The coffee can shotgun restoration

Ron Kulas

Active Member
Here is another gun rehabilitation project I did. This old shotgun has been sitting disassembled in a coffee can in the corner of my shop for the last 4 or 5 years. It was given to me be Dan Infalt. It’s a throw away for a variety of reasons but I never threw it away. This long winter has me doing more projects in the warmth of my shop so the coffee can gun gets a 2nd look.

The gun spent some time in a closet with an angry raccoon. What raccoon urine can do to wood and metal is amazing. I contend that in concentrated form could be weaponized. Needless to say, this gun is in terrible shape. I don’t think the barrel can be saved due the rusting.

A bit about the gun. This is a Ithaca Model 66 super single, Buck Buster. This gun was made by Ithaca from 1967 to 1979. Oddly this gun has no serial number anywhere on it but serial numbers were not mandated until 1968. The only info is stamped into the barrel identifying the gun. This particular gun is chambered in 20 ga. It's a lever action only in that the lever opens the breech to load a shotshell rather than a lever behind the hammer. Here is some info from the past.


Compared to other guns it doesn’t have many parts.


Its not a particularly valuable gun.


Back to this coffee can gun. It takes little imagination to understand what raccoon urine can do to steel but I am impressed at how it reacts with aluminum (or pot metal) this anodized metal should not corrode but raccoon urine has created a white almost glass-like patina that etched the aluminum.




The effects on the barrel are devastating.



The pitting is so deep I don’t think there is any hope for the barrel.


There were some lose parts in the coffee can that the exploded schematic help me identify.


The parts inside the gun are likewise in bad shape.



The stock is cracked (visible below the white line) and the front grip is pretty darkened (or it may just be a dark piece of wook that looks different than the butt stock wood) . Both are dinged up and scratched but at least there is something to work with and it still has the original Ithaca plastic butt plate. I will add white and black spacers to the butt plate just because I like how it looks.



I think I can repair the cracked stock but even if I cant, I can easily find a replacement online. Since the stock is in such poor shape I have little to lose by trying my hand at stippling the grip. Its something Ive always wanted to attempt and this is the perfect piece of wood to try it on because if I screw it up, Im not out much.

The first step is to get a good look at what Im dealing with in regards to the barrel. I soaked it in naval jelly for 24 hours which is far longer than I have soaked anything to remove rust.


The rust was so bad It made the jelly bubble up while attacking the rust. Ive not seen that before. It could be the raccoon urine. I cant be sure.


After 24 hours I rinsed under running water and then took a wire brush to the barrel.


It looked pretty good at the breech end.


Sadly though from the mid point to the muzzle it is just too pitted to be safe to use. If your reading this and know of a source for a 20 ga buck buster barrel, don’t be shy.

I placed a chisel in the butt plate end of the stock to spread the crack open. Then, using a syringe and Tightbond glue I filled the crack and clamped it tightly for several hours. During that time I cut a few black and white plastic spacers to match the plastic butt plate size and hole spacing. Then I attached the spacers and butt plate to the stock and sanded the old finish off the stock and down to the size of the original butt plate. This shaped the black and white spacers. The gun didnt originally have black and white spacers but I like how they dress up the look of a gun so I added them.


When I was sanding at the 400 grit level I made sure there was plenty of wood dust packed in the crack and then laid down a layer of super glue to mix with the fine wood dust. The super glue mixes with the wood dust and creates a great gap filler made up the same material as the surrounding wood. Look up “super glue and baking soda” on youtube. Its an interesting method of repair and crack filling. I used walnut dust from the stock instead of baking soda.


The goal here is to fill the void so that the crack is not visible as a surface imperfection that can be seen and felt through the finish. The super glue dries almost instantly and you can go back to sanding the wood.

