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In your quest for an original type finish, always remember that much of what you will read in various gun forums or books is sheer conjecture. That is why you will get various "expert" opinions that differ wildly at times. In many cases, the factory records and methods have been lost to time, and these companies closed so long ago that there are no surviving employees who know or remember. And in the case of a gun company that was in business for decades, what they used in the 1880's may have been totally different than what they used 40 years later. I have read what supposedly constituted an original finish for Syracuse Lefevers on the Lefever forum, and believe it is total bullshit. But that is hardly the only misinformation to be found on gun collector websites.

As you have seen, the finish on most lower grade vintage shotguns was a drying oil or varnish type finish that was not built-up or intended to fill every pore. Also, old finishes that may have originally been smooth will shrink into the pores over time, and they tend to become darker as they oxidize. Some gun makers apparently used shellac. Sometimes, they used shellac as a cheaper filler base coat, and used something else as a top coat, because shellac is not the ideal surface finish for a field gun. It provides a hard scratch resistant finish, but it will easily spot from exposure to water, and it will chip and crack over time. Manufacturers used what was cheap and available, and as these were production line firearms, they were not treated to meticulous labor intensive hand rubbed multiple coats, and perfectly filled surfaces. BLO or linseed oil may have it's place in some original stock finishes, but it is a very poor choice as a stand-alone gun stock finish, even though some swear by it. Again, many gun makers used it because it was cheap and readily available.

I find it interesting where you say Newell added castor oil to shellac as a plasticizer. I'd presume that was to make it less prone to cracking. I kinda doubt that would do much to make shellac more water resistant.

The easiest way to know if a gun was finished with shellac is to wipe the surface with denatured alcohol. Shellac dissolves very easily in alcohol, and varnish does not. Of course, that would not be a great idea if it removed a good original finish on an original Parker, or any other gun. Several years ago, I was able to completely strip and clean a grungy, chipped, and scratched finish on a 16 gauge L.C. Smith field grade. I wiped on a coat of shellac as a sealer to even things out, and top coated with a varnish.

About that same time frame, I picked up a very nice Baker Batavia Leader 12 gauge at a gun show. The blue and case colors were very strong, but the stocks looked horrendous. They were dark and looked like an alligator hide. I immediately knew that someone had applied a fairly heavy coat of shellac, and I was able to buy it very cheap because of how ugly the wood was. It took very little time and effort to completely remove the shellac that had been applied, and thankfully, the original finish remained, and was still in very nice condition. I saw the very same thing with a Lefever G Grade that I bought on Gunbroker. The stock was as ugly as a mud fence in the photos, so it sold very cheap. I was able to make it very presentable, and preserve the original finish underneath, for about a dollars worth of denatured alcohol, and an hour or so of time. That one even had shellac slopped on the metal and buttplate, and a little alcohol easily removed that as well. Sometimes you get lucky.

I admire your desire to refinish your gun using materials and techniques as near as possible to the original finish. But I am not a Parker collector and only have a few Parker doubles, and an 0 frame stock set. I could well be wrong, but none of them look like shellac finishes to me. And sorry, but I don't have any reason to slop on some alcohol to find out for certain. If you had a definite original Parker stock, you could give a chip of finish to someone in a good crime lab, and they could run it through an NMR spectroscopy test, and perhaps tell you exactly what you have. But even then, they would need something to compare the results to. Another caution is that a helluva lot of Parker shotguns that are said to be all original are not. However, if I was going to refinish one of them, I do not think I would choose shellac as a top coat on any gun I planned to use for hunting, knowing what I know about shellac. Just something to think about, even if not what you wanted to know.

EDIT: I see BrentD reading my post again, when he claims to IGNORE my posts. I wish it worked the other way, so I could block him from reading what I post. I hate possibly providing info to someone who voted for Joe Biden.


A true sign of mental illness is any gun owner who would vote for an Anti-Gunner like Joe Biden.

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Keith, thanks for the reply. I always learn quite a lot whenever I take on one of these project guns. Your comments are always helpful and give me grist to chew on (my completed Lefever G as example). I am not a collector, although my wife would say otherwise. I have only one Parker, this GH.

