Shotguns are used for hunting, trap and skeet shooting, sporting clays and home defence. It's not unusual for the wooden stock, either the forearm or butt section, to take a sharp hit and become dented. Although a dent won't affect the mechanical function of the gun, it can reduce the aesthetic quality of the firearm. Fortunately, a dent is usually easy to correct with a little steam, which expands the dent, returning the wood stock to its original appearance. For older guns, removing a dent may improve the resale value of the firearm, or help return an antique to its original condition.
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Things you need
- Electric steam iron
- Liquid detergent
- Distilled water
Clean the shotgun stock to remove all oil, grease and dirt, using a diluted solution of three drops liquid detergent to one quart of water. Thoroughly dry the stock before beginning repairs.
Place the shotgun on a table, with the dented stock facing up. Fill the electric iron with distilled water and turn it on the lowest setting to produce steam and allow the iron to heat-up (the iron will be ready when steam is produced and can be released through the iron's base plate).
Place a clean towel over the shotgun stock, covering the dent. Use the iron to gently heat the area of the stock, on and immediately around the dent. Do not heat a large area of the shotgun stock. Use the pointed tip of the iron to heat a small area of the stock.
Move the iron in a circular motion for 20 seconds, then remove the iron and lift the towel covering the stock. For small dents, this may be sufficient to expand the wood and remove the dent. If the dent is still visible, lay the towel over the dent and apply heat from the iron again for 20 seconds. If the dent begins to show visible signs of recovery, repeat this process until the dent is almost gone. Stop when a very small dent is still visible, to allow the wood to slowly expand and cool.
If the dent is deep or does not disappear completely after heating, apply a small amount of steam from the iron while your are heating the dented area of the stock. Apply steam through the towel, not directly onto the wood stock. When the wood begins to respond by expanding, use heat without steam. Stop when the dent is barely visible, to allow the wood to continue expanding and cool.
Tips and warnings
- Apply heat and steam slowly, so as to allow the wood fibres to return to their original position. Too much heat may damage the wood, making repairs impossible.
- Deep gouges, scraps and scratches will need more than heat and steam to fix. A gunsmith may need to sand and refinish a wooden stock with severe damage.
- Make sure that the firearm you are working on is unloaded (no rounds in the chamber or the magazine).
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