Improving the look of your TM AK furniture





I've heard many airsofters say it; "...it's just not real looking" and - "... doesn't look like my M4, looks more like a toy." I actually thought that the Tokyo Marui AK47 didn't look all that bad. In fact, I found it's reciever to be not only incredibly real looking, but it's very thick plastic is resistant to warpage and tough as nails in the field. The metal parts look nice and the stock, well...








I guess it's safe to say that while Marui did an awesome job representing real wood, there really is no way to reproduce the visual signature that actual wood grain will provide. I was thrilled with my first AK, but I felt it needed anasthetic boost so that it would be on a realistic par with all the M4's and G3's on the field. I didn't want to ruin the visual integrity of the AK47, but I was eager to try something out. Above is the second try at this very easy application. I actually had better results with this one and I'm glad I took the photos to share with you. This particular AK (photo 1) belongs to Ron from Long Island Airsoft - also my best friend. If the reciever looks a bit dirty, it's because I also treated it with a helping of pastel powder in earth tones, diluted with isopropyl rubbing alchohol.


Best part about this project is that you don't need anything very expensive. For about the price of a lowcap, you can get this done with very nice results. Forget the red color you see in the pic. I had it there in case I wanted to warm up the colors. All you need is some good artists acrylic in burnt umber and black.(photo 2) Don't dilute the paint with anything. When you're done, the paint will clean up with water. Get a good brush. If it's only 50 cents at the local craft store, you're going to have pieces of brush hair in your stock. Spend a few bucks and buy a nice one. Flats are fine. I chose this sort of bright for this project. A simple piece of black plexiglass was used as my pallette for mixing.


I wanted to stay with ONLY non toxic, odorless varnishes so Liquitex to the rescue again. I used these varnishes in a 50/50 mix when all the painting was done. I sized these photos large so yo can read the labels easily. (photo 3)








Off we go. (photos 4 and 5) I paint the stock right on the rifle. They are removed easily but this is the best way to be sure not to get fingerprints in the paint; the whole thing in a padded hobby vise. Don't go mixing the two colors evenly, grab a little of each on your brush and just start brushing away! Go WITH the grain and don't worry a bit about the paint getting in the metal parts or the reciever. I did, however, remove the butt plate. Once you've got some paint covered on one side of the buttstock, take a paper towel and streak it along the grain. This will remove most of the paint, leaving a little behind smeared into the plastic grain. (photo 6)








Keep it moving. Get to the other side of the stock and then move right onto the lower and upper handguards. The medium viscosity liquitex paints make is easy to get into the tight cracks and spreads fast. (photo 7) Make sure you move quickly - you have a few minutes before the acrylic sets up so don't rush it but don't linger either. You don't need to be Rembrandt; just get the paint on moving the brush along the grain of the wood and it's the same as the buttstock. Cover the side that's facing you and rub off the excess with a paper towel. The results should look like darkened wood grain. (photos 8 and 9) The paint dries in no time but it will stay tacky for a while. Don't mess around with it for a few hours. Once this coat was on, I let it sit for a few days. If you get any paint on the reciever, you can rub it off with a piece of paper towel or even your finger. Me? Well, I just leave the excess on as it just adds to the dirty look.








(Photo 10) Once the paint has dried thoroughly, I inspected it to make sure there were no fingerprints or missed spots. I then decided to distress it a bit starting with the good old Dremel tool. A chisel, screwgun or drill will do the trick as well. If you have a moto-tool, drop in your favorite bit and start rapping it against the stock on high speed. (photos 11 and 12) Don't worry about your paint job, it's cool - just like Fonzie.








I also used an old wood drill bit (photo 13) for different types of scratches. This provided a different effect on the stock. Now I started the second coat. (photos 14 and 15) Same thing, new coat. Go with the grain back and forth. Then, wipe off the excess. I feel that the second coat give the overall appearance a more realistic look and it also adds strength to the finish. The hanguards were my starting point this time.








The second coat dries nicely. (photo 16) The appearance now is still quite flat but starting to look like weathered wood. Nice! I jump right to the buttstock again, keeping the motions the same as before.(photo 17) By now, the grain begins to get nice and heavy. The butt also has a very matte and the difference in coats is evident (photo 18) as we examine the butt and the pistol grip... the latter having only the first coat.








Whew - OK, so far, so good. I have 2 complete coats applied with the distressing done. The mag also recieved some rough housing with a bit of super-fine sand paper and #000 steel wool. The same patels were applied to this and stuck much better. We're starting to have ourselves a very realistic looking AK now. The addition of the slant muzzle break direct from a friend in Iraq adds to the nice weathered look of this beautiful weapon. A metal reciever wouldn't be the worst thing this AK gets but even without it, the wood look is making a pretty convincing show of it! I was so excited at this point, I was calling it's intended recipient that he might not get it back... ever!

Now for the final steps...








I now mix the two glaze coats.(photo 20) DO NOT SHAKE THE BOTTLES. If you do, you may get air bubbles in this varnish. Liquitex makes some terrific products and these clear coats will help protect the finish for a while and also add that laminated look that most AKs have. This really brings out the rich tones in the paint and plastic. Mix them right on your pallette with the brush in slow motions and make sure the pallette is clean and free from dust and debris. Don't apply this very heavy.(photos 21 and 22) You will do it twice so there's no need for a heavy coat. Spread it out as you did the paint, only you won't be removing excess with the paper towel. Any milkiness goes away once it sets up.


I like these clear varnishes as they do not have any harmful fumes and the drying time is fast. I will say that I applied this in my basement workshop while the humidity was still high so I experienced extra "tackiness" for quite a few days. Be patient and walk away. I'm sure if done in the winter months the dry air will speed up the drying time even more.


Let it dry completely and repeat these steps again. I waited till the second clear coat was dry about a week before I even touched the AK. I probably should have used that time to clean my workshop! Ughh - what a mess!








I am more than pleased with the results. My patience paid off and the clear varnish is dry to the touch and fingerprint free!(photo 23) The distressing was an extra bonus (photo 24) and I'm glad Ron let me beat his AK up with the Dremel hits. I compared my old AK treatment with the new one.(photo 25) I had applied the same paint over a year ago (from the time these photos were taken) but I used Dorlands wax medium as my initial coat of clear and then a coat of Liquitex satin. The new application looks better. In time, the paintjob wears down but that only adds to the realism! The gloss coat will get dull and grimey and the edges will chip and wear. I still threatened Ron that he wouldn't ever see his AK again. I wanted to keep it so my old one would have some company!








Photo 26 displays my AK47 with over a year of skirmishing and a lot of ammo toossed through it's barrel. The signs of electrical tape are evident on the back of the buttstock. I use that to keep my 9.6v battery in the stock as the buttplate tends to fall off at random. The numbers were hand painted in a mustard yellow color and these too have worn down nicely. Just another thing to add to the realism. The sling is original Russian issue that I got at a gun show many years ago. This particular AK does not reqiure anything more than an old canvas sling tied down nicely with some para-cord. No RIS, RAS, optics, tac-lites....


Just a simple rendering of beauty!












I may eventually add some real wood furniture to this AK but for now, I like this just fine.

At every single skirmish, I have been confronted by fellas who asked me, "What's that, the Guarder wood?" When I tell them that it's the Marui furniture, they usually remove thier glove and tap on the buttstock until they hear that telltale sound of plastic.


The next question is, of course, "How the hell did you do that!?!?!"

Well, my comrades... now you know.


That is all.