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Checkering cradle from Australia.....and some samples

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22 August 2019, 15:53
Checkering cradle from Australia.....and some samples
From forum member Juglansregia here in Tasmania......

......beautifully made, if anyone wants details I can either post them here or PM

22 August 2019, 22:58
That is a serious cradle Gordon, job well done.

Some nice looking blanks in the background too.
25 August 2019, 17:06
Some of the jobs done by Gordon on this cradle.......

Second last job....

Boswell 450

older American style on 30-06

not on the cradle, but a bolt handle

WR fore-end and a close-up

Buffalo horn

gotta start somewhere

and a couple more....

26 August 2019, 02:10
Nice work ! Thanks for showing us.
26 August 2019, 07:32
Awesome checkering. Where does one find a border tool to cut like the last pattern? Ron
26 August 2019, 11:19
Thanks for the comments.

Ron, I cannot answer your question exactly sorry. DemBart or Gunline, cannot remember, used to do border tools and maybe still do. Not used them in years. The ones I tried, I found too coarse. At least some of them can be filed up, reshaped and sharpened to get the radius you want in a border tool. There are many other border variations I've seen used. The concave mullered one in the pics is fairly common and I imagine commercial tools can be had easily still.

I had severe problems getting consistent checkering cutters before the Ullman and Steve Earle cutters came unto the market, so I started making my own including spacing tools. After a bit of experimenting, they do very well for me but take some time to make well.

I'd imagine Mr Earle or Mr Ullman could supply what you specify. If not such a border tool is perhaps the easiest checkering tool to make from HSS stock bent, forged and filed to shape before cutting the teeth by hand. With good steel it's not even really vital to heat treat and temper - though it's a good idea to do so. Mullered border tools can do a lot of good work "soft". The ones I make and have seen, all cut by scraping action, very easy to make and keep sharp.

Comments for those contemplating a bit of checkering:

The biggest factors I've learned in my checkering efforts, which are by no means the best, is to control the lighting (suitable bulbs HARD to get down here), the holding of the work, get good consistent tools, and most importantly learn what is good wood to checker! A lot of walnut really is less than ideal. Punters tend to be obsessed with beauty, not the structural qualities of the blanks. With blank hawkers and the internet bargains that many customers love, I have checkered some real junk wood that I should probably have rejected in hindsight. If you get a blank, take a chisel to it, checker a patch.....if it really doesn't come up to expectations send it back. If you want to do good checkering, choose wood that checkers well. If you want to do good inletting, choose wood that inlets well. If you want to do good work, reject wood that compromises such prospects significantly. Don't be an obliging fool, trying to make good of an unlikely job. You'll regret it, and you'll be the one who suffers the most. Trust me on that if nothing else.

On a hunting rifle, I think there is a practical limit to functional (pointed-up) checkering of 24LPI. 20 and 22 gives more grip and wears a little better. If you want to show off and do 32LPI on fine wood, go for it. I've done some of that and it's fun. Practical, not so much.

Oh and with flat-top checkering, take time to study original English and Scots guns and rifles. You'll soon learn the spacings they used etc etc. And other little tips - for example which hands cut the bottom of flat checkering to what profiles. Such details are often omitted on restoration work, and can often only be replicated to original specs if the tool is especially made. With flat-top checkering, your spacing must be first class and the depth pretty even - or you'll look like a fool. If you can space very cleanly and hold the trench width and spacing while checkering, I find it a little quicker to do. NOT easier though - if you make any but a small mistake it's hard to cover without scrubbing and starting over! If you study good flat top work in-hand from a genuine master, under magnification, you will see what must be done. That's the best start to it.
31 August 2019, 08:46
Beautiful work.

Stunning wood too.