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Easiest way to tell a varnish finish from an oiled one?

For the most part varnished, Tru-oil, Linspeed or poly finished s will apppear shiny with a visible buildup of finish. Most "true" oil finished stocks will have a velvetly satin sheen and no visible thickness. Often you can see the pores in the wood with oiled guns. I usually use "pure tung oil" on my stocks. I sand them with wet or dry all the way to 1000 grit (available at auto refinishing suppliers). The wood is actually polished to have a nice sheen at this point. Tung dries reasonably quickly and can go from a dull sheen to something fairly shiny. (contributed by Ruger4570)

Try rubbing the finish in a 'quiet' area with methylated spirits, if this leaves a deposit on the cloth the finish is 'French' or oiled.Meths will not affect varnish.Moisten a cloth with Turpentine substitute (white spirit) this will remove wax and varnish but not 'french' or cellulose.Cellulose thinners will move cellulose (obviously ) but not affect other finishes.If none of these tests bear fruit we have to assume a modern synthetic finish, which will require a more aggressive stripper. (Contributed by Salopian)

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