gun stock refinishing

Ultimate Guide on Gun Stock Refinishing in 2024

Why spend your money when you can do the work yourself with gun stock refinishing? With this guide, you can discover that the process of beautifying and giving new life to a firearm is not that complicated. You can follow the simple, uncomplicated steps below to ensure that you are doing the right thing to avoid ruining the appearance of the gun stock.

Here are the steps of gun stock refinishing you can follow, so take a closer look.

Amazingly, some guns can stand the challenge of time. That said, many ones are passed on from generation to generation. One problem with the passed guns through generations is that they are not in their best shape. While they are still functional like before, they have a somewhat embarrassing appearance that makes it evident that they are old firearms. Luckily, knowing gun stock refinishing can solve this issue.  

A new gun stock finish is an effective way to restore a gun and regain its glorifying beauty and style. What’s impressive about refinishing gun stock is that it is an easy-to-learn skill that can help you to give a new life to a firearm. Hence, showing off the newly refurbished gun will be easy, just like how you boast a newly purchased firearm. The good thing about that is that you don’t have to ask for help from a professional because you can do the work at home and still ensure a beautiful finish. 

Realistically speaking, the rule of thumb when it comes to gun stock refinishing is not to do it when you are in doubt. Well, reading this gun stock refinishing guide can help you decide if you will do the work yourself or let the professional handle all the tasks to bring back the life of your firearm. However, it might be worth learning how to do the work if you think about the possible cost. 

Read along to know more about the gun stock refinishing guide. But first, let’s go deeper into why you need to learn gun stock refinishing steps. 

gun stock refinishing

Why Do You Need To Learn Gun Stock Refinishing?

Without a doubt, knowing how to refinish a gun stock is a handy skill if you love to collect firearms. Besides the fact that it is an entertaining skill to learn, it is also a smart way to save money. Just imagine how much it costs to refinish all the firearms in your collection. That is enough information to be convinced that it is indeed highly beneficial to learn how to do the work. 

What’s more, the stock gun holds a vital purpose in a firearm. That said, it will be entirely uncomfortable to leave it in bad shape. So, you really need to learn how to refinish it to give a new life to the gun. Beautifying an old gun stock is always worth the effort, especially for the used guns and family heirlooms you genuinely value. 

Definitely, it pays to learn how to refinish gun stock because it can help you save while still ensuring a new and beautiful gun stock finish at the end of work. Truth be told, you can discover all the benefits of learning the process when you actually start learning it. Significantly, realizing that having the skill will help you save money is already enough reason to do it. 

Stock Assessment

Now that you have learned why you need to learn gun stock refinishing, the question focuses on whether all firearms are suitable for changing gun stock finishes. Well, the simple answer is that the process is particularly helpful for used guns or family heirlooms. Once firearms begin to show signs of old age, it might be the time to do the stock assessment.

Of course, you don’t carelessly dive into the process without assessing the gun stock of your old firearm. You only need to start gun stock refinishing if the firearm is really a suitable candidate for DIY refinishing. After all, some rifles are more uncomplicated to refinish than others. For instance, simple rifles with a one-piece design are more manageable and easier to refinish than other shotguns or lever-action rifles. 

As for refinishing simple rifles with a one-piece design, you don’t have to be concerned about unsightly receiver fit and checkering. No question, part of the proper stock assessment involves careful inspection to figure out if the work is suitable for you to handle. Of course, you don’t need to be quick with the stock assessment because it is everything to ensure to do an excellent job with gun stock refinishing. 

Now, if you have decided that you can handle the task of refinishing gun stock, you can explore the steps to do the job below. 

hunting rifles

10 Steps in Gun Stock Refinishing: Let’s Get Started

Why spend your money when you can do the work yourself with gun stock refinishing? With this guide, you can discover that the process of beautifying and giving new life to a firearm is not that complicated. You can follow the simple, uncomplicated steps below to ensure that you are doing the right thing to avoid ruining the appearance of the gun stock. 

Here are the steps of gun stock refinishing you can follow, so take a closer look. 

