 08-24-2012 04:01 PM 2274 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View newwoodbutcher's profile


780 posts in 3088 days

08-24-2012 04:01 PM

I’m planning to build a Greene and Greene desk and bookshelves for my home office. I have enough black walnut for the job, even though the Greene and Greene “standard” is mahogany. I did a small test with ebony plugs and think it could look great. I’ve been playing with dye and stain to minimize the color differences in the walnut and haven’t figured out how yet. So, my question: How are rifle stocks colored/finished. My vision is to make the walnut look even like on a rifle stock. The walnut I have is probably Claro. Any advice from you gun smiths would be appreciated.

-- Ken

8 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5148 posts in 4198 days

#1 posted 08-24-2012 04:08 PM

Not a gunsmith, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn.
Most stocks are an oil/varnish wiping finish. Takes several coats, but I sure like the soft sheen it produces.
Practice first for best results.


View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3475 days

#2 posted 08-24-2012 04:42 PM

I carve and finish rifle stocks every day and the way I get the color to match on a laminated walnut stock is to use wood from one tree or even better one board for each stock. If there is a lot of color variation, don’t worry about it, feature it. There are several commercial finishes made for rifle stocks. They come in small expensive bottles. Linspeed & Tru-Oil are the easiest to find online. and both have them. I like to make my own finish. Walnut is porous and the pores need to be filled so the surface isn’t dimpled with tiny holes. I sand to 220 or 320 grit, then wet sand with a 50/50 mixture of pure Tung oil and mineral spirits. After several sanding in several coats and letting them dry between coats, I mix the 50/50 oil and thinner with an equal amount of external spar varnish. I apply it with extra fine steel wool and rub it in as I apply it. After 10 minutes, I wipe off any excess and give the stock (or furniture) 12 to 24 hours for the finish to harden. Then I keep building up coats till I’m satisfied with the finish. It’s not the hardest finish, but when it does get a scratch, a few minutes with some sandpaper and more tung oil and varnish makes the scratch disappear. One very poplar finish these days is to spray the stock with automobile clear coat. It’s the ultimate tough finish, but if you do manage to scratch it, it’s very hard to patch the scratch. Let me know if you have any specific questions, I’ll be glad to answer them if I can.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View HerbC's profile


1792 posts in 3097 days

#3 posted 08-24-2012 04:43 PM

The even coloration is either inherent in the particular piece of wood or created by dying or staining the wood as part of the finishing process.

If you want the walnut to have little or no variation in color, shop around and acquire lumber that does not have the strong character that is exhibited by the wood you currently have.

BTW, you can send all that UGLY varicolored claro walnut to me. We don see much of it here in the Panhandle of Florida.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2931 days

#4 posted 08-24-2012 06:21 PM

Dang, Hal. Man, there’s your answer! Hal, out of curiosity, do you do any blueing or coating on metal? I’ve got a stainless/black 1911 that’s scratched/dinged on the black parts. It’s a custom, so I want it to look pretty;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Mainiac Matt 's profile (online now)

Mainiac Matt

8613 posts in 2566 days

#5 posted 08-24-2012 06:26 PM

with a bang :^)

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4456 days

#6 posted 08-24-2012 06:42 PM

This discussion brings back memories of when my dad used to do a little amateur gunsmithing when I was a kid. He always got his supplies from Herter’s. Anybody remember this catalog?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2931 days

#7 posted 08-24-2012 06:47 PM

^that’s a really cool catalog. Never hunted a seahorse, but cool anyhow;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3475 days

#8 posted 08-24-2012 07:47 PM


I used to look at the stuff in that catalog, and wish I had the money to buy some of it. Now, I can tell my kids that I used to get in at the local public pool for $0.15 and an ice cream cone was $0.10… Oh, and I had to walk to school and it was uphill both ways…

-- Hal, Tennessee

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics