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Shotgun Refinishing

6705 Views 197 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  TrueGrit
Happy Monday all,
I was recently given this Stevens 311a in .410 as a project gun. It needs a new buttplate, the blueing is rough and the stock could definitely use a good sanding/stain.

I’ve never done something like this before so I thought I’d ask you all for some tips/tricks to refinishing. Recommended products? Preferred procedures? I’d like to do this right so any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Some great info here fellas, thank you. the stock looks like it may have been refinished once before as there is a small chunk out if the pistol grip that appears to have been finished over. I'm fairly proficient in wood working so I should be able to clean the stock up nicely, however the bluing is new to me.

When people say "re-blue", is that a hot bluing procedure? And cold blue is the off the shelf products?
Much appreciated Kev! I'll come see you in the new year, won't be starting this till after the holidays...should give me time to get all the info I need to not mess this up lol
Just don't subject a 311 to any heat at all when restoring it even a stuck screw etc
The solder used is extremely low temp and the barrels will etc fall apart. It is well known for this with guys that do hot bluing
Even a hair dryer too warm?

Bluing is not a coating on metal. It is a chemical conversion process, where the outer steel surface is actually converted to magnetite. There are three ways to properly blue guns:
  1. using boiling caustic salts (what everyone commonly calls '"hot" bluing), which happens when the aqueus sodium hydroxide / sodium nitrate/ sodium nitrite solution is boiling around 300F-325F. Truly evil stuff, which is why I only do it in batches of guns. This is also perilously close to the temps where soft solders weaken and melt. Good way to turn a double into two singles.
  2. Using molten potassium nitrate (the famous Colt "Nitre Blue"), heated to around 875F. Expensive, incredibly dangerous, and is almost always reserved for small pieces. Almost guaranteed to destroy any double gun.
  3. Traditional Rust Bluing, which is done by boiling "rusted" steel in plain distilled water at 212F, which is what your double shotgun quite possibly needs to safely blue. When rust bluing, I use a home-brew nitric acid / hydrochloric acid solution and a damp box to achieve the even, superfine rust needed to get that deep satin blue / black we expect from fine old guns. Its takes me up to a dozen or so applications of rusting / boiling / carding to achieve it, which is why it is also called "slow rust bluing". Rust bluing is slow and is always somewhat satin in appearance, but far and away gives the best metal protection against corrosion of the above three processes BTW.
Selenium dioxide based "Cold blue" solutions simply color the metal on contact. Because they do not covert the steel to magnetite they do not protect the gun's steel from flash rusting in any way, shape, or form. Cold blues also never achieve the exact same blue/black hue as other true bluing processes, usually having a somewhat gray/black hue. It's your project, of course, but be aware of that if your intent is ever to sell it. In good light most experienced folks can spot a cold-blued gun across a room, and it almost always lowers the value a great deal - certainly more so than other restoration methods.

If its an inexpensive winter project for you though, then by all means enjoy and have fun with it as you please!

Something to consider though - if you are going through all the time and effort to thoroughly strip, draw file out pits, repair damaged screw heads and pins, progressively polish metal etc, then you might consider going the final step and properly bluing it?

Thank you so much Sean for the helpful write up!