1. Disassemble the Firearm

Safety-wise, the very first step regarding refinishing gun stock is to disassemble the firearm. Basically, you need to remove the components so you can trust that you can maintain the safety of working the entire process. Don’t ever try to refinish your gun stock while it is together because not only is it difficult to maneuver it when everything is attached, but safety will be at risk. 

Obviously, you should also make sure that there are no bullets in the gun. That’s actually the same rules that apply when it comes to cleaning and restoring guns. Because of that, you must first ensure safety above everything. A great tip when disassembling your firearm is to consider labeling the components to make the work easier later down the road. Putting them in a gun cleaning mat can keep them neat and organized. 

What’s impressive about most gun cleaning mats is that they have a diagram to help you with the reassembling process, so you don’t have to wonder where each component goes. Consider doing either of the two because it is easy to forget where some of the small gun components go. The same struggle applies no matter how many times you have disassembled your gun before. 

refinishing gun stock

2. Clean the Gun Stock

After you disassemble your gun, the next thing you must do is clean the gun stock. You can’t proceed with the refinishing job unless you have already cleaned the gun stock. Of course, like anyone, you don’t want to work with a gun stock covered with grime, dust, or debris, right? It is easy to clean the gun stock, so you must never skip this step. 

All you must do with cleaning your gun stock is to wipe down the stock using a rag and soapy water. You need to make sure to get everything cleaned so there will be no dust or grime that can ruin your work in the process. Being thorough with the cleaning process can lower the possibility of encountering issues along the way. Once you are done, you can wipe it down with the use of a clean, dry rag. 

Ultimately, you won’t spend a great amount of time cleaning your gun stock if you store your firearms in a nice gun safe that can lower the chance of collecting dust, grime, and dirt. Where you store your gun is really a big deal because of how it stays clean. Therefore, it makes sense why many gun owners have gun safes. 

3. Remove the Old Finish

This step is where the actual gun stock refinishing process starts. Obviously, you can’t achieve a beautiful gun finish if you just let the old finish be. So, the right way to start the work is to strip the old finish. While this might sound like an easy step to follow, you need to wear personal protection to maintain safety. In this case, you will need to wear a face mask and safety glasses. 

At the same time, it is also helpful to wear rubber gloves for your hands’ protection. This way, you can ensure that your hands will not end up covered by old finish and other chemicals. When you are all ready, you must then identify the old finish of your gun stock. After all, there are many different gun stock finishes, and each type requires a different way of removal. 

The most commonly used gun stock finish is polyurethane finish. Well, it is a popular choice since it can last a long time. With that being said, you need to use a stronger chemical in order to strip the polyurethane finish out of the gun stock successfully. As for the chemical strippers, you can buy them from hardware stores.

Moreover, the chemical stripper suitable for removing the polyurethane finish, the best one to choose is methylene chloride. When your gun stock finish is really this one, you need to remove the old finish outside where there is proper ventilation because strong chemicals can be overwhelming and uncomfortable to smell. So, never do this step in a place where there is low-quality ventilation. 

Besides the chemical stripper, you will also need a steel wool pad to rub off the old finish from the gun stock. To be specific, you need to combine the two when removing the old finish. You need to have the steel wool pad covered with the chemical stripper. That way, you can effectively strip off the finish. The best way to do it is to rub the pad in small areas at a time and rub it in a circular motion. 

When rubbing the steel wool pad, don’t put too much pressure so you can avoid messing it up. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t take much to scratch the finish off the gun stock. You have to go over the area when you see no progress in the removal of the finish. When doing the right thing, you will notice when the finish disappears. 

Once done with this step, you must lay or hang your gun stock in a safe place to let it dry well for the next step. Of course, you need to let it dry in a safe place since the gun stock needs to be surely dry for at least 24 hours to be ready for other steps for refinishing. 

Alternatively, you can also remove the old finish through sanding. With this, you need to be extra cautious when removing the nasty, old finish. Thus, you won’t scratch and damage the gun stock to maintain its beauty. 

