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with a coupe of weeks off from work, I'm back on the martini-enfield project after a long layoff and am looking at cleaning the wood - not stripping and refinish, but removing 120 years of grime and oil .. also doing an enfield no 1 mk III wood at the same time...

Neither rifle suffered a heavy dose of cosmoline so thats in my favor..

Objective is to get it as clean as possible while minimizing the impact and preserving what stamping/markings are hidden and what the current state of orig finish looks like.

what are your techniques - been been reading a lot of stuff online - much of it contradictory.. between steaming and gasoline and even oven cleaner, to Murphy's soap and green scrubbies, alcohol and thinner and mineral spirits, my head is spinning. perkgfn


One thing i am thinking about is Kramer's Best Antique Improver and the Blemish Clarifier - anyone ever try it?
 

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I have used this solution on my antique clocks and it has never failed me. It will clean of years of dirt, grime, oil lamp residue, smoke, etc. but not remove the Shellac. I mix in a small coffee can Half hot water, half MEK (get at hardware store) two teaspoons of boiled linseed oil, and one teaspoon of clear dish washing detergent. Use this mixture in garage or outside well ventilated. I use a 6 Ought steel pad to lightly brush in compound, then wipe clean with water and apply a good furniture polish. It has served me well for 40 years on my clocks and old guns.Inherited old Grand Piano from grandmother, thought was black, used this stuff and it is actually Brazilian Rosewood. Good luck on your project.
 

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Larry shows you how:D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfcUwMWxJ2U

Depends on what is on the wood and what finish it has.

Start with something that does the LEAST harm. My first choice is mineral spirits (real paint thinner) not the odorless stuff. Larry uses lacquer thinner.

There are many many videos depending on what crud is on your rifle
 

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kihfL Everyone has Grandpa's secret recipe!



carpetbagger1.jpg





For old oil-finished guns , especially surplus stocks , I've always used 4-0 steel wool with a bit of Pine-Sol , turpentine , denatured alcohol. There's also some stuff known as Goof-Off , and Goo-Gone.
 

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Neither rifle suffered a heavy dose of cosmoline so thats in my favor..

Objective is to get it as clean as possible while minimizing the impact and preserving what stamping/markings are hidden and what the current state of orig finish looks like.

what are your techniques - been been reading a lot of stuff online - much of it contradictory.. between steaming and gasoline and even oven cleaner, to Murphy's soap and green scrubbies, alcohol and thinner and mineral spirits, my head is spinning. perkgfn
The steaming and oven cleaner (never do that!) were ways to remove cosmoline. Never use GASOLINE! I did a a couple of never issued SKS rifles that were almost pure cosmoline! Never seen rifles than pack with it. Heat dissolved a lot, then minerals spirts, then a wet towel and a iron to suck it out of the wood,

Brake Kleen (the red can HYDROGENATED) is the chemical TCE it will dissolve most any and all oil, grease, not flammable and flash dries quick. Just use it in a ventilated area and wear eye protection and gloves. Brownells sells it buy the gal for degreasing prior to painting but expensive,

https://www.crcindustries.com/products/brakleen-174-brake-parts-cleaner-19-wt-oz-05089.html
The othe green can (non hydrogenated) has acetone and is Flamable.
 

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A fellow on line used a dishwasher for his Garand stock. It appeared to work ok.

I think this method was only for stocks which were treated with linseed oil as the only finish. The warm water seemed to make the linseed oil rise to the surface of the wood, which he removed with steel wool.

It appeared to deliver good results on grease and oily residue. He rationalized that those guns had been subjected to worse treatment in the elements.

He stressed that certain parts should not go in the dishwasher. And I think, not to use a heat cycle for drying.
 

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Mother used Murphy's on an old French table - easily 100 years of accumulated grime, oil, kitchen smoke - you name it. You couldn't see the wood grain. it took a bit of elbow grease, but soon the layers of crud started to literally peel off - the soap had worked under all that. Turned out to be a gorgeous piece of wood - likely elm. The Murphy's did nothing to hurt the french polish finish that was on it.
 

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Ballistiol is pretty much Mineral Oil. Yes, it cleans a little but I see no real benefit on putting oil on a stock that is dirty from excessive oil. Putting clean oil on dirty oil?

For
"clean" wood perhaps, but Tung oil and BLO are better.
 

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I collect old woodworking tools. I clean the wood on old molding planes using paint thinner and 0000 steel wool. This will not remove scratches or stains, but will leave the patina while showing off a fine old tool.
after you finish it.
 

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I'd recommend a stepwise process

1. Murphys

and if that doesn't work

2. Mineral Spirits

and if that doesn't work

2 Gum turpentine

Note; going from surfactants (soap) to a medium solvent, to a stronger solvent. You said you don't want to strip the finish- those "antique restorer" crap in a can are just strong solvents with some colorant. You won't be happy.
 

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I know that you don't want to do a refinish, but that's what I've done with many older military rifles.

With M1 Garand rifles, I have redone a number of stocks by using a very light stripper chemical to pull anything unusual that they may have been finished with, then put them in low heat (the dashboard of the car wrapped in newspaper inside a black plastic bag) to draw out any cosmolene that may have soaked into the wood.

When the wood is reasonably bared, I clean it with a wood soap, then use a hand held steamer to steam out minor dents. They will expand to flat.

After that, the stock needs to dry thoroughly.

I finish the stock using diluted Boiled Linseed Oil in several hand rubbed coats. You basically melt the BLO into the pores of the wood. 4-5 hand rubbed coats are usually enough for a beautiful finish. Here's an example on a 1952 vintage M1 Garand stock that had the grenade launching sighting device mounted to it. I used allen screws to protect the holes.

GarandStock.jpg

With hand work you can carefully preserve any stamping or markings in the wood.
 
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