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Posted: 4/11/2011 3:54:36 PM EDT
So, I have my first rifle, a Century Arms AK-74 (Yes, I know) on the way, due to arrive at my FFL in a couple days. Because the plastic furniture it comes with is so entirely hideous, I bought a set of Bulgarian wood from Apex Gun Parts, with the intent of making my rifle look like this guy's:

http://www.xdtalk.com/forums/ak-47-talk/151495-first-time-shooting-my-century-bulgarian-ak74.html

However, the lower handguard was somewhat darker than anticipated. However, it is where most of the cosmoline was in the bag. My question is;

-Will the handguard lighten-up after I bake the cosmo out of the wood?
-If not, does anyone have an approximate stain recipe to refinish the hardwood to 'Bulgarian Blond'?

Thank you for the time. I will post pics when 'Nikolina' is presentable.
Link Posted: 4/11/2011 6:04:57 PM EDT



Quoted:


So, I have my first rifle, a Century Arms AK-74 (Yes, I know) on the way, due to arrive at my FFL in a couple days. Because the plastic furniture it comes with is so entirely hideous, I bought a set of Bulgarian wood from Apex Gun Parts, with the intent of making my rifle look like this guy's:



http://www.xdtalk.com/forums/ak-47-talk/151495-first-time-shooting-my-century-bulgarian-ak74.html



However, the lower handguard was somewhat darker than anticipated. However, it is where most of the cosmoline was in the bag. My question is;



-Will the handguard lighten-up after I bake the cosmo out of the wood?

-If not, does anyone have an approximate stain recipe to refinish the hardwood to 'Bulgarian Blond'?



Thank you for the time. I will post pics when 'Nikolina' is presentable.


made link hot.



from my experience with the bulgy wood, the bottom HG's are always darker. My suggestion would be to strip it, bleach it, sand it, and then use a clear coat. The natural color should be rather blond unless your HG is like mine was and just darker all the way though.



 
Link Posted: 4/12/2011 3:28:53 PM EDT
For some reason, the Bulgarians made the AK-74 lower hand guard out of some sort of European Walnut.
It's naturally a darker color than the Birch the stock and upper hand guard are made from.

You can bleach the wood to a lighter color.  Some methods are used to remove stains from wood, others are to lighten the wood itself.
Here's some info on HOW to bleach wood and what to use:

http://antiquerestorers.com/Articles/jeff/using_wood_bleach.htm

The "Bulgarian Blond" is just Amber shellac over the bare wood.
You can get the same color by using a light application of a blond stain followed by a top coat of polyurethane.
The blond stain is a little tough since most are oil stains that won't soak into the AK wood.

You might use a thinned coat of Tandy water-based leather dye.  Use a well thinned coat of Yellow leather dye, then the poly.  The thinned water-based Yellow will give the wood the same color as the Amber shellac over Birch.
Link Posted: 4/12/2011 5:57:58 PM EDT
@nictra, thanks for heating the link.

@dfariswheel, Thanks for the link. My primary interest is replicating the color of the stock, which is very close to the stock in the link mentioned above. If that's the case, then it sounds like I need to use two-part bleach and then shellac the wood? Why do you think that the furniture in the link I posted is so lighter than what I have? If I chlorine bleached the handguard, how dark would the naked walnut be?

Sorry if this sounds like alot of questions, I really appreciate the assistance.

[EDIT] Sorry for the crappy quality of the photo
Link Posted: 4/13/2011 7:32:29 AM EDT
I bought two sets of that Bulgy 74 wood from Apexguns a couple of months ago. What a great deal.  The lower in the first set was very dark like yours. It will not change color when you remove cosmoline or over time. I decided to refinish it, but also decided to buy a second set to see if the lower would be lighter since the price was so low.

The lower handguard with the second set was indeed much better looking and did not need any refinishing. That mismatched dark lower/lighter upper handguard combo is authentic, but sometimes the lowers are too dark for personal tastes.  If that lower is too dark, I would suggest you strip  it down with citristrip (wear gloves and glasses when using wood stripper), light sand, and stain. In my experience the closest stain for Bulgy blonde is minwax golden oak. However, the final color you get from a given stain is dependent upon the color of the wood you start with. You mayfind after you strip it that no stain will be necessary. After you strip it, you should be able to tell from the color of the stripped wood whether you will need stain to get the color you want. You could test just shellac and re-strip it if you do not like the color.  If so, use stain and then finish it off with shellac, tru- oil, or minwax clear. I will post some pics when I get home.
Link Posted: 4/13/2011 2:47:49 PM EDT
The color of the AK-74 wood in the link is the original Bulgarian color.
It's some kind of stain mixed with a finish And it's only on the surface.  It's a sort of an Orange-Tan in color NOT "Blond".  
If you sand off the wood it's the yellow-white of natural birch, except for the lower hand guard which is a walnut.

