So my father in law came to me for some help, asking if I could repair a chipped gun stock for him. Luckily, I had a supply of walnut lying around in very rough form. So, I was able to smooth and cut a small piece, and repair the gun stock to a like new condition. I don’t know the backstory as to how this gun stock became damaged and chipped. Since I am in Pennsylvania, it is likely that it was just dropped on a rock or was used to break someone’s fall!
But, in this guide I will show you how to repair a chip in a gun stock that you can do at home with minimal tools (I love using minimal tools!). This repair procedure could be used on many types of furniture – tables, chairs – anything that gets chipped or dinged where you need to repair with real wood! Basically, any thing be it a gun stock or furniture will have a similar procedure. You cut out / flatten the bad area, then glue, then shape it with new wood. It works on chips, holes, or if you had to cut out a rotten piece of something old. Don’t use wood filler to repair chips! Using real wood will blend better than wood filler and look better.
- Scrap of wood – it is best if you can use the same species of wood that is the gun stock. If you know your species but don’t have any on hand, you can buy small blocks from specialty suppliers online. A pen blank would generally be all that you need for most repairs. Surprisingly, Amazon has a lot available. See amazons selection here.
- Hand saw – it comes in handy for cutting the scrap down to size. In a pinch, it can be used to cut a flat area out of the stock to fit your repair as well.
- Hand Plane or Draw Knife – Either of these tools make flattening the gun stock, or the repair piece easy. It is faster than sanding.
- Chisel (optional) – A chisel will save a lot of time shaping the repair piece. It is much faster than sanding, and if you keep your chisel really sharp you will have excellent control.
- Sand paper & block – You should have a good supply of 150/220 grit sandpaper. For a block,, I just use a scrap of 2×4.
- Vise – a vise is really helpful in this project. Having a way to hold the gun stock securely makes this job much easier.
- Wood glue – I used Titebond 2, as I had a small amount left in the bottle. But any wood glue should work just fine.
- Clamp – Some kind of bar clamp comes in handy for clamping the repair piece to the gun stock while the glue cures. It will really help with the bond.
Process and Guide to Repair Damaged Gun Stocks
1 – Investigate the area for repair
This step should go without saying, but you should really look at the area in detail. If dealing with a rotten stock, may decide that you need to cut out more than you initially thought. But you will need to get some rough measurements of the repair area at a minimum.
2 – Flatten and smooth the area to be repaired.
Clamp your piece down, or put it in a vise and flatten the area to be repaired. Wood glue won’t work on polyurethane, so you need to make sure you are down to the wood and that the area is flat.
I used a draw knife, but a chisel or sandpaper can suffice for smoothing the chipped area. If using sand paper, make sure you use a sanding block of some kind to avoid any unintended waviness or inconsistencies in the profile. You want this area flat, smooth, and free of debris. Just be very careful if using a chisel, as you don’t want to make the chipped area any bigger than it needs to be.
3 – Measure the chipped area
You need to get some basic measurements here. A rough length, width and estimate on the height will suffice.
4 – Cut your scrap piece down to the appropriate size
I actually got my piece of walnut from firewood. So, I just broke off a thick sliver and flattened one side. Next I cut it down to the appropriate size. Once you think you have the repair piece correct, check it by fitting it up to the gun stock to be repaired.
Another thing to watch for is you want to try to match the grain to the piece to be repaired. So, look at the end grain and try to get your repair piece to be oriented the same way. It will look better after the repair is complete.
5 – Test the fit up
Hold your piece on to the item to be repaired and look for any fit issues. Make sure that it is large enough to match all profiles once it has been shaped properly. Also important – test how you will clamp it! Simple bar clamps don’t always want to hold onto curved surfaces. So, play with your clamp and make sure you have a way to hold it securely. The glue will cure within 30 minutes, and it is better to have it clamped right away.
6 – Glue the repair piece to the gun stock or piece of furniture
Apply a thin layer of glue to the piece that is to be repaired. Don’t use too much as any excess glue will just squeeze out when it is clamped. Once you have it clamped with light pressure, you now have to wait at least an hour before shaping it to final form. I glued my piece early in the morning, then waited until after lunch to shape it.
7 – Sketch the final profile onto the work piece
Just using my judgement and eyesight, I drew on the repair piece a rough outline of the final profile. It helps you to see how much is left, and also helps you not take away too much material.
8 – Shape the piece to its final form
I used a chisel to get most of the shape, as I find that it is faster. But, sanding will work just fine as well.
For chiseling, I start by making short, steep cuts at the end grain. Then I can safely work my way back along the piece. Pay attention to how the wood is behaving though! If you start chiseling against the grain you could split out, or take away too much material very easily. So, take your time with the shaping! You can always take another small cut, but putting wood back on at this stage wouldn’t be fun!
9 – Sand to a final finish
For this step you should be using 220 sand paper and a block. Just work back and forth with the grain, frequently checking if you have matched the piece. My criteria is that I should be able to rub my finger across the repair with my eyes closed, and not feel any seam. Once you can do that, you are done.
10 – Apply stain or finish
The last step is trying to match the color (if necessary) and then coat it with some kind of sealer. If you are trying to completely restore something, then you will have to strip the whole piece and reapply polyurethane. But for small patches a pit of wipe-on Poly works well. Use several coats for better protection.
Well, that’s it! I hope you found this guide on how to repair chips in furniture helpful! Check out other DIY articles at the links below. Thank you for reading this and good luck with your piece! Got any other tips I have missed? Tell me in the comments!
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