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M1A and raw linseed oil

Gene LGene L Senior MemberPosts: 11,638 Senior Member
edited May 24 in General Firearms #1
My M1A, a great rifle BTW  :) has a Walnut stock that looks like it needs some treatment.  Months ago, I bought a bottle of raw linseed oil labeled "cold pressed" for some reason I can't remember...maybe for a stock treatment.  So I'm two coats into treating the stock and so far, I'm pretty much impressed.  It's not shiny, but it's "oiled" looking, which isn't a good description, but I can't do better than that.  Not at all like Tru Oil that can givr a brilliant finish, but like I imagine M1s and M 14s looked like when they left the factory.  I'll post pictures after more coats.  The wood drank up the oil, which is a good thing, I believe.

Why raw linseed oil?  Well, in March of 1967 at AIT, we treated our M 14 stocks with it.  It came in a gallon can that was painted OD and I remember the stenciled label. Our Drill Sgt. brought it in and told us to use it.  The only time we ever did maintenance on the wood of the rifle that was soon to be phased out, but which I carried until September of that year.  In 1968, I did a one day prep course on the M 16 before being issued one. Never fired one until I got to VN. That was Your Army. 

Raw linseed oil isn't all that easy to find.  It's not carried at my local hardware store.  Artists use it because (I guess) it doesn't dry out so quickly and keeps the oil paint workable.  I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.
Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.

Replies

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    Raw linseed oil was the finish used by the military and it's contractors then???

    I think the Holland & Holland factory videos I posted sometime back show'd them using it to finsh the wood.

    All Ive used is Linspeed. Same stuff as Trueoil I think. I blemished a portion of my Win model 70 with it either due to needing new glasses or just inexperience and haven't fixed it yet. But the wood has heavy duty protection. I just added finish. I didn't start from stripped/raw wood.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,638 Senior Member
    Used to, I've read, back in the walnut age.  They would hang a bunch of stocks and dip them in a vat of hot linseed or tung oil and let them drip dry.  

     I think Linspeed and Trueoil give entirely different finishes from raw linseed oil, but we'll see. My experience with Trueoil is that it gives a brilliant, "hard" finish. Linseed is  also known as flaxseed oil which I didn't know until a little while ago. Same thing, different name. If it's a glass-like finish you're looking for, stick with Linspeed, dries a lot quicker. 
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 441 Member
    I have no experience with raw linseed. But I do know that if you use more than whats really required of the boiled variety that has drying agents, your project will take a couple months to dry between coats. Little is more in that aspect so I cant imagine how bad it would be without the drying agents.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 6,777 Senior Member
    My pre-64 Mod 94 was hand finished by my brother with boiled linseed oil. Don't know what the difference is, but that was some pretty wood.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,437 Senior Member
    Man I wish woodsrunner was here, he would know. I’ve used BOiled linseed oil, true oil and others never raw. I read somewhere that it can spoil. That’s why it’s boiled. 
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    Yea the Linspeed put a pretty thick hard and shiny finish on. I should probly use mineral spirits and fine abrasive to take it down some and fix the bad spot. Wouldn't hurt to buy a tool and trace the checkering too.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,638 Senior Member
    I have heard the gun-finish products have petroleum in the hardener, but don't know for a fact.  I do know Lin speed  is poisonous because I just looked it up.  The treatment if swallowed is the same as a petrol product.  Probably True Oil is as well, but I didn't look that up.  


    Raw linseed and flaxseed oil are not poisonous and I think some take them as a health substitute.  But look that up, too. On one of the Lee-Enfield videos I saw where a man had completely stripped the wood off a No 4,  sanded it down and finished it with True Oil.  It looked hideous, a glass-like finish he was proud of.  Different tastes, but he probably devalued the rifle by 50%.


    A couple of warnings with True/Linspeed.  I've done stocks by rubbing it into the wood with the palm of my hand which seems to be the preferred method, but I don't think it's as healthy as I once did.  And it's not necessary.  I get the same finish by using an old cotton T-shirt. Certainly don't get it around your mouth or eyes.  If you want warmth, warm the wood with a hair dryer.


