When people ask me what I am doing these days, I often find that difficult to describe. I do my best to explain the concept of enhancing hand made wooden objects with a laser and they invariably ask “How in the World did you get into that?”. That is a strange story. a wooden hand plane

I have pursued woodworking my whole life. The books by James Krenov (A Cabinetmakers Notebook, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking and The Impractical CabinetMaker in particular) were inspirational to me. I was especially struck, not only by his use of hand planes, but that he made these tools himself to fit his hands. I decided over 25 years ago that this was something I must master. Thus I started making hand planes.

I made quite a few and I use them everyday. Then one day this odd idea popped into my head. I had never seen a hand plane with checkering added for the grip like a rifle stock. So I began to research the craft of gun stock checkering. Laser checkered planesThis lead me to read several books and took me to a few scary gun owner web sites. I bought some checkering files and started my pursuit of this tedious art. In my research I discovered that most modern gun stocks are checkered with lasers. Lasers? I thought. This took me off to explore the abilities of laser engraving. I thought lasers were interesting and more than a little bit cool. I went to trade shows and watched every demonstration I could. I thought perhaps, I could use laser engraving to fund my woodworking pursuits and well as, of course, have checkered hand planes. The only ones in the world to the best of my knowledge.

Recently, I was contacted by the Irish Setters Club of Greater Tucson about some awards for a dog show. They wanted an award that was simple and understated but symbolized the sport of gun dogs. These dogs are trained to fetch quail. The dog and the rifle and the shooter work together. We tried several standard borders and the typical “First Place” “awarded to” trophy, when the idea came to me once again; Why not gun checkering? After all this familiar pattern is certainly well know to gun enthusiasts. We could even use a Remington or Winchester diamond pattern for the checkering. One of the club members had drawn a lovely quail graphic used by the club (these folks are really into this as I am sure are the dogs). So perhaps just a quail and gun checkering as a border. The plaque to the right is the result. The members were thrilled and the plaques were noticed by representatives of the ASPCA.

The wonderful lady who developed these plaques with me told me they were a big hit and no one has ever seen such a thing. I was relating this story to her and she mentioned I had quite a background. Isn’t it wonderful how one thing can lead to another and to another. I suppose one could say I have a checkered past.