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As mentioned by kenb, mineral spirits won't do a darned thing except make your stock feel oily.

First of all, you've got to determine what's on your stock before you begin. It could be shellac, it could be lacquer (probably not), it could be varnish and it could just be a cured oil finish. There is a quick test to eliminate the first to.

Take some lacquer thinner on a rag and wipe a part of the stock liberally with the wet rag. If it tacks up, then it's lacquer. IF not, take some denatured alcohol and do the same thing. IF it tacks up, it's shellac. If not, then you've either got a varnish or cured oil on there. If i does tack up with either of those two solvents, then just use that and some 000 steel wool and rub the stock out with the wet wool to remove the old finish.

If it's varnish or oil, the only way to break the bonds is by using a stripper. Kleanstrip makes a great heavy duty stripper in a spray can (available at any home center). It will NOT harm the laminations on your stock or hurt the wood. Hang the stock (all metal removed except embedded crossbolts, etc) over a trash barrel in a warm room. (Cold rooms like basements tend to slow the stripper a lot!) Spray the stock liberally, let the stripper work, and wipe off the old finish into the trash barrel. I put crumpled newspaper in the bottom to collect the junk coming off. Then spray it again to repeat until it's all off.

Now you can reapply the appropriate finish for your rifle. If it's Russian, chances are good a shellac finish was appropriate. Research your rifle to determine what's appropriate.

If you'd like more help with this, pop over to Parallax and check out some of the essays I've posted up at my forum there.

http://parallaxscurioandrelicfirearmsforums.yuku.com/forums/101

You'll find a plethora of info there to guide your cleaning/restoration and keeping it authentic.

Rome
 

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Good grief, why remove the history from a military rifle? If that is not your plan, my apologies; and it is your piece, but....:(
 

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Good grief, why remove the history from a military rifle? If that is not your plan, my apologies; and it is your piece, but....:(
+1

Thanks for saying it Tig. I sometimes wonder if I am alone in appreciating old guns for what they are: old. :confused:

Purists of the world, unite! :)
 

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In lieu of stripping the original shellac (assuming the rifle has the original finish material). And at the cost of offending some.., you can overcoat shellac finishes very nicely with a thinned coat of Amber Shellac available at Lowes etc. The beauty of shellac is that it is easy to repair and overcoat. Though not as durable as modern finishes it is very forgiving.
Even a gentle overlay of some DA can be helpful to flow any flaking or uneven existing shellac finish. Assunming you are not going for a Remchesterby commercial style high gloss finish.
 
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