Several friends have requested that I document the process of refinishing a gunstock, so here is my online attempt. My background is a avid woodworker with a passion for exotic and unique woods. My woodworking experience ranges from cabinets to crafts to furniture and almost everything in between. I have refinished several gunstocks and built built some from blanks as well (see: Gunstock II ) I goal on this project is to refinish a Urethane factory stock and bring out the natural beauty of the wood using an oil finish. Although I now have a set way to refinish stocks, I will try to document the pros and cons and the mistakes I have learned from throughout my finishing.

This project will be for a Beretta AL391 Gold Sporting. I bought a fairly inexpensive stock through Cole. It was a factory stock they replaced. It had the factory Urethane finish, not one of their higher dollar stocks. But at 1/3 the price I'm very happy with it.

Original Urethane Finish didn't show the woods potential

I used CitriStrip (followed instructions) but I wrapped it in Aluminum foil This helps the stripper. Use a plastic scrapper and brush to remove the finish. (I usually use a metal cabinet scraper, but if you are not 100% comfortable using one, DO NOT. A good cabinet scraper with a proper burr will remove a finish in 1/2 the time of a plastic scrapper, BUT it can do some serious stock damage if you are not careful). I rinsed it in cold water with a scotch-brite pad (Grey). I tape off the checkering and after the stock is completely stripped I apply stripper to the checkering and brush it out with a toothbrush. Checkering oil is easy to remove, DO NOT saturate the checkering or it will get mushy and rub off! I dried it with a hair dryer and cleaned it with the CitriStrip neutralizer (Mineral spirits). Then I let it sit for 2-5 days.

As you can see from these pictures the oil finish really brings the wood to life.

After I let the stock dry completely I sanded it with 320, 400 and finally 600 grit sandpaper. I taped off the checkering and was extremely careful not to round over the sharp checkering.

Finally I started finishing. I've tried about 5 different techniques (applying, stripping and starting over, etc)until I finally found one that worked for me and gave me the results I wanted. By the way with the oil finish I only had to scrub it down with mineral spirits to start over so feel free to experiment with different oils (WITHOUT urethane). (I tried boiled linseed oil, Pure tung oil, and stock finishing oil I ordered. I now mainly use a Tru-Oil/linseed oil mix, the ratio depends on weather conditions.

I thinned out Tru-oil 50/50 to wet sand it and fill the pores in the wood. The first wetsand I left the sludge on the stock. The second I wiped it off with a lint free rag. I used 400 and 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Letting it dry 2 days between drying (indoors).

Then I started applying the oil. The first 3 coats I mixed 25/75, 50/50, then 75/25 with mineral spirits to deeply penetrate the wood. This is very important, the thinner the first few coats are the deeper the oil can penetrate making to wood look deeper and richer looking. I applied a thin coat and wiped it off. I used a fine scotch-brite pad (Grey) between coats. I applied 12 coats. Allowing 12-24 hours between coats. I put a fan on low to help the drying process.

Recomendation for a first timer:
I would have several pieces of scrap 1/4" walnut 4"x8" at least 5 steps ahead of you stock to test things on. This will help, test thinks on the scrap not you stock if possible.

After the stock dried for about a week, I used the Brownell Medium Checkering File to re-checker any damaged checking and remove the oil that got into it throught the oiling process. I ended up recheckering the entire stock, but there was plenty left to do this with ease. The rechecking process took about 8 hours. I learned if I tape the checkering and replace it often between stripper coats, sanding and finishing, I only spend a few minutes touching up the checkering.

After the stock dries for about 7-10 days I apply 2 coats of checkering oil to the checkering. It is basically a very thin danish oil you apply with a soft toothbrush and wipe off

I use rottenstone or Birchwood Casey's Sheen/Conditioner to get a satin finish. I like the look of the Birchwood Casey product for this stock. It gives a good satin finish without dulling the richness of the wood.

Here are some before and after pictures of the completed stock. The pictures were taken with the same camera, lights, and background.

Before and After
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Here are the pictures of the final product and a comparison to my wifes factory finish (soon to be re-finished!)

Finished Stock Pictures

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This finish and technique is what I found worked best for me to give me the look I want. My experience at wood finishing is about 7 years at building furniture (a few pics at my home page). As I said I tried about 5 different finishes and I liked this best. The boiled linseed oil I thought looked the nicest and was the easiest to apply, BUT it took over a week to dry per coat if you don't live in a desert (directions said 12 hours) I heard thats typical. The Tung oil, like the linseed oil was easy to apply and took a longer time to dry (5 days) and is not as protective as Tru-oil. The Tru-oil had the better protection and after the finish is either rottenstoned or the BC stock Sheen/Condition is applied it looks almost as nice as the linseed oil. The blend that I use make the Tru-Oil a little easier to apply and has a more oiled appearance. Thats my reasoning for going with that finish.

I would like to send thanks to everyone on ShotgunSports discussion group for all the information they gave me. Especially Steve Reeves who's knowledge and patients got me this far on this project.


More Stocks

I finally finished Melia's Beretta. I had to steam out 3 dings, I was impressed how well it worked. There are over 14 coats of a Tru, Linseed, Tung Oil and Mineral Spirits mix. Each coat was varied with different amounts of each oil and dilution of mineral spirits. The grain had a deep pours and it took over seven coats just to fill the grain (not including 2 wet-sanding coats)

Browning XS Sporting
I finally finished my Browning XS Sporting. I applied 18 coats. The wood is a feathered-crotch piece of walnut. I think it turned out pretty good. The pictures aren't the best, when the sun finally comes out I'll take better pictures and update these pictures.

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I've decided to post building a stock from scratch. I will post step-by-step what I am doing so everyone can see my progress and learn from my mistakes. Click the link below to go to my Gunstock II page

Gunstock II


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