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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any experience checkering a stock?What all is involved and how difficult?
I've reshaped the forarm on my trapper and in the process needed to remove the factory checkering.
If the cost of tooling is prohibitive are there any quick and dirty alternatives?
P.S. I'm good with a dremel.
Thanks
Jeff
 

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Brookie: A good checkering job is one of the more demanding aspects of stock work. There is no, repreat NO, Dremel tool involved in checkering except possibly as an aid in building checkering tools (there are better ways to go). If you are inclined go to your library and see if they have a copy of Monte Kennedys' book "Carving and Checkering of Gunstocks". This will give you more info than you'll need including how to make the tools, lay out patterns and do the work. I advise you to practice a lot on scrap wood before you touch a tool to the stock. If you don't intend to make a hobby of it I suggest you find a checkerer. I would imagine you could get a suitable pattern done for about $35.00-$60.00 per side if you find the right guy. You can also buy the tools from Brownells although I have to say I have personally never been happy with most commercial hand tools for that purpose and prefer to make mine from carbon drill steel rod. luck
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dear BC
Thanks again.I'll pick up a copy of Kennedys' book and see if I want to give checkering a try.
I completed the epoxy repair and the tru oil finishing is going fine and fast too since I constructed a heat box.I made the box from a cardboard 12qt.Quaker State oil box which I lined with tin foil and added a 40 watt bulb.Now I can complete several coats a day.
The 444 Trapper is my project and I'm having lots of fun experimenting and doing all the work myself.I'm using it as a platform to make my own custom rifle.When the 444 was first introduced I was a poor college student.I wanted to buy one but couldn't afford to because of the high tuition cost--$6.00 an hour for graduate credit at the university.
Oh well; guess I'm never too old to have a happy childhood.

Jeff
 

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I used to make quite a few stocks, both for my own guns and for others. When I decided to add checkering, I went out and got the full line of Dem-Bart tools and did some trial work on scrap. I guess if a person practices enough, he can become pretty good at it, but I never laid one of those tools to an actual stock. Afraid of ruining some perfectly good wood. It's an art form I couldn't master, at least not to my satisfaction. It's tough. Sold and gave away most of the tools.
DC
 

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Checkering Tools

The best tools are the carbide tipped ones that are made by Ullman Precision Products. As for a cradle to use, I keep hoping to find a good one from someone retired from the business. I do know this much, and Monty Kennedy says it in his book on checkering, it must be heavy and sturdy. It doesn't have to be mounted on a stool or bench if a heavy vise can clamp it , but it has to clamp the stock tightly to keep the lines straight.
This is such a dying art. Most of the stocks we see today are all composite with the grip in the finish. Wood is just so yesterday's news. Pretty, Classic, but nowhere near the utility of a camo paint scheme. Time marches on, I guess. I dread to think all that gorgeous english walnut stock wood will just rot on a shelf somewhere, or go for fire sale prices to get rid of it. It seems to be happening, though. And NO, you cannot checker a synthetic stock.
 

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By the time you buy all the tools you could pay a pro to do it twice. As a rookie to checkering you will also have a botched up job. It's a skill that requires countless hours of practice to master. I do it occasionally, but only for clients that are willing to pay what it's worth. I'm slower because I do it so rarely, but a forearm would probably take me 10 hrs. or more. The pros use power checkering tools & are much faster. The average cost to do a rifle, pistol grip & forearm with a simple pattern is over $200. Just my two cents.
 

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Up from the the bottom of the heap

WOW this thread has been brought up from the depths,almost 16 years between posts.
 

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I challenge anybody to pass the simple CST checkering test---
Lay out a 3 1/2 to 1 diamond on flat hardwood. Assure it's accuracy with dividers and scribe the borders. Checker it to within one line of the border. Are all four sides parallel with the border?

The second test was the same thing but the wood was arched like a fore-end with a two inch radius.

The third was to checker a simple point pattern on a grip section just made as another project.

Once in a while a student came through that excelled at checkering and some even are now specialist. There was once and overly enthusiastic student that practiced checking on the toilet seat. Room mates complained. ;)

There are no 'best' checkering tools. Different craftsmen like different tools. Some make their own. The electric checking heads that attach to Foredom tools are preferred by the very best at the art. I've seen it done with a Forediom and I've tried it several times but if I need to checker I do it with Dembart spacers and home-made deepeners.

One of the best indications of a perfect job is to look at checkering cross-wise at the shadow lines.
The first picture is of the last job by Maurice Ottmar. The second is the near in-humanly good multiple internal ribbon pattern done by Gary Goudy. To keep straight shadow lines across ribbons is VERY difficult.
Really good checkering is complete to the very last diamond with no over-runs and no line is deeper than another.
 

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I mastered it with hand tools but failed on practice pieces. I have never used a border either. They are to hide over runs. It is not easy and most smiths will not do it but farm out the work. There are very few now that know how. I ruined practice wood like skidding a chainsaw until I put my rifle to the test. Made my own pattern and never had a mistake,
 

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I would not bother for one gun and even if you make many custom jobs you will lose money. It is more pride then treasure. But nobody can afford my guns today. I did not profit that much but those that own them will.
I had an advantage because when young I could make a stock from a plank and do this with home made tools. I made the metal and engraved it with home made gravers.
Now Jack is a master smith I respect but he has never shown his wood work.
 

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