Although there are just as many methods to repairing a gunstock as there are guns, some repairs are quite easy and can easily be handled at home. Small scratches or nicks in the stock can quickly be repaired with a minimum of expensive tools, except perhaps specialty tool sets for removing the barrel and/or firing mechanism. Unless you are a tool and die maker, it would probably be foolish to try to repair the barrel, and the firing mechanism may take greater skills than a home hobbyist can conjure up.
One thing to be aware of is that repairing a crack in the stock is a bit more complex than you may at first imagine. Although smaller cracks are easier to seal, large gouges may take a wooden insert that closely matches the color of your stock. Expert gunsmiths state that the reason many DIY stock repairs don’t last is because of the type or quality of the adhesive being used.
Be aware of the fact that glues, of any kind, are inadequate for stock repairs. The reason for this is because they are prone to getting brittle over time from drying out. Also, most sportsmen keep their stocks well oiled with the traditional linseed oil which will further add to the deterioration of glue, especially wood glue. Most experienced stock repairmen use a 60 minute slow set epoxy, but never EVER use something like Elmer’s wood glue. Also, never use an industrial strength degreaser to remove old glue/epoxy because it will also degrade the natural ‘glue’ that bonds the fibers of the wood together!
If the stock has a clean break through at any point, you may want to seek the advice of a veteran gunsmith. However, for small scratches, dings and nicks, the process is easily handled at home. Remember that if you must use sandpaper of any kind, invest in high quality paper that has an even surface. Cheap sandpapers have uneven surfaces which can further degrade the wood of the stock.
A good trick for removing a ding from the stock is to steam them out with a hot iron. That’s right! Simply steam the finish from the dent in perhaps 30 second intervals for each dent. Simply use an ironing cloth with gently applied pressure. This can eliminate the need to use abrasive sand papers and when the old finish/epoxy is removed and the stock is ready to be finished.
A boiled linseed oil is perfect, as mentioned above, and it can be used in similar fashion to varnishes. The steam method for removing small dents and dings is an easy repair and one which can be accomplished with or without any expensive tools. (You may need to promise your wife a night on the town to gain use of her steam iron, but your newly finished stock will be all the incentive you need.)