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Lifestyles Magazine Awards project


In November,  I  was commissioned to custom engrave over 60 “readers choice awards” for Pinal County Lifestyles magazine.   Every year they give out awards for businesses in many catagories based on their reader’s votes for best businesses.   The Lifestyles magazine editor also thought it would be a great idea to feature me carving one of the awards on the cover of the magazine for the December Awards Issue.    Since I’m not exactly “cover model” material, I just figured they knew what they were doing and went with the plan.

Lifestyles magazine cover

The awards were hand made, four inch square, black glass tiles made by a local artist.   All the tiles were engraved by hand using designs the magazine laid out on the computer.   After completion of the custom hand engraving on each of the tiles, gold was added to the engravings and the tiles were buffed out.


Each award was mounted in a wooden base after completion, including the Magazine’s Big Award of “Best Customer Service”.

I was very Honored and Happy to do this engraving work for the businesses in my community and I do hope all the award winners enjoy their well deserved 2010 awards …  Congratulations !

Thanks for stoppin’ by …

Lance Larson


Do you need to “Get a Grip” ?

Do you need to “Get a Grip” ?

Carved gunstocks and carved pistol grips look great, there is a functional reason that grips and forearms are carved on guns.  It is so you can….. get a grip.

The importance of getting a good grip on your firearm has been around almost as long as firearms themselves.Cape Buffalo & Lion Carving On Sako Gunstock   There are many ways that gripping surfaces have been on put on firearms.  The most common gunstock grip is wood checkering.   There are many levels of quality when it comes to checkering.  Quality hand checkering is a classic look for a firearm.  This is something you don’t find on standard rifles and shotguns from the major manufacturers anymore because of the cost involved.   Heck, it’s getting hard to find wood stocks on guns now, much less good checkering.  

The first thing I saw to replace hand checkering was Pressed Checkering.  The stock was pressed with a mold of something that looked like checkering under high pressure to make a dent in the stock.   It looked cheap – It was cheap.   Some rifle models even came out with a pressed basketweave.   It didn’t look much like basketweave and it was smooth – very little grip.   Many manufacturers have now moved on to Laser checkering.  It works better the pressed checkering but is still lower quality than hand checkered guns from a true craftsman. 

Carving Fishscale

But there are the other custom options……..Options that can be added to your rifle , shotgun, or pistol anytime.  These options are hand carved  stocks and grips.   Your carving choices are totally up to your likes and dislikes and can include, but are not limited to, basketweave, fishscale, stippling, feathers, leaves, birds & animals, etc.  

Basketweave & leaves on 300 wby stockBasketweave – This is a great grip carving that can be put over the top on pressed checkering to really improve the looks of your gun.  There are many variation of size and style that can be added.  It can also be used over press basketweave patterns to add real quality.   The basketweave carving on the left is on the Maple Burl stock of a 300 Weatherby Magnum rifle.   This type of carving goes very well with accent carving such as leaves.  Definitely a style that adds a positive grip.

Fishscale – This has a classic look and can also be carved over the pressed checkering.   The style lookspheasant and fishscale carving great in conjunction with leaf accent carvings.  This style also works well with animal and bird accent carvings such as the Pheasant carvings on the stock to the right.  The carving  is on a Ithaca 16 gauge side by side shotgun.  This is a classic carving style as well as great grip design.

Leaves – They work anywhere in stock carvings, usually as an accent.  The work well by themselves on a smooth wood pistol grip for a much better “grip”.    I did an entire gunstock with leaves Chipmunk and leaves carvingcompletely covering both sides of the .22 rifle.   With leaf carvings, there are number of options.  As many options as there are different shaped leaves.  Oak, Maple, and Aspen leaves are just a few choices.

Feathers –  These can look great in certain situations.  I have doneTurkey Feather Carving with Ivory Inlay these several times on pistol grips and also have worked them into shotgun grips and forearms.  Classic lever action rifles could also be candidates for feathers carving designs.  The Turkey feathers carved on the forend at the right were done complete with a simulated Ivory inlay at the feather tips.  This is more of a subtle carving style.  The carving of a feather does not have any real high and low Fox & Pheasant - Ithaca 16 carved forearmrelief points.  It is a somewhat smooth carving.

