Sooner or later most of us with the do-it-yourself gene will have a rifle stock that we want to refinish. Maybe we want a different look, or maybe we hope to enhance performance and durability. I wanted all these things for my E.R. Shaw rifle in 6.5x284. I said it was because the laminated wood stock was a little slippery to carry, but the reality was I just needed a project.
For something different, I covered the stock in truck bed-liner. You can get it in a spray can at any auto supply store, and it works with any stock: solid wood, laminate or synthetic. The process is simple, and the result is a unique look that provides plenty of texture for grip, plus it’s weatherproof.
Step 1: Sand
Preparation is the key with any refinishing operation. You must rough up the stock’s surface with coarse sandpaper so the bed-liner material can adhere better. Remove the barreled action and other metal components from the stock before sanding.
Step 2: Tape
The bed-liner material adds a bit of dimension, so critical areas such as where the action beds to the stock and perhaps the barrel channel must be shielded with painter’s tape. If you want the barrel channel to match in color, spray-paint it black, let it dry, and then tape it off.
Step 3: Degrease
The stock must be degreased, again to ensure the bed-liner adheres evenly. Acetone works great. Put some on a clean cloth, and wipe the stock free from fingerprints and grease. Wear disposable gloves to limit your exposure to the acetone and to prevent leaving more fingerprints.
Step 4: Spray
Hang the stock in a well ventilated area or outside. An easy way to hang it is to remove the buttpad and stick a woodscrew into one of the holes at the end of the buttstock. Wrap wire around the screw and form a hook at the other end.
Wear eye protection, a painting mask and gloves. Do a test run on some scrap cardboard to learn the spray pattern and volume. Do not skip this part.
Spray a thin, even coating on the stock. It’s better to use two or more light coats than one thick one. As the bed-liner dries, check for thin or missing spots and spray them again, blending with the base coat.
Once the stock is dry, put the gun back together and that’s it. Bed-liner is tough and looks pretty good. One caution: very harsh gun-cleaning solvents can soften this finish. Drape a towel over the stock when you are cleaning the bore to protect the finish.
I’ve refinished multiple stocks with bed-liner, and it holds up remarkably well. If it does get damaged, it’s the easiest thing in the world to touch-up. A little spritz and you are good to go again.