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A Guide To Wood Refinishing

A Guide To Wood Refinishing

Wood Preparation

New Wood

Sanding is a critical step in any wood finishing venture. Yes, it can be tedious. And sometimes it is easy to tell yourself “That’s good enough” in order to get on with the more glamorous process of finish application. Resist the temptation to cut corners, because the finish will actually accentuate scratches and other imperfections in the wood.

  1. Following final tooling on a new gun stock, begin sanding with a medium to coarse paper. 120 is typically enough grit to remove material quickly without being too aggressive. Always sand with the grain whenever using an abrasive.
  2. Work your way down to 180-grit, 280-grit, and finally some extra-fine steel wool to erase even the slightest scratches while knocking down any loose fibers.
  3. If your stock has really tight grain with small pores, wipe it down with a tack cloth and you’re ready for staining or applying Tru-Oil® Gun Stock Finish.

Old Wood

  1. First, remove what’s left of the stock’s original finish with an appropriate stripper (available from any hardware store). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. If the stock is relatively scratch-free, give it a gentle sanding with 120-grit, 180-grit, and finally 280-grit paper and polish with extrafine steel wool. Wipe with a tack cloth and go right to staining or applying Tru-Oil® Gun Stock Finish.
  3. If you have some scratches or dents to deal with, use only as much grit as necessary. Light scratches will remove with 280-grit paper, while deeper wounds may require a coarser grit.
  4. When tackling scratch and dent removal, use a sanding block to prevent “digging in,” and try to smooth away the affected area with the grain.

Tip - To keep stock edges sharp and the wood’s surface ripple-free, always sand with a sanding block. The block will prevent the abrasive from “digging in” on soft spots in the grain. And remember to sand AROUND checkering to keep the checkered peaks crisp. Keep checkering masked off until final application of oil.


Wood Staining

Now that the wood is properly prepared, light-colour wood can be stained. Birchwood Casey Walnut Stain is a water-based stain that will produce a clear, rich walnut colour without grain clouding or smearing.

  1. As a test to determine whether to stain or not, examine a portion of the wood while it is wet with water or alcohol. This acts as a close visual approximation to what you can expect the wood colour to look like once the Tru-Oil® Gun Stock Finish has been applied.
  2. Walnut Stain is a concentrate solution; colour intensity is easily controlled by adding water. Dilute with water before using to achieve a lighter colour; or leave full strength for a darker colour. It’s best to test colour intensity on a scrap piece of wood. Generally, 50/50 stain and water mix works for most situations.
  3. Apply Walnut Stain with a clean, lint-free cloth or brush. If darker than desired, sponge wood with clear water. If lighter than desired, add more stain.
  4. Allow the Walnut Stain to dry overnight before applying Tru-Oil® Gun Stock Finish.


Wood Filling

The following techniques can be used to help fill the pores and ensure a good grain filling. For non-stained woods you will need to use the wet-sanding technique by using Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish. If your wood is stained, you will need to use the Sealer and Filler to fill the grain. These specialty steps are optional and are not required.


Non-Stained Woods

  1. First, apply Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish to the entire stock and allow it to penetrate the grain. Don’t rub it in, just let the wood absorb it. When the stock has soaked up all it can absorb, wipe away the excess and let dry for 24 hours.
  2. Working on 4" x 4" sections, coat the area with Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish This wet sanding creates a slurry of wood dust and finish that works its way into the pores. You’ll feel and hear the sandpaper cutting. If the finish gets tacky, simply add more Tru-Oil Finish.
  3. Continue wet sanding 4" x 4" sections until the entire stock is covered in the slurry. Work it in small circles with your fingers to drive it into the grain.
  4. Finish by wiping the excess slurry off with a paper towel cross grain. This ensures good grain filling.
  5. Let the stock dry for approximately 24 hours. Then, repeat the process if necessary to fill remaining open pores (Steps 1-4), and wipe away all slurry when complete.
  6. After waiting 24 hours, proceed by smoothing any imperfections with 280- or 400-grit sand paper as needed, along with extra-fine steel wool. Wipe with tack or service cloth.
  7. Your stock is now totally filled, protected, and ready for the finishing coats.

Tip - To dispense Tru-Oil® Gun Stock Finish, poke a small hole in the foil cover. This will help prevent your supply from skinning over inside the bottle.

Stained Woods

  1. Apply Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Sealer and Filler generously and directly to wood with brush or a clean, lint-free cloth. Do not over brush. Let dry for 60 minutes or until thoroughly dry.
  2. Sand evenly with extra-fine sandpaper to remove surface imperfections or runs.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 if grain is not completely filled. Let the stock dry for approximately 1-3 hours or until thoroughly dry. Your stock is now totally filled, protected and ready for the finishing coats.

Tru-Oil® Application

Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish has been the professional’s choice for easy, top-quality gun stock finishing for more than 40 years.

  1. To begin, first pour a small quantity of Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish in a small container and replace the bottle cap. This will help prevent your supply from skinning over. With the cap on, store the bottle upside down.
  2. First Finish Coat. Dip your finger into the cup and hand-apply Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish in smooth, gliding coats. You’ll find that this first coat will absorb readily into the grain. Be careful not to overcoat the first application, as this can cause unwanted build-up and possible runs
  3. Now hang the stock and allow it to dry up to 24 hours or until thoroughly dry.
  4. Once dry, check the stock for runs, streaks, or rough spots. If they exist, knock them down with fine 400-grit sandpaper or steel wool if desired.
  5. Wipe the wood down with a tack cloth, or provided service cloth, and proceed to the following coats.
  6. For additional coats - repeat steps 2 through 5. We recommend waiting at least 12 hours between coats. The number of coats needed will vary depending onthe grain of your gun stock and the desired outcome wanted. We recommend 4-5 coats for good overall protection
  7. Final Coat - Apply the final coat carefully and sparingly, spreading the oil so there is no streaking. This coat will dry to a rich gloss finish.

Satin Finish

This step is for those who prefer a traditional, hand-rubbed satin finish.

  1. Polish with Birchwood Casey Stock Sheen & Conditioner after waiting at least 7 days after applying your last coat of Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish. Stock Sheen & Conditioner effectively removes any surface imperfections and leaves your stock with a satin finish.
  2. Repeat applications as desired for a softer matte finish.

Added Protection

Offers added protection from weather and handling.

  1. Wait at least 7+ days after your last coat of Tru-Oil before proceeding. Apply Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Wax directly on wood, metal or leather surfaces in a thin, even coat.
  2. Polish and rub until thoroughly dry.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until desired luster is obtained.

Tip - If you need to thin Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish for other application methods, mineral spirits will do the job. Just be aware that by thinning the solution, drying time may increase slightly. You will also find mineral spirits helpful for cleaning tools and your hands following the application process.


You can buy a Birchwood Casey Deluxe Perma Blue and Tru-Oil Finishing Kit on our website for refinishing needs.