Mike Morton explains how to top up an oil finish on your wood stock to keep it in good nick for longer
The oiled finish on a wood stock will degrade very slightly over time, but luckily it’s dead easy to top up on a regular basis – and the end result looks and feels very satisfying too. A properly maintained oil finish won’t just look nice and feel good to the touch – it will repel water better into the bargain.
1. Sand it down
It may be obvious just by looking at your stock that it’s time to give it a maintenance coat of oil, but if not, run your fingers over the surface of the wood. If you can feel any raised fibres, this is a sign that the wood is starting to absorb moisture.
Take a small piece of fine wet and dry paper and sand down the fibres. Use a very fine grit. 2,500 grit is all that’s needed: this is gentle maintenance work, not a full-on stock restoration.
It’s best to do an initial light sanding with the paper used wet, followed by another sanding with the paper used dry when the wood itself has had time to dry. You won’t have to wait long – wood dries quickly, and it takes days of exposure to water for wood to truly get soaked through.
It’s now time to replenish the finish. There are numerous types of stock oil you can use, such as CCL Gunstock Conditioning Oil, but these can take a long time to dry – sometimes several days. A new product I’ve been using for the past few months is Stock Shield from Napier. You apply this direct from the dispenser. Spread it evenly over the stock then let it sit there for a few minutes.
It’s a bit sticky at this stage, but you can buff off the excess with a microfibre cloth and the stock is immediately touch-dry. The final finish will reflect the way the stock started out. In the case of the R-10, which had a lovely matt finish to begin with, the Stock Shield delivers a nice eggshell look.