Choosing Wood - Custom Checkering by Sherry Abraham

Go to content

Main menu:

Choosing Wood

A short note about choosing wood when starting a new project.

I work on a lot of types of wood. The most common wood for stock making is Walnut. It holds up well and is nice to work on. I see a lot of Claro Walnut. Usually, the higher the grade of wood, the more marbled it will appear. The English Walnut is usually nice & even, not so much figure in the wood, and a lighter color. Most of these nice walnut blanks will run you about $300 and up, depending on the grade.

Fiddleback or Tiger Striped
Sometimes with the 'Fiddleback" pieces, the diamonds will appear elongated in the striped areas.

PLEASE avoid using Maples when choosing a blank, unless you intend to leave it uncheckered.
The problem with Maple is that usually it leaves a "fuzz". The wood is not smooth and although it will appear smooth beefore checkering, once it is cut into, the fuzz appears. Sometimes, like with the Satin Maple, it will come out fine, other won't be able to see the diamonds in the checkering due to the "fuzzy" appearance. I've heard it described as looking like a rug, or having a ragged appearance. Sometimes it's a small patch of fuzz, strips of fuzz here & there, other times it's all over the stock. Also see my section on "Got Fuzzy Wood?".
Birdseye Maple is perhaps one of my least favorite type of wood. I once checkered a stock made of Birdseye Maple. The owner had filled many tiny knot holes that had appeared while he was shaping and sanding the stock. Well, once I checkered it, there were over 100 tiny holes in my work! Each one may be filled, and repaired, but what a job!!

Exotic Woods
These are perhaps the hardest and take the checkering the best! The harder the wood (with the exception of Ironwood), the more defined your checkering will appear. Don't forget to checker your grip cap or butt pad, especially if its a rosewood, ebony or other type of hardwood. Remember, hardwoods are also very heavy, so they are not practical for stock making.

Speaking of IronWood
This is the one area where I will put my foot down. I will no longer even attempt to checker Ironwood. I have done it twice and it won't happen again!  :-)

Back to content | Back to main menu