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.22-5-40
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Gunstocks & Humidity
Feb 7th, 2017 at 2:42pm
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Just recieved a Sharps Borchardt actioned rifle stocked back in the mid 1960"s by Jerry Fisher.† Highly figured walnut.† What has me worried is the rifle has been in New Mexico for the last several years & owner said average humidity is around 10%.† Here in Michigan winter, basement humidity is 35%..I can get it up around 42% or so with humidifier running constantly.† In summer it stays around 45% with de-humidifier running constantly.† I noticed the butt-plate screws were loose.† I put a couple coats of wax on stock.† I wonder if I should do anything with the thru-bolt in stock?† Original finish all there on stock.
  
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Schuetzenmiester
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #1 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 3:20pm
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I would make sure all unfinished wood is sealed.
  

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JLouis
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #2 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 3:31pm
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My concern would be if all of the non visable wood surfaces have been properly sealed including the through bolt hole? If not I would then indeed be as concerned as you currently are now.
  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #3 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 3:34pm
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Recommended storage of firearms 50% humidity at 70 degrees
One can test the wood to determine the moisture content ...
HomeDepot, take your pick - prices vary ... (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)
  

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Schuetzenmiester
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #4 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 3:40pm
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JLouis wrote on Feb 7th, 2017 at 3:31pm:
My concern would be if all of the non visable wood surfaces have been properly sealed including the through bolt hole? If not I would then indeed be as concerned as you currently are now.

Pour some sealer in, let it sit for a few minutes and pour out the excess.

BTW, most of those moisture meters only read a few mm under the surface.  It is what it is. Preventing rapid or uneven change is the goal.
  

"some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #5 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 4:59pm
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I have built quite a few gunstocks over the years and have sanded them flush with the butt plates and noticed how much the wood has either expanded to be oversize or shrunk to being undersized during the different seasons.† Sealing open grain is a good idea but keep in mind it will still take on moisture.† Make sure you're tang bolt is tight before you shoot it. Bob
  
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JS47
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #6 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 11:29pm
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I've come to the conclusion over the years that there is no way a brushed or rubbed on finish is going to truly seal a gunstock.  At one time, until it burned up in a fire, a friend and I had a vacuum/pressure system for forcing poly finish into a stock. We were able to get over two oz. of finish into the wood as determined by weighing before and after. We proved the point beyond doubt on a two week float trip where it poured down rain for 12 of the 14 days. Both our guns and us were wet the whole trip.  His stock, which had been vacuum/pressure treated, didn't swell at all.  Mine, with many coats of finish applied in the usual way, end grain included, swelled terribly. I guess the only thing we can do with a conventionally finished stock is to seal it as best we can and then just put up with the changes.

JS
  

"I'll be happy to contribute to the wolf recovery program, 180 grains at a time"† Unknown western rancher
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #7 - Feb 7th, 2017 at 11:40pm
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That is why fine furniture is designed with wood movement in mind.  You can't stop it, only minimize it.
  

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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #8 - Feb 8th, 2017 at 7:23am
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How about a description of that vacuum set up, so I can duplicate it??  What kind of pump, enclosure, etc.?  I always thought that would be a good idea!
JS47 wrote on Feb 7th, 2017 at 11:29pm:
I've come to the conclusion over the years that there is no way a brushed or rubbed on finish is going to truly seal a gunstock.† At one time, until it burned up in a fire, a friend and I had a vacuum/pressure system for forcing poly finish into a stock. We were able to get over two oz. of finish into the wood as determined by weighing before and after. We proved the point beyond doubt on a two week float trip where it poured down rain for 12 of the 14 days. Both our guns and us were wet the whole trip.† His stock, which had been vacuum/pressure treated, didn't swell at all.† Mine, with many coats of finish applied in the usual way, end grain included, swelled terribly. I guess the only thing we can do with a conventionally finished stock is to seal it as best we can and then just put up with the changes.

JS

  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #9 - Feb 8th, 2017 at 7:41am
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You could use schedule 80 PVC pipe with round (not flat) end-caps and your shop vac (assuming you have a 1/2hp or so). Best to vent out doors to get rid of the vapors you'll be pulling off. If you get fancy with the vac pump it will start getting expensive.
  

Glenn
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #10 - Feb 8th, 2017 at 10:51am
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One of the lessons from this thread is to buy stock wood that has been stored in a similar environment to where you live.
If you live in the dry West, buy from a western supplier.
In the more humid East and Northwest, buy from a similar area.
Otherwise, leave the wood in the shop at least a year before you cut into it.
Chuck
  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #11 - Feb 8th, 2017 at 12:10pm
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SSShooter wrote on Feb 8th, 2017 at 7:41am:
You could use schedule 80 PVC pipe with round (not flat) end-caps and your shop vac (assuming you have a 1/2hp or so). Best to vent out doors to get rid of the vapors you'll be pulling off. If you get fancy with the vac pump it will start getting expensive.


Or you could simply use a food vacuum seal bag system. Just put the stock in the bag, and pour in a good poly sealer like Minn Wax Wipe On Poly, which is extremely thin. Let it hang off the edge of the counter to keep it low in the bag. Then suck down a vacuum until the liquid is compressed and seal it off. Let it sit overnight and cut it open the next day. If there's excess liquid you can pour it into a small container to use later. I wouldn't pour it back in the can with fresh sealer.
  

