Gun Stock Refinishing & Restoration
Refinishing of Wood on Rifles, Shotguns, Handguns, Knife Handles

Gunstock Refinishing– Professional Hand-rubbed Oil Finishes.

Disclaimer: If the gun you’re considering for refinishing is a collectible, please be advised that any alteration to the originality of the firearm, including refinishing the stock, may decrease the value of its “collectible” status. As well, an extremely valuable firearm may be perceived of lesser value if modifications, including gunstock refinishing, are made to it.

As I don’t refinish gunstocks to original “factory” condition, but rather to a hand-rubbed custom finish, such refinishing would be classified as an alteration to the originality of the firearm. No responsibility is assumed, therefore, for any decreased value, perceived or otherwise, that could result from my refinishing of your firearm’s gunstock. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.


                                                     

Cutting it short doesn’t cut it… there are simply no short cuts in creating fine wood finishes. It’s like assembly line cars vs. the ‘hand-made’ Rolls Royce. Essentials are:

  • Thorough wood prep that prepares the wood for a new finish 
  • Selection of finishing oils and drying components to maximize a handcrafted result
  • Determining the best application technique to achieve the desired finish and high-end outcome
  • Time. It's not a quick process.

                                          ~ Up front, I communicate with my customers ~

The day I receive your stock I'll contact you so you'll know it's arrived safely. During work process I may contact you, keeping you up to date on progress, and invite work-in-progress inquiries from you. Bottom line ~ you won't feel alienated as your valued gunstock is being restored.
                       

Please read the following so you’ll have good grasp on the process your gunstock will undergo during refinishing. This will help us best communicate what you'd like done and the details of the process.




The Basic Restoration & Refinishing Process

Remove Entire Old Finish

  • Finishes on gunstocks vary— varnish, polyurethane, and factory epoxy are the most common. Removal time and technique involved varies by chemical nature of the finish and how strongly it’s bonded to the wood. Polyurethane seems to be the most common and can be the slowest to remove, depending on the manufacturer.
  • Removal time: Most removal is upwards of 3-4 hours.

Wood Preparation

  • Remove surface scratches and dents.
  • Sand to remove old stain and create uniform wood surface.

Note: gouges, deep scratches, chips out of the wood, and cracked wood are tough issues which need to be handled separately.

Tough refinishing issues
need to be discussed before we both commit to your gunstock restoration. The usual issues are as follows:

Gouges and scratches: that are deep can usually be filled to exactly match the feel and surface level of your stock. There are occasions, however, when a perfect visual blend to surrounding wood is difficult to achieve. In other words, imperfections in the final finish may be visible even though the surface feel is smooth. Direction and width of the gouge, in relation to grain, can be factors that prevent a perfect visual repair.

How visually ‘perfect’ you desire results to be on these difficult issues needs to be addressed in our preliminary evaluation. On occasion, a stock can be so scarred that 100% perfection is impossible. I may then suggest we don’t refinish, unless you can live with some visual imperfection. Let's discuss... 

Cracks in wood: Repair is dependent on severity and location.

Gun oil stains in wood: These are difficult to remove. Many can be removed completely, but not always.The severity and depth of the stain, type of oil that created it, and how long it's been there are crucial factors. Some oil stain residue simply can’t be completely removed. Gun oil woodstock stains need to be discussed before work can begin. Bottom line: how much residual stain can you live with if it can't be completely removed?  


Staining of the Wood Prior to Refinishing (only if requested) —

  • Staining isn’t recommended because we don’t want to re-do what’s been done at the factory. Factory finishing can include a colored wood stain before a quickly applied glossy finish is applied on top. Staining can easily dull or even obscure a beautiful wood grain and pattern lying underneath. Factory glossy finishes, especially over time, also tend to form a visible, cloudy film that further dull the wood's full beauty from being fully revealed.
  • A better way than staining— A quality, hand-rubbed oil blend doesn’t remain only on the wood surface. Instead, it's deeply absorbed and reveals the true grain inherent in the wood. Rubbing oil penetrates, making the grain 'pop!'. The penetrating oil also deepens contrast between light and dark wood fibers (grain), revealing the full beauty of the pattern. (And therein lies the 'rub' of hand-finishing  :-)
  • Stain can be applied, however, if requested, or actually needed. Sometimes a really dull wood appearance can be improved with a little color. That will be your call. Let’s discuss, however, before such determination is made.     
          Note: Regarding wood color-- 

The randomness and diversity of wood grain, pattern, and even different wood colors are the characteristics most of us find so appealing in the wonder that is wood. The actual color of any given piece of wood can transition from, say, a dark area to a light one, all within a matter of several inches distance within the wood's surface appearance. I’ve seen gunstocks with such diversity of color and pattern, you’d think the stock was made of two pieces of different wood stuck together, so to speak.

In refinishing, therefore, I never try to force (stain) portions of the wood color to match other colors in a given gunstock, but instead let the wood maintain the diversity of presentation nature has provided.

 

Applying the New Finish – 

In short, applying the new oil-blend finish is labor intense. Usually up to 12 coats, sometimes even more, are needed to achieve a deep, lustrous beauty. Drying time between coats is at least one day. Drying times also vary, depending on humidity. Once all finishing coats have been applied, curing of the finish is required for maximum hardness and final luster creation.

