Gun Stock Refinishing

March 19, 2009 by Joey
Filed under: Refinishing Stocks 

Refinishing gun stocks can be some trouble if you have never refinished one before.  I thought I would give some tips to help.  First you need to get your materials to do the job right.  If you don’t have everything you need, make sure you don’t skip any steps before going on to the next.  Here is a list of Items you will need.

  • Varnish remover
  • Iron and hand towel
  • Sand paper 220 grit and finer
  • Sanding block
  • Steel wool
  • Lint free cloth

Stripping The Stock

First use the varnish remover to get the old coating and stain off.   Just follow the directions, all varnish removers are not the same.  If the stock has checkering use the toothbrush to get into the cracks.  Never use a metal or brass brush, it will scratch the stock.

Removing Dent’s and Flaws

After stripping the stock, dampen the hand towel and iron the stock.  Be sure to keep the towel between the iron and stock.  By doing this it kind of steams the wood and raises the wood grain.  You can iron out small dents and flaws this way without a lot of sanding.

Sanding The Stock

Next, when you sand your stock use the sanding block as much as possible.  If you use your hand will cause low spots where the wood is softer.  Start with the 220 grit sand paper and keep sanding with finer grades until you have got the gun stock as smooth as you would like.  Be careful not to round off the sharp edges of the butt of the gun.  You can help prevent this by putting on a old butt plate or taping several layers of masking tape on the butt plate area.

Applying Your Stain

After the sanding is done and your ready to apply your stain.  Choose which stain you would like to use.  Always test a small area first.  You can do this by testing a spot under the butt-plate or rifle barrel.  After applying the stain you want to use, go over the gun stock with the steel wool.  It will not remove any wood just takes any fuzz off the stock.

Applying Your Finish

Next you will want to find the finish you want to use.  I personally prefer Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish.  Take the Tru Oil and rub it on with a lint free cloth.  Let it dry, it takes time, but after every coat I used the steel wool and rubbed it over the gun stock.  Repeat this 8 to 10 times, and you should have a great looking gun stock.  I refinished a Shotgun stock and it turned out great.  Who knows your friends might want you to show them how to do some gun stock refinishing.


20 Comments on Gun Stock Refinishing

  1. Bill Pribula on Tue, 6th Oct 2009 10:30 am
  2. I have a Ruger Red Label over and under 20 gauge. How do I remove the stock from the gun so I can work on it by itself? Where are the screws that release the stock?

  3. jason fletcher on Mon, 19th Oct 2009 7:23 am
  4. hi there, do you mean to sand the stain with steelwool after you apply it or before you apply it thanks.

  5. Joey on Mon, 19th Oct 2009 10:25 pm
  6. Sand the stock before and after applying the stain. It will help to smooth it out even more.

  7. Kenny on Sun, 25th Oct 2009 9:29 pm
  8. as far as getting a stock off a shotgun goes if you cant see the screws pull off the butt plate , you will probably need a very long flat head screwdriver to get at it and it should only be one screw. hope this helps

  9. mike gates on Wed, 2nd Dec 2009 1:42 pm
  10. i have a Winchester with a black cap on it and some of the finish is chipped.
    how do i refinish the cap?????

  11. alan stockwell on Wed, 20th Jan 2010 7:47 pm
  12. i have a remington 1187special purpose ..i believe they call it a satin finish .what type of stain would that be?

  13. Joey on Thu, 21st Jan 2010 7:22 pm
  14. The stain has nothing to do with the type of finish. A satin finish means it is in between shiny and dull. Is has some shine but not glossy. I hope this helps

  15. mike laird on Wed, 7th Apr 2010 1:31 pm
  16. always use birtchwood casey’s wood filler and sealer beforeyou put on the final coat of tru oil this will minimize the number of coats of tru oil neede to fill the pours of the wood.

  17. Nebraksa Rifleman on Tue, 23rd Nov 2010 3:05 pm
  18. I was wandering how I’m supposed to be able to sand down in the checkering? Any good advice on this or do I need to sand completely and then rechecker?

