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Gunstock checkering tools

Updated February 21, 2017

Gun stock checkering is both beautiful and functional. Carving multiple lines to create diamond patterns on the wood produces a surface that is less likely to slip in the hand. The simple line patterns are an opportunity for wood carvers to show off their skills by carving fanciful scenes of all types.

While simple woodcarving tools can do the basics of checkering, a number of tools have been developed to make the task much easier. They are about the size and shape of a small screwdriver and have a comfortable handle to accommodate hours of working with one. The cutting blades slide into the handles and are then locked down.

Design and gauge tools

Gunstock carvers uses a design tool, which looks something like a sharpened pencil but made of metal, to layout the initial design and create the beginning of the checkering. The design can be any simple stencil. The gauge is the standard by which the lines per inch are measured and the gauge tool—a clear plastic sheet with lines inscribed on it—provides a way to check that the spacing is on track.

Parallel line cutter

Parallel line cutters run from 16 lines per inch for soft woods to 32 lines per inch for harder woods. They can be cut from one line at a time to four lines at once. Cutters are made in fine and coarse grades and allow the craftsman to choose which tool fits the project. A well-made cutter will have a comfortable grip, a firm grasp on the blades and teeth that give a solid cut.

Border cutter

A border cutter creates a rounded bead edge around the finished checkering. They match the lines per inch grade for the line cutters, and cut either wide or narrow borders.

Spacing cutter

Spacing cutters allow the carver to leave empty space on either the right or left hand in the checkering. They have a space where a cutting tooth would otherwise be.

Laser checkering tools

Laser guided mechanical cutters have taken over much of the craft of firearm checkering. They can create beautiful works but some people still like that hand carved, not-so-perfect look, especially on high-end, expensive firearms.

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About the Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.