How to Oil Finish a Gun Stock

By Grant D. McKenzie

A natural oil finish applied to the stock can bring new life and beauty to an old rifle or shotgun. Before refinishing, however, find out if the gun has monetary value that refinishing would destroy. Creating a rich color and a smooth, glossy surface takes effort, but the time and care you put into the refinishing of your gun's stock will be worth the results.

Remove the stock from the rifle or shotgun. Each manufacturer and model will likely have a different method, but the stock should be completely separable.

Rub the stock with 120-grit sandpaper until the surface is fairly smooth and you have removed all traces of the old finish. Wipe gently with a slightly damp lint-free cloth to remove ant excess dust, checking for rough spots or places where the old finish is still visible. Repeat sanding and wiping, if necessary.

Rub the stock with 300-grit sandpaper to create a fine, smooth surface. Wipe with a damp, lint-free cloth. You can use finer sandpaper, if you wish, to create an even smoother surface, but it will take a little more time.

Rub the stock with four-aught, or "0000," steel wool. This opens up the grain on the surface and prepares the wood to receive the finish.

Pour a small amount of boiled linseed oil into the palm of your hand and rub it gently into the sanded stock. You can find boiled linseed oil at most major home-improvement stores. Your body heat, combined with the friction of your hand against the wood, heats the oil so it soaks deeper into the stock. Repeat until the entire stock has an even coat. Let this coat cure for one to two days in a warm, well-ventilated place, but do not apply direct heat.

Repeat applications of linseed oil, curing in between each application, until you get the finished look you desire. Each coat of oil creates a richer color and luster, so it's up to you how many coats you want to use.

Apply a thin layer of carnuba wax after the last application of oil cures with a soft, lint-free cloth. This will help protect the new finish.

About the Author

Grant is a history buff, especially in the area of airpower theory with a focus on European Theater in WWII. He is also a Sinfonian and deeply dedicated to the advancement of music in America, both as an amateur performer and as a supporter or music education. Finally, Grant is an amateur craftsman. He enjoys woodworking and candle-making and has developed his own unique methods and styles for candles.