Tag Archives: Fishscale carvings

Squirrel gun with a European feel.

Carved stock with a European Style Leaf and Acorn motif.


CZ 22 4

This Custom carved stock was on a CZ .22 Training Rifle and since is had a classic European shape to the stock I chose to make the carving have a decidedly older European flair.    The carving subject was a combination of Leaves and Acorns.  I researched carvings of the 19th century to get a feel of the style and then designed a more elongated leaf style as well as a longer styled acorn.

CZ 22 5

The stock of the CZ .22 Training Rifle is made from Beech wood.  Beech is a light colored hardwood that is stained with a Walnut colored finish.   This means that when you carve the stock is exposes the light wood underneath and you need to stain and paint the stock carving when complete.

The trick to carving on white wood is lighting – you have to make sure you light is shining across your carving area and not straight down.  This to make sure you can see the shadows to show carving depth so you can see the “flow” of your carved leaf.

CZ 22 6

I also felt that the design and style of the carving should look like they we done years ago – an old style carving look that echoed the work done with hammer and chisel.   I chose not to stipple the area outside the craving since that was not a practice/style done on the carving examples I used for my design.

The design I put together had an area for initials but we did not use that area for that.   For a little flair, I added fishscale to this areas and stand it a lighter color to make it POP.

CZ 22 7

To finish this stock I user diluted oil paints of many shades and colors to add even more depth to the carvings.  they are diluted down to almost a color wash so you can still see wood grain beneath the color.

This already has the look of an old heirloom on a new rifle.   If this type of carving interests you and you would enjoy something like this designed and carved into your firearm, drop me an email.

Thanks for Stoppin’ by….

Lance Larson

A Custom Carved, Handmade Slingshot

Hand Carved Fishscale on a Handmade Slingshot.



     I’ve completed hand carvings on many different custom and handmade items in the past, but this project was the first, and possibly only job of this type for me.   My client contacted me and wanted to finish off his handmade slingshot with some Fishscale carving,  

     It was made, as all slingshots should be, from a Y-shaped piece of wood for strength.  The wood he used was Butternut and it was just beautiful.   It was custom shaped to his hand and the fishscale was needed so the grip would not slip off his palm.   It has a beautiful semi-gloss finish that makes it, with the addition of the carving, a one-of-kind masterpiece.










The slingshot was already completed and ready to fire when it arrived, as you can see.   I had to be careful and protect the surgical band he used for the sling itself while I carved.  Just like on the pistol grip on some rifles, I had to carve around a palm swell shown in the photo to the left above.   You can see the back of the slingshot is shaped perfectly for his fingers.  I say that because it did not fit my hand at all.


     If you have a different project that you think could be augmented by custom carving, drop me an email.  Lets figure it out.

Thanks for Stoppin’ By…

Lance Larson


Custom carving a classic .22 target rifle

Hand carved Stock on a CZ .22 Ultra Lux

     This is a new project I just completed on a CZ Ultra Lux .22 caliber target rifle.   This Target Rifle has beautiful lines  with it’s Europeon style stock and it’s 28.5 inch barrel makes it a very accurate rifle for punching hole in paper.  
      It has a stained Beechwood stock and I wanted to carve something simple yet classic on the stock.   I did not want to take away from the clean classic lines of the rifle itself.
     The first thing I did was remove the pressed checkering from the pistol grip area and replace it with fishscale carving.  The checkering that was heat pressed into the stock at the factory was not too deep and I just shaved a little bit of the surface to remove it an leave a clean slate for the carving to come.    The same factory outline was kept for the Fishscale carving.
     I then added just a few oak eaves and acorns to the corner of the buttstock and a few more leaves wrapping around the forearm for a little grip.   Once again the key here was not to over do it with the design.   A few leaves “here and there” was all that was needed to make this a one of a kind stock.   The stock now is reminiscent of the leaf carvings on 18th century Europeon rifles.
     The Carvings on the stock were stained with a walnut stain after carving and finished with Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish.   I applied two coats of this finish diluted 50/50 with mineral spirits to give it the protection needed.


     This rifle is now a Family Heirloom and also will hopefully be punching paper for generations to come.   Drop me an email if this type of classic carving interests you.
Thanks for stoppin’ by…
Lance Larson




Coues Deer Rifle

Custom Gunstock Carving of a Coues Deer

Coues deer & cactus carving image

   This rifle is one of my own.  An ongoing project with the end finally in sight.   It started as a 1909 Peruvian Mauser bolt action rifle in 7×57 caliber that I found used in a small gun shop in Mesa AZ.   It caught my eye because the receiver was not blued, it was what is known as “in the white”.   It had a shiny, bare metal receiver.   It had  an old military, stepped barrel with most of the bluing worn off and a basic sporter stock from the 60’s or 70’s .   But, it was a Mauser action and I saw another fun project.


    It took a couple years to get this rifle to the carving stage.  First, there was installing a new barrel in .257 Rigby caliber to replace the old short military barrel.  I removed the action from the old stock.   The new stock was shaped from a beautiful aged blank of Maple Burl. The blank was sent to a gentleman in Texas to shape it and I inletted the stock by hand to fit the action when I got it back.   I had initially carved fish scale and leaves on the grip and forend of the stock a couple years ago but was waiting for the right inspiration for the butt stock carving design.


    Coues deer & cactus rough out carving imageIn the design phase of a gunstock carving, I ask all my clients what type of hunting or shooting they do.   I ask them what their favorite game animal is and where do they like to hunt.   Are they looking at telling a story about a particular hunt on the stock?    I had to do the same for my stock and decide what this rifle would be used for.    I knew it would be my go-to rifle to hunt Coues Whitetail Deer here in Arizona.


   For those who have no idea what a Coues deer is, think about a common whitetail deer in the rest of the country and Coues deer buck imageshrink it in size by half or more.   A big Coues deer buck may only weigh 85 to 90 lbs.  My dog is the same size this deer.   They are a desert animal and have the nickname of “Grey Ghost” since you see them and they just dissolve into their surroundings and are gone.


“Arizona’s ‘Grey Ghost’, the coues deer, is one of the smallest deer species of the whitetail deer. This small, elusive deer is one of the most popular deer to hunt and one of the most challenging of the deer species.    The country these deer inhabit is some of the most beautiful, rugged country in the United States. They are found from the desert floor to over 8,000 feet.”


   A carving of a Coues deer buck was what I wanted to do, but it took a long time to get the design right.   I wanted to make sure not to cover up the beautiful areas of burl in the butt stock so the carving had to be smaller than normal.   Since the grain of this stock flows freely , I decided not to have a definite border to the carving and let the carving edges flow like the wood grain.


Coues deer & cactus closeup image   Since the Coues deer is a desert animal, a prickly pear cactus had to be included in the carving along with the deer.   You’ll notice I left the front half of the butt stock untouched to show off the beautiful wood grain.  It would have been a crime to carve over this area.  After I completed the carving, oil paints were used in a diluted form to stain and highlight the cactus, the antlers, and the white areas on this buck. 


   This rifle goes on it’s first hunt with me this fall but, as with all old mausers, I’m sure it’s been out there many times before.   But it never looked as good as this before.


  If a carving like this appeals to you for your deer rifle, contact me and we can talk about your ideas.   You can make your rifle a one-of-a-kind.   Life’s too short to hunt with an ugly rifle.


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