Author Topic: Wallace Gusler stain and finish  (Read 7163 times)

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2018, 10:35:51 PM »
Rich, MGillman stated in the first post that Wallace asked for it to be posted for him.  Maybe he's having internet or computer issues. 

This being said I don't think ANYONE here is criticizing the work, design or what have you of the rifle in any way.  The subject of the thread is the finish and I think we've all largely stuck to that.

I don't particularly like it either.  HOWEVER:  I say this with a couple of caveats.  First, when dealing with maple of this type of figuring and a lot of carving, it sure is nice to use a finish that doesn't really raise the grain like a water-based finish would.  Furthermore, a piece of maple like this will benefit (in appearance) from handling, weather and dirt infiltration over time and this finish sure as heck will permit that to happen.  I will also say that - as was noted in Wallace's paraphrased or quoted words in the original thread, after the passage of time and handling, the piece will take on a much less 'harsh' or dramatic look.  It will indeed look better and better but unfortunately many of us will not live long enough nor use the rifle constantly enough to see it!

I suspect Wallace is basing this finish on reverse-engineering of original pieces that he is either emulating or in other words an original style within he is working, a regional thing in other words, possibly the rifles from one of the original JHAT articles that he wrote up.  They appear to be much-aged versions of a finish like this, probably no aqua fortis involved.
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Offline Scota4570

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2018, 12:58:32 AM »
I think it looks good.  Most of the time guys are trying to get it darker with more contrast.  This one has that in spades.

Sticky BLO?  A big juicy coat of regular linseed is a mess, no doubt.  When BLO with Japan Dryer get gummy cut it off with burlap.  Call it filer.  That takes hours to overnight for me.  BLO will never dry like a varnish. 

Depending on the project, I stain the wood.  I then seal and partially fill the grain with a couple thin coats of spar varnish.  For porous woods I sometime make sanding mud filler with thinner and BLO and work it in.    I then mix bee's wax, BLO, Japan dryer, and Turpentine to make "Slackum".  I add black iron oxide powder the Slackum to further darken the pores.  Wipe on - buff off.  It will not be sticky.  The wax is needed.     I live where the temperatures are moderate and the humidity is low, that may work in my favor. 


Offline Darrin McDonal

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2018, 01:02:55 AM »
Does anyone on this forum honestly think Wallace would use a finish that wasn't top notch and reliable? I saw and handled this rifle last year. Apparently anybody commenting on "sticky, tacky or gummy" finishes  about this didn't understand the description / process and is entirely wrong. This finish does not get sticky or tacky. Not even in hot humid weather because that's what we have here. As for the depth of curl, it has incredible depth of curl. It is far more so than I have ever seen with alcohol stains so don't discount this at all as a traditional finish. Just do it right. Numerous coats are needed since this goes very deep in the pores of the wood. If its not rubbed off thoroughly after application and allowed to cure, it wont turn out correct. Pieces finished this way do get richer and deeper with time also. Now I am not a chemist but there is something going on at a molecular level with the asphaltum and oil during the curing process that dries this completely. If someone is in a hurry to get a finish on a rifle or wants different tones than this may not be the one for you but it is beautiful in its own right.

Darrin
« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 01:07:36 AM by Darrin McDonal »
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Offline G_T

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2018, 09:17:46 PM »
Whatever the stuff is that is sold as BLO in the hardware stores in recent history, isn't. I don't know what it is. But it doesn't dry. It might be a good oil additive for paint, but that's all I'd use it for!

About 30 years ago I bought a gallon of BLO that had been gathering dust for at least a decade in an old hardware store. That stuff dried well. It was thicker than the current stuff and according to label, did not have any driers added. I used it as part of a finish for some traditional bows (self-wood and bamboo backed laminated wood, where I have much more experience than with longrifles). I did not have issues with it. Put it on a little thicker than it should be, and it took perhaps a week to dry but it dried fine. Put on thin, and it dried in a day. Hand-rubbed of course, so it was thin and hot. The more I used it and the older it got, the better it got. I did tend to use something harder for the final surface coat.