4. Clean-up the Grease

After at least 24 hours, the gun stock must be all dry. However, you still need to check if the gun stock is dry and ready for this step. When the gun stock has dried, you will notice that there is some grease on it. Don’t worry about that because that is only natural when you strip the old finish off the gun stock. Basically, it comes up, so you also need to remove it. 

While removing grease sounds like another tricky job, you can get away with cleaning it with just a rag and soapy water. You can try this easy and inexpensive way and observe if you can effectively remove the grease. If not, you can use a degreaser that can handle tough grease. Like the chemical stripper, you can buy it in a hardware store. 

Once you are done removing the grease, you must dry the gun stock using a clean rag. To ensure that no grease, dirt, or grime is left, you can scrub off the gun stock again. 

5. Fix the Imperfections

If the gun you want to refinish is really considered a family heirloom passed down to you, it is somewhat natural that you can genuinely observe its imperfections. When you are already beautifying your gun stock, it is best to take advantage of the chance to get rid of the little imperfections you see. Such little imperfections might include cracks, gouges, and gun oil stains.  

If you see light scratches on the gun stock, you can use hand sand so you can effectively scratch them out. Meanwhile, if you notice small cracks, you can get rid of them using shellac or tung oil. Don’t put a too large amount of the material because you don’t want to overdo the process and make it hard to sand the gun stock using sandpaper. Basically, just put the right amount of shellac to fill the cracks. 

Once again, you must allow the gun stock to dry after filling its cracks using shellac or tung oil. With all the steps, you must have already figured out that the gun stock refinishing process takes time at this point. 

6. Sand Everything

In this step, you need to sand the gun stock. Yet, it is much better to use a sanding block instead of sandpaper for this job. That way, you can ensure a smoother and more level surface in your gun stock. A great tip you must remember is that using long strokes while sanding is best. 

Even before you start sanding the gun stock, you need to position it in a steady and secure set so it won’t move around. The best position is to make sure the butt plate stays in place. That way, you can control the gun stock from excessively moving around. With that, you can also avoid mistakes in sanding. You must clean the gun stock again to remove sawdust and debris when finished. 

staining gun stock

7. Stain the Gun Stock

Technically speaking, staining gun stock is another way to give it a whole new look. Despite the great benefits, many opt to skip it because of the fact that it can be a time-consuming task. Yet, if you invest your time in it, you can transform a dull and boring gun stock into a more stylish one. That depends on the type of stains for a gun stock you buy from hardware stores. 

To stain the gun stock, you need a paintbrush to be able to start applying the stain on it. When staining the gun stock, it is ideal to go with the grain to ensure that you cover everything. Once finished, you need to wipe away the excess stain. That way, you can keep the look neat and fantastic. Finally, you must allow the gun stock to dry. 

You will know that you have done an excellent job applying stain on your gun stock if you see that it really resulted in a whole new look. Gone are the dull and boring styles. 

8. Apply the Finish

Here comes the exciting part of the refinishing: the actual time you will apply the new finish to the gun stock. To give you a clear idea, the most popular gun stock finish is Tru-Oil. What makes it impressive and popular is that Tru-Oil has a spray version that provides an easier and faster way to apply it while keeping the finish evenly spread. 

To achieve the classic appearance and best look, applying the finish at least three coats is ideal. Between each coating, you have to let the finish dry effectively. After the drying process, you can make it neat by sanding the gun stock very lightly with the use of extra-fine sandpaper. Just apply light pressure with the sandpaper to avoid any possible damage.  

gun stock finish

Since you need to apply at least three coats of finish, you can expect that the actual process can take anywhere from eight to 12 hours, considering the fact that you need to spare some time for each coat to dry. One thing you need to remember in this specific step is that you must ensure to evenly spread the finish and sand the gun stock after it has dried. Therefore, you can remove minor imperfections. 

Moreover, another thing you need to be aware of is that some firearm owners tend to apply seven or more thin coats of finish for better results. As for your firearm, you need to observe the progress each time you apply the coating. That’s the best way to know how far you must go in applying a new finish. 

