Custom Pistol Grips

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Project by McLeanVA posted 1158 days ago 2953 views 4 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A coworker of mine was looking through my cutting boards (LVDTs) a few weeks ago and asked if I was interested in making a set of custom grips for his 1911 pistol. I was a bit nervous in taking on the challenge, because I wasn’t sure how involved the process was.

I created a few test grips and learned a good bit along the way. The toughest part was getting the drill holes precise. The holes are 15/64” with 1mm recessed 9/32” openings on both bottom and top of the grip to accept the handle and set screws. Again, it took a good amount of finesse work to get the holes perfect. The first 2 sets of grips went into the scrap pile.

Ultimately I made him 2 sets of finished grips. One set of Sapele and one set of Curly Maple. It was a pretty fun project and he was really happy with the outcome.

Looking forward to creating a few more for him. His next challenge for me is to create some grips that look like my cheese boards (LCDTs) and combine some contrasting species in varying thicknesses.

Overall, tons of sanding involved, but well worth the effort in the end.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

14 comments so far

View CiscoKid's profile


317 posts in 1500 days

#1 posted 1158 days ago

Sweet! I’ve been thinking of doing this exact project for my own 1911 for a while. It currently has checkered cocobolo grips and I was thinking of bocote or kingwood to dress it up. Looks like that 1911 in your photo has had some work done. I see a Videcki speed trigger and a skeletonized Delta hammer. Nice work.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View docholladay's profile


1286 posts in 1686 days

#2 posted 1158 days ago

I’ve been contemplating doing this type of project on my old WWII vintage S&W revolver. I just haven’t been able to get up the nerve to try it yet. I have some nice pieces of scrap wood that would really look good for something like this. Thanks for posting.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View McLeanVA's profile


465 posts in 2061 days

#3 posted 1158 days ago

Thanks Al. You lost me on “Videcki”. :)

I’m not a pistol owner and know very little about them. I’ll trust that you know what you’re talking about.

If you need some pointers, shoot me a PM and I can step you through the process. Pretty simple really, but if you miss the drill holes by a smidge it’s all downhill. I hope this project inspires you to give it a try.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

615 posts in 1894 days

#4 posted 1158 days ago

looks real nice!

View zwwizard's profile


189 posts in 2336 days

#5 posted 1158 days ago

Very nice. 1911’s aren’t the easiest to do. Here’s a set on a old colt. Hand formed and fitted out of Rosewood.

-- Richard

View Roger's profile


14318 posts in 1431 days

#6 posted 1158 days ago

very nice. that grain really pops. what did you use for finish? thnx

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View McLeanVA's profile


465 posts in 2061 days

#7 posted 1158 days ago

@Roger. I used Watco Danish Oil (x3 coats #0000 steel wool in between coats) only because I had it on hand and had great success with it. After that cured, I used 2 coats of wipe-on satin poly (#0000 steel wool in between coats) and a final misting of spray on semi-gloss poly to add some sparkle to it. Didn’t want them to turn out too glossy and show off inevitable dents in the future.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View MedicKen's profile


1599 posts in 2089 days

#8 posted 1158 days ago

I made a set for my 1911 as well from Walnut. They did turn out nice after the first were drilled too deep for the screws. I dodnt realize they were too deep until the magazine would not fit, it hit the screws.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Wiggy's profile


283 posts in 1164 days

#9 posted 1158 days ago

Nice! Would be interested in see the Sapele wood set.
What is Sapele wood?
You should be proud of yourself.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard/Wiggy.. whatever. Washington, State.

View stratiA's profile


100 posts in 2002 days

#10 posted 1158 days ago

I have been on the fence about make a set of these for my 1911’s. I happened to pick up a piece of cocobollo today to make some duck calls. There should be plenty leftover to make a set. Hmmmm….there, decision made!

-- Strati Alepidis, Burlington, Ma, Member Red Sox nation

View CiscoKid's profile


317 posts in 1500 days

#11 posted 1157 days ago

“I’m not a pistol owner and know very little about them. I’ll trust that you know what you’re talking about.”

I never leave the house without one. Springfield Armory TRP, Hecker & Koch USP, Sig Sauer P226, S&W snub nose, etc… I own more holsters than my wife owns purses. Something for every occassion and season. ; ) Can’t be too careful.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View interpim's profile


1124 posts in 2085 days

#12 posted 1157 days ago

I enjoyed making grips for a friends 1911 a while back… I know what you mean by lots of sanding.

Click for details

-- San Diego, CA

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1320 days

#13 posted 1157 days ago

Excellent job! For a few thousand more, you can get Ed Brown to make them for you;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View t. rector's profile

t. rector

31 posts in 1300 days

#14 posted 1157 days ago

nothing better than woodworking and guns, my two favorite hobbies, I have often thought of this project but I can’t bring myself to remove the stock grips on my kimber they just feel too good in my paws…very nice work, I might get board on day and try this out….great job

-- I often wonder "how did I get this lucky?"..t rec

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