How to carve wooden guns

Even more impressive, the guns disassemble like the real thing.

How to carve wooden guns

How to carve wooden guns

A high school sophomore in Japan has been crafting impressive full-scale replicas of military firearms. The replicas are carved from wood blocks and feature an impressive amount of detail, including working triggers and magazines.

The Facebook group Komatsu Factory was first discovered by The Firearm Blog. The group is run by an unnamed high school student in Japan who uses it to show off the complex wooden models.

How to carve wooden guns

Komatsu Factory group shows off several types of handguns, submachine guns, and pistols. The “guns” feature folding stocks, removable ammunition magazines, and Picatinny accessory rails that look like they actually work. Many of them at least partially disassemble, with a Smith & Wesson M&P 9-millimeter pistol breaking down into receiver, slide, and barrel.

How to carve wooden guns

The unnamed student has built an arsenal of wooden guns, including a Howa Type 89 assault rifle, the official weapon of the Japan Self Defense Forces, FN SCAR assault rifle, Heckler & Koch MP-7 submachine gun, and VSS Vintorez suppressed submachine gun. He’s also built a Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber anti-material rifle, but that’s positively plain compared to some of the other things he’s made.

How to carve wooden guns

The wooden guns are apparently getting more and more sophisticated as the builder becomes more skilled. His latest creation is a replica of the U.S. Army’s M110 sniper rifle, complete with working magazine that accepts dummy 7.62 millimeter bullets. The M110 even features a bolt catch, safety selector, and trigger group that will be familiar to AR-15 owners. Although the tiny parts disassemble correctly, they cannot be used to fire real bullets.

Komatsu Group’s work can be seen and followed here.

How to carve wooden gunsWood carving is a fun, accessible, and creative craft that doesn’t require a fancy studio, or equipment. All you need is a piece of wood and something sharp to carve it with. Of course, what kind of wood and what kind of carving tools you pick will affect the difficulty, safety, and result of your wood carving endeavors. In this wood carving for beginners guide, we’ll go over some of the most important information a new craftsman or craftswoman needs to know to get started. Are you looking for information and tips for wood working? Check out this introductory wood working course for more info. Otherwise, get ready to learn the basics of wood carving, and unleash your creativity!

Types of Wood Carving

While it might sound like a straightforward discipline, there are actually different types of wood carving techniques. Below is four of the main wood carving styles. It’s good to determine which style best fits your abilities, and your desired product, before purchasing materials and supplies. If you’re planning on teaching a young child how to wood carve, you might want to opt for something a little safer until they’re old enough to handle sharp objects on their own. Learning how to work with clay, or carving a piece of soap with a spoon are good, safe alternatives.

Whittling One of the oldest forms of wood carving, whittling is distinct for its sharp, textured cuts that leave knife “strokes.” The sculptures made with whittling are often very angular. Whittling is done using a whittling or a carving knife.

Relief Carving Unlike carving full sculptures out of wood, relief carving is the process of carving figures into wood. You start out with a flat panel of wood, and carve figures into it, leaving the back flat.

Carving in the Round This is like the clay sculpturing of wood cutting. Objects are smooth, angles are rounded – hence the name – and all sides are carved, unlike relief carvings.

Chip Carving Chip carving involves using a knife, chisel, and a hammer. The process is exactly as the name suggests: chipping away at a piece of wood. This can be used to create intricate patterns in wooden plates and boards.

Types of Wood

Once you’ve decided on your wood carving style, it’s time to select the type of wood you want to work with. Butternut and basswood are softer types of wood that are easier for beginners to carve. Butternut offers a nice looking grain if you’re planning to leave your sculpture unpainted. Whatever you choose, make sure you purchase the wood from an art and crafts store or wood supplier. Don’t pick up any piece of wood from your lumber pile or garage, especially if you aren’t familiar with the different kinds yet. It will only end in frustration. Below is a rundown of some of the different types of wood you can carve with, based on this chart from The Sculpture Studio.

Basswood: Easy to carve, with a fine grain. Light and cream colored. Best for whittling.

Butternut: Easy to carve, with a coarse grain. Light brown colored with a distinct wood pattern.

White Pine:Easy to carve, with a medium grain. Soft and cream colored.

Mahogany: Intermediate difficulty to carve, with a medium grain. Distinct reddish color.

Black Walnut: Hard to carve, with a medium grain. Very dark brown.

Cherry: Very hard to carve, with a fine grain. Pinkish brown with a wavy pattern.

Sugar Maple: Very hard to carve, with a fine grain. Very light cream color.

White Oak: Very hard to carve, with a medium to coarse grain. Very light, yellowish color.

