Steam Out Dents? How?


August 7, 2007, 07:11 PM
Anyone had experience with steaming dents out of wooden gun stocks? I'm especially interested in some old, smooth, walnut grips on 1920s vintage pistols. Fiala .22rf single-shots have smooth wooden grips; smooth wooden forestocks on their 20" bbls; and smooth wooden buttstocks. Lots of potential dents!

As I recall hearing about this many moons ago, one simply places a damp washrag on the dent and appliies a hot iron on top of it. My understanding is that this will make the dented cells expand and pop the dent back up to its original level. Can't remembetr what was supposed to happen with any original finish that might have been on it.

Anyone? Would greatly appreciate hearing about some experienced in this. Don't have any really serious dents, they're very shallow.

Thanks in advance for any assistance. Best regards, ~~~ 45Broomhandle

YES, there IS a place for all of God's creatures: right next to the potatoes and gravy.

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August 7, 2007, 07:25 PM
I did this to the stock on my K-31. It worked fairly well, no adverse effects on the finish. It didn't get the dents all the way out, but it smoothed them out a good bit.

Of course, as a card carrying member of WECSOG, it's entirely possible I did it wrong :uhoh:

August 7, 2007, 07:28 PM
As long as the dent is not too deep, you can take a wet towel or wet paper towel and an iron. You put the wet towel over the dent and place the hot iron on it to create steam to lift out the dent. You may have to do it more than once, but it should work. Works on furniture too.

Edit, should read the whole post, Doh!

August 7, 2007, 07:40 PM
I use a wet teabag because it holds a lot of water

August 7, 2007, 07:40 PM
Used to remove shotgun stock dents (small ones) by rolling a dowel over the dent. Put the wood flat on a table with a towel under it, hold the dowel in both hands, and roll it back-and-forth quickly over the dent. Roll really fast, moderate pressure with your hands...should/may come right out.

This was way long ago at the Noble Mfg. Co. in Haydenville, Mass. Not exctly high-end shotguns if you get my drift.

August 7, 2007, 09:35 PM
LiquidTension, I'm going to go try that right now. I love my K31- great rifle, great metal and finish, and great accuracy, but the butt is seriously dinged. I was concerned the stock finish would come off.

August 7, 2007, 09:42 PM is a wealth of information of this type. See this thread ( for some good experiences. These guys have done a lot of this kind of thing. Watch out for removing the finish (if you care about it, that is).

August 7, 2007, 10:07 PM
I have used a Shark Steamer on a few SKSs. Worked great on the cosmoline but not very well on dents in the stock.

August 8, 2007, 12:46 AM
I used to run the service department for a business furniture company. We did repairs on high end wooden furniture of all vintages and the technique described above is correct.

A few points that we learned:
• You may have to steam it multiple times on the same area to raise it as far as it will go. Let it completely dry (a couple of days to a week or more depending on the climate and humidity) between steamings.
• Clean the surface beforehand as best you can so you don’t steam dirt into the wood cells. This can leave a sort of grey tinge to the wood that’s really hard to get out.
• A tough waterproof finish will prevent the steam from penetrating the wood cells. The newer urethanes which are common now are especially resistant to the steam. Removing the finish will allow the steam to penetrate. Old oil finishes (which the Fiala may have) should be cleaned first to remove as much oil as possible.
• Steaming will raise the grain and the wood will need to be smoothed again. Different woods will raise more or less grain.
• The finish will need repair. Oil and wax finishes are the easiest, modern catalyzed finishes are the most difficult. Older shellac, lacquer and varnish can often be re-dissolved with the correct solvent and spread over.

It’s actually easier all-around with the older finishes than the newer finishes. It’s a lot of fun, just take your time and forget about immediate gratification.

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