Now not waiting for the finish to dry between coats does lead to a long drying time, pretty much regardless of the type of finish. IMHO, of course! Don't be in a hurry...

Most likely today I'll start refining some cold pressed linseed oil using the sand and salt water technique. Afterwards I hope to turn some of it into a varnish if I can get some good hard copal. I've not made my own and I want to try.

I expect Wallace Gussler is using the REAL linseed oil or quite possibly prepolymerized and sunlight aged real linseed oil (I think all that really requires is a little air, some sunlight, and time), not the chemical concoction you find nowdays in hardware stores. These are not at all alike. Just like what the hardware stores sell as turpentine is different than real gum spirits of turpentine. They don't even smell the same to me at least.

i found the finish on the rifle of this thread interesting enough I had to pick up some Asphaltum to experiment with. Not tar, but Gilsonite; it is a mineral pigment used for old style oil paint.

https://www.tadspurgeon.com/pdf/Refining_Linseed_Oil.pdf This may be of some interest.

Gerald

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #29 on: July 25, 2018, 12:38:19 AM »
Gilsonite - true Gilsonite, mined in Utah I believe - makes for a wonderful "asphaltum" that is not only hard and non-sticky, but also is relatively transparent which also is a true characteristic of genuine historical asphaltums.  In fact, painters historically used light varnishes (i.e., thinned) tinted with hard and transparent asphaltums to add a bit of an 'aged' tint However, Gilsonite would not have been used historically as a varnish ingredient in this country until the very late 19th century, when it was discovered.

The problem with describing a finish as involving "linseed oil" and "asphaltum" is that it is essentially like writing up a recipe for a meal and noting that the primary ingredients are 'meat' and 'vegetable.'  Come again?  Hardware store linseed oil is garbage - we all know that.  Of course there are better variants available if you purchase from an art supply, or you can make your own which will be much more true to the oil the early gunsmiths would have known.  There are variations to be found in the linseed oil that was available in the 18th century, and as I noted previously, the term "asphaltum" was used to refer to a wide variety of bituminous products.  Some were suitable for a wood finish or varnish subject to frequent handling and some were not.  So my bottom line is this:  be specific.

I distinctly remember someone a number of years ago at one point mentioning - somewhere - pine tar.  I believe it was Wallace in a video, or perhaps in person, but if not then I apologize for attributing it to him.  Sometimes in more recent years (20th century), this has also been referred to as asphaltum.  It is not, very definitely not.  Furthermore, it never would have been referred to as asphaltum in any historical context.  Also, if someone can render a truly hard and non H2O permeable finish using pine tar, I have a bridge in Brooklyn available for sale.  Good for horse hooves, though.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Darrin McDonal

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2018, 01:41:17 AM »
That is for sure about the stuff sold in the hardware store as BLO. More like lousy mystery "oil". Stick to the pure linseed oil of known quality.
Darrin
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Colonial Williamsburg
Owner of Frontier Flintlocks

Mikecooper

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #31 on: July 25, 2018, 03:39:24 AM »
modern hardware store linseed oil has chemical driers added.    If you want the good stuff you have to make it yourself.   It can be washed to remove water soluble stuff and it can be heat bodied to improve drying.   

Tupentine is extracted  using some nasty smelling chemicals.    Diamond G products in Georgia markets the good stuff distilled from pine sap.   I'm not affiliated with them but it's the real thing. 


Offline dogcatcher

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #32 on: July 25, 2018, 05:11:14 AM »
From what I have read asphaltum is basically coal tar that has solidified, that would have been available, pine tar, also wood have been available.  Both will dye wood pretty dark or just a little depending on the application.     

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Wallace Gusler stain and finish
« Reply #33 on: July 25, 2018, 05:41:29 AM »
It's not a question of what will color wood.  It doesn't take much to impart color to wood.  The primary issues are (1) particulate size, i.e will any given substance be relatively transparent or will it clog the grain in an unattractive fashion as per most pigments? and (2) will the substance render a *tangibly* hard finish or will it create/retain a 'tack'?  Pine tar is a big no-go in this respect.  Various coniferous-derived resins on the other hand are an entirely different story.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!