Finally. This project kept getting pushed back and pushed back again.
I’m happy to say that I’ve reached a milestone in my Custom Savage 111 30-06 build. This project started with a basic Savage bolt action rifle with a horrible plastic stock, poor trigger, and a cheap Bushnell scope. I replaced trigger with a Rifle Basix SAV-1 Replacement Trigger, and the scope with a Nikon Buckmaster 3-9 that I pulled from another rifle. I’ll be upgrading the scope to a premium quality optic in the future but the Nikon is a great scope for the money. The stock I painted with Rustoleum Camo Spray Paint to make it bearable until I could find a replacement.
I debated a nice fiberglass or other premium synthetic stock, but I’m a woodworker and wood it would be. I found a custom stock maker that could make me a left hand stock for a right-hand bolt in unfinished walnut. The stock being unfinished and only semi-inlet made it affordable.
The stock from Richard’s Micro Fit Gunstocks came very rough and needed a lot of work to get the action to fit and smooth out the machining marks. Many people complain about this, but it’s clear on their website you are getting an unfinished product.
I bedded the action using a Miles Gilbert Bedrock Glass Bedding Kit. The instructions were clear and the kit includes everything you need to do two or three rifles. I’m very please with the results. Larry Potterfield does a great video series on bedding a rifle action, he shows the steps and gives you the confidence to try it for yourself. Once the stock was bedded and barrel free-floated it was time to sand and finish the stock.
If you’re refinishing an old gunstock, use some paint and laquer striper to remove the old finish, and a tooth brush for the checkering, then sand starting with around 100grit depending on the scratches. Tape over any checkering with blue painters tape and trim it with an exacto knife.
To finish the stock I sanded everything to 220 grit. Once at 220 I applied my first coat of Tru-Oil. This was a diluted coat of about 2 parts mineral spirits to 1 part oil. Thinning the finish allows it to soak into the wood much deeper. This was a heavy coat that I kept applying until the wood had soaked in as much as possible. After about two hours the finished was dry enough to begin the next step, wet sanding.
Wet sanding before the first coat has fully cured allows the slurry of oil and saw dust to act as a wood filler. I started wet sanding with 320grit 3M Wetordry sandpaper. Allow the slurry to dry and you’ll have a hideous mess. That’s exactly what you want. Clean it with a damp rag then use some 000 Steel Wool. You will notice some uneven places in the finish, but the next step will take care of it.
Now that you’ve filled the grain and wet sanded with 320 apply a full strength coat of Tru-oil with your bare finger-tips. Rub it in making sure to get complet coverage, but don’t overdo it; the thinner the better. Allow this to dry then wet sand with 320 again, cleaning it up with a wet rag and steel wool.
Almost done. Now I apply a second, third, and fourth full strength coat buffing it out with steel wool between coats. If you want a Satin finish you can use Birchwood Casey Stock Sheen and Conditioner or buff the final coat with 0000 Steel Wool. I opted to keep the semi-gloss finish.
When I started this process I sanded up to 800 grit. This was too much for a hand rubbed finish. If I had used Tru-oil Spray it would have work out nice, giving my a super high gloss finish. However the super smooth nature of 800 grit showed every wipe mark.
Since I am keeping it semi-gloss it is very easy to touch up as needed. I found a few missed spots in the final coat that a small drop rubbed into the stock cleared right up.
Refinishing or Finishing a gunstock is a scary undertaking if you’ve never done it before. The first stock I ever refinished was my prized Browning Citori given to me by my late grandfather (Papa). I was terrified of ruining it but a local gunsmith encouraged me that I could do it myself. He also said he would have to charge me way to much and that he didn’t want to take the time to do it. Start slow and take your time to do it right. Tru-oil is a very forgiving finish. I’ve also refinished a Beretta 391 Semi-Auto 12ga with Tru-oil.
In a later post I’ll show how to fit a custom recoil pad and install sling swivel studs.
Here’s my video on how to finish a gunstock: