how to refinish wood gun stock

Embarking on a gun stock refinishing project is both an art and a journey into enhancing the life and look of your firearm. Whether dealing with a seasoned old stock or a brand-new piece, understanding the intricacies of wood grains and the protective role of natural oils is pivotal.

In this how to refinish wood gun stock guide, we unravel the step-by-step process to achieve a beautiful finish, from the initial sanding to the final coat, highlighting the essential role of elements like steel wool in prepping the wood surface and the magic of hand-rubbed oil finishes in accentuating the natural wood color. We’ll delve deep into the refinishing world, offering expert advice to transform your rifle, handgun grips, or shotgun stock into a masterpiece of function and style. From the first coat to the final finish, we guide you through the rewarding restoration journey, promising a refinished product that mirrors craftsmanship and personal style.

Why Refinish Your Wood Gun Stock?

Refinishing your wood gun stock is more than just a cosmetic upgrade; it’s about reviving and protecting a valuable asset. Over time, wood stocks can deteriorate, losing their luster and becoming susceptible to damage such as scratches, dents, and even rot. Here are the compelling reasons why you should consider refinishing your gun stock:

  1. Restoration of Beauty: Bringing back the original finish of your gun stock can significantly enhance its appearance. By paying attention to the wood grain and selecting the right wood stain, you can restore the natural beauty of the wood, giving it a fresh and vibrant look.
  2. Protection: A well-maintained gun stock offers more than just a beautiful finish. It provides a shield against environmental factors such as moisture and UV rays. Applying thin coats of a reliable oil finish ensures the wood is sealed, offering durable protection against wear and tear.
  3. Personalization: Refinishing allows you to personalize your gun, tailoring it to your taste. Whether you prefer a high gloss finish or a hand-rubbed oil finish, the choice is yours. You can even experiment with different stains to achieve a unique wood color that speaks to your style.
  4. Increased Lifespan: Regular maintenance, including refinishing, can significantly increase the lifespan of your gun stock. By ensuring that the wood is protected from natural elements, you prevent premature aging and enhance the longevity of the wood.
  5. Enhanced Value: A well-maintained gun stock can increase the value of your firearm. Whether you want to sell or keep it as a family heirloom, a beautiful finish can enhance its market value and sentimental worth.
  6. The Joy of DIY: Lastly, taking on a refinishing job yourself brings a sense of accomplishment. Seeing the transformation from a worn-out old wood to a revitalized masterpiece is genuinely satisfying, making the fun part of the process the moment you start sanding.

Refinishing your wood gun stock is rewarding, offering aesthetic and functional benefits. It’s a project combining craftsmanship with personal satisfaction, leading to a finished product you can be proud of.

What You Need to Know Before Getting Started

Before diving into the exciting world of refinishing your gun stock, several critical points must be considered to ensure a successful and satisfying outcome. Here, we outline what you need to know before you start sanding down that old finish:

  1. Understanding Wood Types: Different wood stocks have varying wood grains and natural oils. Understanding the type of wood you are working with will guide your choice of products and techniques, ensuring a beautiful finish highlighting the wood’s natural beauty.
  2. Following Safety Practices: Ensure to disassemble your gun safely, removing all hardware and keeping them in a safe place. Working with a clean and bare wood surface is essential to avoid damaging other parts of the gun.
  3. Gathering the Right Materials: Compile a list of necessary materials, including steel wool, sanding block, grit paper, and lint-free cloth. Having all your materials at hand will facilitate a smooth and uninterrupted workflow.
  4. Preparing the Work Area: Set up a well-ventilated work area with good lighting. This will ensure safety and allow you to see the finer details, ensuring a smooth and even finish.
  5. Practicing Patience is Key: Refinishing is a meticulous process that involves applying very thin coats and allowing sufficient time for each coat to dry. Be prepared to dedicate time and patience to achieve the best finish.
  6. Testing: Before applying any stain or finish on the entire stock, do a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area or a similar wood species sample to ensure the color and finish are to your liking.
  7. Adding a Personal Touch: Remember, this is your project. While guidelines are helpful, don’t be afraid to add a personal touch to your refinish job, making the gun truly yours.

As you gear up to start your refinishing project, keeping these points in mind will set the stage for a successful and rewarding experience, leading to a gun stock that is not just refurbished but a reflection of your style and craftsmanship.

