Finishing an RTF Gun

“In The White”


RTF (Ready To Finish) guns “in the white” are fully assembled and functional but need final wood and metal finish.

This is your chance to give this project your own personal touches. Don’t hurry!
These building projects are never perfect and many minor flaws or mistakes that will be unnoticeable when finished are quite obvious in this state. Your understanding is appreciated and any specific questions will be happily answered.

Now here’s what is yet to be done.

You will need to completely disassemble the gun. You will need a 1/16 pin punch, large and small screwdriver, palm sander and #80, #150 and #240 sandpaper, #0000 & #00000 Steel wool. Take a good look to see where you may want to take off more surface wood.

Remove the ramrod and lock. To remove the barrel you will remove usually three 1/16 pins, the tang bolt and lock bolts.

Turn the gun upside down and gently tap the butt on a hard surface to free the breech Tap out the pins in the ramrod thimbles and trigger guard. Mark which thimble goes where, to align the holes.


Remove butt plate and nose cap, trigger guard and trigger.


The stock has already been sanded to #80 grit but may still have file marks. Half round files work well to remove marks quickly on curved surfaces and a palm sander or hand sanding and more #80 grit does the rest. Follow with #150 until all marks are gone. Wet the stock with water and dry with heat (heat gun or hair dryer). This will raise whiskers on the wood. Sand again with #150. Repeat this process until SMOOTH and finish with #240 and finally steel wool.


Use side lighting to see any hidden marks still hiding. Use the barrel channel to test stains and pick the one you like.

Alcohol based stains and water based stains work best. Follow directions with long even strokes.

Final finish is your choice. Formby’s Tung oil works well as does Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and many Polyurethanes and Swedish wiping oils. Seal everything including barrel channel, under butt plate, side plate, lock and trigger mortise and ram rod slot. Multiple coats give good protection and can be dulled a bit with a gentle polishing with #00000 steel wool followed by a soft polishing cloth.

The metal surfaces will need to be cleaned with hot soap and water or a solvent to remove any grease or oil. File or sand first to get the desired surface look. Follow the existing finishing lines.

#180 works well on straight barrels sanded lengthwise and Emery cloth or Crocus cloth does well on round barrels when done “like shining shoes”. Metal can be polished and left bright by using even finer grits and a polishing wheel and buffer. With care they will last a surprisingly long time when well oiled.


Cold browning solutions will give a dull matt brown finish when applied according to directions.


A “sweat box” works best but heat and humidity is the answer. Surgical gloves avoid fingerprints.


Hot browning solutions give a shinier finish, are generally faster and work well on small lock parts.

Birchwood Casey Perma-Blue gives a blue-grey finish that can be built on many layers while Super-Blue is a very dark almost black finish. Brass black can also be used to darken brass trim.

To dismantle the lock a mainspring vice is preferred as cast mainsprings can break. Set at half-cock to clamp. Remove it first and then the frizzen spring and sear spring. The cock comes next and then the rest of the screws and bridle. Be VERY careful not to lose the tiny fly that lies in an indent on the tumbler. Put parts in a cup for safekeeping. Heat, brown, rinse, polish, and oil.
Reassemble in reverse.

GOOD LUCK