How do you repair damage on a wood stock?
I've asked a couple of stock repair questions, and some are a bit out of order. So far we have had great feedback from a variety of people with lots of different experience. I do find that if I ask too many questions, some get missed in the answers. I am not sure if that is due to the way I ask, or the specific experience and knowledge the respondent has. I'll try this series a little differently.
Let's assume the stock you are working on is used, and abused. With each specific question, I'll define what I think the word means to help keep the answers on track.
1- How do you repair/remove dents? Dents defined as depressions in the wood itself where no fibers are broken or finish/wood is missing. (to me, finish is any stain, which most factory stocks seem to have, and top coat)
2- How do you repair/remove scratches? Scratches defined as missing finish and slightly missing wood. Material is gone.
3- How do you repair/remove gouges? Gouges as defined as deeper than a scratch. Significant material is missing.
4- How do you repair cracks? Cracks defined as a seperation in the wood starting at an edge, but ending before the piece is completely broken off.
I hope that covers most of it. Again, I have thoroughly enjoyed your many responses and find all of them insightful if not helpful. And thanks to those of you that sent me PMs or called. I still have to get back to one of you, but hate to call too late at night.
Here's some answers
For questions 1 & 3: remove all finish from stock because you are going to restore stock, yes? When down to bare wood, put warm wet cloth like a face cloth over the dings or gouges and place HOT steam iron on it and steam the damaged area. This should raise the wood to an unknown amount, depending on depth of damage. When the wood is raised all it can be, then judiciously sand to blend spot into the surrounding wood. If you just want to repair that specific spot(s), try to blend same type of finish from damaged section to surrounding area.
Question 2: Sand or scrape with sharp blade until scratch is gone, then refinish as in other questions.
Question 4: This depends on nature of crack. If it is long and capable of being spread, use whatever applier that works to get epoxy (stock bedding compound) into cracked area, spreading it as much as you can without further cracking it. Blend color from bedding "kit" to match stock color. Then find proper way to clamp or press crack together as tightly as possible, wiping off any excess epoxy that squeezes out. When the epoxy is cured, and I'd just leave it overnight, for a large crack, drill holes with the drill in the Brownell's stock repair pin kit you have already bought, so the pins run through the crack at an angle, not straight across, after coating the pin(s) with a nice coating of epoxy, so that the ends of the pin(s) are slightly below the surface of the stock so a dab of colored epoxy can be dabbed over the drilled hole. Several pins running in 2 diffent directions so that they cross each other will reinforce the repair, but some epoxy sealed in the crack is often stronger than the wood grain itself. For a small tight crack, one or two pins placed as described should do it. Hope this helps.
1- Irons work fine, but cover too much area and put too much water in areas that do not need it for my use. I prefer a big spot of water applied on/in the dent and heated with a heat gun to encourage the wood to swell. Heat guns are very hot and they need watching more than the irons...
Originally Posted by Ak River Rat
2- Scratches in finish without wood lost are easily fixed by either replacing the finish after spot-sanding or mixing a little finish back into the scratch. Formby's Furniture Refinisher will lift most finishes a bit so they can be mixed back into and hide the hole in the finish. Otherwise a good matching finish needs to be used to feather in the hole.
3- Replacing wood is a whole different game and not easy to explain with just a single typing finger. I keep thousands of tiny pieces of wood to use to match the exact color, figure and pore size of the stock. It also takes a little inner-eye to visualize how that wood is going to match the stock in every way. After gluing the patch in place I cut the piece down to exactly match the stock. Not all stocks are worth the effort. I have done a number of very high end stocks and the patch was not visible to anyone that looked, but I have also cut out many and started over...
One trick I have used a few times is to make a bogus "pin knot" by drilling a small hole right into the defect and driving an oversized, tapered piece of limb into the hole. It upset the wood around the hole and when cut off and smoothed up it looks pretty good and can get you out of a tight spot. Drill the initial hole perpendiculr to the growth rings (that is how limbs grow...) and it may put the limb at a pretty long angle, covering a bigger defect...
4- Get the crack prepped by drilling some holes into the end-grain, paralleling the crack as much as possible. DO NOT EVER SPREAD A CRACK! It is impossible to do any good without extending the crack. Remove oil soaked into the wood if needed. Whiting paste smeared over the area and allowed to sit for awhile, repeat as needed is as good as anything.
Heat the stock significantly. Get the whole piece of wood hot, not just the immediate area. Wax the finished areas along the crack and then apply good slow-curing epoxy along the crack and cover the end-grain close to the crack with epoxy.
Wrap with plastic wrap, especially on the endgrain end. The idea is to seal the route for air to get into the wrapped area. When the wood cools it will pull a surprising amount of epoxy into the crack.
Before reassembling fix the root cause of the crack. Tang cracks need a little relief at the tang end and if it is too tight on the tang a little relief on the tang sides may be needed, too.
Pins cross grain are useless. They are a difficult-to-glue substance with very different mechanical properties with temperature changes. The glue will be failing eventualy and then they are a real mess to get rid of.
If you really have a big crack, a huge hole bored in the end grain to the depth of the crack, filled with a good English walnut dowel epoxied in place and then inletted to accept the action will absolutely fix it.
So much "exhibition" wood is being used that should really be burned because of mechanical flaws can be salvaged with the huge English dowel.
Wow, am I ever grateful
for all the corrections I've gotten. Funny thing is, of all the many stocks I used to do as a sideline, I've never had to "redo" a stock or had a comeback. I never feel as if my way is absolutely the right way, but I guess not all think the same way. Let's see:
1. I only covered the spot that needed raising with a small area of the damp cloth. Works fine if you're careful.
2. Basically what I said.
3. I agree, but it didn't come up in the questioning.
4. Not all cracks start with end grain, nor are all stocks from antiques and oil-soaked. The method I suggested works just fine if you don't force the crack. If it extends, the application of epoxy works just fine. I do not see the need for heat. The epoxy cures just fine at room temperature.
As I mentioned, you don't locate the pins directly across the grain, but at an angle to the grain, then place another pin at a cross angle to the first. Works just fine. I'm sure you've had plenty of experience and done many stocks, but so have I and my techniques work.
I'm not saying your methods are wrong, just different theory. I find it is better to do the minimum necessary to get the job done.
I apologize for coming across the way I did. Intended direct and came out at jerk, I suppose.
4) The heat is not about getting the epoxy to cure, but rather it works against what you really want and why the need for slow-curing epoxy. The real reason for the heat is to expand the air inside the wood so it creates a little suck when the wood cools, drawing epoxy well up into the crack. It also cleans the epoxy off the surface when wrapped properly.
best to you
Next crack repair I do, I will give it a try.