Curing -- The longer you can leave the stock with me, the more time I can allow for curing (an internal hardening of the finish) which, on most stocks, has to do with my achieving the final luster. Final finishing can't be done until the cure is at least to a certain point. You can easily handle a finished stock a day or so after the last coat is applied, but we need at least one week after that before final creation of the deep luster can be accomplished.

Return Time -- Simply, the more time we give for curing, the greater the hardness and ultimate luster.
Unless I have a backlog, I get to your gunstock within a day or so after receiving it. As rule of thumb, I can usually complete the stock in about two to three weeks. It's difficult to predict time factors because the way each individual gunstock receives finish, along with humidity conditions, make precise time commitments difficult.

Bottom line: let's discuss your time needs for return up front, along with with any time constraints I may have on this end (backlog, for example).

Re-point the Checkering
(only if requested) —  Over time dirt, grease, and hand-wear can dull checkering detail. It’s labor intensive and expensive, but carefully re-pointing the little checkering diamonds does provide a crisp & ‘new’ look and feel to your gunstock.

  • Most of my gunstock refinishing jobs don’t involve re-pointing the checkering because just renewing the stock surrounding the checkering so dramatically renews stock appearance. Your choice...
  • If checkering is crushed, gouged, or heavily deteriorated, we may both elect to avoid re-checkering. Reason: much time involved and pricy.
  • I do not create new checkering from scratch on blank gunstocks. Re-pointing existing checkering only.

 

Choosing the Wood's Surface Texture:

Two (2) wood surface texture finishes are offered: unfilled pore texture finish and filled pore texture finish. The difference between the two finishes is described below.

Filled and Unfilled Pores, explained:

First, we need to know how natural wood fibers relate to liquids (oil blends) that are applied to them.

Individual
wood fibers within the same piece of wood, especially in more open grained walnut (the usual gunstock wood), absorb applied finishes differently. Some fibers act like sponges and quickly absorb, while others more repel absorbency. This creates small voids in the finish, which when viewed closely gives the wood its beautiful texture we so admire. 

These tiny voids (pores) can be mostly filled or left mostly unfilled, either being desirable or not, depending on taste.

If these pores are allowed to remain mostly unfilled, the finished surface, though beautiful, has a rough texture that can be easily felt by the hand and seen by the eye. In other words, the surface texture, compared to a filled pore finished surface, is comparatively rough. This is by far the cheapest way to get a completely refinished gunstock with hand-rubbed oil finish, but without a noticably very smooth surface texture. Why "the cheapest"? Because not nearly as much sanding, coat applications, and drying are required.

If pores are mostly filled, the wood surface will be smooth and slick, but not as "piano top" or
glass-like slick as are cheaper polyurethane finishes often found on Remington, Browning, and many other stocks. The idea of a hand-rubbed oil finish is to not create a glassy or plastic look, but to let the natural texture of the pores slightly catch light, and in so doing, reveal what makes natural wood so different from wood coated with super-slick synthetic finishes (translated: cheap, quick, and easy to apply; also hard to repair, remove, and which tend to cloud or haze over with time).

You will need to decide which finish you prefer:
Both
the above results (unfilled and filled textures) are attractive and desirable. Both are achieved through fine oil mixtures and hand rubbing application, but the filled texture is much more time intensive. Both finishes are waterproof and durable. It simply depends on which effect you prefer.

Directly below is a photo of a stock finished in unfilled pore texture. This finish has a rustic appearance, one often characterized on venerable Winchester and Parker firearms, among others. The look is a combination of a decisively custom, yet rugged/rustic appearance, something you might link to 'Big John Wayne', for example. (Actually, the photo doesn't quite capture the more open pore structure. In reality, the unfilled pores are very easy to see. Handsome, but on the rough side.)

 Gunstock refinished with open pores (rustic texture)

(above) Example of unfilled wood pores. Surface has a rustic ‘outdoor’ texture, you can actually feel. Unfilled wood pores are visually obvious. The sheen is satin.

Directly below is a photo of a stock finished in filled pore texture finish. This finish has a smooth surface feel and appearance. When the light is just right, it is 'caught' in some pores that may yet have microscopic voids at their tops, showing off the inherent color, grain, and wood pattern. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever!"

 Gunstock refinished with closed pores. (Smooth Texture)

(above) Example of filled wood pores. Surface looks and feels smooth. The sheen is satin.

 
Surface Sheen--- Gloss vs. Satin

Texture and sheen of a finished wood surface are two different things.

  • Texture has been described above, and in gunstock refinishing refers to a feel that is either very smooth (filled wood pores), or more textured to the touch (unfilled pores).
  • Sheen, defined as the degree of gloss, only has to do with a visual property, not touch -- glossy sheen is really shiny; satin has a glowing shine to it, is more soft in appearance, and possesses a lustrous patina. The usual idea in professional gunstock refinishing is to create this patina, making it lustrous, but without the noticable high gloss that is a more plastic-like appearance. (Browning's factory finishes utilize this high gloss.)
  • Surface sheen is highly interpretive: what’s satin to one is, to another, considered  glossy. And vice versa. Sheen, therefore, is something to be discussed prior to refinishing your woodstock.

(Note): Most all my surface finishes, by customer (and personal) preference, lean toward a deep satin sheen--- lustrous, but not glossy. If your gunstock restoration ideas, however, include a high gloss sheen, by all means talk to me. We can easily make it happen!

                                                                              
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