Q: The stock and fore-end wood on my year-old gun have gone very dull. What sort of oil should I use to restore the shine?

A: Firstly, you must establish how the stock was finished in the factory when the gun was made. If it was varnished, then I wouldn’t use oil at all. Just apply some hard wax furniture polish, followed by some vigorous buffing.

If the stock was oil finished, then there are plenty of stock oils on the market, and most are available on the internet nowadays. However, I suggest you buy from your local gunsmith if you can, and ask him which brand he uses. That way you can ask him for tips on how to achieve the best finish with his chosen oil.

Commonly available brands include CCL, Trade Secret, and Napier, while Browning Legia spray (green tin) is quite good for a quick job. Don’t use the red can – that’s for metal – and never use mineral lubricating oil on wood. All stock-finishing oils are of vegetable origin.

The secret of all oil finishing is to apply extremely thin coats, and let it dry thoroughly before applying more. One drop per side of the stock, rubbed in with the palm of your hand, is generally about right. Achieving a good finish can take several weeks, but your patience will be rewarded in the end.