Preparing Your Wood Gun Stock for Refinishing

Preparing Your Wood Gun Stock for RefinishingBefore applying new coats of stain and finish to your gun stock, it is imperative to prepare the wood surface properly. This stage is about returning your wood stock to its raw state, ready to absorb new finishes evenly and beautifully.

Safety First: Disassembling Your Firearm

Safety is paramount when working with firearms. Before you start, ensure the gun is unloaded to prevent any accidents. Begin by disassembling your firearm and carefully separating the wood stock from the metal components. It is advisable to keep all small parts in a labeled container to avoid losing any pieces. This step ensures safety and facilitates a hassle-free working environment, allowing you to focus solely on the wood stock, reaching every nook and cranny without hindrance.

Stripping the Old Finish: Tools and Techniques

Stripping the old finish is a pivotal step in the preparation process. Whether that’s Velvit oil wood finish or any other wood oil formulations, you’ll want to utilize a sanding block and various grits of sandpaper to methodically remove the old coat of wood oil, working your way from a coarser to a finer grit for a smooth surface. For intricate areas and to maintain the fine lines of the checkering pattern, steel wool can be a great tool, allowing you to reach into the finer details without causing damage. Always sand in the direction of the wood grains to prevent unwanted scratches and to maintain the natural pattern of the wood, enhancing the final finish. If you don’t want to risk potential damage to your gun stock by sanding it to remove the old finish, you can use a chemical stripper like soy gel to strip the finish.

De-Greasing and Cleaning: Setting the Stage for a Fresh Finish

After stripping the old finish, it’s time to meticulously clean and de-grease the wood surface. Utilize mineral spirits to clean the surface thoroughly, effectively removing any residue, old oils, and dirt that might have accumulated over the years. This step is crucial to ensure the new finish adheres properly to the wood, creating a durable and beautiful bond. After cleaning, wipe the surface with a lint-free cloth to remove any lingering dust, setting a clean and smooth canvas ready for the new finish.

In this initial phase, you are setting the stage for a successful refinishing project, ensuring a smooth and even base that will hold the new finishes perfectly, promising a beautiful and long-lasting result. Remember, a well-prepared wood stock is the foundation of a successful refinish job, promising a final product that is both beautiful and durable.

The Refinishing Process: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that your wood stock is stripped and cleaned, it’s time to delve into the heart of the refinishing process. This stage involves repairing any damages, sanding the wood to a fine finish, and applying a stain to enhance the wood’s natural beauty. Remember, the goal is to achieve a refinished gun stock that looks good and offers protection and durability, promising years of service.

Repairing Cracks and Damages

Before refinishing, you must meticulously inspect the wood stock for cracks, dents, or other damages. Small cracks can be filled using a high-quality wood filler, which should be applied carefully to blend seamlessly with the surrounding wood, maintaining the natural flow of the wood grains. For dents, a technique involving a little water and an iron can sometimes lift the compressed wood fibers, restoring the original surface level. Consider consulting a professional or replacing the old wood stock for more significant damages or deep gouges.

Once the repairs are done, it’s time to smooth the surface using a sanding block, preparing it for staining. This step is crucial as it ensures that your gun stock has a uniform surface, free of imperfections, setting the stage for a stunning refinish job that brings out the best in your wood stock.

Sanding: Choosing the Right Grit and Technique

Sanding is a critical step in achieving a smooth and ready-to-finish surface. Start sanding with a coarser grit paper, such as 120 or 150 grit, and progressively move to finer grits, up to 220 or 320 grit, ensuring a smooth surface ready to absorb the stain evenly. Hand sanding is recommended for better control and to prevent over-sanding, leading to uneven surfaces and loss of fine details. Always sand in the direction of the wood grains to maintain the natural pattern and prevent cross-grain scratches that can mar the final finish. After sanding, wiping the surface with a tack cloth removes dust and creates a clean base for staining. This step is essential to achieving a smooth, professional finish, laying the groundwork for the beautiful layers of stain that will follow.

Staining: How to Achieve the Desired Shade

Staining is the step where you start to see the transformation truly come to life, enhancing the wood color and accentuating the beautiful wood grain, giving it a rich and deep hue. When choosing a wood stain, consider the natural wood tones of your gun stock and select a shade that complements it beautifully. Apply the stain using a clean cloth, working in sections to ensure an even application.