Types of Wood Carving Tools

You can’t carve wood without tools! Make sure you have the proper one to fit the technique you want to use.

Chip Carving Knife: The most basic wood carving tool. Chip carving knives consist of a blade that is about an inch and a half long, with a long handle designed for comfort, so it doesn’t hurt your hand. You can find chip carving knives for around $20. Good, high-quality ones sell for around $50. If you’re serious about your craft, it’s a valuable investment. A quality chip carving knife will be made of high carbon steel and will not wear out as quickly as a cheap one.

Gouges: Gouges are curved carving tools that can scoop out large or small areas of wood, depending on how wide their sweep is. U-gouges, V-gouges, and spoon gouges… there are plenty of different types that can be used for carving, shaping, and smoothing surfaces.

Chisels: Chisels are sharp tools used with mallets for wood chipping techniques. Wood chippers can a rubber mallet on their chisel, instead of a wooden one, to reduce noise and prevent too much wear and tear on their chisel’s handle.

Wood Carving Tips

#1 – Learn how to handle a wood carving knife. Whether you’re using an x-acto knife from the garage, or you went out and purchased a fancy wood carving knife from the supply store, you need to know how to properly handle the tool before starting to dig into a piece of wood. Remember, these are sharp objects you’re working with, so you need to be careful. If you’re clumsy or unsure of yourself starting out, it’s a good idea to wear a carving glove. Wear the glove on the hand you’re holding the piece of wood with, not the hand that you’re using the knife with. Most importantly, make sure to use your wrist, and not your elbow, to control the knife. This will allow for more control over precise carvings. Also keep your knife sharp, not dull, to make carving easier.

#2 – Cut along the grain. Before you start carving, you want to determine which direction the grain of the wood is running. You can do this by carving a piece of wood out of a corner, curving out to finish the cut so the wood doesn’t rip at the end. Take note of the long, dark streaks running through the wood

#3 – Sketch out your wood cuts. Don’t rush your wood carvings. Any mistake you make is potentially permanent. You’ll have to change up your plan to integrate the mistake into the finished product, and that could sacrifice your original vision. To avoid this, it helps to lightly sketch out your cuts and carvings with a pencil. Draw out lines to cut along, and shapes to carve out. It will help you be more precise, and prevent un-fixable mistakes.

How an ace Eastern Shore wood-carver crafts his acclaimed birds

How to carve wooden guns

photo: dave cooper

Rich Smoker, a sixty-eight-year-old Maryland decoy carver, says he never begins work on one of his coveted birds until he actually feels a visualization of it bubble up inside him. “I have to be inspired,” he says. “That’s the biggest part of the entire process.”

Inspiration, as it turns out, is all around him. Smoker’s home and woodshop are on an island in the Big Annemessex River on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, right in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway, one of North America’s four major migratory bird routes. “Looking out of my window today I’ve seen buffleheads, surf scoters, and some ruddy ducks,” Smoker says. “There are some loons around, too, which is good because I’m working on a pair of them right now.”

And if the birds aren’t stirring enough, the aura of the Eastern Shore—one of the bastions of bird carving—will often do the trick. “Everyone here seems to incorporate birds in their lives,” Smoker says. “It runs in the tap water.” The area has been home to, among others, Lem and Steve Ward, two brothers who became famous carvers, as well as present-day pros such as Oliver Lawson and Mark McNair. Many consider the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, named in honor of the Wards, the Louvre of the decoy-carving world.

Smoker has picked up the carving mantle from the Wards and wears it well. He now ranks among the most decorated living carvers, with a résumé that includes more than a hundred “best in show” honors and two “best in the world” titles. His finest commissioned birds can fetch north of $20,000. And in 2019, the National Endowment for the Arts named him a National Heritage Fellow, a designation bestowed annually upon the nation’s best artists, making him one of only three decoy carvers in history to receive the honor (Lem Ward was another).

Smoker grew up on an island in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. In high school, he fell hard for duck hunting but rarely had money for decoys. His father, a high school industrial arts teacher, suggested he use the woodshop to learn how to carve his own. “I took to it right away,” Smoker says.

After graduating, Smoker got a job in a local taxidermy shop and was put in charge of the birds. “I got to learn about these animals from the inside out,” he says. “I had to figure out what they were, really learn their anatomy, and then mount them in a realistic way.” Those lessons would come in handy when he decided to pursue his true calling.

In 1971, Smoker—who had continued to carve on the side—attended a carving show at what was then the Ward Foundation with his father. “I walked through those doors and immediately realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he says. It took a while to get there, but by 1979, Smoker was carving full-time. Three years later, he and his wife moved to the Eastern Shore.

