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PhysDoc Offline OP
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Hi,

I've got this Winchester Model 1912 buttstock that has had some damage. It is missing a chunk at the toe and also
has a pretty deep dent in the pistol grip area. I've stripped the stock using Citrustrip and am now trying to steam out that dent. I realize
that it won't come up all at once, and I've seen some progress, but I wonder what is the best that I can hope for and if anyone has
any tricks.

Fred

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Use a travel size clothes iron to steam with, you can use denatured alcohol on a rag as well. The alcohol seems to seep in deeper.


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Thanks, I went downstairs and gave the denatured alcohol a try, it seems like it was an improvement over water.

The dent is pretty deep and, I suspect that it has been there a long time. I've been thinking that it probably won't come out immediately,
so I've been steaming and then waiting a day or so, I've got plenty of other stuff to do, and coming back to it with more steaming. Is this ok?

Fred

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Deep dents require a different method of going about things though a little more complicated than removal of shallow dents. The method I use for deep dents is an old school long forgotten trick used by a French polisher who passed information on to a young man in the 1960s and I have never found a better method. This method is best used first on a deep dent's though I have used it when the water and Alcohol have worked so far but not removed the dent all the way. Neat Alcohol will work but it is far better if there is a water content with it so I use 50 50 water and Alcohol up to 75% Alcohol and 25% water. The reasoning behind this is wood needs water to swell the fibers where Alcohol will just provide a vapor quickly to expand the wood fibers at the time then disappears allowing the fibers to partly return to their starting point.
The how! First remove any finish from the dent and surrounding area also try to remove any oil from the area with Acetone or Petrol yes Petrol well this is old school. now you will need the finest sewing machine needle the finest you can obtain because these will stand the next step. You are going to use the needle to pierce deeply the surface of the dent using a very light hammer and gentle taps on the needle remember you are not knocking in a nail do it gently (I always try to pick the wood pores because it is far less noticeable when you com to finish because not all the holes will disappear but the majority will. Next you will need a piece of bread and moisten it with a little water to make a form of putty, now using this putty form a dam around the dent which is intended to hold the alcohol water mix. The final step is to heat the dent and a little of the surrounding area as hot as you dare now pour quickly into your dam the water Alcohol mix. As the wood cools down it will draw the Alcohol and water mix deeper in to the wood fibers via the holes. When cool you can repeat this process hopefully saturating all of the wood fibers in the dented area, then suing a hot iron and a cloth saturated with the water and Alcohol mix heat the dented area though keep your nerve doing this final step because you need to heat the wood further down than normal. you can repeat this process many times until you obtain the best results. During the final stage of steaming you will find a lot of the needle holes will close themselves.


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I have used the above method, substituting an artist sponge for bread, lifting dents from wood sailboat planks. I saw it at one of the wooden boat show many years ago. It may take more than one attempt and it may not lift it entirely but it will raise dents, not breaks or cuts in wood fiber.

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Thanks, I will go out and pick up some sewing machine needles.

Here is a picture of the profile of the dent. It is in the pistol grip of a Winchester Model 1912 stock. It has a diameter a little under
an inch and maybe a depth of about 1/8 inch. I've made some progress on it.


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Fred, I've found that plain old 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol works better than either denatured alcohol or plain water alone. As Damascus says, it seems to penetrate deeper into the wood than plain water. But you need to give It enough time to soak deep into the wood, and it may take several applications to accomplish that. It is also important to remove the finish so that the alcohol can get in. The pores in the wood are the vascular system that transported water and nutrients while the tree was alive. And they will still permit the alcohol to get in if they are not filled with finish. Most people simply apply a moistened cloth to the surface, but by getting the dented area good and wet, you are then generating steam from deeper below the surface, and swelling the compressed wood more than by simply attempting to drive steam down into the wood from the surface.

It is still important to use a moistened cloth on the surface so that your dent raising iron does not scorch the wood. And being persistent with repeated attempts sometimes really pays off. I don't usr a clothes iron, but instead made several smaller dent raising irons that are heated with either a propane torch or a stove burner. The worst dents are those that result from the stock striking a sharp edge which breaks the fibers of the wood. But even many of those really bad dents can be substantially raised.

I think it might be interesting to experiment with a junk stock, and soak a dent well, and then pop it into a large microwave oven to create the steam. But it would require some restraint to avoid overheating. Once, I was using a microwave to heat a shotgun forend wrapped in tissue to get the oil out. It was working great until I got it too hot and heard a crack, and found it had split lengthwise. It glued up well, but was pretty disconcerting at the time.


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Thanks Damascus, susjwp and Keith,

Here, I've worked on things a bit and seen a little improvement, I wonder if I am doing things right, if my dent is say 1/8 inch deep, how far should I attempt to drive the needles in. Also, how long should I let the mixture of alcohol and water soak into the wood?

Fred

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As this is just an artisan method to deal with dents there is no set times or rules when things should or should not happen. I personally keep topping up the water/alcohol for a week to make sire that the wood is totally saturated. As for the hole depth I do make some deeper than others usually at the center of the dent,.


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How did this method work? Inquiring minds want to know.

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