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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
11640618_1515869982059837_1160648603_o.jpg (detail to show brush strokes) 12192732_1515869918726510_1501392266_o.jpg 12186031_1515869508726551_143407913_o.jpg (color and gloss comparison) 12190518_1515869215393247_474001058_o.jpg 12192870_1515869628726539_1611499584_o.jpg
Okay, edit of my original post so these show up front page. Today I received the dyes that I needed to color my varnish. If you notice the detail in the photo, The gloss as well as the texture matches the part with the genuine factory applied finish. Many years ago, I suspected that the materials I had in mind would match those features even more so than shellac. Shellac has a higher elasticity, and thus up to this point every shellac finish I have seen matches color well, but not gloss and texture. Russian parts have three elements; gloss, color, and texture.

The finish you see was applied with a fine painter's brush over a sealant, with no steel wool or other procedure.

Today I find my results even more compelling and would like to know where or what source declares the original finishes are shellac. What I have used is quite far from natural ingredients. Let me know what you think.
 

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One last note for all you wood sniffers: I do not think that the smell has anything to do with the finish either; mainly because a friend had a Bulgy kit come in recently, and the solid wood parts smell identical. I am intrigued by what this is... the closest thing to describe it is like a sap-scented vicks vapo-rub.
If the smell you're identifying with Russian wood reminds you of "sap-scented vicks vapo-rub", I think you're catching the wrong scent.

The Russian wood (and I do think it is the finish) smell that connoisseurs have come to savor like aged single malt Scotch whiskey has a smokey BBQ aroma.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If the smell you're identifying with Russian wood reminds you of "sap-scented vicks vapo-rub", I think you're catching the wrong scent.

The Russian wood (and I do think it is the finish) smell that connoisseurs have come to savor like aged single malt Scotch whiskey has a smokey BBQ aroma.
Hahaha, good one. Are you saying that connoisseurs have >>come to savor it it like whiskey and BBQ<< or that this is what the connoisseurs think it actually smells like?

It certainly is unique whatever it is, but I have a few Russian stock sets I bought from Tantal's years ago, and side by side they smell identical to a Bulgy parts set that came sealed in plastic. With that in mind, It's difficult to "blame" on the finish when Bulgarian is solid blonde wood with an acetone soluble lacquer of some sort.

I must point out that I'm not talking about the wood people believe utilize pine tar - since I have never had any dark Tula sets, I simply can not debate it.

Why do you believe it is the finish that has the smell? perhaps you have a good case as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
based on this comment, you must have done some reading before making your first post...:cool:
Yes, and I was pleased to find out I was not alone...:rolleyes:

I will be postting this week some shots of my experimentation to match the thin glassy varnishes on the AK74 wood, see if I can throw a monkey wrench into the most current understanding. Just waiting for some dyes to arrive... Snail mail :neutral:
 

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Hahaha, good one. Are you saying that connoisseurs have >>come to savor it it like whiskey and BBQ<< or that this is what the connoisseurs think it actually smells like?

Why do you believe it is the finish that has the smell? perhaps you have a good case as well.
No really, I'm saying it smells like BBQ. Kind of faintly like overcooked spare ribs.

Most new-condition (unstripped, un-refinished, un-exposed) surplus AK Russian wood I've handled has this smell. I don't think it's oil, as it smells like this even after it's been cleaned up. I believe it is the shellac. I haven't encountered this smell on any other nationality's furniture.
 

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I think the smell on Russian stocks is from a cresote treatment that they used to protect the wood. Many of my Russian stocks, (from 1930's M91/30 to 1950's Russian SKS45) have this smell, especially if you remove the buttplate to smell the wood without the shellac barrier.
 

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I thought it was from the tree arctic birch smells like that. Idk if that last statemet is true but I do know the Russian wood is almost like a reflector and that is because it's birch
 
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Maybe it is a natural smell and not a treatment. Not sure. If I look on the inside of my Russian SVT40 and SKS stocks (particularly in the buttstock) it looks like they have been soaked in something. They seem darker than the bare wood.

