Refinishing Old Gun Stocks

Written by edwin thomas
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Refinishing Old Gun Stocks
(Wikimedia Commons)

Stripping off the Old Finish

Never begin the refinishing an old gun stock by sanding it, as would be the case with other wood refinishing tasks. Instead, first remove the buttplate, place the gun on a dust sheet, and use a brush to apply a chemical stripper. Use a new toothbrush or small paint brush to get to any hard to reach places. Allow for about 15 to 25 minutes for the stripper to do its job, depending on the brand and the instructions included with it. The progress of the stripper can be checked with a plastic scraper. If the sludge of stripper and finish is easy to remove, then the stripper is done with its work.

Use a plastic scraper to remove the sludge, not a metal one. Metal will scratch the stock. If there is still some finish left on the stock, repeat the process.

Refinishing Old Gun Stocks
This stock is dented and scratched and in need of refinishing.

Pressing Instead of Sanding

Now the finish is off, but the stock still has dents and scratches. Sanding will remove too much of the stock and change its shape. Therefore, sanding cannot be the main means of removing imperfections. Also, checkering on the grip should never, ever be sanded, unless the checkering is to be removed completely.

Instead the stock should be pressed. Lay down a new dropcloth since the old one will now be soiled thoroughly with sludge from the stripping process. Wrap a damp, clean rag around the imperfections, and then place the gun back down. Take a hot iron and press down firmly but not on the dents and scratches. The moisture, heat and force will even the wood out to a degree that will help minimise damage done by sanding.


Now it is time to make the stock smooth by sanding. Use a sanding block and a medium-grade sandpaper, and do away with the last of the scratches. Use a fine grade to smooth the wood to perfection. Under no circumstances should a power sander be used as it is certain to remove too much wood. Also, do not sand the butt for any reason, as this will alter the fit of the butt with severe consequences for shooting the gun later.

Refinishing Old Gun Stocks
Do not sand checkering unless it is to be completely removed.


Select the desired wood stain. Using a brush, apply it to the stock. Let the finish dry. Go to work applying lacquer to the stock, and let that dry as well. To protect the wood, at least two layers of lacquer are needed, and three to four would be better. Let the lacquer layers dry thoroughly before applying a new layer. When the stock is finally fully refinished and dry, screw the buttplate back on.

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