Checkering of gun stocks goes back centuries and was originally intended to provide a rougher surface to improve the grip in wet conditions. Traditionally the pattern has included fine, evenly spaced grooves that cross each other at a right angle. A basic set of three to five carving tools is necessary to perform gun stock checkering.
The spacing guide, sometimes called a spacing cutter, establishes the spacing of the cuts for the checkering. Cutters are available in a variety of sizes measured in lines per inch. The higher the number of lines per inch, the finer and closer the spacing of the grooves in the checkering pattern. Some common spacing cutter sizes are 16 through 32 lines per inch in two-line-per-inch increments. This tool is used to lay out the pattern.
Sometimes called the two-line spacer, the two-line cutter is used to make a new groove by placing one of the cutters in the previous line and advancing the tool through the wood. This tool is used to deepen the grooves laid out by the spacing guide. For larger projects three or four line cutters are available.
The V-edger is used to deepen rows and enhance the pyramids or points of the checkering pattern. The V-edger is one of the last tools used in checkering a gun stock.
The veiner is simply a V-grooved chisel. It is used to carve out corners or any area in the checkering that cannot be reached by the other tools. A concave groover is used along borders to create clean lines along the edge of the checkering pattern. Other tools include skip-checks that allow deepening of one groove without affecting the adjacent groove, and pointers, which help form sharp intersections within the checkering pattern.
Differences Between Manufacturers
Different manufacturers have different names for the tools. Many manufacturers offer starting kits that include a variety of tools. Also, tools are specific to the lines per inch of the checkering project. A gunsmith may require a fairly large collection of tools to accomplish checkering of a variety of sizes.
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