Do you have a favorite rifle that’s really starting to show its age? Maybe you got a good deal on a well used, mechanically sound rifle, that shoots well, but whose looks leave a lot to be desired. Don’t despair, refinishing that rifle’s wood is a lot easier than most people think. You can return the rifle stock to its original condition, and also give it added protection from harsh weather.
If you’re working on a vintage gun or collector’s piece, you should make sure you really want to do this. Collector’s value on certain guns could be reduced by refinishing the stock. If there’s a possibility of reselling the rifle in the future, then don’t refinish it. If you want the rifle for a using gun, and don’t care about collector values, then, by all means, refinish that stock to your liking.
1. Remove the stock from the action and barrel. You also need to remove any non-wood items from the stock, such as recoil pads and buttplates, forend caps, and sling swivel studs.
2. You can either sand off the old finish or use a chemical stripper. Sanding works fine if you’re careful. You should use the finest grit sandpaper that still works well. You only want to take off the old finish, with as little wood as possible. Also, take care in areas where the wood and metal meet. Try to apply even pressure to avoid pits. A sanding block can be used to keep things even. A chemical stripper can also be used, and this may be a better alternative to sanding, especially in areas with checkering. Use a toothbrush to get the stripper into the checkering.
3. Wipe down the sanded rifle stock with a moist cloth. This gets all the dust and dirt off of the stock.
4. Now apply the desired stain or varnish using a clean cloth. Apply to an even finish and let the stock dry. After it has dried, it can be lightly sanded, and then another coat applied. This will create a darker finish.
5. Steel wool can be used on the rifle stock after the finish has dried. Lightly buff with a steel wool pad.
THE NEW FINISH
There are a lot of finishes and stains to choose from. Many people recommend reapplying a varnish type finish. This is a very glossy finish used on a lot of factory rifles today. Nowadays, you can use a modern linseed oil finish for your rifle stock. An example of this would be Tru-Oil. With an oil like this you can create a more durable and waterproof finish, as well as one that is more aesthetically pleasing, at least to some people. It looks more like the hand oiled stocks of the early part of the 20th century. So you can take a beat up old rifle stock, and refinish it to look like the classic rifles of the old days.