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Posted By: LetFly S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/26/20 02:04 PM
Any opinions on using this product on my 1893 G Parker in a wood refinishing project? I have read quite a lot about AR on this forum but have never used it in a wood refinish. This is sold on eBay.
Posted By: BrentD Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/26/20 02:23 PM
I have never heard of it, but it certainly looks interesting. thanks for posting, and sorry I can't help.
Posted By: Woodreaux Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/26/20 03:45 PM
I've got a bottle of his London Blend. wrote a long post thinking that was the same thing as his alkanet stain, which I don't believe he was selling at the time I bought his finish.

I see no reason not to use his alkanet oil-- assuming it's appropriate to use alkanet on the particular gun.

Posted By: keith Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/26/20 05:12 PM
I used to use alkanet root stain, but found that this stuff is better.

Non-grain raising, very penetrating, very even coverage, very transparent so as to enhance the grain rather than obscure it, and UV resistant. It is available in Blood Red, Medium Red Mahogany, and several other shades. We use epoxies and PVA wood glues today because they are superior to what was available 100 years ago. We now have wood finishes far better than boiled linseed oil. So it is with this.
Posted By: Craigster Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/26/20 07:43 PM

Posted By: damascus Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/28/20 10:18 AM
Alkanet or not to alkanet that is the question? My answer is this "it is your gun so re finish it in the way you see fit. But there is always a but isn't there, so I will start with this "a gun or any thing else for that matter is Original only once". So the question is do I try to re finish my gun as close to original as possible or do I just re finish it using todays products both have plus and minus points on their side.
Original finish especially if the gun is getting on in years it will use products that where available at the time of its manufacture. As far as guns are concerned they require maintenance especially the stock finish, well if you have a pair of good leather shoes you don't expect to only polish them once in their lifetime do you? Today we folks want every thing fast and over the last fifty years technology has worked towards the removal of the maintenance person and maintenance of every day objects in our lives, Motor vehicles and Electrical goods come to mind.
So why would I use original products on a hundred plus year old gun, they do say a picture is worth a thousand words so in the picture is my hundred and fifty year old gun that was completely refinished after mechanical restoration in the nineteen sixties because the only finish it had was 100% rust. The stock colour is Alkanet with traditional Brit finishing oil with a Linseed oil and Copal base, this requires a maintenance rescheme of the tip of your finger dipped in Linseed Oil and rubbed into the stock, winter months wax polish applied to the stock especially the wood to metal joints to keep water out and to give that English gun stock luster. Wax is also applied to the barrel browning to keep the water out well it is rust after all.
After the restoration gun in the picture did not look like it does now in fact it looked rather to bright and new looking but over the last sixty years its looks have mellowed with age looking more like a Victorian lady rather than a 1020's flapper after the finishes have aged even down to the barrel browning wear. This may not be for you and you would like your gun to look continually new and that is what a lot of modern finishes will give you because they do not age as the older ones , and there is nothing wrong with that because in the end it is your gun to do with as you see fit.

Posted By: sxsman1 Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/28/20 10:31 AM
A beautiful gun Damascus.
Posted By: LetFly Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/29/20 12:00 AM
Thanks. I like to think that I am refurbishing rather than refinishing a gun when required. Refurbish is a lesser degree of replacement of the decades of witness to honest use. I use my guns afield and my goal is to keep them sound both of metal and wood without erasing history. I see nothing wrong with a refinish on Damascus when required. After all this service was offered by all quality gun makers. Ancient wood requires care if you are going to take the gun outside and into the fields and thickets. As to finish I have read much about Alkanet in the pages of this forum. I like the look, but it may not be right for the Parker. Again thanks for your insight. Beautiful Purdey.

My refurbished Lefever G at the end of an afternoon's outing.(It's history chronicled in "Stock repairs yikes" on this forum)
Posted By: BrentD Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/29/20 12:54 AM
That's a fine shotgun LetFly. I would like to try shooting a Lefever like that someday.
Posted By: Woodreaux Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/29/20 01:10 PM
Originally Posted By: damascus
Alkanet or not to alkanet that is the question?

With apologies to those offended by corny puns, I believe you mean... "Alkanet or Alkanot?"

