When it comes to guns, nothing beats the combination of functionality and aesthetic beauty. And one big piece of the puzzle in that combination is checkering. Wondering what tools you’ll need? We’ve listed all the checkering tools you’ll need.
What Is Checkering and Why Does It Matter?
Checkering is the art of etching tiny diamonds into the stock of a gun. Using checkering tools, rows of parallel grooves that cross at given angles (usually 60 or 90 degrees) to form little diamond shapes are cut into the stock of a gun.
Checkering: The 3 Main Purposes
- Provides a non-slip grip. One bittersweet effect of properly finishing a piece of wood is the smoothness of the surface. Though beautiful to look at, in the case of a gun, it can increase the chances of the gun slipping – leading to accidents. Checkering solves this problem by creating a surface with more grip.
- Beautifies the gun. Checkering adds to the beauty of the gun if it is done right and with the right checkering tools. Even though haphazard lines cutting across the stock can add more grip, they’ll not look as good. That is why the checkered or diamond shapes are the preferred style, they give the stock a distinguished look.
- Gives you a signature. As a gunsmith, your checkering prowess will give you a signature and brand that will provide exposure for your business. The better you are at it, the more referrals you will get.
- Plain fun. Checkering can be a great hobby to keep you occupied over the weekend. Many find it relaxing and stress relieving.
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Now that you have seen the necessity of checkering, I’m sure you’re eager to know what kind of tools you can use on your own gun stock. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Checkering Tools Every Gunsmith Should Have
Your checkering toolset will determine the quality of your handiwork, so make sure you get the right tools for the job. Here are the checkering tools you will need for that beautiful upgrade to your stock.
Marking pencils are a must if you don’t want to mess up your gun’s stock. Get the non-abrasive type that won’t scratch or gouge your stock when laying out the checkering. Don’t worry about leaving marks on your gun stock. Most marking pencils are easy to clean off – a simple rub or good ole spit and wipe will do.
This is a diamond-shaped tool that works like a template for the diamonds you want to checker into your gun.
Checkering is a very precise exercise and the precision is made difficult by the fact that the checkering is so small. This is why you need a magnifier to help you see what you are doing.
Cutters come in different sizes and perform different functions when it comes to checkering. The basic set of cutters you will need are:
- Single line cutter. As its name suggests, this is a simple tool that allows you to cut single lines. Single line cutters come in 60-degree, 75-degree, and 90-degree configurations.
- Spacing cutters. These come in many different variations depending on how many lines per inch (lpi) you will want in your checkering design. You can get 2-line, 3-line, and 4-line spacing cutters that cut 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 32 lines per inch (lpi).
- Jointer. This is one of a gunsmith’s most invaluable checkering tools. Also called a planer, a jointer is used to make layout lines (and any other lines) straight and also to straighten out checkering lines that have gone astray.
- Veiner. The veiner is a very small “V” gouge for cleaning up tight corners and edges that are difficult to get into with a checkering cutter. Cutting in the curves, as in the famous fleur-de-lis pattern, is where the veiner really shines.
A checkering cradle is a tool that is used to hold your stock in position while you checker it. It is to checkering what a vice grip is to metal work, only it allows you to rotate the gun so as to give you the best angles to do the checkering.
Besides these main checkering tools, you will also need some other tools like fine sandpaper, a toothbrush, grease pencil, boiled linseed oil, and other simple additions to help you checker better.
Time to Start Checkering
Quite a few companies still provide handheld checkering tools for you to truly express your creative side in gun checkering. Some of the most famous ones are Dem-Bart, Gunline, and W.E Brownell. You can get high-quality (and very sharp, so best be careful) checkering tools from these companies and get started checkering today.