Tag Archives: Maple leaves

Finders Keepers – A Hand Carved Story

Finders Keepers, or “How a Grizzly gets your Elk”.


   When I built and completed a solid Walnut sideboard table a few years ago,  I had a huge left over chunk of Walnut that over two feet long and eighteen inches or so wide.   It would make a great carving so I had saved it for just the right carving subject. 

     There has always been competition between predators for food in the wild.  This carving shows just such a stand off.  A hunter in the Rockies got his elk, went back to camp for his pack horses, and finds that that it my not be his elk anymore.  His pack hourses seem to agree since they are heading for parts unkown as fast as they can.   Hence the title “Finders Keepers”.   


Finders Keepers image

     I did use the grain of the wood to decide how the design would be laid out.   The right side of the wood grain swirled and swept up like a tree trunk so that’s what it became.  You can see the many shade variations in the grain in the sky background.   I left that area natural for just that reason.

     As an  outdoorsman and hunter, Grizzly bears have always fascinated me.   When we hunt, fish or just hike in the northern Rocky Mountains, we have to realize that humans are not at the top of the food chain out there.   It not a park, it’s not Disneyland, it is a majestic, harsh wilderness and this kind of confrontation can happen.  I tried to show this in my carving of this stand off.

Grizzly image 1


Grizzly close up image

 Carved leaves image

      I entered this carving in my first juried art show on October of last year.   Having practiced and worked on my carving skill over the years, I had always competed in carving competitions, never art shows.  

     I was not sure what to expect, or even if my work would even fit in their competition.   I entered in Sculpture as this was the closest division they had to my work – they accepted it into the show.  

     It was a nice opportunity to show my work to a wider audience and though I didn’t win, it was nice to be recognized with an “Honorable Mention”. 


Thanks for stoppin’ by,

Lance Larson






Carving a Gunstock with Pressed Checkering

Gunstock Carving – Replacing Pressed Checkering 


     A few weeks ago I received an email from a gentleman from Georgia that wanted a custom gunstock carving done to commemorate the one year anniversary of his business, a website and forum dedicated to the outdoors.   You can check out his website and forum at www.theoutdoorstrader.com

     He had a pump action shotgun he was going to give away for the anniversary and wanted it customised and his logo carved in it also.  After sending a few drawing back and forth via email regarding what we could do with the old, uneven pressed in checkering (take a look at the forearm below), we decided on a design and he sent me the stock.



    The design he decided on was replacing the pressed checkering with a basketweave pattern with maple leaf accent carvings.    I noticed when the stock arrived that it was a solid walnut stock.   Because of this, the carvings were only going to need a nice Tung Oil finish when complete.   The first step was to draw out where the leaves would go and carve those areas.   Then to remove the checkering where the basketweave would go.  Removing the checking is a slow process  – once you cut out the checkering and even out the area, it has to be sanded smooth and a finish applied.   I always apply a light finish at this point so the pattern will stick to the area to be carved.

     The areas that had the checkering were darker because of the pressure indentations used to make them and the oil from years of hands holding the grip and forearm.   It is also caused by the oiling of the shotgun for general upkeep over the years.   Once the finish coat dried I applied the pattern and cut the basketweave into the prepared area.  I also cut out the leaping deer which was the client’s website logo.

      As you can see the areas between the weave is removed and then the weave itself is shaped and carved to look like a rattan weave.  The leaves are carved and shaped after the basketweave is complete.   When carving leaves it is important to give them depth and give them some texture.   Having dried leaves to look at help you in this – many different types of leaves to look at – Photos, Drawings, Artwork, Actual leaves to put your hands on – they all help.   The true key to carving leaves is Practice, Practice, Practice.

     The carving area seemed a bit light colored in the leaf carving areas and darker in the areas that had been checkering so I chose to give the entire carved area a coat of walnut stain.   Before I added the stain, I coated the carving area with a coal of Minwax pre-stain  to make sure the wood stain would be taken in evenly by the wood.  

     By the way, the deer carving was just an outline cutout and I removed a bit of the depth (about a 1/16th of an inch) and stippled the entire area.  Stippling is just tapping the entire area with a small round headed burr.  It’s very time consuming but it has a good look.   I finished the carvings off with two coats of Tung Oil finish and it’s ready for the field. 












     If you have some checkering you would like to have replace on an old  cherished firearm – give me a call – drop me an email – lets talk.

Thanks for stoppin’ by……

Lance Larson



Custom Carving for NRA Fundraiser.

Custom Carving of Squirrel on Ruger 10/22

    I am starting a new carving for a rifle that will be auctioned of at a NRA Fundraising banquet.    The carving is currently in the design stage and I wanted to show the rough design drawing I have for the but stock of this Ruger 10/22.  For those of you that are not familiar with Ruger’s model 10/22 rifle, here is a photo of the rifle.

    I thought it might interesting to show the starting point for a gun stock carving – the design stage.    The pencil drawing below gives you an idea of the design plan.  You can’t just sit down and start carving, the design ideas take some time.    In this Squirrel carving, the Squirrel sits in the fork of a maple tree enjoying a meal.   The maple leaf carvings will work their way along the entire stock up through the forearm.   Drawing all the leaves so they are not just the same leaf over and over is a bit of work.    The leaves will be stained to show the beautiful fall color palette.   The final staining of the individual leaves will be the part that will really sets this carving off.   This Custom Carved Rifle will be a featured rifle at the Pinal County Friends of NRA Banquet Auction on April 30th.   

I have to go now, I have a bit of carving to do…………..

Thanks for stoppin’ by,

Lance Larson