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Discussion Starter #1
After reading many, many, MANY threads on the forums, I have come to the conclusion that my thick skull cant really comprehend all of the different options when it comes to finishing wood.

First, I will go over what I have, and my goal:
I have a NOS Russian RPK Upper/Lower Laminate Handguard with the original finish. I also have a new production unfinished laminate stock (made of baltic birch), so it is completely unfinished wood. At first, I thought about trying to finish the stock to match the handguards, but after reading the threads here, I have come to the conclusion that matching the original finish will be downright impossible. Given this, I decided my best path forward would be to strip the NOS handguards and refinish them, and use the same finish on the stock. The main goal I have here is to have a somewhat authentic look, but while still offering protection like heat resistance and UV protection. The first set of questions I have
1. It seems to be widely agreed upon to strip with some form of alcohol, and DO NOT SAND. Thoughts?
2. After stripping, it appears that it would be best to soak in boiling water for a few hours to remove any dents and potentially pull any oils out of the wood. This makes sense to me as the handguards I have are absolutely smothered in cosmoline
3. Then, soaking in a 50/50 water/bleach solution for 24 hours
4. Clean the wood with fresh water and let dry. The wood is now stripped and ready for the finish

Second,
Originally, I thought the best route would be to use shellac, however, after poking around, it appears that we recently learned that shellac is bad (no heat resistance and bad UV protection) and that the russians actually used a varnish. I would like clarification here, as multiple people have made this claim on the forums, but I dont know if anything has changed.
With that being said, I am hoping to get a similar appearance to the original handguards, as I like the color. My next set of questions:
1. Is the above research correct? Is varnish truly the better option?
2. What kind of mix do you recommend for the color mentioned (pics below)? If you have recommendations AND pictures of the results, thats a bonus. Links are a BONUS BONUS

Lastly,
It seems that the process is the same regardless of what I use, but confirmation is always good :)
1. Apply a thin coat with a coarse brush, preferably sloppy to emulate the factory workers over yonder
2. Wait 4 hours to dry (possibly more if humid) and then re-apply. I have seen some posts about using steel wool between coats to rough up the finish a bit. Thoughts?
3. Apply 2-4 coats based on preference, then let dry for at least 7 days before installing/having a range day


Thank you for reading this far, and I look forward to your responses! I really appreciate it

IMG_20201216_161912.jpg
IMG_20201216_161902.jpg
 

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I would not re-finish the originals if they were mine. That's an easy finish to replicate. YOU can do it!! Experiment on some scrap pieces that are similar in color to your raw piece. Different woods will take finish differently so even if you strip the NOS pieces, they may look different than your stock anyway. Keep the NOS pieces and just re-finish the stock for starters, that way you have something to compare against. Don't raise the grain by boiling. If you do, then you'll have to sand. You really are making this more difficult than it is. Clean the bare wood with mineral spirits and a lint free rag. Depending on your bare wood, add the appropriate stain (if necessary). Alcohol stains/dyes are easiest to work with and easier to adjust color but they are expensive. Final finish can just be some Bullseye Amber 'shellac' and I would cut it with some denatured alcohol to get the final sheen right. You could also use a spray satin lacquer but it's more difficult to work with than the Bullseye product for this type of finish. Got a photo of the bare wood? It might not need much adjustment.

*note that the Bullseye Amber Shellac is not really shellac.
 

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Try to find stains that do not contain a sealer, too, if you have to use stain. If you use a stain with a sealer, it's tough to adjust the color after the first application.
 

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Depending on your stock, you might be able to just use a tiny bit of Minwax "Gunstock" or maybe some mahogany and then the amber shellac will turn the red more orange. I'd try some amber shellac by itself on a similar piece of wood and then figure out how much red to add from there. Of course you need to add the red before the shellac but it helps to understand what the amber shellac will do by itself first.
 

