What was the wood of an enfield finished with?

Discussion in 'Enfield Rifles' started by Asbestos, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. Asbestos

    Asbestos G&G Regular

    So long sory short I got back from taking my Jungle carbine to the range and im cleaning it, using the boiling water method and i spilled some and it got on the wooden stock, So it took some of the finish off. it is not that noticeable to the eye but its a very different texture where the water got to the wood. So I have one question what was the stock on a lee enfield finished with so i can attempt to fix it with out having to redo the stock? Im just wondering if it was finished with shellac or something else.
  2. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

  3. The original finish is Linseed oil. Most LE collectors use Boiled Linseed oil. Mix a 50/50 Turpentine-Linseed oil mixture, use it to clean the furniture with some 0000 steel/brass wool. Wipe it dry and let it dry for 24hrs, then a cost of straight BLO. Let the BLO soak in for 20-30 minutes then wipe dry and then dry for 24hrs, repeat as until you achieve the desired finish.

    Typical results.
  4. Raw linseed oil was used when the Enfield stocks were new and when hot dipped again by the armourers.

    Please note real actual boiled linseed oil is more durable and water proof than raw linseed oil. When raw linseed oil is boiled it becomes "plasticised" and the oil forms long interlocking molecular chains that bond together when dried.

    NOTE: A high percentage of American made "BLO" is fake and not even boiled, you will need to read the MSDS sheets to determine the content. This fake BLO is just raw linseed oil with resins to thicken it and driers added to speed the drying time. The addition of these chemicals to this "fake" BLO also makes it toxic and you can not apply it bare handed as you could with "REAL" actual boiled linseed oil.

    When dipped in a hot tank of raw linseed oil the "RAW" linseed oil will penetrate much deeper into the wood than BLO.

    Issued Enfields were to be oiled once per month with "RAW" linseed oil, and this kept the furniture-stocks hydrated which helped prevent wood shrinkage.

    Below on the left is a No.1 Mk3 that went through FTR or overhaul in 1953, it is untouched since it was finished in RAW linseed oil at the time of overhaul. On the right is a untouched 1950 No.4 Mk.2 with South African markings that was center bedded and used for competitive shooting. It later received several coats of boiled linseed oil to better protect it during competition.




    Now which finish do YOU think was applied to a rifle used in combat?

    I have supplied and furnished 90% of all books and manuals that you see on the Internet today on the Enfield rifle and you will NOT find mention of BLO being applied to the Enfield rifle in any of them.

    (I have American manuals on the M14 and BAR from the 1970s that state only to apply RAW linseed oil to them)


    I don't care if you rub peanut butter on your Enfield rifle BUT the information I have supplied is factual and not based on Internet rumours or guesswork.
  5. can but try

    can but try G&G Newbie

    sir,you are right,but a very little, pure walnut oil to finish? hand rubbed in!!!
  6. You are correct, I'm always right......................

    That is why I said NOTHING about "pure walnut oil".

    Rule number 1. Always give the correct answer FIRST, which has been verified by the experts, the British Armourer and author Mr. Peter Laidler and Brian Dick. Again the ONLY "official" oil used on the Enfield rifle was raw linseed oil only.

    Boiled Linseed oil is a Internet myth and NOT base on printed facts.
  7. TheJoker

    TheJoker G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I got the same story from an Australian WWII vet. He told it quite colorfully:

    From shortly before WWII and thereafter the woodwork on the Australian SMLE was of Australian coachwood, botanically Ceratopetalum apetalum unless the revisionist taxonomists have had a go at it, a tree which grows to about 80' in height. Found in the rainforests of NSW and Queensland. Used to be a fairly common species. We were required to oil the woodwork of our weapons regularly with raw linseed oil both to prevent deterioration of the wood and to preserve a matte finish. It was a disciplinary offence to have a shiny rifle and two days' pay went west whilst the malefactor (Each company has, democratically, its share of dills) scraped down his rifle with pieces of broken bottle and re-oiled it to the Sergeant-Major's satisfaction. Boiled linseed oil would not only have made the rifle shiny but would not have acted as a sufficient wood preservative or conditioner.
  8. The Joker thank you

    Prior to November of 1940 the Enfield rifle was inspected four times per year by the unit armourers, three mini visual inspections and one major complete tear down inspection. If the stock needed re-oiling during the yearly tear down inspection the stock was again hot dipped in a tank of raw linseed oil and allowed to soak overnight.

    After November of 1940 the Enfield rifles did not receive a yearly tear down inspection and were only worked on by the armourers as needed.