For this Parker I am working only on the forend with the aim to recut the smoothed out checkering and get a finish that is not inconsistent in color and feel with that on the stock. (I may do the stock after I judge my success with the forend). Close examination of the stock does suggest shellac as I can find one very small spot (maybe 1mm) at a junction of the pad and heel where a small chip, only present in the finish, is present. My experience is that as finishes go, shellac chips, oil wears. I am also of the opinion that the original finish has received a neutral colored top coat, very thin, perhaps a thinned BLO with dryer, but on there nevertheless. What do I base this on you ask (or not)? The stock finish is satin luster, with somewhat filled but still open pores and I can see this finish in the checkering cuts. I believe shellac at 119 years would or should look quite dry and the checkering cuts should not have a deposit of finish. (On the stock checkering I may try to use alcohol and a suede brass brush and see if whatever is there will dissolve. If yes == shellac, no == ??). If shellac I can always re-coat the checkering with a 1# cut of blonde or orange.

At the moment I am working with an alkanet (to get a reddish tint) and orange or garnet shellac finish (on a practice forend of approximately the same 100 year age).

Should you know of anyone with a copy of the very pricey book 'The Parker Story', I would like to converse. My understanding is that Chapter 10 concerns the Parker stock making and finishing process. How much useful finishing detail there is in this material I do not know but would like to find out.

I also will be trying the use of caster oil described by Newell in his 1949 book on Gunstock Finishing and Care. He recommends a 4% (4ml to 96ml) caster oil to shellac. On my practice piece of course.

As a final top coat I may use a neutral wiping varnish to provide some additional resilience in the field. My guns have to earn their keep. In the Ohio woodcock coverts, full of multiflora rose, thorn-apples, wild grape, and prickly Hawthorne, a wood finish has to be resilient. No safe queens or gun show "look at me" babes allowed here.

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One of the tools I did not see in the photo of your work space that I highly recommend for those lines that go astray no matter what you do. I have used it on every job.

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools...r--prod604.aspx

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Larry, thanks. Just ordered one from Brownell's. Really appreciate your help.

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I believe I have achieved the reddish color tone match using the alkanet red oil. Practice wood from the same period 1890's above with three applications, original Parker stock finish below.

I tried BLO as the first application on the other side of the forend and that produced a color tone with too much brown and very little red tones.


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that looks like a great match. looking forward to seeing the final product


Jim
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I need some advice. As I make progress on my recutting of the checkering I have arrived at working on the mullered border. The first photo shows the original border with very little wear on the right. I have re-established the border on the left. The original border on the left consisted of a slight amount of original pattern in the form of lines and a slight border profile.

The second photo shows the tools I have for this work. The Dem-Bart cutters are 1) 2-28, 2) BC-N concave, 3) F1, and 4) 4-40 machine screw tool. And a curved blade knife.

As I continue along the checkering pattern I will be losing any pattern lines for the border as it has been completely erased by hand wear. This will make re-establishing the border more difficult.

I watched a YouTube video (MNR Custom, LLC) on this type of border and the fellow uses a 28 lpi cutter to establish the border lines for the mullered border (on a 22 lpi checkering pattern and not a Parker).

A couple of observations at this point.
1: the Dem-Bart BC-N cutter seems to be too wide to match the original border. Is the Gun line concave cutter narrower?
2: there are two lines, one on each side of the border, very thin. How are these cut? Which tool?
3: I find that a 2-28 cutter will give me the required center line for the border. Is this a good means to center the border? I am thinking of using the 2-28 cutter twice to establish the inner and outer border lines.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

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For those interested, and following here are a couple of photos on my progress. The original border on this Parker is only +0.070 wide measured from thin outside border line to opposite border line. This is a 28 lpi pattern. The actual mullered border is even narrower.

This photo shows the worn smooth border on the left:
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

This photo shows my refurbished border on the right:
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

A few more lines to go. I need new eyes.

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Are you using magnification? I need an opti-visor for that kind of work these days. I spent this afternoon cutting metal checkering....my eyes are darn tired afterward.


http://www.bertramandco.com/

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Parker mullered border progress. Center two short sections on left remain to be added.

Left side, knuckle end. Original completely obliterated by wear.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

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