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Thread: Looking for information on checkering, as in rifle checkering

  1. #1
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    Looking for information on checkering, as in rifle checkering

    I'm looking for some help and direction from someone with first hand knowledge to point me in the direction of some decent quality tooling to do some checkering work. I've never done it before, and don't want to buy tools unless I know they are of decent quality.

    I've seen the videos and can find the tooling from some links, but I'd rather hear from people who have been there, done that. I want to try some checkering on the sides of my wooden planes I build for grip enhancement, as well as aesthetics.

    Thanks,

    Jeff

  2. #2
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    This is a great question. I'd also like to try checkering and engraving, but only want to buy tools once.
    AKA - "The human termite"

  3. #3
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    I have done checkering. I usually make my own tools,but Brownell's Gunsmithing sells all kinds of quality tools and books for checkering.

  4. #4
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    Double on Brownells Gunsmithing. I have bought many things from them. Very good quality and a huge selection of just about everything made for working on guns.

  5. #5
    I inherited a book from my grandfather Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks, while I don't have the first-hand knowledge you seek I've got a reference tome that might be difficult to find.
    Trevor Walsh
    TWDesignShop

  6. #6
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    - - what George said but be careful that you know what size checkering you are going to do; 18 lines per inch means you buy the tools for that size and do not mix them with 20/22/24 line tools. Also, you will need a bright light and a stock holder so the surface can be rotated as you move down the lines. IOW (in other words) move your gunstock and not your body. All checkering takes place after the stock is completely finished with all that nice varnish/oil on the wood and dry. A well checkered stock looks wonderful and gives you a great grip on the wood. Good luck.
    Philip

  7. #7
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    I am chartering the grip area on the sides of my planes so there's no stock movement involved.

    Does anyone actually own the tools fr Brownells?

  8. #8
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    I would absolutely trust brownells for these tools. Pretty much the only place I deal with for my gun parts, and I buy a lot of them. Of course George has experience in checkering, what hasn't he done. I have been meaning to make a stock for my Sako bolt action varmint rifle for a while now. Just haven't come across the right billet of walnut.

  9. #9
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    checkering tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Heath View Post
    I am chartering the grip area on the sides of my planes so there's no stock movement involved.

    Does anyone actually own the tools fr Brownells?
    Jeff, do you think I was blowing smoke?? Of course I own the tools and have checkered several stocks. If you don't want advise, don't ask. P.
    Philip

  10. #10
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    As mentioned I make my own checkering tools,but my journeyman Jon,who is an excellent gunsmith,and Lenn Woodruff,another very well respected gunsmith friend used Brownell's supplied tools.

    Mr. Woodruff also taught me in the 60's,to take 1/8" square 01 steel square bar stock and file teeth on it with a checkering file(also from Brownells). He would make effective file teeth on the corner edge of the bar,bending the bar so there would be contact in a short area with the wood.The bar was,of course,tilted up to cut on a CORNER. I hope this is clear. Looking from the end of the bar,the bar would be used on edge,tilted up to make a diamond shape,with the lower edge toothed. Without even hardening the bar,he'd file checkering onto wood. When the teeth got a little dull,he'd give them a few more swipes with the checkering file to sharpen them up. You don't want your checkering tool to be TOO aggressive(at least I don't),so the pyramid teeth worked well.

    Below is a scratch built ( even the screws,springs,etc.) flintlock with late 18th./early 19th.C. "flat" checkering on the grip,which I made. On the pineapple finial,the flat checkering is continued,started with a checkering file,but necessarily finished with individual filing near the corners.

    To make this stock checkering,I took 2 pieces of 1/2" x 1/16" W1 tool steel. I filed a straight "V" edge on both pieces,and then checker filed the 1 edge. I screwed these 2 pieces together. Then,by hand,I filed the 2 starter grooves that determine the angle of the checkering. After that,by tilting the checkering tool,so that the smooth "V" edge ran in the last filed groove,and slowly tilting the cutting edge down into contact with the wood,I proceeded to cut the successive grooves,being careful to not slip and scratch the stock accidentally. By this means,I did the whole,round(and a bit complicated form to checker neatly!!) grip with neat,parallel lines.

    I don't know if you want fully pyramidal checkering on your plane,but it is just a matter of proceeding to cut deeper. I think Brownells also sells a similar "double edge" checkering file like I made,with 1 blank and 1 cut edge,as well as the usual checkering tools for wooden stocks.

    Since you want to checker planes,which the checkering will see very high wear on from being gripped( thousands of times more wear than on a gun grip),I'd encourage you to also use this 18th.C. form of flat checkering as pyramids will soon wear down and look worn out.

    A way to tell GOOD checkering is by looking across the tips of the pyramids and seeing that the tips all line up straight(or the flats in this example). Often,checkering looks good in the first glance,but the tips don't line up in a nice,straight line. Also,sometimes you'll see finished checkering with a dip in it somewhere,where the craftsman has made a mistake and has eradicated the foul up,checkering over the area,but leaving a dip that shows. Don't do this!! Eradicate the whole surface and get it nice and even before re starting. This may not be possible with full pyramid checkering as it is so deep,so be careful once you commit yourself,that you have the chops to complete it neatly.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by george wilson; 02-01-2013 at 9:24 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philip Duffy View Post
    Jeff, do you think I was blowing smoke?? Of course I own the tools and have checkered several stocks. If you don't want advise, don't ask. P.
    Phillip, thanks for posting your experiences. I re-read your post 4 times before replying, and still don't see where you stated you were using Brownell's tooling. I do see where you are talking about grips on gunstocks, and to move the stock, and not my body. Problem is, I'm not checkering a gunstock.

    Surely, you can see where an oversight is possible. No insult was intended. You were talking about something that I wasn't trying to do, even though the process is obviously the same.

    Thanks to all for your help. Nice work, George, and thanks for the tips of what to look out for. I'll report back with some photo's down the road once I've mastered the process and applied it to some of my work. I've always thought of adding checkering to the sides of the wooden planes I make because, while smoothing the planes out for aesthetics makes them look nice to the end user, it doesn't do anything for the functionality of grip when taking heavier cuts with a fore, try, or jointer plane. Even with a smoothing plane, an enhanced gripping surface can aid in holding back hand fatigue when working on a large surface like a table top, etc.....We'll see how it goes in application.

    Jeff

  12. #12
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    Jeff,another thing you need to consider is that checkering will soon wear your hand raw when repeatedly pushing on a plane handle. I don't think the flat style checkering will be a problem,but I wouldn't go beyond that if I were you.

  13. #13
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    I wouldn't either, it'll do the same thing as a pistol with sharp checkering, except it'll do it faster and be less fun. If the plane is shifting that much in-hand when using it to smooth, there's something wrong with the way it's being used. A looser grip and a smooth tote would be better.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  14. #14
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    Ask yourself how many times does a pistol kick in your hand vs. how many strokes will you take with the plane at a session? And,pistols less than a .44 magnum don't kick enough to worry about vs. the pressure of pushing the plane.

  15. #15
    I've checkered about 80 stocks; some just with simple panels, some with full wrap-around patterns. A good place to start is with a basic set of DemBart checkering tools, probably at 18 points per inch 18 being an easy place to start (finer checkering/20 points and up) can be a little hard to start with. You can pick up pattern paper with the diamonds on the paper to help set up you pattern. And yes, Brownells has what you need. They're a great source for checkering tools. If you Ned more info, message me here and I'll send you my email a dress if need be. Brian

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