    Below is from the British manual, it covers painting the Enfield below the wood line as protection from rust AND has the notice for the individual solderers to oil their stocks with raw linseed oil.

    The bottom line was if it ain't broke don't fit it in the middle of a war or do not tear down the rifle for yearly inspections and only repair as necessary.

    Below is the British A.C.I covering the changes to the manual that covers the linseed oil subject. Normally below the wood line the metal parts were coated with "mineral jelly" (Vaseline) and the stock (barrel channel and receiver area) was filled with "mineral jelly" as protection against rust, BUT this required inspection once per year. Therefore it was decided to "paint" the Enfield against rust and NOT strip the rifle yearly for inspection.

  9. Asbestos

    Asbestos G&G Regular

    Do you think its wise to just refinish it? or can I refinish it with out staining it? Or can i just repair the damage.
  10. I'm not sure what you mean by that. However here is my experience.

    At one point at school (early 1960s) I was responsible for the maintenance of our rifles. I had a huge tin marked simply: "Linseed Oil". I used it on the rifles' woodwork from time to time and very mucky stuff it was. I have always assumed that it was raw linseed oil.

    Based on later experience I have found that BLO is much easier to use and so that it what I now use. (It's the real stuff over this side of the pond.) If I had had BLO back then, I'd have used it.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
    chris l2018 likes this.
  11. Asbestos

    Beerhunter is very knowledgeable about the Enfield rifle and the majority of people in our forums use boiled linseed oil. The main point I'm trying to make here is due to health and safety laws in Britain, Canada and other commonwealth countries their BLO is non-toxic. Raw linseed oil is non-toxic, it can be applied bare handed and is what was applied first to your Enfield rifle.

    There are also many forms of raw linseed oil which can further complicate matters. In the photo below raw cold pressed linseed oil is on the left and refined and filtered raw linseed oil on the right.


    As you can see above there is a lot of other material in the oil on the left you don't need or want on your rifle.

    Also as you see from the manuals information only raw linseed oil was used and the Enfield stocks were oiled on a regular basis. With all due respect to Beerhunter both types of linseed oil BLO and RLO can turn into "very mucky stuff" when it gets old and exposed to air.

    I use refined raw linseed oil on this side of the pond and Beerhunter uses "real" boiled linseed on his side of the pond. Just remember there is a difference between the two linseed oils and the British military used raw linseed oil Enfield on there Enfield rifles.

    That being said more BLO is being used today than any other type of linseed oil except for a few grumpy old farts like me who still use raw linseed oil.

    Now back to your Enfield, pick which type oil you prefer BLO or RLO which hopefully will be non-toxic for your own good.

    Mix the linseed oil 50-50 with turpentine and apply using 0000 steel wool and rubbing lightly. The steel wool will help the new linseed oil to sink into the wood and also remove any surface defects.

    Without any photos of your damaged stock it very hard to give any further advice.
    TheJoker likes this.
  12. Asbestos

    Asbestos G&G Regular

    You really cant see it, the left side has the damage the right side is almost untouched. But like i said you cant really see it but you can really feel it.
    Really this is the best picture of it i can get
    All i can say is it feels worse than it looks
  13. Asbestos

    Asbestos G&G Regular

    I got some refined linseed oil [​IMG]

    and i don't know if this turpentine will work

    Will those work?
  14. Asbestos

    I use the exact same "type" (different name brand) refined linseed oil as you have pictured above, I also use turpentine as my thinning agent.

    Artist grade linseed oils are the purest and most highly refined linseed oils you can obtain. I use these artist grade linseed oils for two reasons:

    1. Refined linseed oil dries slower than other types and grades of linseed oils and will penetrate and sink deeper into the wood.

    2. Artist grade linseed oils are MUCH less likely to cause mold and mildew growth if your stock become wet.

    The green can of Klean Strip Turpentine is exactly the same as the "non"-green can of Klean Strip. (read the MSDS sheet) The green can is for propaganda purposes for the clean and green movement. Both the green can and the blue can are made from the distillation of pine tree sap. Therefore the blue can is made from "non-recycled" trees and the green can is made from "recycled trees".(old recycled humor) The only real difference between the two color cans of turpentine is the company can charge $$$ the tree huggers more for the green can.

    Artist grade "Stand Oil" is real boiled linseed oil and is also non-toxic if you decide to use BLO instead of RLO.

    "Stand Oil, manufactured by heating a pure refined linseed oil, is a heavy oil that wets pigments well. Stand oil is linseed oil that has been polymerized by heating. It is thicker than cold pressed or alkalai refined oils, and has almost no tendency to yellow."

