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Refinish 1968 Finnbear Stock?

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by Paul7, Oct 3, 2017.

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  1. Paul7

    Paul7 Well-Known Member

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    Two years ago I bought a 1968 Finnbear .30-'06 for $700 from the local gunshop. Photo below with a cow elk taken with it last year at 284 yards. Great gun, my best group has been .375" with factory ammo after I gave the barrel a good cleaning. However, I don't like the hideous dark glossy stain used back then and suspect it may be hiding some beautiful European walnut underneath. Can the experts confirm that was the wood used then, and not a lesser wood? Would they have used a very plain grain stock or might it be interesting if the finish was stripped? It isn't really a collector's piece, so any reason I shouldn't have it refinished in oil? Probably would have the recoil pad replaced at the same time.

    Any recommendations for the work would also be appreciated.

     

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  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary SCC Board Member

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    A plain Jane standard Sako sporter in .30-06 is an outstanding hunting rifle (as you've proven), but it has no particular collector interest. Since it is your rifle you should do with it what pleases you. If you'd like to put a custom finish on its European Walnut stock then its resale value might be downgraded by being a refinish, however if the refinishing job is really nice and shows some better grain then the value could go up. But since I doubt you'll be selling the rifle any time soon the only thing which really matters is your personal taste.

    My answer might be different if it were in a scarce caliber like a .300 H&H or in a pristine Deluxe which might have some collector interest.
     
  3. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    I recommend you have the checkering repointed as well. If you don't your refinish job will look amateurish no matter how nicely done. If done right a hand rubbed oil finish with filled pores, new pad, & repointed checkering will not only enhance it's looks but it's value as well, IMHO.
     
  4. Paul7

    Paul7 Well-Known Member

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    That's what I'm thinking, Paul. An oil finish was done just a few years before for Sakos, so it isn't too big of a leap. I can see some horizontal grain under the dark finish, so there's something good in there, and IMHO can only look better than currently if it is done by a competent source.

    Do the experts agree it is European walnut under the dark stain?
     
  5. LennyM

    LennyM Well-Known Member

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    If you take the stock off you will see exactly what type of wood was used.
     
  6. Paul7

    Paul7 Well-Known Member

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    Good idea. I know some Sakos in the '50s used birch but wouldn't all made in the late '60s be European Walnut?
     
  7. LennyM

    LennyM Well-Known Member

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    I may be wrong but it would have made sense to use the most attractive wood grain for the deluxe models, promotional
    items, one - off or custom rifles etc. No matter when the rifle was made the more attractive wood would always have been at a premium - as it is now. To remain competitive they would have had to use good wood at a fair price for the standard rifles.
    The less attractive the grain the darker the stain would hide it as well as minor imperfections.
    After many years of restoring antique items I have learned to leave well enough alone. I have done a number of rifle stocks which were in need of major repairs. This was the only time I stripped the finish off completely. Invariably I used a dark stain after the repair again because the wood was very ordinary. I have never restored an item that had a dark stain over very attractive grain.
    I have, however, removed paint off items to reveal stunning Walnut, Rosewood and our Indigenous Yellowwood. They were painted to get the dreadful "Shabby Chic" look that was so fashionable. I know someone whose antique Mauser was painted. He paid a small fortune to restore it to the original.
     
  8. Paul7

    Paul7 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I would not expect to see a very top level grain underneath mine, but there is some horizontal figure I can see underneath now. To me, even if some stain were used after refinishing the oil finish would be more attractive than the glossy very dark one now. I'm old enough to remember that finish seems to have been popular back then.
     
  9. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary SCC Board Member

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    All of the Finnbears were stocked with European Walnut. Only some earlier L46's used birch.

    Throughout the 1960's it seems that Sako paid very little attention to the grade (figure) of walnut it was putting on its rifles. Some standard grade sporters came with fantastic fiddleback, while some Deluxes came with wood that was plainer than your spinster Autie Matilda. One of the few changes for the better when Garcia became the U.S. importer seems to have been putting better wood on the Deluxe models. Some Garcia and Stoeger Deluxe stocks exhibit quite impressive wood compared to the typical pre-Garcia product. I've seen some on which the fiddleback was so prominent that people swore it was quilted maple instead of walnut.

    The quality of the wood figure you might find on a 1968 standard sporter can vary from okay to outstanding. It's just the luck of the draw.
     
  10. blackjack

    blackjack Well-Known Member

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    All my 1960's Sako's are and were " Plain Janes " very blond and well made, with very little or no figure at all. It was only when I purchased a "Mint " condition L461 .222 Rem. HB which came out of production in April 1978 that I realised what stunning walnut it has with beautiful colour and Tiger stripes from forend to butt. Was this just chance or had Sako started to use far better quality walnut? I will never know!

    Blackjack
     
  11. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary SCC Board Member

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    My best guess is that two things happened, chicken-and-egg style: First, manufacturers are continually looking for sources of materials. Sako probably found a new source of European walnut (grows from Spain to Russia) which tended to have more figured grain. Also, it is probable that Garcia, the new U.S. importer, wanted more "distance" between the standard and Deluxe grades, so they requested better wood on the Deluxes (which may have prompted some overall better wood throughout the line.) This is simply speculation based on what I've observed, so don't take it for gospel.
     

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