Do It Yourself Gunstock Finishing

by Roger DelVenado

When building, restoring or just touching up damage on an old rifle or shotgun, applying a new finish to the gun's stock gives the gun a new, cared-for look. Finishing a gun stock isn't terribly complicated, but it does require a few materials, some dedication and a little time.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver
  • Face mask
  • Protective goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray-on finish remover
  • Drop cloths
  • Varnish-removing scrub pad
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair dryer
  • Small clean rags
  • Tape
  • Sanding block
  • Fine mesh scrub pads
  • Small paintbrush
  • Wood filler, French red or similar
  • Tru-Oil
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Step 1

Remove the stock from the action/barrel/magazine apparatus of the gun. Use a screwdriver.

Step 2

Spray the stock with the spray-on finish remover. Finish remover is noxious, so place a drop cloth under your work area. Wear a face mask, protective goggles and rubber gloves and work in an area with good ventilation. Let the stock sit for a time while the finish remover penetrates the existing layers of finish.

Step 3

Scrub away the old finish using a varnish-removing scrub pad. The old finish should come away from the stock easily. If not, wait a few more minutes to let the finish remover soften and loosen the old finish.

Step 4

Brush off any remaining bits of grease or dirt that were loosened by the finish remover in the checkering of the stock's grip. Use a toothbrush for this task.

Step 5

Blow warm air over any grease stains left in the grain of the wood using a hair dryer. The grease will rise to the surface of the wood under the heat. Wipe any grease away with a washcloth-size clean rag.

Step 6

Tape over the checkering on the stock's grip and use the sanding block to smooth the rest of the stock. Do not sand over the checkering.

Step 7

Wipe down the newly sanded stock with a fine mesh scrubbing pad to remove loose grains and dust that remain from the sanding. Wipe the stock again with a dry cloth.

Step 8

Apply wood filler to the stock using a small paintbrush or your hands, as necessary. Avoid covering the checkering with wood filler as it will fill the gaps in the checkering. French red wood filler is a popular color for gun stocks. Let the filler dry on the stock.

Step 9

Scrub away any excess wood filler using a scrubbing pad. Work across the grain of the wood to avoid stripping filler from deep in the grooves of the grain. Continue until the stock is smooth and evenly covered with wood filler.

Step 10

Spray a layer of Tru-Oil on the stock. Use your hands to rub it into the grain of the wood. Allow the first layer to dry and then lightly sand it smooth before applying another layer of Tru-Oil. Apply three to four layers of oil, allowing each layer to dry and sanding the stock smooth between each application. Allow the final coat to dry.

Step 11

Reattach the stock to the gun's action, and you've refinished your gun stock.

Tips & Warnings

  • Finish remover is a noxious substance. Wear proper safety equipment including a face mask, gloves and goggles, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images