  19. Joey on Fri, 26th Nov 2010 12:11 pm
  20. First use the varnish remover to get the old coating and stain off. Just follow the directions, all varnish removers are not the same. If the stock has checkering use the toothbrush to get into the cracks. Never use a metal or brass brush, it will scratch the stock

  21. John Thomas on Sun, 16th Jan 2011 1:15 am
  22. Great tutorial. I might add, I use Orange spray stripper. After it sets for a couple of hours I scrub the entire stock in warm water with 0000 steel wool and dry with a blow dryer. You can see quickly if you missed any spots. I am doing an Egyptian
    Hakim stock. Dings, gouges, greasy and dirty. I stripped it 3 time. I used sand paper on the bad spots and 0000 steel wool, wiped it with cheese cloth. Always use a dry paint brush and dry tooth brush to help get the dust and steel wool off.
    The Iron and wet cloth works great for dents. Then the Birchwood Casey filler. I just got done with my 5 coat of tru oil. This thing is pretty. I figure 1 or 2 more and I will be done. Use 0000 steel wool between coats and tight rubber gloves to rub it on.
    Tru oil will run after you apply so watch how much you put on. Tru oil is more of a varnish than oil. Apply and let dry for a day or so. You can get two coats a day if you wait 8 or nine hours between coats. The reason you use steel wool after you stain it, is that little hairs will rise up because of the wet stain. I like the birchwood casey walnut stain.

  23. martin on Fri, 25th Feb 2011 11:37 am
  24. I am currently refinishing my second firearm,using Birchwood- Casey True-Oil.
    It is a rewarding feeling to see the grain stand out fully in all it’s detail.
    I’m reworking an H&R “Topper” ,12 ga. single shot. I am thinking that 5 coats will be plenty-I’m prepping for the third, and am going to go lightly on all the rest,as it fees a little tacky while burnishing with the steel wool.
    Can anyone recommend a wax for the final finish protectant?

  25. Tom Schmutz on Sat, 5th Mar 2011 6:16 pm
  26. I am in the process of refinishing the wood on my Smith Wesson model 1000 shotgun. I would like to take off the plastic hand grip decoration on the bottom of it. Can anyone tell me how to get it off? Thanks, tom

  27. Gary Bartrim on Mon, 25th Apr 2011 6:38 pm
  28. I have a 284 Winchester Mod. 88 that I bought in 1967. The stock has a factory flaw/crack that materialized a year after I bought it. i want to refinish the stock, is there anything I can fill the crack with. The crack also goes into the weaving pattern.

  29. Weihrauch HW77 - on Thu, 12th May 2011 6:45 am
  30. [...] time but more expense! 1: Do it yourself. It’s fun, and rewarding. For a few tips try this: or 2 : Take it to a reputable gunsmith, and let them do it. Not as rewarding, expensive, sometimes [...]

  31. Viejo on Fri, 19th Aug 2011 12:58 pm
  32. Are you sure you want to refinish those Marlin 22 stock/forearm pieces?

  33. David Van Alstine on Sun, 22nd Apr 2012 1:32 pm
  34. I am on my 6th coat of the tru oil and the stock is looking great, my question is what do I do after the last coat ( 10 to 12)? Do I use the steel wool one more time and then use gun wax for the final finish?


  35. Larry on Wed, 9th May 2012 1:39 pm
  36. My father in law just gave me a Thompson/Center arm 50 cal. Percussion cap model 5113,and has a walnut stock very little work has been done to put this together,including the unfinished stock,what would be the best route to finishing the stock with as much natural wood grain showing and with a nice high gloss finish,i plan on using this as a display piece,with the exception of maybe taking it out once just to see how nice this shoots.

  37. Peter Fleming on Fri, 25th May 2012 6:36 pm
  38. Have used tru oil for a very long time on numerous stocks and have experimented with rubbing after each drying .I have found that if enough trouble has been taken in sanding , filling and rubbing with extra fine steel wool and also dust removal then I start vigorous rubbing with hessian (sugar bag ) after each coat has dried, checking carefully that the finish is not affected ( if still too soft ) .This results in a beautifull subdued finish ( not shiny) I put the oil on with my finger tips and rub until I feel it starting to grab then move on blending the next section (small amount at a time ) I generally apply up to 12 coats and not rubbing with steel wool between coats doesn`t remove the oil you just applied .There is still no reason you cant rub with steel wool every now and then if you feel the finish will benefit from it .Hope this helps.

  39. Information about the Chinese Mainland on Tue, 2nd Sep 2014 3:42 pm
  40. Information about the Chinese Mainland…

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