    Another  warning is of the spontaneous combustion property of all linseed oil and rags.  Lots of people report that rags can catch on fire after using them and after improper disposal/storage.  Store the oil soaked rag in an airtight container.  I put mine in a plastic bag which I vacuum seal.  Got enough problems already w/out my house burning down.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 304 Member
    edited May 24 #9
    My pre-64 Mod 94 was hand finished by my brother with boiled linseed oil. Don't know what the difference is, but that was some pretty wood.

    Mike
    Raw linseed oil is rich in fatty acids.  The fatty acids (Linolenic Acid in particular) is what gives the wood a reddish patina as it ages.  The fatty acids in raw linseed oil are also responsible for the very slow dry time of the oil. 

    Boiled linseed oil starts out as refined linseed oil, which has the fatty acids removed.  Metallic additives are then added to the oil which speeds up the dry time (such as Cobalt or manganese salts. Zirconium, Calcium or Zinc salts are also used. In some cases Lead and barium salts are sometimes added)  Boiled linseed oil finished stocks will never develop the red patina that raw linseed oil would provide.

    For USGI stocks, raw linseed oil would be the correct form to use if the red patina is desired.  Tung oil would also be correct for USGI stocks, it dries faster than raw linseed oil and does not contain linolenic acid, but has about a 9% linoleic acid content and can develop more of a yellow / red hue over time as compared to the red color obtained with raw linseed oil.  Tung oil provides a superior water resistant barrier over linseed oil, and would be a better choice if the stock was going to be in the field for extended periods of time.  Personally I like the look of an M1 stock finished with raw linseed oil.
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 441 Member
    Spontaneous combustion is definitely a real concern. I saw a video of a guy experimenting with BLO on rags in a controlled manner to see just how bad it was. He was using one of those handheld laser thermometers and measuring the temps of the rags with the BLO on them. He said what the science behind it was but I don't remember other than something about the folded or bunched up rags sucking up oxygen and getting hot. It scared me enough that I always rinse my rags or papertowels under water and then put them straight in the dumpster out back when im done.
  • Some_MookSome_Mook Posts: 304 Member
    Gene L said:
    Another  warning is of the spontaneous combustion property of all linseed oil and rags.  Lots of people report that rags can catch on fire after using them and after improper disposal/storage.  Store the oil soaked rag in an airtight container.  I put mine in a plastic bag which I vacuum seal.  Got enough problems already w/out my house burning down.
    If the rags are not exposed to oxygen (such as when the atmosphere is removed through vacuum sealing) the curing process (and corresponding release of heat energy) will be halted, but I would be very cautious that the seal was absolutely secure - if the container leaks a thermal event becomes a real possibility.  If one does not have the equipment necessary to remove the oxygen that the soiled rags would be exposed to, it is recommended that the rags would be left spread out and not bunched up tightly to avoid concentrating the release of heat energy that could cause spontaneous combustion.  Rags that are being disposed of should be soaked in water.   
    "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." - Thomas Paine
    "I know my place in the world and it ain’t standing next to Jerry Miculek" - Zee
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,777 Senior Member
    The spontaneously combustible nature of these oil finishes is well known....mine go right into the fire pit as soon as I'm done with them...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 1,739 Senior Member
    My rags are hunt over the rail of over the edge of the garbage can to dry. I've used truoil, boiled linseed, and a couple others. Formby's (spelling) has a variety of finish from dull to gloss. Right now I prefer what Big Al suggested, Permalyn. 

    For the M1 I think you made the right decision but it will be a slow process.  I can't wait for the pics!
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,638 Senior Member
    Takes about 3-4 days to dry usually.  But the walnut on my rifle is dry and not really tight grained so it soaks up the oil.  If I had it to do again, it use a brush and really slop it on and hang it in my garage to drip dry then see what the next step would be.  
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,387 Senior Member
    Speak of the devil, I just redid my Remington 721 stock with boild linseed oil this past week. First I used a stripper and stripped the old dilapidated finish off scrubbing it with steel wool. When I got it off I rubbed the stock down with a clean rag to clean it off a little then re-applied the stripper and repeated with the scrubbing with steel wool and rubbing it with rags. Then I applied boiled linseed oil and let it soak in a few minutes then wet sanded it with 400 grit. I applied two more coats of BLO wet sanding. I didn't let the linseed oil dry the last time. I wiped the excess of with clean rags. When the last coat dried I called it good. When I get my picture taking down I'll post pics. It looks good though. Reminds me of an old M-1 stock.