This is different than the "blond" that many people ask about.  The blond is a very light yellow.  The Bulgarian is the Orange-Tan color.
Here's mine before the wood was refinished.  This was built from a brand new Bulgarian de-milled kit and the wood was in mint, original and un-oil soaked condition.:



Link Posted: 4/13/2011 4:02:33 PM EDT
So, went out and bought the citristrip, some wood bleach, and some Minwax 'golden oak' stain. That handguard is definitely walnut...at least the grain is what I'm going for. Will have to wait and see once I rinse the stripper off whether or not I want to bleach it. Will likely take it at least one shade whiter.
Link Posted: 4/13/2011 7:25:17 PM EDT
Quoted:
So, went out and bought the citristrip, some wood bleach, and some Minwax 'golden oak' stain. That handguard is definitely walnut...at least the grain is what I'm going for. Will have to wait and see once I rinse the stripper off whether or not I want to bleach it. Will likely take it at least one shade whiter.


Make sure not to over sand and sand with the grain always. If that stain does not cut it, you could try adding some Sedona red with the golden oak.
Link Posted: 4/13/2011 7:58:19 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
So, went out and bought the citristrip, some wood bleach, and some Minwax 'golden oak' stain. That handguard is definitely walnut...at least the grain is what I'm going for. Will have to wait and see once I rinse the stripper off whether or not I want to bleach it. Will likely take it at least one shade whiter.


Mseverer not to over sand and sand with grain always. If that stain does not cut it, you could try adding some Sedona red with the golden oak.


Yeah, looking at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2hkMhZQd5U, I think I may need to add something to orange-up the stain.

I just realized...I spent $32 at the hardware store, and will likely spend at least $15 more on this. When $35 would buy another set from APEX...

By the way, what do people think of the Romy grip on the guy's rifle? [insert Toby's voice from Family Guy] That bit of marbled purple bakelite with the yellow-orange wood is just sooo pretty.
Link Posted: 4/15/2011 1:34:39 PM EDT
Here is the result of the bleaching. The upper HG looks ready to go, but I'm unsure of the lower, how that light tan will affect the final stain.

(I am incredibly sorry about the quality of the pic, but you get the idea of the color)
Link Posted: 4/15/2011 1:43:13 PM EDT
just don't expect us to make a decision on the final product with pics like that



looks good so far, looking forward to your final results
Link Posted: 4/15/2011 2:03:20 PM EDT
Quoted:
just don't expect us to make a decision on the final product with pics like that

looks good so far, looking forward to your final results


Good for stain, you people think, hrghm? [attempt at Yoda]

Alright. I went ahead and gave the lower one last bit of bleach, I'm going to stain the upper tonight and see if I do need to nip out tomorrow and grab some Sedona Red. I've got to get a bit of poly anyway.

On second thought, I do still have the recip for the stain...should I try shellac? Is that how the buttstock is finished?
Link Posted: 4/15/2011 3:07:48 PM EDT


Photobucket  search for Bulgarian Blonde!
Link Posted: 4/15/2011 3:29:57 PM EDT
Quoted:
http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r138/liddljb69/S4022226.jpg

Photobucket  search for Bulgarian Blonde!


This is tech, not GD. Please don't post that nonsense where it is most certainly not welcome.
Link Posted: 4/16/2011 8:12:54 AM EDT
Just as damn dark as when I started, with just one wipe of stain. I give up.
Link Posted: 4/16/2011 10:14:56 AM EDT
First, what are you bleaching it with?
In the link I posted it discussed using a very strong swimming pool bleach mix to actually lighten the wood, not bleach out a stain, which is a different process.

