The shotgun of each hunter and / or shooter typically undergoes, in both the metal part that in that wood, abrasions and scratches, or simply loss of tone of color due to various factors including, in the first place, time. In addition to this, of course, also the wear and humidity affect, the latter phenomenon due to the use of the weapon in the cold winter days of hunting. We will go, then, to explore how to intervene manually on the wooden parts to bring them back in good condition, acting both on the color (giving it greater vitality and shine) on the structure, trying, with targeted interventions, to eliminate those small incisions that do not limit the functionality of the weapon, but make it less pleasant, especially in the eyes of those who are caring particularly those finishes.
What are the characteristics that the wood, an essential component of the weapon, must possess? Lightness, strength, ability to not distort over time as a result of shots fired and the recoil generated and malleability, id est the ability to be worked with ease in order to create different types of stocks and the possibility to be carved with ease for the creation of drawings that do not tend to blur with the passage of time.
For this invoice are used different types of wood suitable for the purpose.
No wood, however, is as valid as it is the “nut”, already introduced in the production of the first firearms.
It is the only type of wood, between those used, which encapsulates all the key characteristics mentioned above. The more valuable walnut is the French although, of course, can come from other countries, providing the same excellent features. The greatest value of the walnut is represented by its aspect that, following the sizing of the trunk, comes with veining, homogeneous color, porous, robust and lightweight. Also the Italian walnut is not to be despised, although not widely used for the realization of stocks for shotgun.
Only for particular types of weapons we use the “Circassian walnut” from Russia and that, in addition to beautiful grain, has beautiful reflexes, even in not excellent light; its use is, however, limited because it has high costs for feedstock and demands a more accurate processing compared to the classic walnut. Other wood used is beech, albeit of lower quality than the nut for increased heaviness and the veins usually quite faded. The beech, although not indicated for a shotgun of great value or collector, has been widely used in the production of war weapon as Springfleld.
Also several hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikov, currently ubiquitous in the most “hot” areas in the world, have the stock in beech.
Very rarely are also used the maple and the monaco, but the guns with these stock are present only in some regions of Asia.
The restoration of shotgun
The work of cleaning and finishing of wood is a thing for professionals; key is to avoid performing these functions unless you are more than expert, in order not to “spoil” in a definitive way, or nearly, the beauty of the weapon. So you can do the work by yourself only if you have the necessary experience, even if it is always advisable to consult “professional expert” who with competence, passion and use of suitable products, will be able to bring the weapon to an aspect like new.
The transactions listed below to restore the wood are generally carried out only by a professional restorer. This person is a “wood artist” who well knows the importance of the use of exclusive materials and techniques coincident at the time of realization of the gun to be restored.
The only true serious restoration problem is, however, another; the gunsmith is unfortunately an endangered professional, or nearly so, since very few people decide to go down this road craft, carrying on the weapon-making culture of previous generations. The work of the gunsmith may, however, become a profession in all respects, which requires great talent and desire to learn and that, while often lack an adequate financial reward, certainly knows how to be very rewarding. The restoration of the wooden part takes place in a single step? Absolutely no, never! It should also be noted that there is intervention and intervention; one thing is just to bring the weapon bright, and another to take action to remove imperfections, rearrange checkerings…
Let us, therefore, to do some clarity on the various steps in the process:
- Separation of the metal parts from the wooden ones;
- Removing the previous impregnationof oil with which they were treated the same. This is done with the dive of these in boiling water containing mild soap, subsequent rubbing with brush (not in a steel or with teeth too rigid) in order to remove the oil which emerges from the timber, left for time in boiling water. This operation is carried out several times in order to bring to the surface residues of oil and to can remove them.
Became necessary to repeat the transaction until “micro-droplets of oil” no more will surface;
- Stripping carried throughaccurate drawing with the brush of a few coats of paint stripper typically made up of a mixture of caustic soda and acetone; its corrosive power melts the paint without going to affect the structure of the wood. To complete the transaction, then you must make use a spatula in order to remove the paint; it should be used with extreme lightness to prevent damaging the wood.
With these procedures shows the raw wooden weapon and it is now that the work superfine begins, ie the actual restoration.
It takes place through the following steps:
- Elimination of abrasions and bruisesthat are removed by rubbing very gently with sandpaper with a very subtle “grain”. To remove very tiny chips a simple swab is applied to a piece of wood with he size of a match that is rotated over the treated area to remove the whole;
- Elimination of holes and / or splinters of wood: these ruined parts are treated with a grinder with a circle of working in soft felt, impregnated with abrasive paste. This treatment leads to an increase of the surface spalling or section of the forum which is, however, compensated by the application of pastes suitable to plug the hole and take the natural line of the wood by sanding later. For this purpose are generally used various types of resins, among which the most suitable is that used for the vessels and, therefore, for marine use. Compared to all other resins, this has the advantage of being more flexible, easier to apply, to take immediately the required shape with a simple and light sanding and be particularly predisposed to absorb the most of the color that will be subsequently applied without leaving streaks or no shade;
- • Renew the checkering: the checkering, really, often doesn’t ruins in, but his line and depth tend to decrease fat accumulation due to contact with the hands, as well as moisture and dirt. Became enough then to switch several times (2-3 times) a particular type of solvent in wide commercial use and available in many armories, with the aid of a simple brush to remove any debris. After the first pass, you will notice a pronounced difference than before.
- New water protection of wood: this is the phase that precedes the final painting. In this phase sealing materials are laid on the wood, generally derived from chemical substances and however readily available, which allow us to limit the new wear caused by moisture in the case of subsequent use of the weapon for hunting purposes or for target shooting. The master restorers generally stretch 2-3 coats of waterproofing, letting between them the time required for the timber is soaked in the substance.
- Painting: is the penultimate stage of the cycle of restoration, one that allows the weapon to return to their natural color, reviving it in the tone and enhancing the wood grain. At this stage it is absolutely not necessary to use the exact same shade of color that the wood had previously; you can, in fact, use a different shade, better if a little darker to give greater prominence to the wood itself, highlighting the grain and making them much more pleasing to the eye for ancient. You can also create mixtures with more colors, but to do this you have to be a true master because if the color that you give is not of high quality and pleasantness you risk damaging irreparably or almost the beauty of the shotgun, sometimes of high honor and owned by a collector.
Before making the painting is very important to “treat the wood with sealants’, available from specialist companies; they allow you to close all the “pores” that open into the wood as a result of the previous sanding and cleaning. In fact, these holes, if opened, through the chemical process of “osmosis” would tend to absorb moisture giving air contained in them outwards, resulting in irreparable bulge, if not breaking, of the wooden parts a short time after the painting.
• Polishing: it is the last stage, after which you will present to our eyes as a new weapon in its aesthetics. This is done by drawing up a few hands of “flaxseed oil” (possibly adjusted), letting it dry well between coats to allow for good absorption.
Also cottonseed oil and / or sesame seeds can be used as an alternative, but flax oil is best the long better than the others because it tends to “oxidize” when in contact with air, forming a transparent and elastic film that is advisable for many types of shotguns, not only by collectors but also fo hunting shotguns or for war weapons.
The restoration of the shotgun provides, generally, that all parties are renew and, therefore, not only the wooden ones but also mechanical ones, such as firing mechanisms, the castle and the barrel, but this topic we will discuss in the following .
For now, if you dare, have a “good job” !!