    The reason I use artist grade raw linseed oil is because the last big shipments of Enfield rifles that came to the U.S. were imported from Turkey. These Turkish Enfields "NEVER" had a British or Commonwealth armourer work on or even touch them. In simple terms the stocks on these Turkish Enfields were as dry as a pop corn fart and needed re-oiling very badly.

    As an American I also trust what Beerhunter had to say in the U.K. (Jolly Old England) about BLO or boiled linseed oil. Beerhunter has been collecting and shooting the Enfield rifle far longer than I have AND it is HIS national rifle. Also with the proper techniques both BLO and RLO can be made to look the same when dry and not have a shine and the BLO will dry faster if that is what you are looking for.

    Please note the following information came from the CMP M1 Garand web site.

    Many fights and arguments break out in forums over what to uses on surplus rifle stocks. Conservative collectors say you should use what was originally applied to your rifle and some less conservative more active "shooters" say to use a more modern finish ie. BLO, tung oil, polyurethane etc.

    I cheat and use what was recommended as a "modern" conservative method, I use raw linseed oil on the "outside" of the stock and use Tung oil on the inside of the stock. (barrel channel and internal receiver area) This keeps the "inside" of the stock more water proof but maintains the original linseed oil finish on the outside.

    In your photos I can't see your problem but it "might" be the raised grain of the wood or just the eroded surface of the old linseed oil finish. The conservative approach to your problem would be to apply the linseed oil with 0000 steel wool rubbing lightly.

    Also note that this is NOT the first time boiling water has made contact with an Enfield stock so be careful if you are thinking of stripping, cleaning and refinishing your stock. Once you remove the original finish and its history you can NOT put it back on.

    Asbestos, I'm not an expert on the Enfield rifle or an expert on linseed oils, BUT on my first Enfield rifle I read and took a "so called" experts advice on what type oil to use on my Enfield rifle. The so called "expert" recommended Behr Tung oil finish. The problem was Behr Tung oil doesn't contain one single drop of tung oil and is nothing more than a rubbing varnish.

    The best advice to anyone reading this is to read the postings and then start researching the subject to death and find out the truth on the subject at hand.

    Below artist grade raw linseed oil, over ten coats were applied and "ALL" the linseed oil was absorbed into the wood.


    Now let me give you some "REALLY BAD" advice on refinishing a milsurp stock. Remember to sand with the grain ;-)

  15. Dutch

    Dutch G&G Evangelist

    Wow, I have always applied linseed oil by hand. It never even occurred to me that BLO might not be pure and contain some hazardous additives. Got to check my cans when I get home.

    Otherwise, great information on the Pure Linseed vs Boiled for stocks.
  16. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    This is a great thread and I am soaking up all of this great info. It brought up something that I have been wanting to ask along similar lines that has to do with Enfiled stocks. Here is a picture of two No1 Mk III butt stocks that I have.

    The one on the top is a brand new unissued butt stock that is marked under the wrist with a stamp that reads SLAL with a 53 under it. The one on the bottom came of a 1948 No1 Mk III GRI that was a wire wrap. The stock was trashed and soft under the wrap so I decided to remove the wire and put it in a original stock.
    The question I have is how dark the wood is even on the brand new butt stock. I also have another No1 Mk III GRI that the wood is on good shape but also is very dark just like the old butt stock in the picture. Are the stocks on the GRI rifles made from a different wood and were they treated differently than a Enfield in British service?

  17. For Americans in this forum you MUST understand what Government deregulation means and how it effects YOU. What deregulation means is higher profits for the American companies at the cost of health and safety for you as Americans.

    British, Canadian and Australian BLO is non-toxic and the majority of American BLO is toxic. Times are changing and pressure is being put on our Government and manufactures to make safer products, BUT it is up to YOU to research the products used. Download the MSDS sheets for the products you are using. (MSDS = Material Safety Data Sheets)

    The last 15 years as a Quality Control Inspector I was required to review and approve the products the Government ordered and used. I was always shocked to find out from British and Commonwealth Military Exchange personnel that what our military and civilians used was toxic and BANNED in their countries.

    Please note the MSDS sheets for products coming from or made in China can NOT be trusted.

    Just think about it, how it the world did SO many eggs recently slip through the cracks and be contaminated with salmonella poisoning.
    (Money talks and then safety walks)

    I DO NOT need to wear rubber gloves when using artist grade linseed oils because "oil painting artists" demand the very best products.

