Low-Relief Animal Scenes

Patterns & Projects

Low-Relief Animal Scenes

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Use these designs to carve gunstocks— or anything else!

By Lora S. Irish

Carving the stock can add personal value and beauty to a gun. No matter your skill level, Lora S. Irish’s new book, 35 Gunstock Carving Patterns, will help you embellish your gunstock and make it a family heirloom that will be treasured for years.

Not a hunter? These patterns aren’t limited to gunstocks—you can carve (or paint, or woodburn) them on anything!

Getting Started

Always pick a pattern that suits your skill level. If you are a beginner, you can remove elements and simplify lines; if you are more experienced, add more elements or more details to the pattern. Keep in mind the gun’s purpose, as well. You don’t want to carve a water scene onto a gun used for deer hunting; you also don’t want to carve a very intricate pattern onto a gun that will be used heavily in the field.

Most gunstock patterns are relief carvings, which can be created with woodcarving tools like knives and handheld gouges. Relief carving gives the piece a rounded, dimensional look, which looks great on a gunstock.

Carving the Gunstock

To begin, assess the state of the gunstock. If it needs to be replaced, you can begin with a standard blank stock, a roughed-out stock, or a kit. Choose a hardwood such as walnut, cherry, maple, or myrtle for durability.

Carefully fit the pattern to the length, the width, and the curve of your gunstock. Use a photocopier to enlarge or reduce the pattern. Make tiny straight cuts or small V-shaped darts to fit the pattern to the curve of the stock. Transfer the pattern onto the stock using carbon or graphite paper. Carve the piece using your choice of tools.

Finishing the Gunstock

To finish the project, lightly sand the wood and remove excess wood dust with a tack cloth. Apply a hand-rubbed wax or oil finish that will enhance the grain of the wood. Test different waxes and finishes on scrap wood to determine which will be best for your gunstock. Don’t allow excess wax or oil to collect in the low spots of the design. Avoid colored finishes, high-gloss finishes, and paints.







Animal relief patterns


materials & tools


  • Gunstock or wood to replace gunstock
  • Carbon or graphite paper
  • Wax or oil finish
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth


  • Tools of choice: knives, gouges, and V-tools



Lora S. Irish is a carver, artist, author, and pattern designer.
For more of her work, visit www.carvingpatterns.com.








135 Gunstock Carving Patterns135
By Lora S. Irish

With excellent choices for every skill level, the traditional sportsman and hunting related patterns in this book are great for not only gunstocks, but also knife handles, pistol grips, duck calls, and even home dècor projects.

Availablefor $16.99 plus $3.99 S&H from FoxChapel Publishing,
1970 BroadSt., East Petersburg, Pa., 17520,800-457-9112,
www.foxchapelpublishing.com, or check your local retailer.




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