An individual bird, be it waterfowl or woodland, can take a day to complete (though he once carved, painted, and finished one at a festival in an hour), or it can take ten months, depending on the size and intricacy. To start, Smoker knocks out some highly detailed life-size dimensional drawings of the bird. Then he cuts a block of wood—usually white pine, white cedar, or tupelo—with a band saw and begins chopping out the rough form with a hatchet. He uses handmade knives and, occasionally, when his carpal tunnel syndrome flares, a power tool, to sculpt the form. Then comes the painting, which he says is his favorite part. “It’s really important. You can do a hell of a decoy, but if you can’t paint, you have a problem.”

The magic of a carving, Smoker says, isn’t in the flashy feathers—it’s in the eyes. “If you can look into the eyes and see the soul of the animal, you’ve accomplished what you’re after.” He learned much about the individuality of birds from an aviary he once owned; on the ground within, he embedded an old heating drum to sit in, so he could get face-to-face with the pintail, mandarin ducks, and other birds he kept.

Since the advent of lighter and hardier plastics in the 1950s and 1960s, hunters rarely use wooden decoys for their original purpose. His clients consider Smoker’s decoys collectible art, a historical continuation of the ones the Wards and other past masters, like Elmer Crowell and Charles Perdew, made. Smoker himself, though, still hunts ducks over some of his own wooden decoys, ones he modeled after a Ward brothers’ pattern. “Their patterns hadn’t been hunted over for seventy years, so I decided to make a rig of them,” he says.

These days, Smoker spends much of his time passing down the tradition. He’s taught more than three thousand people the art of hand carving decoys in classes and workshops all over the country. Among his prize pupils: his ten-year-old granddaughter, who has already won a competition. “The past is important,” Smoker says. “But so is the future.”

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Storing your carving tools

Re: Storing your carving tools

I’ve seen some super studios with drawers and racks for storing tools. Â But for the most part all mine are kept in two large tackle boxes. Â At first I had that blue styrofoam insulation cut into squares and pushed onto the ends of the blades. Â Worked pretty well, too, but took up a lof space.

Then I discovered vinyl tubing in the hardware store. Â There are enough different sizes to have just the right size to fit snugly ove the ends of all my knives and gouges, and now the space saved in the tool boxes is double what I had before. The stuff is round, so all you have to do is get a piece of tube slightly smaller than you blade , squeeze it and it goes oval and will vit over the blade and stay snug until you want to remove it. Â If it wears out, it’s cheap to replace.

Comment

Re: Storing your carving tools

I also use the canvas rolls but more often than not when I am doing a carving the tools end up in my tool box by the dozens. Not good for the tools just one rub on another tool and it can really dull your tools. I like the sound of the plastic tubing but then again when I get carving I dont always put one tool back before using another. Are you guys the same you get so wrapped up in the carving all of a sudden you have a dozen tools strewn all over the place. I am not convinced the canvas rolls are the best I seem to cut myself every time trying to put the tools back into the rolls. Mind you I guess I could wear a carving glove .
Colin

Comment

  • Join Date: Mar 2002
  • Posts: 255

Re: Storing your carving tools

I use a series of tool rolls for my knives and gouges, and keep them in a canvus bag. I have another bag with all my sharpening stuff in it. My large tools are in my shop hung up, but they don’t get the use my smaller ones do. I got to quit buying tools. running out of room.
Ric

Responsible gun owners everywhere are banding together. We have a need to protect our second amendment rights, care for our families, and educate others on how to use guns safely and well.

Custom carving shows a deeper level of gun care. It can be:

  1. A unique expression of you and your personality
  2. A one-of-a-kind gift for someone special
  3. A way to memorialize a date and occasion
  4. An heirloom to pass on to your children
  5. A one-of-a-kind piece of art in a time of mass production
  1. Call Ryan at 970-749-4239 or email him here. (Note – that number does not accept texts. If you like to text, do so at 970-422-0098.)
  2. Discuss possibilities for your project with Ryan over the phone and send pictures as needed. See some of Ryan’s carvings for ideas.
  3. Get your gunstock to Ryan personally or through the mail along with your check for part of the estimated price.
  4. Communicate with Ryan back and forth on design details.
  5. Ryan will carve your gunstock, communicate with you about any final details, and get you your stock back upon receipt of the balance of the payment.

We have a report available for anyone who wants to always be able to distinguish laser carvings from hand carvings. Email us here to request the report “Don’t Be Fooled! How to tell laser art from the real deal.”