Birds & Animals – Here you are only limited by your imagination.   Birds and animals can work well with other types of carvings on your grip areas.   How about a squirrel on a tree limb on the grip of a 22 rifle.   Maybe Pheasants or Quail or your best Gundog carved on your favorite shotgun.   Possibly a Bull Elk carving for your favorite elk rifle.

Getting a grip can be as simple or a elaborate as you want.   As I mentioned before, let your imagination take you away when you work on a design.  Make your rifle, shotgun, or pistol truely your own.   Go ahead, you’ll be glad you “Got a Grip.”

 Custom carved Marlin Model 60

Thanks for stoppin’ by…..

Lance Larson

Custom Marlin Model 60 “Leaf Rifle”

 My Custom Marlin model 60 “Leaf Rifle” is done and I didn’t need that rake.

                A few weeks ago I let you know about a custom  gunstock carving project on one of my own rifles.   A very accurate little Marlin rifle that sported a stock with all the beauty of a chunk of 2×4.   I chose to Marlin model 60 photocompletely cover the stock with Oak leaves and Acorns.   There are several steps in carving an individual leaf.   Since I was doing so many leaves, I found it easier to do one section of leaves at a time.  What really does take the most time is the detail shaping of each leaf and making them flow with the adjacent leaves.   I had to make sure the leaf pattern flowed but that individual leaves still stood out.

                I achieved this with varying the texture of different leaves.  Some were smooth, some were cupped with the edges up, some were of textured quite rough, and I added a texture of very fine vanes to some leaves.   I kept up this plan of leaf variations when it came to the staining of the leaves also.  I broke up the flow of the oak leaves here and there with acorns.  And for something as little different, I inlaid two simulated ivory acorns in the buttstock.

Leaf rifle - carving complete

                 In the earlier article about this carving, I said I would count the leaves on the finished rifle.   After counting them five times and getting the same number three of those five times, I can say with some level of certainty that there are one hundred and Leaf rifle - pre-stained buttstockthirteen leaves and twenty four acorns on my rifle.  Yes, my eyes crossed several time during this process !

                 When I completed all the carving and texturing I went over it with my hands to feel for any sharp points.  When I found any, I went over them lightly with a course Scotch Brite pad.  Since this was a Light colored wood and I would have to stain the carvings, I gave it a coat of MinWax pre-stain to prevent blotchiness in Leaf rifle - walnut stain appliedthe stain.  I let the pre-stain dry about thirty minutes and then gave it a liberal coat of MinWax walnut stain.  I wiped off the excess stain and let is sit in the sun for a couple hours.   For those of you who don’t live in the desert where it is 110 degrees in the shade, you may want to let you stain dry Finished leaf rifle cheekpiece - close upovernight.   

                 I wanted to continue with leaf contrast so I used oil paints.  I used some “burnt umber” colored paint and a small amount of thinner to make my own darker walnut stain.  The leaves with the fine vane texture I stained very dark, as well as the caps of all the acorns.  I mixed the oil paint a little thinner to get a lighter shade and just painted a leaf here and there where it looked right.  The painting/staining of the leaves from Finished Leaf rifle - stained, painted, and finishedthat point on was all by what I felt looked good.  I let the stock dry in the desert sun again for several hours.   This would be the equivalent of three to four days of drying in the house.   

               The final coat was a MinWax Tung oil finish.  I applied this finish with a small foam brush  and wiped up the excess with cotton paint rags made from t-shirt material.   Then it was time to let that desert sun do it’s thing again.   My little rifle is now ready for years of dependable service in the field.   But now I have another worry…..if I set it down or lean it against a tree while I’m hunting, will I ever find it again ?

Thanks for stoppin by…..

Lance Larson

Custom carved Marlin Model 60