Tag Archives: wood checkering

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



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