Staining and finishing the long-rifle


Once you have finished building your long-rifle, it is time to apply the stain and the finish. After sanding the surface with 240 or 300 sandpaper I rub the surface thoroughly with 0000 steel wool, all but the carving. A lot of builders say that the steel wool will leave little pieces of steel that will rust at a later time, but if you have done your sanding properly this will not happen, and it will leave a very smooth surface ready for stain.

The stain that I use is an alcohol base stain that I make myself, however Birchwood Casey makes one that is excellent, and is basically the same that I make. It is also used for a leather dye. I just use denatured alcohol, and add powdered color or universal color that you can purchase from any paint supply store. Birchwood Casey’s products can be purchased from any muzzle loading supply store, and at some modern gun supply stores. They have several colors to pick from, my favorite is the dark walnut. I apply the stain liberally, with a swab, and keep it wet for about five minutes , and then let it thoroughly dry. After it dries I then rub it down thoroughly with 0000 steel wool which will take off most of the stain except the stripe that is in the wood. I repeat the staining and rubbing down process several times . Each time the stripe will get darker and darker but the hard wood will end up with only one coat of stain on it, leaving a dramatic contrast. If any scratches show up between coats, sand them out. Let the stain thoroughly dry.

Now it is time to apply the finish. There are several good products on the market, most are a linseed oil base, which work very well. I prefer to use Permalyn sealer or Permalyn finish. I use the finish if there is no carving on the stock, and use the sealer for all coats if there is a carving. The sealer is thinner and does not have a tendency to puddle in the low areas of the carving. All of the products should be applied liberally, saturating all the rod holes, end grain, and barrel channel, keep the stock wet for about five minutes, and rub the stock by hand until it is almost dry. Use a toothbrush to remove the excess sealer from the low spots in the carving so that you will not lose the definition of the carving. Allow the stock to dry thoroughly and then again rub the stock down lightly with 0000 steel wool. Apply several coats the same way, always rubbing it down lightly with 0000 steel wool in between coats. Be careful not to rub through the finish on the corners. If there is carving on the stock, do not rib it with the steel wool. It will make it look old and worn, unless that is the look that you want.

The next step is what really makes the difference. Allow the finish to dry for four of five days, once again rub the surface down lightly with 0000 steel wool, but this time very lightly. The next thing that I use is a combination of Paraffin oil and Fine Pumice. These materials can be purchased through Woodcraft Supplies Inc. online. Mix the Pumice powder in a small amount of Paraffin oil making a paste, use a piece of bath towel and rub the surface down gently, being careful not to go through the finish on the corners. If there is a carving on the stock, apply the Pumice to that area gently, using a tooth brush. Wipe off the excess Paraffin oil with a paper towel. This procedure will take off that high shine and turn it into a satin finish. If it still has too much gloss, rub it down again. Now from time to time you can just add Butchers wax or any good furniture polish and polish it with a paper towel.