Gunstock Carving Tools

Carve a gunstock from scratch, or carve patterns into an existing stock.

Carving a gunstock can be rewarding and fun. It only has to be as elaborate as you choose it to be, and sometimes just cutting into grain patterns can have a magical affect. It takes a few tools that are easy to come by, and with a little patience and persistence, you can create a work of art that is functional and beautiful.


There are thousands of gunstock styles with thousands of configurations. When attempting to carve a gunstock, it’s absolutely essential that you start out with a plan. This plan should include a template. You can draw up your own template, but it’s best to download one from the Internet, cut it out and trace it on your gunstock wood blank.

Power Tools

Power tools are essential to begin the carving out of a gunstock. A blank is too large to carve down by hand. After the template drawing is traced onto the blank, the band saw is used to cut along the template lines. The next power tool to use is a drill press with a 3/4-inch Forstner bit. This is used to bore clean holes through the wood blank. A handheld power drill with a sanding attachment is used to blend any rough edges.

Rasps and Files

Once the gunstock has been roughed out, a medium or large tooth wood rasp is used to blend and round corners. Rasps are also used to form profiles and sweeping curves in the wood. When the curves get small, round files are used to finish inside tight corners.

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One overlooked tool in gunstock carving is the wood scraper. This is an extremely sharp steel-hardened blade set at 90 degrees to the handle. It’s used to blend and remove wood in long strokes, leaving a smooth surface area.

Gouges, Chisels and Knives

Hand-carving tools are used to give gunstocks aesthetic appeal. Bench knives, or detail knives, are the beginning point for intricate carved patterns. These cut a pattern into the wood much like a pencil is used. From here, to get more refined results, gouges and chisels are used. Back-bent chisels are used to get into curves. Veining knives, dogleg chisels and V-groove chisels are applied to get sharp corners and crisp relief.

Checkering Files

A set of checkering files and knives are applied to give the gunstock the traditional meshlike checkered pattern. Checkering files are small and sharply pointed, and slightly bent on the end. These come with one to three heads fixed parallel to each other to provide perfectly balanced checkered lines.