How to Refinish Wood Rifle Stocks

Refinishing a wood gun stock breaths new life into any stock that has seen better days. Avid hunters whose rifle has been knocked around a bit too much and gun collectors whose find is a military rifle with a scratched and dinged stock, can restore a stock to its original beauty without the cost of a replacement stock or gunsmith.

Remove the wooden stock from the gun by following the disassembly instructions. A Phillips head, square head or flat head screwdriver will be required.

Remove any non-wooden parts from the stock with the corresponding wrenches or drivers specific to the part.

Cover your worktable with a thick layer of newspaper, and put on chemical-resistant rubber gloves, safety glasses and a long-sleeved shirt.

Lay the stock on its side and apply a thick, consistent coat of epoxy rated paste wood stripper. Let the stripper work for 30 minutes.

Scrape the stripper and original finish off with a flat scraper or an octagon-shaped scraper. Wipe it with a cloth.

Apply an additional layer of stripper to the checkering with a cotton swab. Wait 10 minutes, and remove it with a metal brush, one side at a time. Wipe the stock with a clean cloth.

Rub a pad of steel wool, that has been saturated with lacquer thinner, over the stock's surface to neutralise the stripper.

Remove the lacquer thinner with running water until it is saturated and then scrubbing it with steel wool and dish soap. Rinse off the soap, and let it dry for two hours.

Allow the stock to dry overnight.

Reattach the recoil pad, butt plate and any other non-metallic fittings to the stock.

Sand the stock's flat surfaces with a sanding block covered in 120-grit sandpaper. Sand the checkering and curved areas with sandpaper wrapped around your finger or a pencil eraser.

Lift the old filler off the stock by wetting a cotton cloth that is large enough to cover the stock and running an old steam iron, set on high, slowly over the cloth until the entire surface has been heated and saturated with the steam. Allow the stock to dry for 12 hours.

Re-sand the stock with 120-grit sandpaper to remove any scratches.

Fill any dings that were not removed by the steam by applying fast-drying epoxy to the tip of a toothpick and using it to slowly rebuild the low spot.

Fill any cracks in the stock by squirting water-thin adhesive into them. Dry the stock for 12 hours.

Re-sanding the repaired areas and the areas around the non-wooden stock pieces with 120-grit sandpaper. Wipe it with a cloth.

Finish sand the stock with 220-grit, 320-grit and 400-grit sandpaper.

Re-cover your worktable, lay the stock on it's side and apply a light, consistent coat of dye-based solvent wood stain to it with a lint-free cotton cloth. Use the stain as needed.

Work the stain into the checkering with a stiff bristle brush, and allow it to dry for two hours before turning it and staining the other side and checkering in the same manner. Dry the stock for 24 hours.

Apply two or three coats of oil-based sealing finish to the stock with a clean cloth, allowing each coat to dry per the manufacturer's instructions between coats and before reassembling the gun.


Refinishing the forearm as you are refinishing the stock will assure that they match.


Work in a well-ventilated area. Dispose of your chemical-dampened materials properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Gun
  • Disassembly instructions for the gun
  • Driver
  • Wrench
  • Newspapers
  • Chemical-resistant rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Paste wood stripper rated for epoxy finishes
  • Cotton cloths
  • Small flat scraper
  • Small octagon-shaped scraper
  • Cotton swabs
  • Bronze metal brush
  • Steel wool
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Dish soap
  • Sanding block
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Old steam iron
  • Fast-drying epoxy
  • Toothpicks
  • Water-thin adhesive
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Dye-based solvent wood stain
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Oil-based sealing finish
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About the Author

Based in Covington, Tenn., Cheryl Torrie has been writing how-to articles since 2008. Her articles appear on eHow. Torrie received a certificate in travel and tourism from South Eastern Academy and is enrolled in a computer information systems program at Tennessee Technology Center at Covington.