Of course, that question is a matter of opinion.

My opinion is two fold:
1. when one has chosen a century old gun with wood stocks, exposed hammers, and hand engraving e.g., over a modern cerakoted auto loader, he has already rejected the fundamental principles of technocentrism. It's ok to continue along the same path when making subsequent decisions about the gun as well. e.g. using paper shells with fiber wadding or carrying the gun in a wood and leather trunk. So it is with the finish.
2. It is undeniable that the coloring and "dull London finish" that one obtains with a traditional alkanet and slacum is different in feel and appearance than modern stains and poly based finishes, whether they are better or not in practical matters.

If it were my Parker (or Purdey), I would use the closest thing to the original as possible (or at least a 'period correct' finish), because that would increase my enjoyment of the gun.

Originally Posted By: LetFly
I like the look, but it may not be right for the Parker.

I'm curious why you came to this conclusion. Did Parker not use alkanet?
Posted By: Woodreaux Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/29/20 03:58 PM
reason for my question re: parkers. it's my understanding that parkers were finished with shellac but that doesn't mean they didn't use alkanet for coloring. J. Howe describes coloring with linseed, turps and alkanet on preparation for shellac finish. Any reason to believe Parker was doing something different in 1893? maybe just using a garnet shellac?
Posted By: BrentD Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/29/20 04:17 PM
I'm with you Woodreaux.
Posted By: LetFly Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/30/20 08:36 PM
Originally Posted By: Woodreaux
[quote=damascus]Alkanet or not to alkanet that is the question?

Great pun!

As to what Parker Bros. used to finish their wood I do not know. I will ask over at the Parker Arms forum.
Posted By: Woodreaux Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 11/30/20 09:41 PM
what I've seen there and elsewhere gave me the idea that shellac was the typical finish on Parkers. That doesn't answer the question about whether they used alkanet or some other colorants though. Seems like the Americans used a variety of things, with alkanet still being the most common.

If you're looking for a shellac finish, Ken61 shared his method on here some time ago. It starts with alkanet oil, followed by shellac, and french polish. It is very similar to the shellac finish published by James Howe in 1941. Donald Newell also described 'antique' shellac finishes in his 1949 book in gun finishes.
Posted By: susjwp Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/01/20 01:23 PM

Thanks for the formulas.

Posted By: hereford Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/05/20 02:54 AM
I have just recently bought and used the SB McWilliams alkanet oil as well as the alkanet varnish. So far I am impressed with the product. The varnish is thin which is alot easier for me to work with allowing for a smooth self leveling finish. The alkanet oil finish is also a very subtle color and dries relatively fast considering it's a linseed oil base. Not an overpowering red color. Definitely going to be using more of this in my next refinishes.
Posted By: LetFly Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/10/20 08:19 PM
Woodreaux, I have tried to find the post by Ken61 on shellac using the search engine. Unfortunately I have not been able to do so with success. Any idea of the time period for this posting?
Posted By: Woodreaux Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/10/20 09:02 PM
searching can be tricky. I believe it was from some time ago, though I couldn't point you to an exact date.

I did include it in a summary of traditional finishes, which you can access by clicking on the link here and requesting access.

Ken61's finish is on page 13.

There are also several shellac finishes from early (c1940s) American gunsmiths, such as Howe and Newell, which you'll find in the second half of the document
Posted By: Stoneke Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/29/20 06:54 PM
I have used the McWilliams Alkanet finish. My only complaint is the slow drying time. Al least two days air drying at 70 degrees. It applies beautifully using a hand rubbed method.
Posted By: hereford Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/30/20 05:14 PM
Since I last posted I am halfway into a English walnut stock using the alkanet oil finish and am very impressed. I finished a stock using the alkanet varnish and also impressed with it. Finish looks great after I finished it off with a rottenstone polish. I am actually able to get a coat a day on the oil version but I am very conservative in my application. My bottle I am very judicious in getting the cap on quickly as I'm sure some of the drying agent could evaporate. As with any finish the key is application and preparation and not necessarily the product as I have made cheap furniture finishes look great when applied to a stock.
Posted By: BrentD Re: S.B. McWilliams Alkanet Root? - 12/30/20 09:40 PM
Any pictures? Sounds good.
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