    Now read about BLO that IS toxic, the company below makes knapsacks and haversacks for Civil War reenactors only to find out they could NOT use Ace Hardware BLO because it "IS" a toxic product EVEN after it dries.
    (And you hold your rifles in your hands and put your cheek against the stock)

    The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) rate the health hazards of boiled linseed oil as low. But and this is a very important BUT-- that is when the oil is used in the context of the MSDS guidelines as an exterior coating for wood or metal. No one has addressed the use of boiled linseed oil for coating cloth items containing food, cloth items for transporting clothing and food and cloth items to sleep on.

    When we first began to reproduce the double bag knapsack we contacted the Sunnyside Company that produces boiled linseed oil. We described how we proposed to use their product and asked about the health warnings on their container. Their response was that to ask that we find an alternative coating or if we did use boiled linseed oil we not use their brand due to the liability issue.

    Boiled Linseed Oil is a main ingredient BUT It contains lead, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium and nickel. These elements are toxins, carcinogens and teratogens.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Missouri Boot & Shoe Home Page [​IMG]
    Hazards of Period Paint
    [​IMG] [​IMG] YES! We use a latex base coating on all our knapsacks and haversacks. Missouri Boot & Shoe Company made a conscious decision not to use period paint due to fire and health hazards both to our ourselves and to our customers.

    Boiled Linseed Oil is a main ingredient in “period paint recipes.” It contains lead, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium and nickel. These elements are toxins, carcinogens and teratogens.

    Just read the label on a can of Boiled Linseed Oil, "Use of this product will expose you to arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium and nickel, which are known to cause cancer; and lead which is known to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm." (Read it for yourself, an actual label is shown at the end of this webpage.)

    The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) rate the health hazards of boiled linseed oil as low. But and this is a very important BUT-- that is when the oil is used in the context of the MSDS guidelines as an exterior coating for wood or metal. No one has addressed the use of boiled linseed oil for coating cloth items containing food, cloth items for transporting clothing and food and cloth items to sleep on.

    When we first began to reproduce the double bag knapsack we contacted the Sunnyside Company that produces boiled linseed oil. We described how we proposed to use their product and asked about the health warnings on their container. Their response was to ask that we find an alternative coating or if we did use boiled linseed oil that we not use their brand due to the liability issue.

    What we all need to understand is that the linseed oil, even after it is dry to the touch continues to be a problem. The toxins, carcinogens and teratogens it contain are still transmissible by both dermal exposure and by inhalation. They will also migrate to food items and clothing carried in your knapsacks and haversacks. Further more this is a much heavier exposure then the manufacturers ever expected, since this is an atypical use of the product. The product was simply not intended for these kinds of uses.

    OK, so if that alone doesn't scare you.
    What about spontaneous combustion?

    When linseed oil dries, it releases heat. The more linseed oil, the greater the heat. Cloth soaked with linseed oil can actually start burning without warning, leading to the manufacturer's warning that all oil-soaked rags should be stored under water in a covered, metal container. There are historic accounts of bails of knapsacks spontaneous combusting while stored in government warehouses during the war. Keep in mind these were dried knapsacks ready for issue! Do you really want one of these in the trunk of your new car?

    As a manufacturer we have certain responsibilities. We have a responsibility to produce as authentic a product as we can but we also have a greater responsibility not to harm consumers. After experimenting with over a dozen period paint recipes we opted not to use any of them due to health and safety issues. We value your safety over a cheap gimmick to sell knapsacks and haversacks.

    Photo of the back of a boiled linseed oil can showing label.

    Haversacks-Military and Civilian

    Hazards of Period Paint

    I stopped casting bullets out of wheel over 30 years ago because American wheel weights contain toxic heavy metals which cause birth defects and cancer.

  18. Asbestos

    Asbestos G&G Regular

    I applied the 50/50 linseed oil with turpentine with steel wool, now two questions first is how long should i let it dry, and second how many coats of this should i apply.
  19. In my Enfield manuals somewhere I have the chemical names for the dye mixture the British military used on Enfield stocks to darken them. It can be reproduced by mixing water base or alcohol base wood dyes, DO NOT use oil base stains, they will seal the wood and prevent the linseed oil from soaking into the stock.

    The Indian made Enfields used different local wood types and then oiled, I have a Pakistani Mk.2 stock set that is as heavy as depleted uranium so who knows. The color differences you see are due to wood type and age.

  20. Asbestos

    You live in Arizona, I live in Pennsylvania , I understand your air is much more dry in "Aridzona" than here in Penciltucky. Do you want us to guess when "your" stock is dry? Try one coat per day until the "new" oil matches the "old finish".


    Be adventurous and experiment on a spare stock with linseed oils that might match your old stock finish. As you can see above the linseed oils have different "colors" and will have different drying times.