How to Refinish a Gun Stock
One of the biggest selling points for wooden stock guns is their timeless beauty. And often, these guns are handed down over time as family heirlooms so successive generations can enjoy their beauty.
But as time wears on, the wood on these guns can lose its luster. Whether you're dealing with a family heirloom, a gun you've had for a long time, or something you bought in a deteriorated state, you may find that you need to refinish the stock to return it to its former condition.
The process of refinishing a stock varies depending on the needs of the gun and your comfort level. Below, we cover all the necessary essentials to take an older or dirty stock and make it look like new again.
1. Disassemble the Gun
Because of the process involved, you can't refinish the wood while it's attached to metal. Start by removing the wooden pieces from the rest of the gun. Usually you do this the same way you would when cleaning the gun.
2. Remove the Old Finish
Use some kind of stripper or finish remover. Make sure you choose a product that matches your situation. Some are designed to be used outdoors or in a well-ventilated, shop-type environment, and some are safe for indoor household use. Read labels before you start working to ensure you're using the product safely.
Various finish removers also have different instructions regarding how long you should leave them on the wood. Some may claim to work quickly, and some may require that you leave them on for up to 24 hours. Look for an option that best suits your needs, and then follow the instructions as closely as possible.
Depending on your situation, you may want to hang the wood from a hanger or clothesline removing the finish, because you don't want to get the stripper on anything other than the wood you're trying to refinish.
Once you have everything ready to go, apply the remover according to the instructions. Then let it set as needed and get ready for the next step.
3. Clean the Gun Stock
Once the waiting period is over, wash the finish remover off of the stock with mild soap and warm water. If needed, you can use a rough sponge or steel wool to remove the finish along with any grit and grime remaining. After that, rinse the wood thoroughly and wipe it down. You don't necessarily need to dry it completely yet.
4. Remove Residual Oils
At this point, there may be some residual oil from cleaning and handling that has seeped through the finish and into the wood. There are several methods for removing this, but the most common and effective move is to apply heat and some form of degreaser.
You can use heat guns, boiling water, or even a hair dryer to provide heat, although boiling water will also saturate the wood as it opens up the fibers. That can help push out the oil that has seeped in.
After applying the heat, use the degreaser and give the wood a good scrub. You can alternate and repeat the heat and degreasing as many times as necessary until you're satisfied the wood is clean and oil-free.
5. Inspect the Wood
Inspect the wood for cracks or damage. Take steps to fix or repair any issues now. Most cracks or other damage can be fixed with a little sawdust and epoxy or wood sealant, so feel free to attempt those at your own discretion. As long as there is no structural damage, you can move on to the next step.
If you feel like the wood is structurally damaged, you might want to consult someone who is experienced in gun repair. That could mean bringing your firearm or components to a professional gun repair shop, for example.
6. Sand Down the Wood
Put a little lemon oil or other natural oil on the wood to strengthen it. Once that has set in, begin sanding by hand. Start with the smallest number grits first and work up to larger numbers. There's typically no need to go beyond around 400 grit size.
Don't use a sander, as that can leave unnatural swirl marks and give you spots that are uneven.
After sanding, give the wood a once over with a brush or cheesecloth to remove excess sawdust.
7. Stain the Stock
For many people, this is the fun part. Start by applying conditioner to the wood to prep it for the stain. Then, with a cheesecloth or your preferred application method, apply the stain you've picked. You may want to apply several coats, but ultimately the final look and hue is up to you.
8. Seal and Wax the Stock
Once the stain has set in and you've got a good color that you really like, seal it in with a quality gun stock finish. The general consensus here is that you'll want to apply at least a few coats, but it's best to apply it slowly and work it in with a cloth over your finger and then let it set before beginning the process over again. Don't apply so much at once that it will drip or run, as that can ruin the look.
Finally, apply some stock wax to make it shine. This will seal everything in and provide it with protection from the elements. A good wax also makes the stain and finish pop, giving it that new gun sheen that you will be eager to show off.
Having a beautiful wood gun that is eye-catching and looks heirloom quality is a wonderful thing. Of course, having a gun that looks that way because you personally made it so is even better. By following this guide and refinishing the stock yourself, you'll not only have a beautiful gun that is the envy of all your family and friends, but you'll have the bragging rights of having done it yourself. That's a feeling you can't buy.