sealing rifle stocks before staining

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HW80 air-rifle stock – see gallery 1

A friend of mine (Hi Dave) is a keen air-rifle enthusiast and is currently re-finishing a rifle-stock.  Anyway, he posed a question regarding whether a seal should be applied to a beech stock prior to staining it.  I had posed this question myself to the wooden-boat forum (most knowledgable wood-workers in the world, on tap, 24/7) a little while ago and the answers were many and varied, but the consensus was to seal it. 

Beech end grain is very absorbant and beech side grain is not very absorbant, if the wood is not sealed then an extremely patchy finish is the result.  In the rifle stock above, the wood was sealed with 3 coats of 1 part polyurathene varnish cut with 3 parts white spirit.  It is important it does not form on the surface but just seals the grain- any varnish on the wood should be lightly sanded away. 

The wood was stained with a heavily cut (with white-spirit) artists burnt-umber oil-paint built up to the required colour then finished off with hand-rubbed oil- finish and topped off with a coat or two of wax.

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