Here is the small gathering of treasures I have gathered from different places at different points of time and for diversely different reasons. Most of them came home from Texas with me last week. Their qualification is most usually by functionality and use and then by their appearance and fit. Fit is multidimensional––fit for purpose, fit for comfort, fit for how they work and more beyond. This checkering tool is one I made and that means value added by different virtues. The fact that it works is one level but then the fact that it works well elevates it another notch or two. I made this one from a well worn file by heating the file and letting it cool to ambient temperature. Once cooled I cut it with a hacksaw, filed it, bent it by coke-heat in the forge. I cut the twin line of teeth with a saw file and then hardened the teeth again after angling the profiler on the anvil. Finally I finished the metal work by tempering in the oven. A final touch up to sharpen the teeth came from the saw file. Obviously I turned the handle and fitted the ferrule before installing the cutter into the handle. That was a decade ago. You can make checkering tools to tighter or wider widths depending on the work.
What does it do?
Basically the tool decorates aspects of our work, but then that’s not really the key reason. The work becomes decorative but the real functionality of checkering is to create handling quality to items that depend on hand holding. Hand guns and rifles with wooden parts such as grips, stocks and barrel fore-stock or fore-end are a good example of where checkering is used. Checkering aerates the hand and adds surface texture that reduces the risk of slippage and so enhances the grip exponentially. I made mine for making duck calls. The checkering serves the same purpose. Duck calls are used to call in ducks during hunting. They work amazingly well and skilled users rarely fail to draw them in. Look up gun checckering here for beautiful craftsmanship.
How we use them
By creating an initial parallel line with a straight edge, subsequent lines are created by placing one set of teeth in one of the two vee-grooves created and following the line a third row is created. Several such passes are made and before long a whole surface looks like a ploughed area. Arranging a second range of such patterns at an angle, diamond pinnacles are created as the second level works the surface. It takes practice, but the result is really neat; not just neat, stunning. You can decorate boxes and furniture using this system.