Touching up wooden stocks doesn’t have to be intimidating, and you certainly don’t need a gunsmith to handle it. Here are a few tips to get you started with the easier fixes.
1. Remove a Dent
The key is steam. Take a regular iron and set it on high. Grab an old T-shirt, washcloth, or a couple of .30-caliber-size cotton cleaning patches and dampen them. Hold the cloth in place over the damaged area with the iron. The steam will raise the wood. Repeat until flush. With fine sandpaper (600- or 800-grit), knock down any raised grain or high spots.
2. Fix a Gouge
Now you’ve done it. You banged your stock against a rock and have left an unsightly gouge. Start by following the steps to steam out a dent. That will minimize the gouge. At this point, you can either sand it until the gouge is gone, which will leave a dip, or use a two-part epoxy like Devcon. Mix the epoxy, fill the damaged area, let the epoxy set up for the time indicated in the directions, and then sand it down so it blends in.
For minor scratches, you can use Wood Filler Sticks, which are like wax crayons and come in different colors to match your gun stock. Just rub the stick across the scratch and work it in with a soft cloth.
3. Restore Faded Wood
Once you’ve steamed and sanded a stock, the wood can appear faded and worn. This can happen when the stock is exposed to the elements as well, particularly water. Brownell’s Stock Rubbing Compound is to your gun what car wax is to your truck. Rub in this mildly abrasive compound, and as you buff it off, it will restore luster and protection to your stock.
4. Bring Back Color
Another way to make a faded spot go away is to apply a light coat of Tru-Oil by Birchwood Casey. Use this sparingly, applying a little at a time with a foam brush or your fingertip. Before the oil sets up, which takes about 10 minutes, wipe it down with a soft cloth. Let dry for 24 hours, and repeat as necessary to bring the color back to where you want it.
5. Protect Your Stock
One of the best ways to protect wood with a natural finish is to use some kind of wax-based or oil-based product (but not Pledge). Howard’s Feed-N-Wax wood polish and conditioner contains a mix of oils that will preserve and shield your stock from the elements. Wipe it on, let it sit for 20 minutes or so, then buff it off with a clean cloth. T/C’s Bore Butter, which is used to lubricate the inside of your blackpowder rifle barrel, also works well in this capacity.
To touch up a worn spot of bluing on your gun—such as holster wear on a revolver, or around the ejection port of a shotgun—apply a light coat of cold bluing, such as Brownell’s 44/40, with a cotton swab. Follow this by wiping down the area with solvent on a rag—Brownell’s TCE Degreaser excels in this role—to remove the bluing formula. Last, give the metal a going-over with some gun oil on a cloth to protect it.
Rust on guns is like death and taxes—an unpleasantness that affects us all. To remove an unwanted bloom of rust on a gun, dab some gun oil on the afflicted area and work it over with a piece of No. 0000 steel wool. This extra-fine grade of steel wool won’t scratch or mar the metal on even fine guns. Once you’ve removed the rust, wipe the metal with a cloth to remove any small bits of the steel wool that may have come loose, and then apply a drop or two of gun oil for protection against future corrosion.