What, in your valued opinions, is the best way to repair some minor scratches in my oiled stock (not sure what kind of oil is on there right now) and if re-oiling, what would be the best kind to use, linseed etc?
If it is an oiled stock then you should be able to use an iron and a moist towel to raise small dents and scratches.
There is a process called whiskering that you may want to consider as well.
When done sanding you have to whisker the stock, a process that is nothing more than raising the grain of wood. A gun stock that has not been whiskered, will have the grain rise up through the finish the first time it gets wet --guaranteed. On a stock with an oil finish, this will result in just a rough "feel" to the wood that dulls the stock's appearance. On a gun finished with a polyurethane finish, the grain could rise and create little bubbles that lift the finish from the wood.
To whisker, sand the entire stock again with 400 grit sand paper. Then using a cloth wet with water, wipe down (do not soak) a small section of the wood --say a space about 4"x4". Then completely dry this wet section with a heat gun or a torch and you should "feel" the grain push up above the rest of the wood. Then, sand the stock again with 400 grit sand paper to remove the "whiskers". Some recommend using steel wool to "catch" and pull the lifted wood splinters away from the stock, but I don't recommend this. Steel wool has a tendency to get everywhere, including caught in the wood, and is best avoided if possible. I repeat this process two more times, or until the grain no longer rises, before adding color to the wood. Once completed, the wood is now ready for color and very delicate; it should be protected appropriately since the presence of any oil may prevent the even coloring of the stock, enhancing the grain, and applying the finish.
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