How to Fix Rusted Guns and Damaged Wood Stocks With Birchwood Casey

Old west revolver finished to a color case hardened finish with Birchwood Casey products

When beginning this project, I had hopes of telling you a tale about two old-time shooters, Mr. Birchwood and Mr. Casey, who developed products to restore and preserve their old hunting rifles. Perhaps they were chemists or maybe just tinkerers. However, my research into the background of the Birchwood Casey company took me through a series of mergers and acquisitions as far back as the Fuller Pharmaceutical Company founded in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in 1948, with a division called Birchwood Laboratories.

Pieces got added and others sold off until Birchwood Casey was a totally separate company which is now part of the GSM Outdoors Group. I had no luck finding information on the guys with the original ideas and seed money, but I can tell you the folks running the company today know what they’re doing, and they know guns and gun people.

Stripped metal parts from a shotgun with Birchwood Casey Blue & Rust remover and Cleaner-Degreaser bottles
Any bluing project begins with stripping rust and the old finish from the firearm, and then cleaning the metal thoroughly to get rid of oil and other contaminants.

Background on Use

I’ve always liked to piddle with things. The challenge to me is that old things can be made new and new things can be made better. There’s a whole series of products from Birchwood Casey that are designed to help me accomplish my goals when it comes to DIY gunsmithing. Two areas, in particular, stand out.

One is the ability to refinish the metal parts of a gun, i.e., bluing or re-bluing. The other relates to refinishing wooden stocks. Birchwood Casey has conveniently packaged products to help with either task. It also has interesting products that can be used to totally change the looks of a gun to make it emulate color case hardening.

Some professional bluing jobs done by a gunsmith involve submerging gun parts in heated chemicals in a large vat. You may have heard it referred to as Hot Bluing or Salt Bluing. This process requires a more-or-less permanent setup of bluing tanks and a good bit of time. There are many bluing projects, including bluing an entire gun that do not require hot bluing. For those projects, Birchwood Casey has kits that provide all you need. And for smaller projects or finish-up on an existing project, any of the products packaged in a kit can be purchased separately.

Refinishing Steps

The bluing kits contain a ‘bluing and rust’ remover — the first step in any bluing process. Ideally, you would strip the gun down to bare metal. Although, there may be times when you’re doing touchup bluing and you only strip the part of the gun you’re going to re-blue. The Birchwood Casey kits contain a pad of steel wool along with applicators for the chemicals. Following the instructions in the kit, you’ll find yourself stripping the gun, then cleaning it thoroughly with the ‘cleaner degreaser’ product contained in the kit.

Uberti Hombre revolver treated with Birchwood Casey’s Color Case Hardening kit
The author decided to see whether Birchwood Casey’s Color Case Hardening kit could be used to dress up this Uberti Hombre which came in flat back. The Color Case Hardening Kit has colors that emulate real color case hardening. The results of every project will be different which is the beauty of the process.

Next comes the bluing chemical which may be Perma Blue or Super Blue depending on the kit you buy. Super Blue is a little darker and seems to work faster to change the color of the metal. Bluing is a form of rusting the metal in a controlled manner. The process is stopped by washing the object being blued with cold water and then coating it with gun oil. I have a friend who skips the water and goes right to the oil, and I must admit his projects seem to have a deeper blue. I’ve tried that myself on a couple of my more recent projects, and it seems to work fine.

My first time using the Birchwood Casey bluing kit was to touch up the barrel on an old shotgun. After that, I did the entire barrel and action assembly on my first .22, a Remington 514. After bringing the Remington back to an almost new condition, I did a Marlin 80, then a Remington 1911 Carry Commander pistol. It is very rewarding to be able to turn some of your old guns into show-off pieces.

Making a show-off gun doesn’t stop with the metal and neither does Birchwood Casey. The stock refinishing kit contains a Walnut stain, Tru-Oil for treating wood in its natural grain, and Stock Sheen and Conditioner for cleaning up minor imperfections in the wood and giving it a satin-like finish. I liked the wood grain in my Remington 514, so I didn’t stain it, but I did use the Tru-Oil to give it an almost new looking stock.

Birchwood Casey Aluminum touch-up and Aluminum black bottles
For some of the aluminum-bodied guns with black finish, Birchwood Casey provides an Aluminum Black compound to remove scratches and patch up worn areas.

Wood Repair

On another project with an old single-shot shotgun, the stock was nicked and chipped so badly that I had to use wood filler to patch up a number of places. I then stained the stock with the Walnut Stain and after it had dried, I rubbed it all over with the Stock Sheen & Conditioner, and it turned out nicely. I then stripped the barrel and action and blued them with Super Blue. That old shotgun earned a place with my collection instead of being relegated to the corner of a closet.

Several years ago, I bought a Uberti Hombre pistol that had a black matte finish. I read an article by a guy who had used Birchwood Casey’s Color Case Hardening products to emulate the color case hardening we all admire in some of the old Colts. I tried it on my Hombre and soon had a beautiful Cowboy Gun I was proud to show off at outdoor shooting events featuring old west guns.

Ols stripped wood shotgun stocks and a Birchwood Casey Restoration kit.
The Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil kit enabled the author to take the stocks from these two old shotguns and turn them into something resembling well cared for working guns.

Birchwood Casey has other products that can prove helpful in maintaining or restoring some of your guns. One is Aluminum Black which works very well in covering scratches in guns with black aluminum frames. Another handy product is Plum Brown Barrel Finish, which can return old muzzleloaders to their original condition.

These products work so well, I find myself looking for old beaters among some of the used and consignment products at my neighborhood gun store. Bringing one of these old guns back to an almost new condition is a wonderful way to spend your time between range or hunting trips.

Do you have an old inheritance or mistreated gun in “the corner of your closet or safe that needs a second chance? Have you restored the wood or metal on a gun with Birchwood Casey products? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Old west revolver finished to a color case hardened finish with Birchwood Casey products
  • Ols stripped wood shotgun stocks and a Birchwood Casey Restoration kit.
  • SIngle shot shotgun broken down to show the barrel, forend, and stock and receiver
  • Refinished double barrel shotgun looking like new
  • Birchwood Casey Complete Perma Blue Gun Blue Kit
  • Birchwood Casey Liquid Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish Kit
  • Stripped metal parts from a shotgun with Birchwood Casey Blue & Rust remover and Cleaner-Degreaser bottles
  • Shotgun receiver stipped to bare metal
  • Birchwood Casey Plum Brown barrel finish
  • Birchwood Casey Aluminum touch-up and Aluminum black bottles
  • Uberti Hombre revolver treated with Birchwood Casey’s Color Case Hardening kit

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
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