  • Posts
  • Latest Activity
  • Photos

Storing your carving tools

Re: Storing your carving tools

I’ve seen some super studios with drawers and racks for storing tools. Â But for the most part all mine are kept in two large tackle boxes. Â At first I had that blue styrofoam insulation cut into squares and pushed onto the ends of the blades. Â Worked pretty well, too, but took up a lof space.

Then I discovered vinyl tubing in the hardware store. Â There are enough different sizes to have just the right size to fit snugly ove the ends of all my knives and gouges, and now the space saved in the tool boxes is double what I had before. The stuff is round, so all you have to do is get a piece of tube slightly smaller than you blade , squeeze it and it goes oval and will vit over the blade and stay snug until you want to remove it. Â If it wears out, it’s cheap to replace.

Comment

Re: Storing your carving tools

I also use the canvas rolls but more often than not when I am doing a carving the tools end up in my tool box by the dozens. Not good for the tools just one rub on another tool and it can really dull your tools. I like the sound of the plastic tubing but then again when I get carving I dont always put one tool back before using another. Are you guys the same you get so wrapped up in the carving all of a sudden you have a dozen tools strewn all over the place. I am not convinced the canvas rolls are the best I seem to cut myself every time trying to put the tools back into the rolls. Mind you I guess I could wear a carving glove .
Colin

Comment

  • Join Date: Mar 2002
  • Posts: 255

Re: Storing your carving tools

I use a series of tool rolls for my knives and gouges, and keep them in a canvus bag. I have another bag with all my sharpening stuff in it. My large tools are in my shop hung up, but they don’t get the use my smaller ones do. I got to quit buying tools. running out of room.
Ric

How to Carve Wood

A word about Safe carving:

When the chips are flying with gouges and mallets, or when using any power tool, wear safety glasses . Your eyes are your most valuable tool; protect them.

If you are using power tools that create dust, be sure to wear a dust mask . Wood can contain toxic fungi, and some woods themselves can be hazardous.

While applying force to push a knife or gouge through wood, tools frequently slip. Always keep your hands behind the tool’s sharp edge. Do not hold the wood in your lap while carving. Always try to secure the work piece on a table or in a vise so that both hands are free to control the tools. Cuts often happen when one hand is trying to hold the piece and the other hand is pushing hard on the tool – and it slips. Secure the work piece, and keep both hands on the tool and behind the sharp edge.

Use common sense. Listen to the voice of self preservation. Every time, just before I hurt myself, there was a little voice in my head saying “you shouldn’t be doing this, it’s unsafe.” Ignoring that little voice, even for a second, may result in a trip to the first aid kit.

Speaking of first aid, be sure to keep a well-equipped first aid kit handy.

Wood Grain

Wood is composed of longitudinal cells lying parallel to each other and running in a roughly straight direction from the roots of the tree to the leaf canopy.

Note: The grain in a board doesn’t always follow the parallel sides of the board. It often angles slightly up or down, or can even take unexpected dips and curves. So when carving, you may have to change direction of the chisel to keep the wood from splintering. Cutting cross grain, at about a 45 degree angel, can help solve this problem.

How to carve wooden guns

Carving with the Grain:

To carve efficiently, your tools must be razor sharp. They should leave a shiny cut through the wood, with no white streaks that indicate a nick in the blade.

To determine the direction of the grain, look at the long cell fibers. The darker streaks of the annual rings can help indicate the direction of the grain.

Carve in a downward direction onto the parallel lines of grain. Note, if the wood seems to be tearing, and your tools are sharp, then you are probably going in the wrong direction. Turn around and carve in the opposite direction.

You can also carve diagonally across the grain and even parallel to it, but if you carve upwards against the grain, it will only tear and splinter the wood.

Carving parallel to the grain can be disasterous. It can raise a long splinter of wood that runs under an area of detail that you wanted to save.

How to carve wooden guns How to carve wooden guns

Using a Knife

When working on a small carving that can be held in the hand, hold the wood in the left hand (assuming you are right handed), the knife in the right.

Keep the left hand behind the knife and use the left thumb on the blunt side of the blade to act like a fulcrum to control the cut. With the thumb stationary, rotate your right hand and wrist to make the cut.

In this position, if the knife should slip, you will not be cut. The knife should never go flying uncontrolably out off the piece of wood.

You can also hold the knife as though you were peeling an apple. Just be careful not to nick your thumb.

How to carve wooden guns

Using Gouges

Hold the handle in the palm of the right hand to push the gouge; hold the metal shaft with the left hand to guide the cut. With your left hand firmly holding the metal shaft of the gouge and resting on the wood, it can act like a brake so that the tool does not slip out of control when pushed forward. Use your body weight to help push the tool.

