Mosin clean up

Discussion in 'Curio & Relic Discussion' started by Jpyle, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. TekGreg

    TekGreg Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    For those scared to use the oven, let me reassure you that wood CAN be baked safely! A family member used to refinish expensive antiques, where clean-up of soaked in oils was mandatory but retaining the old patina (worn finish) was crucial to value. This is a person that did this literally hundreds of times as their main income, and yes, you can still cook in the oven! This was a full-sized kitchen oven - no testing was ever done in a countertop broiler oven. This is a technique gentle enough to restore 150-year-old antiques, so it should serve to restore a gun stock of similar age.

    You simply place the wood object on the middle rack and place a disposable tin foil pan below it. Start by setting the oven at the lowest bake (NEVER broil) setting you have, usually around 170 degrees. Watch through the glass as the wood heats up, usually around 10-15 minutes, depending on size, and oil, wax or anything capable of melting will come out of the wood and drip into the pan. Continue this at same temperature for as long as it takes to stop dripping. If the dripping pan starts to fume or smoke, remove it and empty it immediately. When wooden item stops dripping, remove it with oven mitts, wipe the outside with rag or paper towel to remove anything sticking to it, then return it to the middle oven rack and let it cool with the oven. This allows the wood to cool slowly without warping.

    Repeat this process until the dripping slows or stops when heated, up to three to four times, increasing the temperature 10-20 degrees each time. With each progressive heat treatment, you will get thinner and more highly volatile oils out of the wood. SAFETY TIP: as the temperature increases, so does the volatility of the oil leeching out. Be watchful and dump any fuming/smoking oils in the pan immediately. Also keep a fire extinguisher handy, as cleaning up some powder is better than replacing the oven! After each treatment, examine the wood to determine if it has leeched out enough of the chemicals that you desire. Discontinue immediately if wood fails to drip or drips very little - this means it is as dry as it will get. Always let the wood cool in the oven and cool completely before re-treating to prevent warping.

    WARNING! As with any process, it is better to practice on an unimportant scrap or damaged piece of wood the first few times to get used to the process. You will get a "feel" for how long to treat each time, how much to raise the temperature and how the wood reacts. Always examine wood/finish for heat damage, as every item is different in what it can tolerate. In the many times I am aware if this process being done, no antiques were ever warped, burned or destroyed.

    WARNING! the liquids leeching from the wood are flammable. Even natural sap is highly volatile and can catch fire. As the temperatures increase, the chance of igniting increases. Watching for fumes or smoke is IMPORTANT! Remove and discard the drippings as soon as any sign of fumes is noticed. Note that "fumes" does not mean that you can smell it - there may or may not be an odor. Actual vapor or smoke is the most ignitable part.

    Done carefully, this removes chemicals, oils, sap and anything else that the wood has absorbed over decades of use and leaves a natural, clean patina that still looks as old as the wood. As with anything, the more carefully done and the more time taken yields a beautiful, professional antique finish.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
  2. Mercator

    Mercator Well-Known Member

    Isn't the wood going to become brittle? An antique piece of decor is one thing, a rifle stock that gets 7.62x54 caliber jolts is another. What were they made of, pine? Once the shellac is gone, they chip away and crumble on their own. I am typing this in a 300 year old chair, it creaks but the wood looks better. I am far from being an expert on wood, just a concerned reader.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014

  3. TekGreg

    TekGreg Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter


    I've seen this done on pieces of wood less than half as thin as a rifle stock. The wood has already died and dried. The heat in the oven is only a little over that in a vehicle on a hot day and not likely to cause the wood to become any more brittle than it already is after sitting cut for 80 years. It is more likely that the shellac would darken before anything would happen to the wood.
  4. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

    Just wipe the thing down with mineral spirits and a half roll of paper towels and be done with it. I have done it on scores of Mosins.