Re-finishing and Re-bluing

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jack1653
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Re-finishing and Re-bluing

Post by jack1653 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:42 am

Hey Guys,

I have several questions about the restoration process. I am sure many of us have rifles that are in pretty good condition and we would not do anything to them that would negatively affect the value of our precious weapons. But, I happen to have a couple that certainly could use a touch up and would improve the appearance and the value of the rifle.

Does anyone out there have some general "rules of thumb" that would give direction as to restore or not to restore? I know cost is one issue. Some place in the reading of various forums, I have seen some advice on the type of re-bluing that should be used. I know someone said that the bluing of the original factory issued rifles had a bluing process that created a different look than other bluing. Can anyone tell me what that process is called and where you would go to get it done?

The other issue that always concerns me about sending guns for re-bluing is the quality of preparation and care that must be taken to preserve lettering and numbers on the rifle. Careless attention to the buffing process can lead to softened edges and obliterated lettering. I no longer attempt re-bluing because of the buffing process. I made a mess out of some guns in years past as I was learning. I will allow professional to do it now.


I understand personal preference in wood finishes and that leads to my next question. It is difficult to tell what some of the original finishes looked like when they came from the factory. These rifles were used hard and over time the finshes show the wear and tear. Many of what we get today have had some attempt of refinishing and you see a wide variety of quality and condition. Excluding the higher grades, what was the original finish suppose to be? Was it satin, oil finish, hi-gloss, low-gloss or none of the above?

I know pictures show various qualities of finishing. Do you think we could get someone to post some high quality pictures of what the original stock and forearm finishes looked like? I know that it would certainly help me to have a benchmark of what to strive for in wood restoration.

I know you guys have some opinions of this issue so let me hear from you. Thank you in advance for your responses.

Jack1653

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81police
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Re: Re-finishing and Re-bluing

Post by 81police » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:15 pm

In most cases a restoration of the wood + the metal will cost you more than the value of the rifle, that is if you're looking to do it right and have it look correct.

For correct Model 8/81 blue you would want a slow-rust blue. Sometimes you'll see a hot caustic blue and it can look good but it's not correct. I think the quality of the blueing depends on the quality of the guy doing it, his metal prep, etc. I highly recommend David Chicoine who specializes in blueing and has done some for me. http://www.oldwestgunsmith.com/

- Model 8 stocks came with a varnish finish. John Henwood recommends a satin or semi-gloss is a close match, especially if it's cut with 50% linseed oil and handrubbed.
- Model 81 stocks came with a clear lacquer finish. This is why you see some 81's with original finish have crazing and cracks in the clear lacquer. A good indication the finish is original. Again John Henwood recommends a modern high gloss urethane as a close match.

Someday I'll make a page for correct finish and checkering. Whatever you have done keep the wood sanding as light as possible. If the Model 8 is pre WWI, just about any sanding and you'll loose the sharpness of your "cheeks". Find a good wood/stock guy who has experience with restoring old stocks.
Cam Woodall
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jack1653
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Re: Re-finishing and Re-bluing

Post by jack1653 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:30 pm

Thanks for the information. I knew I had seen the slow-rust bluing tip somewhere. I had contacted the oldwest gunsmith and when I saw their fee's I backed away. They seemed very expensive. When someone gives you options on what you want done, it concerns me because you might not choose the corrrect option and then the outcome can be disappointing.

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81police
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Re: Re-finishing and Re-bluing

Post by 81police » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:24 pm

I hear you. David Chicoine knows what he's doing, you don't want some guy that just says okay I'll reblue it then the rifle comes back with a black color or glossy. There's a difference between "refurbishment" and "restoration" and it's all about the size of your pocketbook.
Cam Woodall
Site Co-Administrator

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