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Dan, One more idea to try before you start with more high powered cleaners. As FredH says, the finish appears to be a little flaky. I used to have a very nice T-97 Nagoya that I purchased through an estate sale and the rifle had a nice thick coat of what appeared to be laquer on the wood. I took the metal out of the stock and in about 1 week, I had all the laquer off of the original finish by using "Duck Tape"! I would use strips of duck tape about 3-4 inches long and press the tape to the stock/handguard for about 30 seconds at a time, then peel the tape off and the old laquer just came right off with the tape with NO damage to the original finish. The hardest part was the little dings, but they too cleaned up. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
The tape didn't work. It's actually not flaking off. It was just applied very bad. It's on like super clue :) BUT....I decided to to start cleaning the bolt. The handle had some of this stuff on it. I was just going to clean the dirt and years of grime off. I sprayed it with my "hopps elite" gun cleaner metal conditioner. As soon as I sprayed it on the "varnish" bubbled up and ran off. I didn't even have to scrub it. SWEET. The bolt cleaned up real nice and there is no sign of the "varnish" ever having been on the handle. Next is to try the stock. I'll keep you posted...after my trip :)

Dan
 

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This is an interesting topic and I'd like a little more information if one of the experts has the time. I've seen some Japanese rifles at gun shows that have dark wood and appear to me to have been refinished incorrectly. The "true" Japanese stocks seem to be orange or yellow-orange (gold?) in color. And if I understand some of the above posts correctly, the original Japanese finish was NOT shiny?

I bought a nice 99 a few weeks ago (bring-back by a vet who had killed the Japanese former owner) which had a shiny finish but was somewhat grubby-looking as it hadn't been touched in decades. I cleaned the wood with Minwax Antique Furniture Stripper which removed the shine and surface dirt. Then I hand-rubbed a coat of a furniture finishing oil that I've used with good results on a number of stocks. After letting the stock dry several days, I gave it a coat of amber shellac to restore its appearance as when I bought it.

I was not aware that shellacking Japanese stocks was an American practice as I've not noticed that sort of shine on military rifles from other countries to any extent. If the finish is not supposed to be shiny, rather than remove the shellac or other coating with alchohol, etc, I wonder has anyone tried spraying Dullcoat or similar on the wood? That's a Testor's product, available in spray cans at hobby shops, used to create a more realistic dull finish on models. Of course, it is possible that handling might tend to remove the dull overspray and create shiny spots over time...
 

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Dullcoat will turn just about anything flat. However as you mentioned its designed to cover the sheen of glossy paint or its cousin "Closscoat". If you plan on doing anything with your rifle other than hanging it on a wall the Dullcoat will rub off with basic handling.
 

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Japanese urushi finish is 'shiney', similar to a fine laquer finish when new. Later war examples have less finish and less shine.

Early T 38s may have had different finish, and due to long service are freguently found dark or oil soaked. Later 38s were urushi finished.
 

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I've wondered too about the original finishes used on T30s - most seem to be dark - guessing just handling, dirt, grime over the years. But you can find the beautiful, original red-orange finish in the barrel channels and receiver craddles (not sure about that term....). Some of mine are quite shiny in there despite the age. Urushi?
 

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Thought I'd added my $0.02 on this , but apparently not. Back in my Atlanta days, the 70s I bought an "I" and 38 as I remember, both had painted stocks, he I was battle ship grey! I used a paint remover which did an excellent job. Then I tried it on a late 99, also did an excellent job, removed the "added" finish along with the original. Never tried to remove an added coating again.
 

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If you search online for urushi, there are several sites that have lots of info; some urushi has a little color, other more.
 

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Hello sgt.usmcr :
A couple of older collectors used to swear Birchwood Casey shellack was a close duplicate, but much depended if the wood had been taken down completely, in which case a wood stain might be appropiate before the shellack. It would be hand rubbed and allowed to dry, more than one application might be required.
The product used to be available at gunshows, have not looked for it in years so don't know if it is still available.
Vicasoto
 

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Shellac may 'look' the part; but it is not a durable, nor a good finish for a rifle stock.

Shellac water spots easily, i.e. turns white when water hits it; ever seen those glass rings on a table top?

USMCR,
there is no single color correct for a Japanese rifle. Look in your barrel channel or other un disturbed spot for an idea of the original color and finish. Usually two or more stains must be mixed together to approximate the original color on an individual rifle.

Brownell's has several brands and types of stains, check them out at brownells.com
 

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Wow, 35 posts on this! It's so much simpler to just not buy rifles with problems. If it's a great rifle, I'd look for another stock & not waste my time playing with the finish.
 
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