9. Double-Check the Finish

The best trick with gun stock refinishing is to double-check it. Well, it is a vital step that can go a long way. After all, you are already about to consume a significant time with the past steps above at this moment. Therefore, why not just go all the way, right? Just spare enough time to ensure excellent results from applying a new finish. 

Aside from double-checking the newly applied gun stock finish, applying a light coating of protective finish is also an ideal task. Since the finish is for protection, it can help to ensure that the new finish will last long. That way, your effort will be more worth it. Hence, you can effectively preserve the beauty of your gun stock.  

Realistically speaking, gun stock refinishing will not make your firearm look brand new. However, you can see improvements to beautify it at the end of the process. With that being said, there’s no need to be hesitant about learning and doing the skill yourself. 

10. Reassemble the Firearm

When everything is done, including the final checking of the newly applied finish and final touches, it is then time to wrap up. This means that you can already reassemble your firearm. If you keep everything neat and organized when you disassemble the firearm, you will encounter an issue with getting it back in its form. 


5 Best Gun Stock Finishes

Now that you have uncovered the steps you can follow in gun stock refinishing, it is time to guide you in choosing the best gun stock finishes you can choose from. Here are the options, so have a look below. 

1. Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish Kit

Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish Kit

The primary issue with the multi-purpose finish is that the quality is compromised for flexibility. Fortunately, that’s not an issue with the Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish Kit. It is already a nice package that includes everything you might need to preserve your firearm’s condition and beauty for a long time. 

From walnut stain and Tru-Oil finish to refinishing guide, degreaser, and gun cloth, this kit has all the professional-grade finishing materials you need to effectively bring out the richness and beauty of the fine woods of your firearm. Impressively, this kit is one of the best choices you can buy. 

You can never go wrong trying out the Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil if you want a tough, long-lasting finish with water resistance and UV protection.

2. Flitz KG 41501 Mixed Knife and Gun Care Kit

Flitz KG 41501 Mixed Knife and Gun Care Kit

If you have a collection of knives along with your firearms, the Flitz KG 41501 Mixed Knife and Gun Care Kit might be the best choice since it is already a package. What’s good about the finish included is that it won’t damage the metallic parts of your firearm. 

Essentially, the tactical matte finish cleaner and polish are purposely created to suit wood and metal pieces. That’s why you can use them without having to worry about any damage. On top of that, they are also safe to use and apply to the environment. 

3. Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish

Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish

Just need the gun stock finish? If so, the Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish is what you need. Surely, it is second to none when it comes to bringing out the beauty, charm, and color of the wood gun stock. With its unique rich dark brown color, it can effectively bring life to the dull, bare wood with just a few coats. 

Moreover, the gun stock finish applies fine and smooth and is water-soluble. That said, you can expect a great result with just minimal effort on application. On top of that, you can easily achieve the color you desire—adding water for a lighter coat color and adding more coats for a darker color. 

Ultimately, the Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish dries faster, so it won’t probably take you a long time to finish gun stock refinishing. 

4. Milsek Gun Cleaner & Oil

Milsek Gun Cleaner & Oil

With a two-in-one effect, you can definitely use the Milsek Gun Cleaner & Oil to clean and refinish your gun with just a single application. In addition, it is not formulated with wax or silicone. Thus, it doesn’t result in greasy build-up even if it is easy to apply. Together with its multi-purpose cloth, you can apply it on gun stock, rifle, handgun, barrel, and shotgun. 

Besides restoring the sheen and color of your gun stock, you will also like that this finish can also effectively repel rust, water, and dirt. Hence, you don’t have to exert much effort with the work. Meanwhile, the most obvious flaw of this mixture is that it is only suitable for finished and synthetic wood. 

5. Minwax Antique Oil Finish

Minwax Antique Oil Finish

Specifically created to suit all wood needing a protective penetrating finish, the Minwax Antique Oil Finish can dry fast and be durable. It can excellently penetrate the wood to give it a new look and solid protection. Apart from gun stocks, it is also great to apply to different wooden furniture and surfaces. 