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JS47
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #12 - Feb 8th, 2017 at 9:49pm
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marlinguy wrote on Feb 8th, 2017 at 12:10pm:
SSShooter wrote on Feb 8th, 2017 at 7:41am:
You could use schedule 80 PVC pipe with round (not flat) end-caps and your shop vac (assuming you have a 1/2hp or so). Best to vent out doors to get rid of the vapors you'll be pulling off. If you get fancy with the vac pump it will start getting expensive.


Or you could simply use a food vacuum seal bag system. Just put the stock in the bag, and pour in a good poly sealer like Minn Wax Wipe On Poly, which is extremely thin. Let it hang off the edge of the counter to keep it low in the bag. Then suck down a vacuum until the liquid is compressed and seal it off. Let it sit overnight and cut it open the next day. If there's excess liquid you can pour it into a small container to use later. I wouldn't pour it back in the can with fresh sealer.


I tried this method too and couldn't see that it really helped.  Test pieces thrown in with the stock are interesting to cut into.

Our original set up was a piece of 6" PVC city water line 3 feet long. It takes a large pipe to hold a one piece stock.  The end caps were cast iron water line fitting with locking rings.  Locking rings are important when pressurizing the setup.  I hung a lead ingot on the end of the stock to sink it and filled the pipe with polyurethane.  One  end cap I drilled and fitted with a tee and valve setup to hold a vacuum/pressure gauge and a hose fitting.  The vacuum was pulled off the brake booster on my '89 Ford truck, around 28" of vacuum I think.  I let it soak for 24 hours, relieved the vacuum and then gave it 50 lbs. of air pressure.  After another 24 hours I let off the pressure and took out the stock. The stock bled out the poly for hours as I kept wiping it off.  The main problem with the system was that it took about 4 gallons of poly, which is expensive, and after doing a few stocks the poly gelled up and had to be replaced.  After all this, I figured I'd just do standard finishes and put up with the changes in the wood.

JS
  

"I'll be happy to contribute to the wolf recovery program, 180 grains at a time"† Unknown western rancher
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #13 - Feb 9th, 2017 at 8:19am
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The short answer is any piece of wood will swell and shrink with the relative humidity. I am thinking that once it has had a chance to acclimate to your area that the wood will swell and the fit return to itís original tight fit.

40 Rod
  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #14 - Feb 9th, 2017 at 9:52am
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That indeed is the issue with putting a stock into a container. It simply takes too much sealer, and too much is wasted. I also found that vacuum sealer bags kept the amount down, but even they wasted some sealer.
On raw stocks the Minn Wax WOP is so thin that the first 3-4 coatings soak in almost as fast as I can apply it. So I pour it down the through bolt hole when I do a Ballard stock. Then I wipe the exterior with what is in the catch pan. It is a better way to be efficient with the poly, and makes it go further, yet seal the interior wood.
Most raw wood takes me 10-12 coats to get to the finish stage if I want a glass like hand rubbed appearance. The last 3-4 coats I wet sand with the poly and wipe off the excess. I finish by rubbing with rottenstone powder, and after sitting for 30 days I wax and buff it out.
  

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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #15 - Feb 9th, 2017 at 10:28am
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Impregnation with a monomer -> polymer is usually done by pulling a vacuum to degas
then returning to normal pressure to push the monomer into the voids in the wood
left by degassing.
  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #16 - Feb 10th, 2017 at 10:23pm
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Just for completeness I'll post this quite informative link, being a discussion of how some guys use vacuum setups to finish their  single shots for under water use:

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I didn't know for example that the finish is supposed to enter the wood as the vacuum is released, not so much when the bubbles are coming out, as the returning air pressure then pushes it in.

SSShooter wrote on Feb 8th, 2017 at 7:41am:
You could use schedule 80 PVC pipe with round (not flat) end-caps and your shop vac (assuming you have a 1/2hp or so). Best to vent out doors to get rid of the vapors you'll be pulling off. If you get fancy with the vac pump it will start getting expensive.

  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #17 - Feb 10th, 2017 at 11:18pm
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This table (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) shows flatsawn walnut will move 0.0027 inches/per inch/per % of moisture change.  A 50% change in ambient humidity should change the wood content less 10%.  Should be less than half that with normal wood sealing and reasonable storage conditions.
  

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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #18 - Feb 15th, 2017 at 9:20am
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.22-5-40
I can really sympathize here, I moved from Michigan to New Mexico a few years back. my whole collection showed signs of significant shrinkage in a short period of time. 200 yr old antiques and contemporary builds that where heavily sealed all where affected. several articles ie a 1790 blanket chest and a violin all split. now living in Montana....humidity here is about in the the middle of the last 2 extremes.
  
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Re: Gunstocks & Humidity
Reply #19 - Feb 15th, 2017 at 3:33pm
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The best you can hope for on wood shrinkage is to have it sealed.  That will slow the process, hopefully keeping the movement even minimizing any damage.  You can't stop wood movement.
  

"some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence
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