Satisfied that the stock repair worked I tried my hand at stippling. Stippling is the ugly 2nd cousin of checkering (which I want to get into down the road) In simple terms its just a pattern stamped, gouged, pecked, embossed into the wood to increase the grip or traction for your hand when holding the stock. It can be done with a hammer and nail or any of a variety of means to create a random or organized pattern in the wood. I planned to try it with a Dremmel tool and a very tiny ball cutter. I used the 105N engraving cutter


If you have ever knocked the bark off a piece of old wood and have seen the tunnels bored by insects, thats the sort of look I was going for (if the insects were working overtime and on crack)

I sketched an area on both sides of the grip that I would stay in (always stay inside the lines) The plan is to freehand as best as I can. I would freehand not only the outline but also the depth and the random pattern. I plan to only go about a 16th of an inch deep.


Keeping to the scribed line was tough but manageable. I couldn’t push too deep or the bit would really dig in and take you for a ride. I learned quickly to go slow with not much pressure. Here is how it turned out (fuzzy burrs and all prior to sanding).


Then I did some sanding with 400 grit to remove the burrs along the edges of the grooves.


Then I took a bit of 000 steel wool to it to get deeper into the grooves. Here is the outcome.


Here is a video that better shows the end result. Im pleased with the results.


Now the stock parts can be refinished with tung oil and I can get to cleaning up the metal parts.
I got the metal parts of the Ithaca cleaned, stripped and reblued. The receiver is going to take some effort. The aluminum it pitted from the raccoon urine. Its going to take some elbow grease and time. That’s ok as there are still lots of coats of tung oil to be put on the stock.





I Got a new shipment of Brownells Baking lacquer so I was able to spray and bake the receiver and lever. I had the time so I spent it doing more to smooth out the receiver and get rid of the pock marks. It turned out pretty well. It will look even better with two coats of paste wax to give it some shine. Im almost ready to put the gun back together. The stock is nearly finished getting coats of tung oil.





this gun was destroyed by a raccoon and it pitted the receiver and lever (and raised hell on the wood) I opted to mark the history of the gun into that same receiver. I was originally going to mark both sides but opted for just one side.

I masked off an area and sprayed it with flat, white spray paint.


Then I placed tape over the paint and drew in the image I wanted on the receiver. I painted the receiver white so I could see the pencil lines.


I used a fine pointed diamond bit in my dremmel to take away the black baking lacquer and shine up the aluminum underneath.


Then I peeled away the tape and washed away the white paint with acetone leaving the tribute to the masked bandit etched into the metal.


I assembled all the metal parts and attached the finished wood. For now I have the pitted barrel on the gun just for the pictures.


The stippling worked out very well.



The cracked stock is repaired and looks a bit better than before.




This gun has come a long way from the coffee can.


I won an Ebay Auction for a replacement barrel for this gun in the buckbuster configuration (with front and rear rifle sights) So this old gun can once again take to the deer woods. (once I recondition the barrel and reblue it) The barrel set me back $128 but since I got the gun for nothing, It all works out in the end.
With this one done its time to move onto a gun with some sentimental value to me. A 1940 Winchester model 37. Its my father’s gun and the first shotgun I ever fired. Time to start a new restoration thread for this rusty mule kicker.

It's amazing how well the finish turns out compared to what these old guns started as. Keep posting these threads, I'm loving them.
Every one is different. Mostly it involves sourcing materials or replacement parts. I was told once by a friend that I have a knack for taking $5 guns and pouring 40 hours and $100 into them to turn them into $10 guns. He is correct. The joy is in the doing. The journey. I havent done a restoration since I started by new company making bowhunting products and then working for several other bowhunting companies to invent/design/prototype/test/make bowhunting products for them. I miss the knife building, knife restorations, gun work, sewing projects, arts but I really enjoy the stuff Im creating now.
I just now looked at your name, it looks familiar. Were you ever on Bowsite, or is my memory failing me ?

BTW, a Model 37 in .410 was the first gun I ever bought for my youngest son.
Not to hijack your thread, but do you know anything about this gun or where to find info on it?

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