Checkering is a particular and oldstyle art of functional decorating of gunstock and different types of handles. In most common way Checkering are group of rows of paralle and cross grooves at a given angle to form little diamond shapes. In some English literature, checkering is often spelled as 'chequering'.
The particular function of checkering is to give the shooter more grip on the stock especially in bad weather when stock is wet, greasy or when the palms are too sweaty during a shooting. Second and may be most important aspect of checkering is decoration rifle or any othe object. Checkering very effectively emphasizes the shape and grace of the handles lines. And to be clear, checkers are not really necessary on most gunstocks.
In current form checkering occurred about 150 years ago. It's not mean that there is no checkering before that days, but patterns and ways of application were usually different from now days.
Gunstock checkers can be made in several ways with different patterns. Most known techniques are pointed (like diamonds), flattop and semi flattop checkering. Another variety is French checkering, also known as skip line or even a Scottish checkering . In this technique lines are just skipped at some regular interval creating a square pattern similar to tartan ornament.
This is the most common type of checkering. In this type of checkering grooves are cut under a 90 degree angle (sometimes 60 degree).
Those checkers are sharp and highly pointed like a diamonds. That give handles a good grip and make grooves are self cleaning due to the open angle.
This type of checkering can be a bit to sharp for long shooting sessions or for heavy recoiling guns.
In area with checker pattern the wood texture may be not so visible depending upon the coarseness and quality of the checkering job and of course the type of wood itself.
You can find tools for cutting pointed checkering in our catalog. Watch for angles mark.
Flat-top checkering ( English type)
The grooves are just not have points on top, so it are flat. This is deep grooves with parallel walls cut in the wood. You can seen this type of checkering on older English guns. Disadvantage of this pattern is that the grooves easily fill up with debris making it useless. Also it not sharp so it does not offer good grip.
Other side is checkers of this type not obstruct the nature beaty of wood. It is more comfortable for heavy recoiling guns and for continuous shooting sessions.
Flat-top checkering can be easily converted into pointed checkering by recutting the grooves with an angled cutter. But they are loose it Englishness and it may ruine beaty of wood texture.
Now day, toolworks Petrgrad does not produce gouges for flat-top checkering.
Semi flat-top checkering
Cutting grooves with 60 degree gouges you will have ornament somewhere in between of pointed and flat one. This type grooves are shallow so that there are no pointed tops. Semi flat-top checkers is often imitate English flat-top checkering. The grooves are trying to eliminate disadvantage of flat-top checkers by making it less prone to clogging.
The pattern is of the fill in type as can be seen by the border line that does not run parallel with the checkering.
All checkered lines together form a pattern. There are several different patterns are possible. Usually the edges of the checkering are defined by borders of ornament or object itself . Sometimes no borders are present. The borders are formed by the lines of stops of checkering or a very thin cutted line. This technique is called borderless checkering.
Fill in pattern
First off the outline border is cut into the wood. The space within is filled up with checkering pattern. This patterns may look a lot like angular patterns, but the difference easily can be seen, the outline border (frame) does not run parallel with the checkering lines.
Here is an example of a fill in semi flat-top pattern on left picture. On a right picture is a layout tool for marking grooves paralell to the shape of handle or gunstock.
Some americans are absolute masters when it comes to checkering some of the intriguing and most difficult patterns. Occasionally, fancy checkering is seen on expensive European guns.
On the picture of a exceptionally beautiful Parker shotgun you can see some kind of wavy patern. Made in the days when labour was relatively cheap and people still had the patience to spend countless hours on the perfect execution of very complex checkering patterns.
European way to approach checkering was a lot more practical. Simple and angular patterns being the norm on even the most expensive guns. Under influence of American examples, Europeans have started to put more emphasis on the design and execution of the checkering panels.
This is one of a challenging way of checkering cause the border lines are formed by the checkering itself. Most challenging is that checkering lines are should run perfectly parallel to the border grooves. A lot of care must be taken to be sure that the angles are respected. If the angles are cut right, regular diamonds are formed with their tips nicely aligned, defining the outline of the pattern.
This type of checkering is usually seen on the better grade of gun stocks. Usually all best stocks have angular pattern checkering.
The example on the right shows a point type checkering and you can see the borders run exactly parallel with the lines of the checkering making it an angular pattern.
Wrap around pattern
These patterns can either be of the fill in or angular type. Wrap around simply means that the checkering extends from one side of the stock to the other.
The photo on the right shows a wrap around, angular pattern. The checkering is pointed checkering at 20 lines to the inch.
Checkering in progress
На фото слева можно увидеть, как чекеринг наносится на деревянную поверхность. Сначала наносится базовая линия, а затем нарезаются параллельные ей насечки.После нанесения линий, они будут углублены отдельным резцом. Более подробно можно посмотреть в видео ниже. В материале используются современные резцы для чекеринга от фабрики Петроградъ.
On the picture you can see process of checkering applied to a wooden panel. First off the master lines are cut and then it duplicated with parallel lines. After that grooves will be deepened with a cutter. More detailed you can watch this process in video. In this materials was used checkering tools by Petrograd toolworks.
Fish scale checkering
Anoher fancy type of checkering is fish scale checkering. It is a completely different technique. Actually, it is more of a carving technique since special gauges are used.
This type of checkering quite popular in German speaking countries, but you unlikely have seen this technique being used in Britain or America.
This checkering technique is very time consuming and during cutting one most be very concentrated to prevent the scales from breaking out.
Fish scales checkers provide very good grip to the shooters hand and can be used to emphasize the beauty of the stock. However, it takes some getting used to at first.
That's all on that. Thanks for your attention. You can find checkering tools for cutting pointed checkering in our catalog.