How do I restore a gun stock?

My first firearm is a Sears-branded Marlin 101 single-shot .22 rifle with a stock that’s been painted in spar varnish. Someone crudely scratched an R in the wood. How would I go about restoring it? It’s a cheap gun, so I don’t want to spend a lot.

You do it the same way you restore furniture. You can use shoe polish if you just want to make it less obvious or you can take the whole gun apart, sand it and re-varnish it to make it pristine. That takes time but sporting goods stores sell stock stains and varnishing supplies for not much money.

So do I take the varnish off with sandpaper? It seems pretty thick. How about that R? I steamed an M-1 Carbine stock once to get rid of dings. Would I do the same with the ‘scratching’? Looks like it was cut with a knife, and it is black. I can’t tell if someone put ink in it, or if it’s just grime that got into it. BTW, the stock is blonde wood. The M-1 stock seemed like softer wood than the Marlin’s.

From the time I had to refinish two gunstocks, Birchwood Casey makes a kit for stock refinishing. The process is basically as Shagnasty described it. I remember it, at 14 years old, being a giant pain in the ass, where I was sanding the damn thing basically forever. Not sure if you could use a dremel-like tool to gouge out the scratch and then spot-refinish, or whether you’d have to refinish the whole thing. I remember—this has been a few years—using steel wool and sandpaper to remove the varnish/stain and the scratches I had put into the rifle stock. I’ve never used steaming, but I’ve only refinished two of the things.

A lot of people use Easy Off oven cleaner to strip the stock. It’s powerful stuff, watch out. Wash that off and sand the hell out of it. Then apply a coat of Boiled Linseed Oil (hardware store). Tung Oil gives a different finish as well. With BLO, make sure to water down the rags you use as they can spontaneously combust. Sand down with fine grit or 0000 steel wool and apply a new coat daily for a few weeks, until the right shade. You can finish up with a few coats of wax for extra protection as well.