Allow the stain to penetrate the wood for a few minutes before wiping off the excess with a clean cloth, revealing the enriched wood color beneath. Apply several thin coats until you achieve the desired shade, letting each coat dry overnight before applying the next coat. This process allows for a deep, rich coloration, bringing out the intricate patterns of the wood grain and setting the stage for the final finishing coats that will seal and protect your gun stock.

Some penetrating wood oils, like tung oil, don’t require a stain underneath, as it enriches and accentuates the natural wood tone and grain on it’s own. If you prefer to skip staining but still want to achieve a rich, natural look, tung oil is an excellent choice to finish your gun stock.

Finishing Your Wood Gun Stock

After repairing damages and staining your gun stock to achieve the desired shade, the next step is to apply the finishing coats. This step is crucial as it enhances the look and provides a protective layer to your wood stock.

Choosing the Best Finish for Wood Gun Stocks

Choosing the right finish is pivotal in achieving a durable and aesthetically pleasing result. Various finishes are available, including oil finishes such as hemp and tung oil, which are popular for their ability to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. These oils penetrate deep into the wood, offering protection and a warm glow. Consider a high gloss finish for a shiny, polished look. Research and choose a finish that suits your preference and the type of wood you are working with.

Applying the Finish: Tips for a Smooth Application

First and foremost, you should ensure you follow the directions for the finish of your choosing. Common steps for finishing your gun stock include applying the finish in a dust-free environment to prevent particles from settling on the wet surface. Start with a thin coat, applying a clean, lint-free cloth evenly across the wood surface. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly, ideally overnight, before lightly sanding with extra fine sandpaper to create a smooth base for the next coat. Repeat this process, applying several very thin coats, until you achieve a rich, deep finish that satisfies your aesthetic preferences.

Sealing and Protecting Your Gun Stock

The final step in the finishing process is sealing and protecting your gun stock to ensure longevity and resistance against environmental factors. After the final coat of finish has been applied and allowed to dry, apply a sealant to offer an extra layer of protection. This sealant will help protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and other detrimental factors, ensuring a long-lasting and beautiful finish. Consider applying a wax polish, such as wood wax or clear carnauba wax, as the final touch to give it a beautiful sheen and to offer additional protection.

This part of the process is where your gun stock transforms, achieving a beautiful finish that enhances its appearance and offers a protective layer that promises longevity. If you are looking at where to buy Velvit wood finish for your newly completed gun stock, the finish is no longer in production, but our products provide an even better end result.

Working with Checkering

Checkering is a significant aspect of gun stocks, offering aesthetic appeal and a better grip on the firearm. When refinishing your gun stock, paying attention to the checkering is essential to ensure it retains its functionality and beauty.

Cleaning and Maintaining the Checkering

Before you start with the refinishing process, it is crucial to clean the checkered areas thoroughly. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and grime from the checkering pattern. If the checkering is filled with an old finish or stain, carefully remove it using a fine checkering tool to preserve the pattern. After cleaning, it’s advisable to mask the checkering areas to prevent them from getting stained during refinishing. Regular maintenance, including cleaning with a soft brush, will ensure the checkering remains crisp and functional over time.

Restoring Worn Checkering: A Mini Guide

Over time, checkering can wear down, losing its sharpness and definition. Restoring worn checkering involves re-cutting the lines using specialized checkering tools. If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, seeking the help of a professional is advisable. However, if you decide to undertake this task, start by outlining the existing pattern with a fine checkering tool, then deepen the lines carefully to restore the pattern’s original depth and sharpness.

Once restored, the checkering should be treated with a finish to protect it, using a small brush to apply a thin coat of finish, ensuring it seeps into every groove, providing protection and enhancing the appearance. Proper care of the checkering ensures a comfortable grip and a beautiful finish, enhancing your firearm’s overall look and feel.

Maintaining Your Newly Finished Gun Stock

Maintaining Your Newly Finished Gun StockAfter investing time and effort into refinishing your gun stock, it is essential to maintain it properly to ensure it remains in pristine condition for years to come. Here, we delve into the various steps and tips to help you keep your gun stock looking new and beautiful:

Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning is vital to maintain the beauty and functionality of your refinished gun stock. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the stock after each use, removing fingerprints and other residues. For deeper cleaning, use a slightly damp cloth to clean the surface, followed by a dry cloth to remove any moisture. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the finish. Instead, opt for natural cleaning agents that are gentle on the wood.

