Boil some water, and dip the end opf the stock into the boiling water. Don't leave it in long, but remove it, and wipe it off. Repeat as needed. When you're done, then leave the stock to dry for several days before refinishing.
This is a real good question as all three of my Marlins (336A, 336SC, 1895) have developed oil stains on the stocks to some degree, usually in the area of the top tang. In fact, I ruined the stock of the 336A (my favorite of the three) while trying to dry out the oil over a light bulb and have played hell trying to replace it. I think that, over time, a little oil seeps down there from wiping them off with an oily rag. The rag doesn't have to be sopping wet for the stains to happen, either.
IntrepidWizard, could you describe your removal method in a little more detail?
Marlinman93, If I'm not mistaken, you are the owner of many fine old Marlin rifles and have probably dealt with this before. Did you try the boiling water and did it damage any of your stocks?
Hot water will NOT warp the wood, unless you leave it in the water. I've done dozens of stocks either dipping, or pouring hot water over them to remove oil saturation.
In addition, when I use a chemical stripper to get the old finish off, the last thing I do is scrub the bare stock with soapy water, and rinse with hot clear water.
I don't know where you heard water would warp the wood, it's never been a problem if done properly.
I found an old .22 semiauto in a lake years ago, complete, with the wood on. I fished it out, and although the wood had slightly expanded from soaking up water, and the finish was gone, I dried it for a couple weeks, and it shrunk back down to normal. Absolutely no warping. I have no idea how long it was in the water, but long enough for the barrel to become plugged with sediment, so I'd say it must have been a few weeks.
You obviously haven't tried hot water, or you had a pretty cheap piece of wood, if it warped.
The gun was by chance a model 60 Glenfield Marlin. I took it home, and worked at the barrel until I gradually got a stiiff wire down the bore. Once it made it through, the rest of the silt came out, and the bore was good.
I set the gun on my bench overnight, and the next day the outside turned orange with surface rust! I went to work on it with oil and steel wool, and the bore came out fine, but all the finish came off the outside. I ended up refinishing the gun, and rebluing it at home, with 44-40.
Showed it to a friend at work, and he asked if it was for sale. Since I had one, plus one that was my daughter's, I sold it to him for $50. That was about 15 years ago. He still has it, and it still looks great!
When you dip or flush the old stocks with hot water, it forces the oils to the surface. Then I wipe them off, just as you do when dry heating. The hot water actually gets a skim of oil on the surface from the process, and the water also has the added benefit of tightening and raising the grain. This makes the bare wood accept the new finish easier, and it goes in deeper. I do have to seal the stock first, when it dries, as you would with new wood. It also raises the small dents and dings in the wood.
Marlin,to beleager the point,heat expands,heat and water caused the grain to excand and oil lighter than water rises and water gets into the grain,dry heat causes the oil to surface and leaves a drie grain.
Not to pour burning oil on troubled waters, but I've seen rifle stocks that had been soaked in cosmoline for years restored beautifully with the use of easy off, followed by a hot water scrub as Marlinman indicated, followed by their treatment of choice. BLO and beeswax, fine steel wool etc. He is right that the hot water raises the grain, and the wood takes the new finish well. Having seen what boiling water does when a bit slops while boiling out a rifle, I think next time I will try marlinmans method and skip the easy off.
I've seen same stocks ruined by people 'baking' them in the oven.
As to never wiping with oil, all my stocks, unless refinishing will hurt the value, are done with BLO, sometimes mixed with beeswax. It's an easy finish to maintain, such as in the slopped water, it only takes a quick wipe with a little oil and its not greasy or sticky, or worse, shiny, but to each his own. Also good for hiding little dinks that the stocks of working rifles acquire, especially when you're being 'real careful'.
After blueing in the hot tanks, I dunk the oiled stock in the cleaning tank for 30 sec at 180 degrees. This will remove any oil that is still in liquid form and it can take several dippings. I use a stiff bristle brush to scrub with. I thien let it dry and if the black is still there (some are hard or impossible to remove), I soak it in acetone, cover with brownells whiteing, wrap a black trash bag around it and lay it in the hot sun. Anything that is going to come off, will. I might do this a couple times. Afterwards, you might want to try bleech on the black to see if it lightens up.
Boy, I haven't been on line since I posted this question. I work with wood all the time as I build custom bows. In the time I have been away I refinished the forearm and am waiting for a buttpad for the stock. As I wanted to remove as many dents and dings before refinishing as possible, I used the iron and a wet cloth method to raise the grain and remove oil. Worked great! Even the really badly crushed areas came most of the way out. I dyed the stock a dark walnut stain and let it dry. Then I applied several layers of satin polyurethane and let dry. Next I sanded it all back down to raw wood to bring the natural color back but not so deep as to remove the dye and finish in the grain. Really accents the grain this way. Wish that buttpad would get here. Thanks for all the info, Rick
fairly new at these things [forums] but one way is to use whiting[powdered chalk]not sure where to get it but a good sub. would be gypsum powder which can be made out of scrap sheet rock make enough to bury the stock completly leave it for a couple of days and repeat if neccesary. I have never tried it but read in one of my old gunsmithing books you might try dousing it with solvent to help loosen the oil nothing oily but like laquer thinner or acetone. seems cheap and fairly safeshootrj2003