What’s more, this oil finish can provide a milder look to your gun stock while providing easy-to-maintain, durable, and highly resistant protection against stains. Even if it does not provide as much water resistance, you can’t question its ability to beautify your gun stock and its protection quality. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions frequently asked about gun stock refinishing and other related topics. If you have things to clarify and other things you are curious about, the information might help you. So, explore them below. 

What is the best finish to put on a gun stock?

Realistically speaking, different gun stock finishes are available to put on your gun stock. However, the most common and popular choice is oil finish. What makes it the best is that it is easy to apply, durable, and lasts long. At the same time, an oil finish can provide waterproof and UV light protection. It is best for the finished and unfinished wood.

Another popular choice is boiled linseed oil. It is different from the oil finish in terms of process and suitability. To be specific, it suits bare wood. Since it is boiled, you can expect that there will be a heating process. No need to be bothered because it can help lessen drying time. Ultimately, the boiled linseed oil creates a durable weatherproof seal as a polished finish. 

How many coats of Tru-Oil is best to apply on a gun stock?

With gun stock refinishing, applying at least three coats is ideal. By that, you can already achieve a durable glossy finish. Meanwhile, it will take about four to eight coats to achieve deep luster protection. The best way to figure out how many coats to apply is to observe the progress each time you apply the finish. 

If you think there is not much change in the look, it makes sense to continue applying the finish until you are satisfied with the results. 

Does refinishing a gun stock reduce its value?

Technically speaking, most firearms suitable to have their gun stock refinished are typically the old ones. They are the ones that are passed down from generation to generation. Despite being old firearms, they have a high value. This fact makes many curious if gun stock refinishing can reduce their value. Well, there are times, but many influencing factors play into it.

In fact, even gun cleaning can cause the firearm to reduce its value. Clearly, if the attempt to restore the firearm does badly more than good, it is the primary reason for the decline in value. Since refinishing gun stock is a specific method to beautify a firearm and give it a new look, it might not be the cause of the drop in value. 

What is the best wood for gun stocks?

For many years, wood has really been the best material choice for both long guns and handgun stocks. Different woods are used for gun stocks. Many options can be both functional and beautiful. However, walnut and rough wood are the most desired wood used for gun stocks. 

Are old guns worth anything?

Unbeknown to those who don’t collect firearms, old guns are valuable. The majority of them are worth something because they are considered a treasure. However, being old doesn’t automatically mean the guns are already valuable. In some cases, brand-new gun models are still more valuable. 

Ultimately, the value of a particular firearm still depends on its condition and history. Plus, many more influential factors determine its value. So, better check its overall condition to understand its worth better. 

How long to let the firearm dry when refinishing gun stock?

When refinishing gun stock, it is ideal to apply layers of coat to see the best results. Each coat needs adequate time to dry, and that depends on how thick you apply the finish. Considering that fact, it might take significant time to complete the gun stock refinishing process. Only you can tell that because it is up to you how many layers of finish you will apply. 

One thing is for sure; you must never work faster just to save time if the quality of the work and result will be compromised. 

Where to buy the best gun stock finish?

Realistically speaking, there are plenty of stores to choose from. Be it online or in local stores. As for local stores, you can also buy from hardware stores. Online, you can choose from reliable sites, such as Cabela’s and Amazon, so you will feel safe while shopping. Thus, no fear of getting ripped off. 

Final Thoughts

Even if the gun stock refinishing task sounds like daunting work to complete, you can do it with the right guide. Hopefully, this guide has given you enough confidence to try gun stock refinishing because nothing beats the satisfaction of doing the work yourself. It is an experience that is worth trying.  

At the same time, the thought of not spending money for other people to do the work is also fulfilling. You can always learn step-by-step, so you don’t have to be afraid. If you have learned to shoot, you can also do this task and pass it with flying colors. 

Meanwhile, if you are still interested in discovering more about shooting, guns, and everything related, check out the Survival Gear Shack website. Take a tour of our website and see different guides and reviews to explore more of what we can offer.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 5 Average: 4.6]

Similar Posts