Friday, May 29, 2015

Staining an AK-47 Stock

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In the last two years, I have started collecting firearms. That's awfully hard to do on a budget, which caused me to get rather creative on how I could manage to start a collection. Being willing to learn and fairly handy, building AR-based guns was a real option. Instead of paying ridiculous prices for off-the-shelf guns, I could build one of similar (and sometimes better) quality for a not-so-ridiculous amount of money. That worked real well....

Until I got tired of ARs. Well, it wasn't that I was really tired of them, but just how many ARs do you really need?

You can ready about my AR builds below.

AR-15 Build V2.0

All of my gun buddies laughed at me and told me  I was really missing out on REAL guns, specifically the AK. 

So, I started looking around. The private seller market (on Facebook groups, in particular) is absolutely ridiculous. These guys want more money for their guns than they cost new at the store. But, I detest buying from stores. Like...REALLY REALLY detest it. It takes hours out of your life (feels like years, sometimes).

But, after months crept buy, I went into the local gun shop. I already knew that I wanted a Romanian WASR-10. It isn't the nicest of models, but it is reliable and the price was right ($470). Additionally, it has a chrome-lined barrel. That may hurt the accuracy, but it really helps durability. You can read more about these rifles here.

 The gun shop had 6 and I inspected each one multiple times before I found the one that I wanted. The only thing I didn't like about the purchase was that all of the stocks were unfinished. That is, they had no sort of treatment on them, which gave them a very dull finish on top of a very light wood coloring. More importantly, I didn't want it soaking up oils from gun cleanings or even those from my hands, which would give it an unsightly finish.

After months of sitting in the safe, I finally brought it out after I had remembered to buy some stain from Lowe's. I decided on the WATCO brand and went with the Danish Oil in the Walnut finish.

After removing the stock, I gave the pieces a pretty thorough work over with some 400-grit paper. Just enough to lightly scuff it. And, make sure that you get ALL the edges, not just the main surfaces. Make sure you get get those areas where the fasteners for the metal butt stock plate and the sling mount reside as well as the edges that butt up to the metal. If you don't, they won't soak up the stain the same as the main surfaces and will give you some unsightly areas. I made sure that the finish, post scuff, was uniform. I noticed that the grains on the butt stock were very linear and uniform, but those on the fore stock were not. In fact, the fore stock grains ran every which way, as it had been cut from a tree with knots, specifically the top portion on the fore stock.

The butt stock soaked up the stain, but didn't exhibit much color change, though it brought out several divots that it had accrued over its life. Also, where the metal end cap bolts on, it was obvious that the manufactures had to do some extra fitment work. Two places in particular had significantly more work done to them, which exposed more surface area. This surface area soaked up more stain, making it appear darker. But, the metal endcap would cover most of it. 

The foregrip was another animal. Because of its varying grain structure, it pulled much more stain in, giving it a much darker appearance than the butt stock. I gave it a second coat 24 hours after the first, but didn't want it to be any darker than it already appeared. I did like the look the stain exposed, as it really brought out the twists and turns of the grains.

But, that led to another problem. I now had a butt stock several shades lighter than the fore stock. I gave the butt stock a once over with the 400 grit sand paper and stained it again. It made a little difference, bringing the color slightly darker.

Ever 24 hours, I repeated the process, eventually getting the coloration the same as the fore stock, with the exception that the intergranular regions on the fore stock are darker. Because the cuts of wood are so different, that is just going to be reality.

I am very pleased with the coloration, especially how pronounced the grains now are. I plan on giving it a urethane treatment soon.