When last we left the SKS stock refinishing the two spirit based coats had been done and only the final coats were left.
Looking around at various art sites and ship building sites I came across two oil semi-varnish recipes that had elements of what I was looking for in an oil varnish that was simple to make. Beyond the oil I was looking for a bit more hardness and elasticity, both, something that instrument makers look for in the Viol family of instruments. That said running resin in boiling oil was not on my agenda. I wanted something that could be closer to a pre-mixed situation using solvents and what I found were a couple of recipes that hit right in this range. One was a varnish for going over sketches which is equal parts:
Damar Varnish (1:1 dissolved in turpentine)
That is a very simple recipe, and leaves you with something that takes a few days to dry. It would have to be applied thinned and then left in a relatively dust free environment for 2-3 days minimum. This was not exactly what I wanted but close.
At a shipbuilding site I hit on a recipe for doing (or re-doing) wood floors, and the parts ratio is as given:
10 parts Tung Oil
1 part BLO
1 part Damar Varnish (1:1)
1 part Turpentine
This is getting extremely close to what I want: a solvent varnish that is high in oil and yet offers some hardening speed for its surface.
At this point I decided that the actual factors wanted would have to include Damar Varnish (1:1) which I already had, Citrus Solvent, Venetian Turpentine and Oil of Turpentine (Rectified Turpentine). The last gives some 'bite' to a layer for adhesion to a previous layer (if I understand my painting terms correctly), plus it is mentioned in a wide number of older recipes for other varnishes. I still needed good drying, low tack time, and hardness with elasticity. Thus I went with the base plus stuff mixed into it which is a great compromise as these things go.
My final mix is:
10 parts Tung Oil
1 part BLO
1 part Citrus Solvent (then 1.5 on second coat)
1 part Venetian Turpentine
1 part Oil of Turpentine
This gives a thin, light colored varnish that can be applied from a simple dropper bottle and I used 1.5 ml as the parts amount. I would up the Citrus Solvent to see if I could cut dry times between coats.
The methodology used is a wet sanding with the varnish with 400 grit sandpaper, do thoroughly with one drop covering up to 9 square inches of stock area sanding with the grain. Then a drop by drop hand rubbing (with latex gloves on) over the entire stock rubbing in the direction of the grain.
Let sit between 2 and 4 hours and clean excess off (it is mostly Tung Oil) and I found that it was tacky to start with but once the rag got moving it went very quickly. Basically you want to get rid of the thick coating (I used about 30 drops total for a coat, with extra added when the sandpaper got dry or when the latex glove stuck to the stock) and leave just what had adhered immediately at the surface.
This was done twice over 2 days and it dries pretty well overnight. If done on the plain wood this stuff nearly disappears. I tried it on some cut boards and one drop spread around nearly vanishes.
After the next day a light going over with 0000 steel wool replacement yields the final result. Here is the right side of the stock, no color correction applied.
I was worried about the darkness that the spirit varnish was giving to the stock and I was amazed that the entire set of tonal qualities lightened just after one application. With two the result is wonderful.
The left side of the stock:
This really is something much, much better than I was expecting after the spirit varnish coats. The entire set of tonal qualities has now evened out greatly from the original material.
After a day of sweating and cursing, and having to do just a bit of sanding and light filing to get off some errant finish, the actual hardware has been installed. So I can now give the finished product:
If you remember this is how it looked coming in:
Yeah, pretty bad and soaked with cosmoline. The entire left rear of the stock looked like something wholly different from the rest of it and with poor definition to it. Now it blends in very well with the rest of the stock, it is a world of difference.
And the right side:
And there you have it.
I want to thank all of those making this possible: Classic Arms Inc.,Steve Kehaya and Joe Poyer for their book The SKS Carbine (CKC45g) 4th Revised and Expanded Edition published by North Cape Publications, Inc. which has been my guide to stripping this weapon, Brownell's, Murray Gunsmithing, Buy Milsurp, Apex Gun Parts, The Real Milk Paint Company, my sister and her co-worker at Moog who helped get the pin pusher made, Colman's Military Surplus, and I can't remember the name of every supply house/ art house/ and reseller of resins that I've had to go to throughout this.
I'm expecting a longer butt pad to increase LOP and a few other bits and pieces to put on, but nothing to change the original equipment.
Now it is time to take it to a gunsmith and make sure I actually put it together right and that it is safe to fire.