DIY Gunstock Refinishing

Thinking About Doing Your Own Restoration?

“A little knowledge is dangerous”, the saying goes. It’s true. Some well-meaning guys who know some about working with wood and understand YouTube technology decide to make money on YouTube, take what they know, and create a video in cyberspace for the world to see. Here are some gunstock titles you might find:

  • Gunstock sanding & finishing- the right way!
  • Refinish your stock
  • How to use stock finish
  • How to refinish a rifle stock

The website you’re now reading ranks high in a google search, but listed before it can be the how-to videos I describe above, which seem to come and go for a time, all offered as helpful tutorials on gunstock refinishing. Proceed with caution. The crux of the matter–  ” a little information (to the inexperienced) is dangerous”.

I’ve seen many home workshop stock refinishing attempts, usually because they’ve come to me for correction. Almost none would rank above mediocre (and most well below), pretty much by anyone’s standard, including that of the would-be refinisher. In recent years I’ve fixed dozens of gunstock refinishing that was started by do-it-yourselfers.

Initially, and certainly, with due respect, most refinishing is enthusiastically approached by assuming a few oversimplified procedural steps presented in a how-to video or text will get high-quality results. These steps are obtained usually through online articles, videos, or by home refinishing kits that ‘guarantee’ professional results and most do contain factual information. The problem is, the all so important details are usually missing. 

As well, many think that having a general knowledge of wood finishing is sufficient for top-shelf gunstock refinishing. Trouble is, it just ain’t that simple… (Refer to Top-Shelf Gunstock Refinishing)

Unfortunately, basic how-to advice, although it appears to be comprehensive, lacks many of the subtle details of the finishing process that are so crucial to professionally appearing finishes. In short, it takes a lot of experience and acquired knowledge to get outstanding results. It’s truly in the details.

Refinishing a gunstock, in principle, is somewhat like rebluing a barrel. Both processes, in order to achieve the desired superior result, demand particular knowledge and skillsets. I remember attempting a rebluing process using a home kit designed for the purpose. The end effect was certainly a rebluing, but the barrel wound up getting done correctly in the tank of my gunsmith!

The question to ask yourself–  How much do you want a finely finished gunstock? Maybe more importantly, how fussy are you if your results aren’t as expected?