Many days eaten by locust.
Actually I have been waiting for parts for a dust collection system for my router table and that has stalled out other projects.
With that said I have pressed on with the SKS gunstock and needed to get some additional finishing supplies in to open up some options. That has led me down many paths of what sort of finishing materials can be mixed together and how that is done. The major find is that it is possible to mix alcohol based finishes (such as shellac) with the addition of some form of alcohol soluble gum (mastic, sandarac, elemi) in alcohol, then adding lavender oil or something like Venetian turpentine (available for equine use and way cheaper than at the art store, let me tell you). So perhaps not locust but just a lot of background research, that led me mostly through violin varnishes. Violin varnishes were once a finishing type for gunstocks, mostly in Europe but to a degree in PA and KY as well during the Revolutionary War era.
While doing that sort of research I also found a gunsmith doing period muzzleloaders who recommends that the best way to get a gloss style finish is to utilize antler and rubbing it on the gunstock along the grain of the wood. This is, I suppose, a form of burnishing and allows for a higher reflectivity base on a gunstock so that more light gets reflected back through the finish than a somewhat rougher sanded and sealed finish on unburnished wood.
The stuff I find out while looking around, and as I tend to track down just why things work the way they do, that eats up more time in dead ends on research. I did that with terrorism, organized crime and other larger endeavors, but also do that with woodworking, finishes and firearms. That is a time consuming process, but does yield answers via this modern marvel of the Internet.
Finally I wanted to try and tone down some of the darker areas of the SKS stock which had one of three sources:
1 - Natural to the wood. As trees grow they add in a growth layer over a previous layer and anything effecting the prior bark will then be incorporated into the wood. Only a real bleach can deal with that and I really don't want to lose the color of the wood, itself, to deal with these.
2 - Cosmoline. Our old friend will show up as a fine pepper pattern in the wood, indicating the need for more work at its removal (thank you to all the M1 Garand collectors out there for that!). From what I can tell of the nature of the beech wood, it has a pattern that does have some fine graining in it, but is definitely lighter than black pepper. That doesn't mean there isn't cosmoline still in the pore spaces of the wood... but it may not be optically apparent at this point in time.
3 - Embedded steel wool in the wood. This will oxidize black over time. The solution to this is oxalic acid, which is made hot, applied and then allowed to set on the wood, and keeping damp via additional applications until the staining bleaches out. This is effective against all manmade stains as the wood colors remain.
For me I decided that Option 3 was worth doing, and that meant getting a low cost supply of oxalic acid. I made it up with one cup of hot distilled water (from a dehumidifier, which takes water vapor from the air in great quantities for our household) with one ounce of oxalic acid crystals, stirred with a wooden construction stick and then applied via a chip brush all over the exterior of the stock, not just in areas with dark flecks, so as to get a more even tonal gradation. After I had let it set for half an hour, I used a baking soda and water solution (one huge, heaping tablespoon to a cup of water) and did a triple application of that everywhere to neutralize the acid, then did a final water rinse. I set it up to dry overnight, but took some pictures after most of the visible water was gone.
This is the side with the worst of the flecking back near the end of the top where the inletting is.
Here it is a bit closer up.
During the sanding I noticed some streaks on the buttstock area and determined that it was growth rings showing up, not cosmoline as mineral spirits didn't do a thing to them.
Sorry I'm not color compensating or lighting this too well. This side is naturally lighter, no two ways about it. But I can trace dark growth rings from the inletting to the buttstock area because the wood was cut at a shallow angle which allows for some spatial orientation of where growth rings would show up if the complete board were there.
The handguard was also treated. It has that one dark area that I may have to use actual bleach on or mix up some fine sawdust and glue to make into a covering and then sand over that.
Next up is a fine bronze wool de-wiskering of the stock, then a go over at 320 grit, lightly, and perhaps doing some burnishing of a few areas to show up cartouche work and such. I'm still up in the air about finish, but the first sanding coat will either be tung oil or a varnish. If it were a Mosin-Nagant it would be shellac, and I have a mix of platina/light buttonlac ready for that if I want to go that route, but need something a bit more resilient for the inlet areas. Unless I make a varnish that can take high heat (a bit over 200 degrees f.). After that I will do at least one coat of Linspeed to get some of the reddish tones that come with BLO or just use BLO cut with turpenes. What I would like to do is add just a touch of cedarwood oil to the mix to get a low level natural scent to it, which would help make it a hunting friendly firearm.
And that is it for the update.
The things I learn by looking around...