    My new to me 7x57 Mauser stock was a different story. I used True Oil on it and wet sanded. Then the final 3 sandings were done dry with 600 and 1500 grit with Tree Wax. This gave the wood a soft sheen. Every time I do one of these stocks I learn a little more. I'm not up there with Big Al yet, that guy's a true artist at it, but I'm slowly getting better and better.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,638 Senior Member
    My experience with True Oil is you don't really need to strip all the previous finish for it to work.  It does need a grain filler though, which the old finish generally furnishes.  I've evened up the original finish on factory stocks and True Oiled them and they dried out fine after a few coats. I suppose you could True Oil a laminated stock, but why bother?  Poly that bad boy; no grain to enhance.

    At least that's how I remember it.  Been a long time before now since I refinished a stock with True.  The BLO you get at the hardware store is used for outside decks.  I think I tried on a gunstock, VERY long drying time between coats.  I didn't try it again. 
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,128 Senior Member
    edited May 26 #17
    A hand-rubbed oil finish is absolutely beautiful when done right.  My only beef with raw linseed oil vs. boiled is that raw linseed oil takes foreeeeever to dry.  Some argue that it never really does.  Overall, I think you made a great choice good choice.  The only other downfall that I've experienced is that linseed finishes are *not* water resistant.  That's only a real concern if you plan to carry the gun afield.  Otherwise, those natural oil finishes are hard to beat.

    If the gun *is* going afield with possible wet conditions, I prefer TruOil.  It's more of a varnish based in natural oil, but it looks great, and can be tuned to the desired gloss/matte finish with little more than 0000# steel wool.  
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,387 Senior Member
    Actually, I believe True Oil is boiled linseed oil with dryers added. At least that's what teach always told me. And as far as being weather resistant think about what the military did with it, they put it on Garands and everything back in the 20th Century. Maybe raw linseed oil won't dry all the way but when you put 3 or 4 coats on one it has got to be water resistant. I've used boiled linseed oil on several guns and never had a problem with moisture. Teach told me to wax it with Tree Wax when it's finally cured. And I do, and never had a problem. You put several coats of Tree Wax on it and water will bead off. Plus it will look like a million bucks. There's many of the prominent stock refinishers not only use boiled linseed oil but highly recommend it. True, polyurethane will dry more and when it does it gives a bullet proof finish. Actually, if you don't want to go through the hassle of applying and sanding several coats of oil you can get damn near the finish with Polyurethane. I have used the satin spray. I did it according to Boyd's Stocks recommendation and it comes out beautiful. But nothing beats True Oil or Permalyn for beauty, but for plain function you can't beat Boiled Linseed Oil. It's just a pain in the arse.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,638 Senior Member
    My rifle is coming around.  I'll post pictures when it reaches a level I'm happy with.  It's water resistant as much as anything can be, which is why the military used it, I guess.  Because my M1A's stock wasn't fine-sanded from Springfield, the final outcome won't be a hard, gleaming finish, but a soft sheen that may not be photographically apparent, but I'm already starting to see it develop.  Drying time. reportedly, is ~3 days.


    Mook, above, gives a good explanation of dry v boiled LO.


    As for a complete moisture barrier, it doesn't exist.  Water molecules are tiny.  Back in my wooden bow magazine days, when moisture content was a big concern, I checked with the retired head of the Forestry Dept. of UGA.  They did a year long experiment (too long to detail here) and determined basically no finish will stop hydration in a dry but unheated place, but if kept in a controlled environment, like your home, not to worry. 

    No study I know of has been done on wood kept outside.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
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