How to care for a finished shotgun stock with linseed oil

Written by lewis j. fagleman
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How to care for a finished shotgun stock with linseed oil
Apply linseed oil after using a shotgun to maintain a good finish. (cdtirot5 image by Paco Ayala from

Finishing a gunstock can make a shotgun look great, and it provides protection from scratches, dents and water penetration. Linseed oil is commonly used because it provides such protection while not giving the wood a glossy finish, as a varnish would. The key to achieving the desired effect is the preparation of the stock before you apply linseed oil. Shotgun stocks, with their less complex shapes and lines, are generally easier to care for than rifle stocks.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Linseed oil
  • Thinning agent
  • Soft brush
  • Fine glasspaper
  • Cloths

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  1. 1

    Check for scratches and marks on the finish. Remove them by rubbing with a fine grade of glasspaper, following the contours of the stock.

  2. 2

    Apply a mixture of two parts linseed oil to one part thinning agent to the stock with a soft brush. This allows maximum penetration for this bottom layer of protection.

  3. 3

    Allow the oil to soak in for about 30 minutes. Remove excess oil with a cloth.

  4. 4

    Rub the stock with a cloth for 10 to 15 minutes, following the lines of the stock, to achieve an appropriate finish.

  5. 5

    Apply another, thicker layer of linseed oil, this time without the thinning agent.

  6. 6

    Remove excess oil after 30 minutes and rub the stock with a cloth for 15 minutes.

  7. 7

    Repeat the process of adding layers of linseed oil every 24 hours until the stock has the desired finish. Generally, the stock should not be glossier than the metal parts of the shotgun, and it should not need more than three or four layers.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply a thin layer of linseed oil after using a shotgun and dry it immediately. This will remove any moisture and dirt that has contaminated the surface and ensure the finish is maintained between shoots.
  • Linseed oil is flammable and, because it cools by oxidation, oil-soaked rags and cloths can spontaneously combust. Rags must be burnt after use or washed thoroughly and stored damp in an airtight container.

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