grain filling on a gunstock?


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I have some questions about filling the pores in the grain on a walnut gunstock.

I am in the process of making two gunstocks out of black walnut, and I want to start thinking ahead on the prep and finishing of the wood, before I get to that point.

I was wondering if any of you have had any experience with gunstock finishing and what you did to fill the grain and what you used for the finish.

Did you use a commercial filler or just the sanding dust from the piece itself?

What product did you use for the finish? Tru-oil, BLO..... soemthing else?

I was leaning towards Tru-oil and using the sanding dust from the stock itself vs. the commercial filler but I thought that I would throw these ?s out there to see what what worked, or didn't, for you.



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Will you be carving the gunstock or will it remain smooth?

If it stays smooth, it would be really easy to apply your first coat of oil heavily diluted and wet sand it to fill the pores. Works well on walnut and sapelé.

If you carve it, then you have all those intricate carvings to fill. Here, I'm guessing as I haven't filled carvings before, but something waterbased like Timbermate would be easy to push into the pores and (importantly) easy to wipe out of there once it dries, even if you miss a spot. If you wanted to use the dust of the walnut itself, I think I'd create a lot of dust, apply a very thinned coating of oil to the carving, then rub in the dust; you'd have more control and the dust would stay in the pores. Thing is, you'll likely have a very rough surface afterwards so you'd need to hit it with P400, which can be a drag in a carving.

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One method method that someone would use to do that is to flood the surface with what ever you are using as a finish, and then take a piece of 220 or maybe higher, I am not sure, and then sand it into a slurry. This will fill the grain with a combo of sanding dust and finish.. you would then wipe off the excess slurry. You want to make sure that you dont wipe too hard as to pull it out of the pores that you are trying to fill. Then you would probably sand lightly after it dries to smooth it out real nice and then apply more coats of whatever it is that you are using.. That is down and dirty. In the back of a recent issue of Popular Woodworking, there is an acticle all about it.

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Both the methods described above will work very well for filling the grain, IF you avoid using True Oil as a finish. True Oil is almost a resin. It's too plastic and glossy. The best finishes I've encountered for gunstocks were high quality oil based varnishes (not poly) and spar varnishes (again not poly). Many many coats will be required for adequate protection because in order to wet sand the finish and fill the pores you need to thin it down basically cutting it in half.

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