How to carve wooden guns

Roughing out

Remove as much of the scrap wood as possible with a band saw or chain saw.

The most common mistake of first time-carvers is that they are not aggressive enough in removing material. They never get past the square shape of the original block. Don’t be afraid to round out the basic shapes.

Start with large U-gouges to remove the maximum amount of material. Establish large shapes first. A good way to do that is to define the major planes of the object being carved.

Work from the large forms to the small details, large chisels to small. If you have not established the large shapes that define the form first, no amount of beautiful detail laid on top will save ill-defined forms.

Adding the Details

After the structure has been established, you can begin to put in the details with the smaller U-gouges, V-gouges, and veiners (small U-gouges) that will define smaller shapes.

At this point, it is important to keep tools razor-sharp if you intend to leave the tool marks as the final texture. Any nicks in the tool’s edge will leave white lines in the cut and detract from the final appearance.

If you want to leave chisel marks as the final texture, concentrate on following the contour of the shapes, as though the marks are wrapping around the shape.

How to carve wooden guns

Follow the step-by-step carving of a life-size figure in wood, from gluing up the block, to carving with mallet and chisels, and then applying the finish.
Click carving a figure.

How to carve wooden guns

See details of a 5’x12′ wall mural carved out of eight different types of wood. The mural depicts scenes of the Eastern Pennsylvania countryside, from wild life scenes on the left side. to Amish and farming scenes on the right.

Types of Wood

Types of wood for carving.

Wood Carving Tools

See some of the tools for carving.

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to see more in-progress photos of making sculpture.

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How to carve wooden guns

Different Gun Checkering Styles

Most gun and firearm stocks are fairly basic. However, checkering is a type of surface treatment intended to enhance the shooter’s grip in specific areas, such as the wrist, pistol grip, or fore-end. It also can be done solely for decorative purposes. Checkering consists of intersecting lines on the wood or synthetic surface of firearm stocks. While technology advancements have allowed the art of gun stock checkering to be done by machine, many still prefer to do it by hand, which requires the best checkering tools.

At Ramelson, we have a wide selection of checkering tools as well as gun stock checkering kits that are perfect for those looking to enhance the grip on their fireman stock. Our checkering tools can be used for several styles. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular gun checkering techniques.

Pointed Checkering

Pointed checkering is the most common style of checkering for firearm stocks. If you have held a gun with a checkered stock, chances are the stock was enhanced with a pointed checkering technique. With pointed checkering, the rows of parallel grooves are cut under a 90-degree angle. In some cases, the groves are cut at a 60-degree angle. This type of checkering consists of sharply pointed diamonds that help enhance the grip as well as the decorative appeal of a gun stock.

Flat Top Checkering

Flat top checkering is a traditional checkering technique. Tools are used to cut grooves under a zero-degree angle. Once complete, the stock will have shallow grooves with parallel walls cut into the wood. You would often see this style of checkering on historic British military rifles, but isn’t as commonly seen on today’s gun stocks. While flat top checkering has an appealing look to it, one of the downfalls of the technique is that the grooves can easily fill up with debris and increase the need for stock maintenance and cleaning. Another downfall is that, as the name suggests, the checking is flat rather than sharp. Therefore, it doesn’t offer much grip. Because the checkering is flat, however, it is more comfortable on heavy recoiling guns or on lengthened shooting sessions.

Semi-Flat Top Checking

As you can probably tell from the name, this style of checkering offers a middle ground between pointed checkering and flat top checkering. Semi-flat top checkering involves grooves cut at a 60-degree angle. Some semi-flat checkering is done at a 90-degree angle. Because the grooves are shallower, there are no pointed tops to the diamonds. This checkering style came to light mostly to resemble English flat top checkering, but with improvements in the area of grooves clogging up with debris.

Checkering Patterns

Checkering lines together form a pattern on gun stocks and the pattern possibilities are seemingly endless. Typically, the edges of the checkering patterns are defined by borders — borders can be created by the checkering lines themselves or a more detailed line. The panel space within the border is often filled in with angular or fill-in patterns. Checkering angular patterns is a challenge, but when performed correctly, the pattern will form diamonds with nicely-aligned tips to help define the outline of the pattern. Angular pattern checkering is most commonly seen on higher-grade stocks.

Master Checkering With the Best Checkering Tools

If you are interested in checkering firearm stock yourself, you’re going to need the right tools to do so. At Ramelson, you’ll find a wide selection of checkering tools as well as other essential gunsmithing tools. Shop our selection of individual checkering tools or save money by ordering a gun stock checkering kit. Click here to learn more.