Just some planes restored #22: Checkering the Tote

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Blog entry by Don W posted 07-06-2012 11:23 PM 4332 reads 5 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 21: Yes, the Pre-lateral may need some extra love. Part 22 of Just some planes restored series Part 23: Expect the unexpected. »

So after posting this I had some request to show better detail on checkering. It had been a while since I checkered, but I have several firearms I did several years ago. This is just a few.

So lets look at how we would do this on a plane tote. First we need some files. I have 2 sets, 18 lines per inch and 22 lines per inch. I’m using the 18, again, because its been a while.

The four files are as follows, a 4 line cutter, a 2 line cutter, a rough single and a finish single.

First we’ll sand the tote to finish, then lay out the borders. I’ll start with a borderless again. It should come out like this.

But we’ll start with a cherry tote this time.

then we’ll lay out the borders. Note for firearms I have a bunch of templates.

But I’ll draw these freehand. Note I’m wrapping this around the back of the handle. Checkering through contours add a bit of time. I did the bloodwood shown above in one sitting. Tonight I didn’t make it.

So both sides are laid out, my magnifier lamp set up we’re ready to cut our first line.

I’m going to use the 2 line cutter. I never really liked the 4 line. It works well, but only on flat straight lines.

The idea is to cut to the border line. We’ll be using a combination of the double and single cutters.

Then just keep going, One line at a time, letting the double cutter use the last line as a guide. The trick is to get it deep enough for a good guide line.

Until one side is complete

then go back over everything one more time. I use the single cutter for this step. That way I can get all the way to the ends and keep everything clean and even. (well, that’s the theory anyhow)

Now start the same sequence again, but at about a 40 degree angle for the opposing line.

I managed to get a little further than this tonight, but must have forgot the last picture. So we’ll finish later.

So here is what I had finished last night.

Next will just just continue on side 1. After complete I’ll re-cut with the rough single cut. Then both sides get re-cut with the finish cutter. You continue with the finish until the checkers at almost to a point.

and some random shots as I cleaned it up.

And complete. You can see the one little mishap in the middle. I may be able to clean that up to.

So on to side 2.
For side 2 I’d like to present the jointer. Made for the long straight runs.

And this is as far as a got today. Off to a family affair.

More to come.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

33 comments so far

View JayT's profile


4786 posts in 1678 days

#1 posted 07-06-2012 11:44 PM

Very cool, Don. I have cleaned up checkering when refinishing stocks, but never done it from scratch. It will be interesting to watch the whole process. Is there a significance to the 40degree angle, or just because it produces a diamond shape that is pleasing to the eye?

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#2 posted 07-07-2012 12:03 AM

as far as i know its just because it produces the diamond shape. I have always just eye balled it.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View carguy460's profile


800 posts in 1803 days

#3 posted 07-07-2012 12:37 AM

Don, this is awesome! I would like to try this someday – do you have a source for the cutters? Where would you reccomend I purchase a set from?

-- Jason K

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2348 days

#4 posted 07-07-2012 12:43 AM

Thats pretty cool. I would have never thought to try something like that…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View bhog's profile


2234 posts in 2157 days

#5 posted 07-07-2012 12:47 AM

I like the idea Don.Will make for some interesting totes for sure.Do you plan on trying a knob after you have played with a few?

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#6 posted 07-07-2012 12:49 AM

I’m pretty sure mine came from brownells but that was quit a few years ago. Watch ebay as well.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#7 posted 07-07-2012 12:53 AM

Brandon, i’ve thought about the knob. Its not enough surface to checker, maybe just some knurling.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Dave's profile


11405 posts in 2307 days

#8 posted 07-07-2012 02:02 AM

Thank you Don. That is such and interesting process and detailed. Well done. I will defiantly keep this in mind.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13738 posts in 2086 days

#9 posted 07-07-2012 02:12 AM

Very nice addition to that tote, Don. Great idea to add checkering, but now rveryone will need a Don Yoda tote… :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View carguy460's profile


800 posts in 1803 days

#10 posted 07-07-2012 03:10 AM

Thanks for the links, Don…

Smitty – I agree…everyone will want a checkered Don Yoda tote now! Don – you will need to raise your tote prices now…wait, I might want one or two….hold that thought…

-- Jason K

View rance's profile


4245 posts in 2628 days

#11 posted 07-07-2012 03:22 AM

Now this is VERY interesting. Thanks for posting.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Brandon's profile


4151 posts in 2419 days

#12 posted 07-07-2012 04:32 AM

I’d like one checkered cherry tote, please. Thank you, Don. :-)

Great work—I’d like to try this sometime.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#13 posted 07-07-2012 04:09 PM

So day 2 progress has been added. I didn’t have much time in the shop today, so I didn’t get much done.

One thing I did was grabbed a crapping old knob to try out. Would it be enough? Do I need to cross hatch it somehow? Any other ideas.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Brit's profile


6736 posts in 2310 days

#14 posted 07-07-2012 11:10 PM

Don said ”You can see the one little mishap in the middle.” Errr, no I can’t. :-)

bhog said ”Do you plan on trying a knob after you have played with a few?” On second thoughts, I won’t go there. Sorry Brandon, but that did make me a chuckle. LOL.

Great explanation and photos Don. I’ve never seen or heard of these tools before, so it was great to see how they are used.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2635 posts in 2576 days

#15 posted 07-08-2012 01:38 AM

I had an uncle who checkered his own gunstocks and bows. I always wondered how he did it, but never got around to looking into the process. Those files are on a par with my Pfeil carving tools for price…wonder if I can re-purpose them….nahhh.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

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