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Is this a do it yourself project or better left to the pros? Heres my delema I have refinished a few gun stocks and they turned out really nice. I just aquired a couple of unfinsihed factory high grade winchester 70 stocks to replace the plastic ones on my 30-06 and 375 stainless both (dont fall over I like the look) but I have never checkered before, is it really that hard? If so who can I send them to to just duplicate the factory checkering?
 

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Yes, an amatuer can do a competent job of checkering. Most expert stock checkerers started just that way. a few took training in gunsmithing courses.

HOWEVER, it requires the infinite patience, attention to detail, tool knowledge, good technique, and eye-hand coordination of a master engraver. If you have all of these qualities, then yes, you can do it!

If you've done some intricate modeling work (airplanes, trains, wood carving, ceramics, etc), that would be a big help.

I've done enough checkering to know that good gunstocks are NOT the place to start practicing! Some gunsmith books and do-it-yourself manuals have stated that it takes dozens of hours of practice on wood scraps and hammer handles, etc to become good enough to do a riflestock. i believe it now, after screwing up a couple of good stocks. You have to FIND a gunsmith that is good at checkering. Not all 'smiths can do it.

Best of luck in your checkering!
 

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John Traveler has about said it all. I would add though that I believe with a bit of study and practice almost anyone can do it. The trick is the practice. When I first started I had a hard time practicing on pieces of wood. I did some but was getting very bored, so I diversified! I would buy/trade for old (cheap) rifles, usually 22 rimfires, and checker them. I read the book by Monty Kennedy ('Checkering and Carving Gunstocks') and really learned some tricks and some rules. There is however no replacement for the practice. I love doing checkering and have done stock work for years. I would be happy to give you a quote (just personal message me) or if you'd like I can help you get started on your own with a few tips. You really should read the Kennedy book though, if for no other reason but to see the fine examples from some of the old masters. You'll also learn about the 'magic' proportion(3 1/2 to 1), why you should have left and right spacing cutters, etc.. Besides Kennedy's writings there are pieces written by Shellhammer, Brownell, etc. Good luck from the gunnut69!
 

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You've already heard the facts. I would like to add that it took me over 6 years of try it on scrap, quit and try again 6 months later before I forced myself to sit down and work on it. It took weeks of practice before I got the hang of it but it's worth the effort!
 

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Gunnut I've finally finished my cradle, built the base out of 1x4 (actual measurements) hickory and the end pieces from oak with oak dowels. I built it from Montey Kennedys plans. It feels good and is very solid, waiting for the stain to fully dry now. Any way back to the subject I'm still working on the mod 700 and getting ready to re cut the pressed in checkering. Some of the border lines are very faint if not gone what is the best way of going about this. Also it is about 30 yrs old with the nice scroling with a few very tight places what is the best direction to go with that. And the last question is do you have any idea about the video brownells sells on checkering. Thanx Dan
 

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LaDano
I really can't say anything about the video.. I've not seen it. Sometimes seeing things done can help though. My first checkering job was preceded only by reading, but video tapes hadn't been invented yet.. Oops! That may have dated me a bit! I've found the best way to handle faint lines when cutting pressed checkering is to use a sharp exacto knife(rounded blade edge profile) to carefully cut a guide, following the line that is still there. If there is a gap or if you wish to add something I use a 'sharpy' pen, a very fineline soft tip marker, to put a line there to follow with the knife. In extremely tight turns you may have to switch to a pointed knife blade with a straight cutting edge. The extremely tight corners and the very small radius turns are best cut with a 70 or 90 degree veiner. This is a 'V' shaped palm chisel with a short blade and a rounded handle. It is designed to be used in tightly controlled situations. Sharpen it correctly and use with care. It's here that the difference between OK and really nice begins. I used only the 90 degree veiner for 20 years but bought a 70 degree about 3-4 years ago and for the initial cut and in very very tight situations it really does work better. I would definitly advise practice with this a bit before cutting on a stock.. Also remember I usually prefer to cut the borders (all of them) and the carving details with an exacto before going to the checkering tools. Also the Dembart S-1 or any short(-1/8 inch) pull cut checkering tool will be used a lot. You will find the Dembart file type cutters are a bit easier to guide but that they load up with finish quicker than the Gunline brand tools. Also the Gunline single line tool can be readily cleaned with a brass bristle brush and re-sharpened as it becomes dull. Remember- score the edges and faint areas- use the 'V'gouge tool in the tight spots, and if something looks difficult or different, practice it on scrap before proceding.. A cradle is a great boon. It should be sturdy but the stock should be able to rotate with only a bit of resistance... Good luck and if there are any further questions please feel free.. And if possible post the finial result...the gunnut69
 

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Well so far it sounds like I'm taking the right path. I was scratching on some last night for practice just the way you explained, just thought I'd ask for some more advise. Never hurts to get all the info I can before going all out. By the way I'm using dem-bart cutters and 90 veiner with monteys jointer. If I had the jointer when I started my 25yr old pellet gun maybe it would have saved alot of sanding. Starting to strip and refinish the stock now so maybe another ten days before I start cutting on it. I got alot of guys I work with that has given me old stocks to practice with. I believe I'll get hit up for some work when I finally get proficent. If I can figure out how to post a pic on this I'll put one up. Thanx Dan
 

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Just remember the 3 P's of all learning - practice, patience and perseverance.. good luck from the gunnut69
 

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checkering

As all of the above gentlemen have indicated checkering can be accomplished by anyone wiling to practice and then practice. If you are not a PATIENT person, don't even try. You might start out by trying to rechecker or recut checkering on an old rifle. It would give you some actual guide lines and allow you to get a feel for the tools, procedure and keeping a straight line. If all else fails, I have written to a gal that used to checker for Kimber and now does it on her own. The prices seem more than fair. If you have an interest her name is Sherry Abraham and can be found at www.checkering.com of [email protected].
 
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