Protecting from Environmental Factors

Your gun stock is susceptible to damage from environmental factors such as extreme temperatures and humidity. Always store your firearm in a controlled environment, avoiding places with high humidity that can cause the wood to swell. A gun case can offer additional protection, shielding the wood from dust and other potential damages.

Regular Inspections

It is advisable to regularly inspect your gun stock for any signs of wear and tear. Check for any scratches, dents, or cracks that might develop over time. Early detection of such issues allows for timely repairs, ensuring the longevity of your gun stock. Consider applying a fresh coat of wax polish annually to maintain the sheen and offer additional protection.

Using the Right Products

When it comes to maintenance, using the right products is crucial. Opt for high-quality cleaning agents and polishes designed explicitly for wood gun stocks. These products will clean effectively and nourish the wood, enhancing its natural beauty and protecting it from damage. While Velvit oil stain was one of the top oils once used on guns stocks, our range of wood oils and waxes provide an excellent alternative for the once popular gun stock finish.

By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure that your newly refinished gun stock remains in excellent condition, retaining its beauty and functionality for many years. Regular maintenance is the key to a long-lasting and beautiful gun stock.

Real Milk Paint’s Recommended Products for Wood Gun Stock Finishing

best clear carbauba wax on the marketAfter guiding you through the meticulous process of refinishing your wood gun stock, it is only fitting that we recommend the best products to help you achieve a stunning and durable finish. Real Milk Paint offers a range of products ideal for finishing and refinishing wood gun stocks. Some must-have products include:

  • Tung Oil: Tung oil, and its darker variety, is a popular choice for wood finishes, known for its ability to penetrate deep into the wood grains, offering a warm, rich finish while providing excellent protection. It is easy to apply and results in a beautiful hand-rubbed finish that enhances the natural beauty of the wood.
  • Half & Half: Half & Half, a mixture of tung oil and citrus solvent, is perfect for those looking for a natural, non-toxic finish. It penetrates deep into the wood, offering a durable and water-resistant finish that is easy to maintain.
  • Citrus Solvent: Citrus Solvent can be used as a natural replacement for mineral spirits, helping to clean and prepare the wood surface before applying oils. It leaves a pleasant citrus scent, making your working environment more enjoyable.
  • Oil Finishes: Real Milk Paint offers a variety of oil finishes that are perfect for achieving a beautiful and durable finish on your gun stock. These finishes are easy to apply and maintain, promising long-lasting beauty and protection for your wood stock.
  • Clear Carnauba Wax: We offer the best clear carnauba wax on the market. Formulated from carnauba wax, beeswax, and candelilla wax, our product with give your gun stock that final sheen that will enhance and help maintain it’s beauty for years.

Shop Now for the Perfect Finish

Now that you have the knowledge and steps to refinish your gun stock, it’s time to get the best products to help you achieve the perfect finish. Shop now at Real Milk Paint and explore our range of wood oils and other products designed to give your wood gun stock a beautiful, durable, and protective finish. Make your gun stock a tool and a work of art with Real Milk Paint’s finishing oils.

What Customers Say

Great product. Had a very old beechwood rifle stock that desperately needed refinishing. After stripping the old (varnish?) finish, some light sanding & steaming out the dents in the wood, put a total of 5 coats of half& half (finally started to pool on the 5th). Almost looks new now!
Paul T., Half & Half
Being somewhat new at rifle stock refinishing, you lost to others, and it was a mistake, I talked with a wonderful young lady on the phone, explained what I was doing, she explained my previous mistakes, and the stock came out better than I hoped for. The product is excellent but the support is 10 times better. Thank you very much.
James S. , Dark Tung Oil

Easy application. Wiped on a teak 1943 Mauser stock and the results were fantastic.

Christopher D. , Pure Tung Oil

Great stuff! Never worked with tung oil before but this made it really easy. Worked on three military gun stocks and they came out looking like new.

Greg A. , Half & Half

I refinish USGI gun stocks. This product has reduced my stain and finish in half. Using a special military color stain followed by Dark Half, I can replicate that reddish hue that many USGI stocks acquired over time. Since I sell most of what I finish or refinish a stock for someone, I can process more stocks when using the Dark Half.

Joseph M., Dark Half