One other option is to do just what the Bulgarians and most other AK makers did, which is to use a stain-finish.
This is a stain mixed with a finish.  This doesn't soak into the wood and color it, it stays on the surface.
I can recommend Mixwax Polyshades.
Something like the Honey Pine or Pecan might be close to the original Bulgarian Orange-Tan color.

http://www.minwax.com/products/one_step_stain_and_finishes/polyshades.html#Colors

If you're going for a Russian Red, the Sedona Red stain might do it.  The trick there is to apply one coat to the lower guard and more on the stock and upper guard.
This will tend to even out the color caused by the darker walnut lower.
Link Posted: 4/16/2011 11:35:57 AM EDT
Quoted:
First, what are you bleaching it with?
In the link I posted it discussed using a very strong swimming pool bleach mix to actually lighten the wood, not bleach out a stain, which is a different process.

One other option is to do just what the Bulgarians and most other AK makers did, which is to use a stain-finish.
This is a stain mixed with a finish.  This doesn't soak into the wood and color it, it stays on the surface.
I can recommend Mixwax Polyshades.
Something like the Honey Pine or Pecan might be close to the original Bulgarian Orange-Tan color.

http://www.minwax.com/products/one_step_stain_and_finishes/polyshades.html#Colors

If you're going for a Russian Red, the Sedona Red stain might do it.  The trick there is to apply one coat to the lower guard and more on the stock and upper guard.
This will tend to even out the color caused by the darker walnut lower.


I bought some wood bleach (oxalic acid) [EDIT]I just went back and re-read the link. Cue the epic facepalm, sorry. along with the Citristrip. I was going to go back out there and make a really concentrated mix and try that.

But in all honesty this is starting to be more trouble than it's worth. I'm just going to post a WTB on the EE.

[EDIT-2]: So, staining the wood got the handguards back close to their original colors. I'm going to go ahead and poly them and install them like I should have done @ square one(Isn't hindisght great?). I'll get the poly in the morning, should have FOTOZ by the afternoon.
Link Posted: 4/17/2011 11:45:10 AM EDT
How you get the color can be any one of a great many methods.
I used Tandy water-based LEATHER dye on the Bulgarian I posted above.
I mixed Red, Yellow, and Cordovan to get the color of the later darker Russian Red wood.
I probably could have got the same color with just the Cordovan, which is a Red-Brown.
Top coats were Satin Mixwax Poly.

The butt stock is an Ironwood Designs, the upper and lower hand guards are the original Bulgarian.  Remember, the camera always makes things look redder:







Link Posted: 4/18/2011 5:20:32 PM EDT
Got my real camera working again! Yay...

So anyway, I've got the wood stripped back down and I'm bleaching it again. Using Chlorox, and though it's slow, I do believe the wood is beginning to lighten. Alternating with Oxalic acid to combat the iron stains forming and re-scrubbing with Chlorox as soon as it's dry.

I've taken some photos of the wood as wet, as that will be how it looks with poly/shellac on.


Still too dark, but I figure I keep scrubbing the Chlorox into it, in about a day it should be light enough to shellac. BTW, would 'amber' shellac be close to the buttstock?
Link Posted: 4/19/2011 10:07:55 AM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r138/liddljb69/S4022226.jpg

Photobucket  search for Bulgarian Blonde!


This is tech, not GD. Please don't post that nonsense where it is most certainly not welcome.


Jeeze LIGHTEN UP FRANCIS!

I was alpha searching Bulgarian blonde wood stain and got the friggin picture.... I just thought I'd lighten the mood!
Link Posted: 4/19/2011 11:24:15 AM EDT
Again, you have to use the right chemicals to actually lighten wood.  Clorox laundry bleach just won't do it.
Read the link about using swimming pool chemicals to mix up a VERY strong bleaching mix.  This will quickly lighten the wood without soaking for days, which isn't good for the wood.  
You might have problems with the upper hand guard de-laminating, and everything else swelling.

The pictured Bulgarian stock is what most people mean by "Blond".  It's a pale yellow, not the darker Orange-Tan of the Bulgarian AK-74.
Amber Shellac will give that color on the Birch wood used by the Bulgarians butt stocks.
My buddy who's a wood finishing expert says that bare Shellac isn't water resistant and will turn white if you get it wet.
He applies a coat of a satin finish over his shellac to water proof it.
I "THINK" (note the qualifier) that he uses Minwax water-based acrylic finish as the top coat.

So, forget the Clorox, get some swimming pool chemicals and mix according to the bleaching link I posted.
Then use Amber Shellac and a top coat.....OR just mix a little water-based yellow leather dye with some Minwax acrylic finish, OR use a Honey or Yellow stain.
Minwax Honey Pine Polyshades stain-finish would probably do it.

