How To Refinish A Gun Stock

How to Refinish a Gun Stock

You love the gun that family passed down through the generations. But it’s old and it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to show it off in your gun cabinet. You don’t want to take it out hunting. Learn how to refinish a gun stock in this article.

Whatever your reason for refinishing your gun stock is, you’re expecting to shell out some money to get it done. But you don’t have to.

What if I told you that you don’t have to be a professional to refinish a gun stock? You can do the work at home and achieve a beautiful finish.

We’re going to walk you through the steps of refinishing a gun stock. Your gun will be looking brand new again in no time. 

Step #1 Take Your Gun Apart 

We don’t recommend refinishing your gun while it’s put together. It would be difficult to maneuver the stock with everything else still attached.

So, taking apart your gun should be your very first step.

When you start, there shouldn’t be bullets in the gun.

To help you out later on down the road, consider labeling the different pieces of your gun. Create a diagram so you know what goes where when you’re finished with everything.

It’s easy to forget where some of the smaller pieces go, no matter how many times you’ve disassembled your gun. 

Step #2 Clean the Gun Stock

You can’t do a professional refinish job if your gun stock is covered in debris, dust, or grime.

Cleaning the stock should be easy. All you need to do is wipe it down with a rag and soapy water. Make sure you get everything.

Then you can wipe it down with a clean dry rag. 

Step #3 Strip the Old Finish 

Step #2 Clean the Gun Stock


Now we’re getting to the actual refinishing work. Before you can refinish anything, including a gun stock, you have to strip the old finish.

You’re going to need personal protection equipment (PPE). In this case, you’ll need a face mask and safety glasses. Rubber gloves are helpful too so your hands don’t end up covered in chemicals.

There are several different finishes out there. And there’s a different way to remove each finish.

Most gun stocks use some type of polyurethane finish. Unfortunately, you have to use stronger chemicals to strip polyurethane.

You can find chemical strippers at most hardware stores. The stripper you buy needs to have methylene chloride.

You need to do this outside where it’s well-ventilated. Otherwise, the strong chemicals can be overwhelming.

Take a steel wool pad and cover it in the chemical stripper. Slowly rub the stripper into the gun stock. Make sure you rub the stripper into small areas at a time. And rub it in a circular motion.

Be careful not to rub the steel wool too hard into the stock. It doesn’t take much to scratch it up.

You have to go over the gunstock again, rubbing small areas at a time with the steel wool. This time rub with the grain.

You’ll be able to tell when the finish starts to disappear. If you’re not seeing any progression, repeat the process.

Once you’re done, lay or hang your gunstock somewhere safe so it can dry. The drying process can take at least 24 hours. 

Step #4 Clean Up the Grease 

After the gun stock has dried, it’s time to clean up some grease. When you remove an old finish old grease comes up.

If it seems like an easy job, you can get away with cleaning the gun stock with a rag and soapy water.

But some jobs and grease are tougher so you’ll need to invest in a de-greaser. You can find de-greaser at most department stores and hardware stores.

When you’re cleaning, go with the grain. Dry the gun stock off with a clean rag once you’re finished. 

Step #5 Fix the Imperfections 

Step #5 Fix the Imperfections


Now that you’ve cleaned your gun stock up, you want to get rid of all those little imperfections. This can be cracks, gouges, and even gun oil stains.

To get rid of any light scratches, you can hand sand the scratches.

For small cracks, you’re going to need to fill them. You can use shellac (or tung oil) to achieve this. Don’t overdo it, you’re not going to fill the crack with only shellac.

Before the shellac dries, take 220-grit sandpaper and sand it. As you sand you’ll notice that the dust from the stock fills the crack. And it’s going to be the same color.

Repeat the process until you fill the crack. Allow it to dry. 

Step #6 Sand the Gun Stock 

It’s time to sand the gun stock so you’re starting with a smooth and level surface. Try using a sanding block instead of sandpaper for this job.

Use long strokes while sanding. Start with 220-grit sandpaper. Move on up in grit until you’re up to 400-grit sandpaper.

Make sure the butt-plate stays in place. If it moves around, you’re going to make mistakes sanding.

When you’re finished make sure you clean the gun stock of all sawdust and debris.

Step #7 Stain the Gun Stock 

You don’t have to stain the gun stock. You can choose to use skip the stain and only apply a finish, such as finishing oil.

The stain gives your gun stock a whole new look, especially if the stock is dull and boring. There are stains made for gun stocks that you can find at a hardware store.

Take a paintbrush and start to apply the stain. Make sure you’re going with the grain.

Wipe away any excess stain. Then allow the stock to dry.

Step #8 Apply the Finish 

Tru-Oil is the best finish for a gun stock. We prefer to use the spray version of Tru-Oil. It’s faster and spreads evenly.

For the best look, apply at least three coats. Between each coat, you have to let the finish dry. This can take anywhere from eight hours to 12 hours.

Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the gun stock between coats as well. It removes any minor imperfections caused by the finish. 


Don’t worry about finding someone to refinish your gun stock. You can do it by yourself and spend less money while you do it.

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One Response

  1. Jean Nooney

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