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I'd like to try to refinish a rifle stock and could use some help. The stock is in decent shape but since I'm having the action and barrel reblued I might as well go all the way and would like to do the stock myself. If I use a stripper to remove the old finish, what do I do about the checkering? The checkering is still in good shape- 22 LPI- and does not need to be recut. Do I leave it completely alone and try to rematch the color when I put fresh stain on it?
 

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If it's a good hardwood stock with cut checkering, I'd use Zipstrip to off the old finish, brushing the stuff carefully over the checkering. If there's no major dings, just use OOOO steel wool to smooth the bare wood, staying away from the checkering. I don't use stain on good quality wood, just Tru-Oil or a 50-50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine rubbed in. If the stock is a soft birch one with pressed checkering (doesn't sound like it at 22-LPI) you can either leave the checkering alone completely or remove it completely (I haven't gotten into cutting my own checkering--some day). I refinished an old single shot 16 gauge by sanding out the pressed checkering and staining the chalk-white birch. Lotsa work, but it don't look too bad... Good luck!
 

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The poly finishes are very hard to remove and I don't recommend strippers that are powerful enough to cut poly. As a matter of fact I wouldn't recommend any stripper. They add powerful cautics to the wood and the water used in cleanup adds unneccesary moisture and time to the stock's refinishing process. I use a propane torch to just heat the poly until it wrinkles and bubbles a bit. Try to not heat the wood until it scorches... Be a bit cautious around sharp edges and in hollow contures such as the flute on the nose of the stock as these scorch nmore easily. Checkering I clean with a bit of acetone (outside of course) and a brass bristle brush, don't be too rough.. There is usually only a minimal amount of finish pressent in the checkering. Don't worry about getting all the finish off the stock, just get most and heat the finish in small patches. I use scrapers to remove the damaged finish material and all the finish on lacquer finished atocks. Varnish can be heated a bit, although it's not really needed it does make for smoother finish removal. These scrapers can be purchased or home made. I use an 'Old Hickory' butcher knife for most of my work. Start sanding the stock with nothing courser than 100 grit and if it's in really good shape, start with 220 grit. Steam any dents out after the finish is removed and sand carefully. More damage is done with sandpaper than by wear and tear.. Try to remove as little wood as possible. I finish with 220 grit paper(some times it's where I start also). Then use 00 or 000 steel wool to polish the surface of the stock. To protect the checkering I cover with masking tape.. The kind used in auto body shops. Do this before the sanding process begins and it will be protected from damage to some degree. Cover the checkering completely, covering the entire pattern and a bit of the surrounding stock. Then use an exacto knife to cut around the pattern in the groove that surrounds the checkering. Peel the tape outside the cut away and use a finger nail to press the remaining edge into the groove the exacto followed. This will seal the finish out of the checkering completely and eliminate most filling of the pattern.. An 'S-1' style pull checkering tool is helpful in removing any finish that seeps under the tape and in repointing any diamonds that are damaged or worn. I have used many types of finish and still experiment a bit, but have settled on TruOil as the easiest to apply and maintain.. When combined with a bit of wax and normal oil finish maintenance, it should last nearly forever... If there are any futher questions, just feel free. Using the basic tecknique I have refinished several hundred stocks of one flavor or another.. As for stain, I have found that in some would it is unnecessary but never causes a problem unless allowed to get too dark. Use only solvent based stains and polish the wood with 0000 steel wool after application and drying. In most cases the wood will look better for having been stained... Good luck from the gunnut69
 
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