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#215 - 07/05/06 04:25 PM Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
Yogi 000 Offline

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 298
Loc: Ithaca NY
I am getting into finishing and REfinishing stocks. I like the reddish and glossy look and feel of many older stocks. Older Merkels I think have a terrific look.

Recently I bought a new gun and before I even shot it I stripped the matte finish and experimented with many trials of mixes before I got something that worked close to my satisfaction although the finish was more brown and not as red as I wanted. The gun now however looks like it is worth $100 to $250 MORE now after the REfinish.

However after doing some research I learned that Alkanet Root was used to impart that reddish coloration used by many manufacturers up until recently when the process turned to faster and cheaper and I think not as refined looking. I just ordred some Alkanet Root to try on my next stock finishing project.

Bascially I am thinking of using the following approach.

Put Alkanet Root in small jar of Mineral Spirits and let root dye
the Mineral Spirits (2 weeks). Use this tinted Mineral Spirits throughout.

Fill: Mineral Spirits 4 parts and Linseed Oil 1 part. Wet sand and fill pores with this. 2-3 applications.

Seal & Color: Mineral Spirits 1 part and Linseed Oil 1 Part and Spar Varnish 1 part. Apply very thin coats. Sand lightly in between. 600 X grit paper. 4 -5 coats.

Apply Linseed Oil / Spar Varnish 1 to 1 as final coat.

Anyone have any input or insight on this???? Anyone have any experience using Alkanet or any RED dye to get that "look"???
transforming ideas into reality

#216 - 07/05/06 05:00 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
tudorturtle Offline

Registered: 08/31/05
Posts: 1583
Loc: NY
I'll be watching this thread for info from the old hands...but in the meantime I've been using Art's French Red (stain only, not the filler, from Brownells) and/or Minwax Sedona Red stain to get the red base color.

#217 - 07/05/06 05:04 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
BrentD Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 3882
Loc: Iowa
The "look" of the Winchester red oil finish is well replicated in the oil finish available from It is a subtle red, not anything garish as some reds can be.

.paid 4 May 2019

#218 - 07/05/06 05:20 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
Ken Hurst Offline

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 1698
Loc: Robersonville, N.C.
I tried to get alkanet root to color min. spiritts for about three week ---- nothing happened at all. When I tried it with alcohol it wirked great. I also tried a long soak of root & turp. -- turp took the stain nicely but I couldn't get a finish to ever truly dry even after setting for two weeks. This was the first finish coat & wasn't a thick coat either. I now use a redish finish I'm really happy with. It is furnished by Jim Chambers of Candler, N.C. Ken

Ken Hurst

#219 - 07/05/06 05:20 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
ChiefShotguns Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 2306
Loc: Georgia
Lot of restorers and "refinishers" use alkanet root. It is the authentic red look. I mix a handful of the ground root into a 1.5 litre wine bottle full of tung oil/urethane mix and just leave it there soaking, refilling the tung oil mix as needed. I have a bottle I have used at least 6 or 7 years like that. The red color "just keeps going and going." I agree that the older Merkels and Sauers look great, and this finish emulates that look very well and wears great, and touches up easily. Be sure you label the wine bottle properly as to what is inside. It looks very much like a good rich Burgandy.

#220 - 07/05/06 05:23 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
yobyllib Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 887
Loc: n.e.u.s.a.
Try "Chestnut Ridge" military stain.

#221 - 07/05/06 06:12 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
PineKnot Offline

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 196
You are making all this unnecessarily complicated, unless that's what you want to do for the fun of it.
Any of the suggestions above, or consider Pilkington's spirit stains (Brownell's).
Forget the linseed and varnish home brew, and try one of the prepared polymerizing oil stock finishes which are really "light varnishes" (personally, I don't like Tru-oil, dries too fast), or use Minwax Antique oil or the similar product from Deft. They dry hard overnight (sandable) and cure completely in a week. They handle well in the process and give a true "oil" finish which is also tough and hard with only as much buildup as you care to allow.
There, the deep dark secret is out. That's a better magic witches brew than you could ever mix up yourself by the light of a full moon with human sacrifices and dinosaur blood. Put it up in a funky old bottle and act secretive about it and you will achieve master status before you know it.

#222 - 07/05/06 06:28 PM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
katienjessie Offline

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 329
Loc: Mesquite,TX.
I agree with Pineknot. The Minwax Antique Oil finish works very well. I havent seen it in a long time though at the local Home Depot. I have about half a can left.

Pineknot, What is the name of the Deft Product. I used to use their finish a long time ago on furniture but haven's seen much of their stuff in the Dallas area.
Regards, Gordon

#223 - 07/06/06 01:09 AM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
salopian Offline

Registered: 04/06/05
Posts: 1604
Loc: Midlands,England,Great Britain...
It is people like you who put people like me on the breadline.Giving all my 'secrets' away for free.
All this new technology and products are a buggerance.
I may have to update my Model 'T' and get one of them there new fangled fridge things to chill my hooch.

#224 - 07/06/06 05:10 AM Re: Alkanet Root - Reddish Stock Look
Dig Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 438
Loc: London, England
I used to use 'Warthog Purdey's alkanet root oil' which is not bad. That is until I was given a jar of the real thing, mixed by hand by my gunsmith (ex-Purdey finisher). He leaves the alkanet root in the oil for months, the latest stuff he gave me was labelled 'March 2003' and looks like blood.

This really does give both the colour you want and it really brings out the figure - black lines, highlights etc will stand proud as colour variations once the oil finish is complete, you wont see it properly until towards the end.

Don't be afraid of applying alkanet root oil - it darkens (reddens) as much as the wood will take it. Sometimes you have to apply many coats and it takes days to soak up and darken the wood, other wood will absorb oil very fast and darken with two or three light coats.

Long after I learned to get the rubbed oil finish right and the results very good, I had to learn to really appreciate the correct colour development for each gunstock.

A 'wrong colour' stock shows the hand of the amateur -even through a shiny, smooth finish.

For the oil finish, I don't hold with many of these recipes - rubbed English oil is the way to go. Once you have learned how to work it, it gives exactly the right finish, as originally applied. It takes a while but not so long as to worry or need to approximate the finish by other means in my opinion.

The more stocks I finish, the more critical I become of my own work- and that of others. Gunmakers did not spend 7 years learning their trade for nothing. I am fortunate in having a very patient and skilled finisher, who is generous with his time and even his hard-learned trade secrets.

Many a time I have taken him a stock I have finished for his appraisal and gently been told to look at this corner or that knot or a colour variation, a dull patch or a lack of depth. This has often been on work that ordinary shooters have been very pleased with and been unable to see any imperfection in.

I've been re-finishing gunstocks using the traditional methods for almost six years and I still think my work is amateurish when I REALLY compare it with the work of a London apprenticed professional.

Interestingly, many people who see my work don't see anything to critcise - they think it is A1. But I know, and a real finisher knows, that it is probably only approaching A2 to a properly educated eye.

Each new stock is a learning process for me - that is why I enjoy doing it. It is also why I have a lot of ordinary guns with very carefully finished woodwork - practice is the key and there are no real shortcuts.

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