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Original Lefever Stock Finish Recipe from Frank Lefever

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Joined: 24 Feb 2007
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Location: Low Country, South Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:18 am    Post subject: Original Lefever Stock Finish Recipe from Frank Lefever Reply with quote

Thanks to M D Christian for the following;

"This was submitted to Handloader Magazine (Jul/Aug 1970) by Harvey A Donaldson who said it was told to him by Frank Lefever, son of D M Lefever. He stated this was the method used in finishing stocks by Dan Lefever & other U S Gunsmiths as Billinghurst, Brockway, Morgan James, A O Zischang & others. Will try to cover the basics to keep as short as possible.

First of course he stated a lot depended on the quality of the wood itself. He does not cover prep, so assume all will know wood must be properly prepared before beginning the finish itself.

First step was to place the stock in a sheet iron tank with enough linseed oil to cover stock. Stock was left for a day or so depending upon density of the walnut, a harder denser grain wood requiring longer than a more porous grain wood. Next was to remove the stock & stand to drain & leave for several days at least. "Very Important" let stock dry completely, this first coat must be completely oxidized by the air before proceding.
Next operation is to stop further penertration of the oil. It should have penertrated about 1/16" or so at this point, deeper of course in an open grain piece of wood than a closer grained one. Two formulas are given for this step depending upon wood density.

First for the softer woods (all walnut remember, just various densities); Take 4 oz of boiled linseed oil & mix in 3 oz of white shellac that has been cut in alchol, 1 oz spar varnish , 10 drops Venice turpentine, 20 drops oil of cedar leaves & enough "Oil of Soluble Red" to get the desired color. This was applied to the stock with a small wad of cloth & it would soon penertrate & sink into the wood & then be left to dry for 24hrs or more.
For hard close grained walnut; mix 1/2 pint of raw linseed oil, 3oz spar varnish, 1oz turpentine, 10 drops Venice turpentine, & 1 grain "Oil of Soluble Red". Apply this mixture & again allow to dry for several days.
Notes to above; Soluble Red Oil is described as a dark reddish powder sold by some large drug stores or chemical supply houses. Only a very small amount is needed & he states a lump about the size of a match head will color a half pint of oil to a bright red. Some makers did not use it & some used Alkenet Root instead. Venice Turpentine he says is a very thick substance, hard to pour, & used by old time violin makers.

From this point on finish is the same;
Apply a light coat of raw linseed oil with a rag or swab (some of the red can be mixed in if desired) let stand for an hour or so, rub briskly with the palm of your hand for about 10 mins. Apply another thin coat of oil, but not enough to run or drip. Repeat this every 12-24 hours (when stock has absorbed oil & appears dull) for 4-5 treatments. Allow stock to stand for another couple of days, Apply another coat of oil & ""Set it out of sight & forget about it".

After several days this coat will have hardened & gummed over the surface & appear about like a coat of varnish. Next coat the stock with hard auto cup grease, sprinkle with powdered pumice & take a wad of rags & scour off this coat down to the wood. Then rub finish with bare hand & let dry for a few more days & gun is ready for use. After this occasionally take up the stock & go over it with cup grease by hand & rub until dry. After the gun is used in hunting rub it over with raw oil until it is wiped dry.

"IF" a super fine smooth finish is desired follow the pumice rubbing with fine powdered rottenstone. Use this on a hard piece of felt held in the hand & rubbed across the grain.


[Transcriped by Miller, aka "2-Piper" from a post by M.D. Christian at the doublegun bbs - ADG]
-American Double Gunner

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind...Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks." - Thomas Jefferson, 1785
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Joined: 03 Mar 2007
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:52 pm    Post subject: That sounds like work! Reply with quote

They must have had a full time shop person, just to prepare the stocks! A lot of time and elbow grease went into that finish. Joe
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Pine Creek/Dave

Joined: 16 Dec 2016
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject: Original Lefever Stock Finish Reply with quote

Thanks much for posting this, I am at the present time putting some restoration touches on my early LeFever/Ithaca custom carved stocks. Now I understand the Red coloring in the original finish and how to attain it. Appreciate the knowledge sir very much.

Pine Creek/Dave

Uncle Dan LeFever - A one of a kind Master Gun Maker
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