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During our recent vacation in Russia, I noticed the wood of the gazebo of my inlaws had recently been clear coated in some type of finish. Drawn to it by the SMELL, I soon noticed it was still very fresh and looked VERY familiar.

Still sticky, I got a little on my fingers. It REEKED of pine oil (which is readily available along the numerous road-side stalls all through Siberia), and was extremely resionous. I asked my father in law, and he said it is THE most traditional Russian lak finish, and was commercially available. He mentioned that Lak PF-231 had been around for generations and was the most common. Not as durable maybe as modern type finishes (lasting about 2 years in Siberia).

It was EXTREMELY difficult to remove, and needed alcohol to remove (yes, I used vodka!). Looking at other wood working he had done, it was EXTREMELY similar to the finish on Mosin Nagants, and did indeed tend to flake after some time. He kept a VERY large supply of it, and even would mix it with colour paint (not sure of composition) - he had just painted the fences blue, and again they reeked of the pine smell.

It would be interesting to know if Lak PF-231 is what was used on Mosin Nagants et al.



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Im pretty sure it has been confirmed. I can recall Tuco and Vic both saying that shellac was originally used.
 

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PF-231 is a Parquetry Finish, was never used on Mosin Nagants

PF-231/ TU 2311-156-05744283-01
Description: It is a solution of pentaphtalic resin, modified with fatty acids of vegetable or tall oils, in white-spirit, with dryer addition
 

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Shellac was 100% definitely used on Russian rifles extensively. No question about it.

What's interesting is that you removed the sticky stuff with alcohol. It probably would have worked with mineral spirits, too, but who knows. The "pine smell" sounds like someone diluted the finish with too much turp. That would most likely be the locally brush cleaner and thinner unless mineral spirits was available. IF too much was diluted into the finish, it wouldn't harden properly and stay tacky for a very long time.

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a simple test to see what the finish is a shellac or varnish can be easily done with a few drops of denatured alcoho, shellac dissolves quickly iwith denatured alcohol, varnish reacts slowly.
 
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