I don't ever plan on getting rid of this gun as it's somewhat of an heirloom piece, however, what would I be looking at for a ballpark price to get this properly rust blued?
Appreciate the input fellas, I agree with you 3macs, not sure if this gun is worth spending a ton of money on, Cold blue might be good enough for it. However I may give you a call in the new year Sean, I just received an older Wingmaster that apparently won't shoot (???).....haven't even looked at it yet but may be something worth getting checked by a professional.
No professional my friend but have had a few apart over the years :) and 99% of the time they are just real dirty and things are jammed or it broke the firing pin. Let me know what it is doing exactly once you get time to have a look at it. They are a real simple design. Is it a 12ga
1956 Wingmaster 12ga, It appears to cycle fine, however the firing pin releases very weak when you pull the trigger. Best way I can describe is that it feels like the firing pin just falls instead of whacking the primer....if that makes sense? Pulling the trigger reveals no audible Click like one should.
A 56 is a keeper
Have you taken the bolt apart
Do so and give it a good cleaning the spring maybe in two pieces if not change it any way with new since it is apart and the spring is old
Also remove the trigger assembly and soak it for a few days blow it clean with air and spray with a syn gun oil
Vert rare but pin could be broken also
I have a hunch you're right about the spring. Will dig into it later this week and see what we find.
any update :)
Honestly haven't had a chance to look at it yet, been so busy with other things lol. It's still on my list!
Time to start documenting the process for you all. Big shout out to Kevin for donating some sandpaper and knowledge before I started!
Took the gun apart and separated the wood from the metal. Almost ventured into town to buy a longer screwdriver to remove the bolt inside the stock but managed to find an extension long enough from my grandfather’s old tool box he used to work on Lancaster Bombers at Greenwood.
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Once apart, I noticed I had 2 cracks around the pistol grip, got a little worried that may put a halt to my restoration real quick, but upon further inspection I believed I could get them glued up nicely.
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I then started stripping the wood with Circa 1850, these pieces didn’t seem to have a very thick coating on them and it came off really easy. First pic below is after stripper, and 2nd pic is before.

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Once I got them all stripped it was on to the sanding. Started at 150grit and worked my way up to 600grit. I made sure to be nice and light to avoid taking too much wood off.

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Once I was satisfied with the outcome, it was time to attempt to glue the cracks. I started by drilling a hole from the inside where I then shoved a toothpick and glue to bridge the crack and add some strength. Then I pried the cracks open and carefully spread glue inside. I then wrapped them in elastic bands and firmly squeezed it in a vice, and let it sit over night. I’ll unwrap it tonight and see how it turned out.
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You do good work grasshopper...lmao
Just had to edit the post 5 times to get the pictures to be right lol

It was a stock stripping day for the both of us!
Yes one mistake many do is to sand the wood below the finishings like the butt plate etc. What is the final coating to be?
Still deciding on that one, I don't want to go as dark as the original colour, and I'd also like a nice shine. Any thoughts?
That turned out great Joe, I would say that's about the finish I'd like to achieve, maybe a touch lighter.
I've concluded that my stock is Beech wood, From what I read online, beech does not stain as easy as walnut does. Oil based stains will not penetrate very well. Alcohol base is what I need. Anyone ever deal with Beech?
You have a Walnut stock , just checked my books here , and Fox Model 311 Savage came either in Walnut or stained Birch , grain on your stock is open , birch is more closed and tighter , yours has deep grain more open , Hope this helps
Now I'm second guessing what I have. To me, it looks more like the beech (right) than walnut.
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But then it also looks like it could be Birch (right side)???
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Here’s a good look at my crack repairs, turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. Some light sanding and it’s about as good as it can be!
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Now back to the wood debate, regardless of what type it is, I took a wet cloth to it last night to see how it might look with some Tru Oil, Darkened up quite nice I think? I’m thinking I may not even need any stain.

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No Hijack at all Kev, like I said to ya, it's turning out beautifully! :) I'll be starting the Tru Oil on mine this weekend.
Well I think I’m up to 6 coats of Tru-Oil and it’s really starting to take shape, been so busy with work lately haven’t had much time to tinker with it. I’d say 10 coats and that’ll do. I may take my first stab at cold blue this weekend if I get the metal all cleaned up in time.

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The wood work is fairly easy to do, the hardest part is making sure you don't OVER do anything. I always catch myself wanting to sand more than I probably should. I'm really liking the Tru-Oil product, goes on super easy and even. Looks great as well! I've started sanding all the metal pieces now, THAT part sucks. I had to lose the colour case hardening on the receiver as it was just so rough, it had to be sanded. It's pretty bare metal now. The barrels are almost bare now too, bit of a pain trying to get all the nooks and crannies on them.
Never used that product, who sells it?
It’s a Birchwood Casey Product, I grabbed a bottle from Bass Pro cause it was close but most stores that have firearms related products should carry it. Some woodworking shops probably also have it as I know Lee Valley tools carry’s it. Goes on just like any other oil you’d use on wood.
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