How do I Refinish Stock with Tung Oil?

by Jeremiah Blanchard
Old stocks can be made to look like new with tung oil

Old stocks can be made to look like new with tung oil

All vintage rifles, such as Henry and Winchester models, as well as old military issues such as the M1 Garand and M14, were constructed using heavy wooden stocks. Over time, these stocks can become worn, chipped and even rot if not properly maintained. Applying tung oil after removing the existing finish is a traditional method of refinishing wooden rifle stocks that's still used today. Other oils such as linseed oil may be suitable as well, but tung oil produces a protective coating that only needs to be reapplied once a year.

1. Ensure that the weapon is completely unloaded. Take the weapon apart and remove all metal screws from the stock. If your rifle has wooden hand-guards, remove these as well.

2. Remove the existing finish from the stock using a lacquer thinner. You may have to sand the finish off if it's heavily coated with polyurethane. If so, sand the stock with a medium-grit sandpaper, using a wood block to steady the sanding process.

3. Dampen a towel and wrap the stock with it, then place the wrapped stock onto an ironing board. Set the iron on the hottest setting and iron the towel until the towel is completely dry. This will raise indentations back to the stock surface.

4. Hold the stock under running water briefly, just enough to dampen the stock slightly, then place it in a cool, dry spot and allow it to dry overnight.

5. Rub the stock lightly with .0000 steel wool. Do not press hard with the steel wool. This will remove the fuzzy particles that the soaking has raised to the surface. Use a soft, dry paint brush to brush the stock free of any steel wool particles after rubbing.

6. Apply a stain to the stock if you prefer, and an additional coat to form a rich color, then allow the stock to dry for the required time per your brand of stain.

7. Apply a thick coat of tung oil to the stock and rub it in with your fingers for a few minutes, until you feel the oil start to soak in. Wait for a few hours, then apply a lighter coat in the same manner. Allow a few more hours for the oil to dry.

8. Rub the stock lightly again with .0000 steel wool to slightly dull the finish if you prefer, then apply another light coat and allow it to dry for a few hours.

9. Set the stock in a secure horizontal position to allow it to cure completely for one week. Don't set the stock in a gun case as this will ruin the finish on one side.

Items you will need

  • Tung oil
  • Sandpaper (medium grit)
  • .0000 steel wool
  • Paintbrush
  • Lacquer remover
  • Towel
  • Iron and board

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