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I've done a slightly darker version of that finish on an SVT40 in the past but the wood was darker to begin with, so the result was darker.
This color was much more red prior to applying the amber 'shellac'. My goal with this one was to replicate the postwar lacquer finish that these often received. (like the Mosin Nagant M91/30s).
302373


Here it is with some factory finishes:
302374
 

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It's quite possible and not that hard to match different woods, too. Here's a MAK90 that I did, re-using the very yellowish Chinese handguards and using a completely bare birch stock from Ironwoods for the buttstock and pistol grip.

BEFORE:
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This is what the Chinese wood looked like after stripping with Citrustrip and cleaning with mineral spirits.
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AFTER:
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Not a perfect match but close enough for this range toy.
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Discussion Starter #7
Wow thank you for the replies. You are definitely right, if i didnt over complicate it, it wouldnt be me doing it. I unfortunately dont have pictures of the stock, truth be told I ordered it today. I do have a picture of the sample picture from the website though
Screenshot 2020-12-16 194851.png


When you say cut the shellac, do you mean to dillute the shellac with alcohol? When you say its not real shellac, is it just a lacquer?

I might be able to buy some birch at the hardware store to test on but I am not sure if it will be similar in appearance, I can check on that though. Definitely seems like a good idea to test

You did a great job with that MAK. I the only difference i see is the stock looks slightly more red, but if you hadnt pointed out what i should look for, i probably would have never noticed
 

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My Oleg Doesn't Hurt Anymore. 👌
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I wish Oleg would come back and post more. He did some fantastic work and had great advice.

This is how he did it and the method you seek, My Hard Refinishing Work

On page two of the above link he graciously posted a how to and was kind enough to answer my silly questions.

I picked up a couple of nice Soviet stock sets that Commander Marine had for sale and I'm gathering the materials to make another batch of Oleg's finish. That Green WTF Ukrainian finish is tough, I almost have these stripped.


I prefer chemical stripper. Never sandpaper. For tough stuff I use petroleum based strippers often followed up by Citristrip. Also an acetone soak works well to remove cosmoline or oil type stains. When I get the wood stripped I use Dawn dish soap, a GI toothbrush and warm water for final cleaning. I would recommend against boiling as it may effect the glue on laminates and might cause the wood to warp.

As far as finish, Bullseye Amber Shellac can work but Oleg's mix is much better for looks and durability. I picked up a couple of spare Romanian RPK stock sets around 2016 and used Oleg's method on them. Romanian laminate is not as vibrant as Soviet laminate but they came out well.

One set,


Another set on one of my Romanian RPK builds,


I like how they came out and they have held up nicely over the years.

I also used a more clear mix to match my used Israeli FAL handguards to a new buttstock.


Overall it is more involved than using minwax or some kind of polyurethane but I like the results.

Do some experimenting and try it, I think you will like the results too.
 

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My Oleg Doesn't Hurt Anymore. 👌
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I am "My Oleg Hurts". I can't remember that login :< I'm sure your questions weren't silly.
That RPK set looks excellent. and the finish will never work on any wood besides Russian for the Russian look. the grain structure is too screwed on Romy stuff
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Really great stuff Jeep! Great job on that furniture. That article to Oleg (or should i say Commander) has a fantastic write up. That article should be pinned at the top of this subforum IMO if it isnt already
 

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Here's another example of how the Bullseye Amber 'shellac' can look. I think I barely diluted it this time and used no color at all because the Romanian wood already had a good color to it after chemically stripping the cracked varnish off. I loved the look of this stock but it wasn't right for a brand new condition MAADI.

BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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I am "My Oleg Hurts". I can't remember that login :< I'm sure your questions weren't silly.
That RPK set looks excellent. and the finish will never work on any wood besides Russian for the Russian look. the grain structure is too screwed on Romy stuff
Hello again friend. I had no idea you were Oleg.

I appreciate your praise, I like to think I learned how to do it from the best. I'd agree only Soviet/Russian stuff has that certain look. Your mix does make for a sound finish on other types of wood though,

Getting good results on my practice sets took time, money and mostly effort.

For the non do it yourself type or those whom are not up for the process, having Marine Commander(Oleg), work on your stock is the way to go. Check out his pictures and attention to detail, they speak for themselves.
 
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