Here is something I just found on the Arctic Birch:

Odor profile: The note of birch comes from the literally "cooked" wood, as in birch tar, a phenolic, tarry smelling ingredient mostly used in the production of leather scents, some chypres and some masculine fragrances.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think the smell on Russian stocks is from a cresote treatment that they used to protect the wood. Many of my Russian stocks, (from 1930's M91/30 to 1950's Russian SKS45) have this smell, especially if you remove the buttplate to smell the wood without the shellac barrier.
jjjxlr8, Sir - do you have a source that verifies creosote was used as a treatment on russian wood sets? This is an interesting detail especially if it can be introduced into varnishes as some sources seem to suggest. The color is compelling.
 

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If the smell you're identifying with Russian wood reminds you of "sap-scented vicks vapo-rub", I think you're catching the wrong scent.

The Russian wood (and I do think it is the finish) smell that connoisseurs have come to savor like aged single malt Scotch whiskey has a smokey BBQ aroma.
I have to respectfully disagree. It's damn sure not the finish, it's the kiln-cured wood itself. Even virgin Russian wood parts sent to Germany with zero finish on them had this smell. But why in God's name do folks worry so much about the smell, anyway? That is the real mystery to me, lol.
 

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I think the smell on Russian stocks is from a cresote treatment that they used to protect the wood. Many of my Russian stocks, (from 1930's M91/30 to 1950's Russian SKS45) have this smell, especially if you remove the buttplate to smell the wood without the shellac barrier.
I could certainly go more with the creosote than it being the finish, as you said all the smell is where there is no finish.
 

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jjjxlr8, Sir - do you have a source that verifies creosote was used as a treatment on russian wood sets? This is an interesting detail especially if it can be introduced into varnishes as some sources seem to suggest. The color is compelling.
No, just an observation from looking at and noticing the 'burnt' smell of Russian stocks. It reminds me of creosote, which would be a very appropriate treatment for a military stock. Shellac does not have a smell like this at all and will provide a barrier from the smell in the wood. That's why if you remove the buttplate, the smell is much stronger where there is no shellac applied.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If Tantal backs it... well yeah hahaha. How did you get the opportunity to see first hand stocks that were sent unfinished? what a rare opportunity, hell i never even heard about this.
 

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Ok this is my first post here after lurking around for a while so I'll add my 2 bits. In my opinion I would bet on shellac. This is because that Russian finish is old world. Think violin varnish which often times is a shellac based spirit (alcohol) varnish. Resins and gums are added for color, sheen and durability. Equal to the right varnish is the wood. Doubt they were sanded any finer than 150 grit.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Good points, yes, but you would be quite surprised at "old world" tech; polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride magazines and the epoxy recommended by the manuals to repair chipped wood parts for example. On the sanding note, I have to agree. Without a more sophisticated way of analyzing it, I would have to say that the texture can be credited about half and half between the brush strokes themselves and the actual wood grain. (See my duplication of this on page 1) As for shellac, what I have used on that piece requires no additives and matches the sheen and clarity immediately upon curing and it cures quickly. It is completely chemical based varnish, and the closely matching properties are what brought this material to mind in the first place. There was beautiful guesswork regarding spirit varnishes on the now-missing "Hopster's page", but pending an official source on the shellac, I will have to remain skeptical... Granted, amber almost immediately produces a close looking finish color-wise and shellac is cheap... but so are dyes and synthetic materials especially when ordered in big contracts to manufacturers. State-backed manufacturers. So the question remains, where is the source on that shellac? :confused:
 

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it is my understanding that Hopster had it analyzed. Garnet shellac, amber shellac, dragon's blood and other gums and resins. The mystery is the mix. I don't think there will ever be proof positive either way.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
it is my understanding that Hopster had it analyzed. Garnet shellac, amber shellac, dragon's blood and other gums and resins. The mystery is the mix. I don't think there will ever be proof positive either way.
That would be quite unfortunate. Being management in the business of manufacturing, seeing the nature of the ak maintenance manuals of Russia and quality control Procedure for what I worked with, it's hard to imagine that detail not being tucked away somewhere in a publication in black&white non-ambiguous glory. It is very difficult to achieve that level of consistency across multiple assembly lines without having specs for every element of that rifle spelled out for the plant managers. They don't like freedom to decide on anything, because they don't want their work rejected after the fact and gone unpaid. They want you to tell them word for word every single process expected, and every measurement to the 3rd decimal before they start running parts. A question that has not been asked is if the furniture was made in-house along with the rest of the rifle or contracted out. They are certainly made on a manual milling machine, and wood dust has no place in the same room as the tooling and assembly for the metal parts.
 
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