Finally, just remember that the pale yellow Blond AK stocks you see are either new-unfinished wood from Ironwood Designs that are made of Birch and have never had a stain or finish on them. or they're made from all Birch not the walnut the Bulgarian lower hand guard is made of.
Link Posted: 4/19/2011 6:08:32 PM EDT
Alright. Stopped at the hardware store on the way to morning classes to see what they had. They had 10% chlorine solution and granulated solute called 'shock & swim' that is labeled as being 47% Ca ClO2 (hypochlorate is two oxygens right? It's been awhile since HS chem). Bought the latter and will try a little experimenting tomorrow afternoon after my classes let out...can't wait!
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 1:01:57 PM EDT
Why not buy a beechwood handguard set from Ironwood Designs ?   It should look nice with a clear polyurethane.


http://ironwooddesigns.com/IWDsite/IWDNEWBUL74_2.html
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 2:22:31 PM EDT
Quoted:
Why not buy a beechwood handguard set from Ironwood Designs ?   It should look nice with a clear polyurethane.


http://ironwooddesigns.com/IWDsite/IWDNEWBUL74_2.html


Because I don't have $150+finish to spend and the buttstock and PG were already perfect.

So, I tried the CaClO2...kinda underwhelmed. I made a saturated solution (until no more granules would dissolve) and scrubbed it in (chlorine has an interesting effect on Scotchbrite pads too ;)). Little if any effect observed. What poly I had applied before retrying was stripped for several hours, and since I've also sanded a little, there's nothing to keep the chlorine from soaking in.

[EDIT]: Actually, it does seem to be working. Faster than the Chlorox, but still not the near-instant lightening I was led to believe would happen. Ah well.
Link Posted: 4/21/2011 12:16:03 PM EDT


I give-up. I truly, will not put any more time or money into this. The color is about right, but the wood has these little black streaks in it that were impervious to the bleach and to Oxalic acid. I've wasted enough resources with this. If I have to have unattractive, then I'll at least have authentic unattractive. I'm just going to buy another set off APEX and put thouse handguards on.

Thanks everyone for the help you've give, sorry I couldn't succeed with it.
Link Posted: 4/21/2011 5:31:52 PM EDT
Don't be so harsh on yourself man. Those look good. I honest don't think what you were looking for would have been achievable with that set. The Bulgarian blond is a completely different wood to start with. Do the stock and match it up!  
Link Posted: 4/21/2011 6:02:03 PM EDT
Quoted:
Don't be so harsh on yourself man. Those look good. I honest don't think what you were looking for would have been achievable with that set. The Bulgarian blond is a completely different wood to start with. Do the stock and match it up!  


I tend to be an all-or-nothing guy. I wanted that blond color, but I have a bit of collector in me. If it's mismatched Birch/Walnut, then it's at least authentic and I now have a reason to start trolling local gunshows. It's also asthetic, I really hate the way the wood looks as it turned out, the little black streaks stick out like a sore thumb.

Though actually, maybe I'll look into a blem'ed Ironwood HG set. Dunno. Just going to go with original for now.

[EDIT] Actually, I tried installing it anyway since I had nothing better to do. She looks pretty good all things considered. I'll post pics tomorrow in a couple threads. Thanks again all, for the help.
Link Posted: 4/22/2011 10:14:27 AM EDT
saw your pics, I think it actually looks really good.
Link Posted: 4/28/2011 3:10:42 PM EDT
It's just one man's opinion but I think your handguards turned out fantastic.  Just remember the imperfections in the wood were there when the TREE was cut-down and milled!  You can't change mother nature!  The (amber) shellac the Bulgarians used originally was just that, nothing but shellac, with maybe a dark, natural stain ADDED to the shellac top-coat to further darken the colour of the final product.  Don't sweat the small stuff, looks great  Good luck.  

Link Posted: 5/1/2011 12:36:12 PM EDT
I just got a set of Bulgy furniture from Apex and the upper handguard is a laminate with the grain running perpendicular to the barrel axis.  Looks dorky.  .  The lower is a gorgeous dark walnut with beautiful grain and I'm seriously thinking of getting an all walnut set for one of my other AK's (Polytech Legend, maybe).  But for my Century Bulgy AK-74, this wood set is going to have to do.   I do wish I could get a "solid" wood upper handguard, but I'm not going to send another $35 (includes S&H) to Apex in the hopes that they send me what I want the next time.
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