Checkering Gunstocks

A gunsmith’s overview of how he checkers a stock.

by Ray Ordorica

The fine art of checkering gunstocks is a skill most anyone with good eyesight and some patience can master. Basically, it consists in scratching up a gunstock with parallel lines and then doing it again at an angle to create diamonds in the wood finish. I have been taught, and always have done it that way, that checkering is to be done on the completely finished wood surface. So yes, it takes some guts to dig your checkering tool into a stock finish that you’ve just sweated over for perhaps weeks. Clearly you don’t want to start your checkering experience on such a finish. The courage to do that will come with experience.

The first gun I checkered was a Ruger 10/22. As I recall I also carved my monogram into that gun, though I believe it was a grave mistake to identify myself on what I now realize was mighty shoddy checkering. But one has to start somewhere, and that’s what I did.

I recently saw three guns a friend had taken in on trade for some services he had performed. The three all had neglected-looking stocks with the finish peeling off or missing entirely in patches. Any one of them would have been an excellent place to start learning how to refinish a stock, and/or apply some checkering, or maybe do some recheckering. One was a Ruger 10/22 which I nearly bought so I could say I’ve done a 10/22 properly, but in the nick of time I realized I have way too many projects in front of me as it is.


The minimum required tools are not many. Two are mandatory. The first of these is…

Read more in the September 2017 issue.

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