Pistol Grips

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Project by Hoosierdaddy posted 02-23-2012 12:06 AM 3310 views 4 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First off, a tip of the hat to all the folks here on LJ that I was able to draw from their experiences after they had completed similar projects. This sawdust maker is humbly standing on the shoulders of giants.

This project was for the brother of one of my oldest daughters friends. This young man served this country honorably in Iran as a Marine. The parents had approached me sometime back to try to recreate the pewter pistol grips they had purchased. The problem with pewter is that it’s an incredibly soft metal. Being screwed onto the frame and then after a few clips are shot thru the pistol, the screw holes become enlarged and eventually the grips are rattling. They tried to return them with no luck, so buyer beware!

I started out with blanks of sycamore, curly maple, birds-eye maple and cherry. After five or six attempts I finally got this set of birds-eye maple grips that I’m happy with. Given that these grips are for a war hero, I wanted nothing less than perfection, so problems with the first grips that I would be willing to live with on my own gun I would not permit myself to give to him for his.

These grips are for a 1911 .45ACP, Mr. Colt’s finest. The template was the pewter grips, then after excruciating careful measurements I drilled the holes, back drilled the backside of the grips as needed to accommodate the mechanisms and protrusions on the pistol. The Marine pins were purchased from an online store, I’m sure to augment traditional uniforms, that they gave to me to set into the grips. I think I used a 1-1/8” forstner bit to make the “hole” they’re sitting in, then additional holes to allow for the mounting studs to protrude all the way thru. I’m reasonably sure that in time the finish will wear off these pins, hence my reluctance to just poly over the top of the pin and the wood. It would have certainly “seated” the pin to the wood, but it may have created problems down the road if the pin needed to be replaced.

As you’ll see on other folks’ projects, the main hole thru the grip is 15/64”, with small recesses on the back to allow for the stud on the gun frame that accepts the mounting screws. The front was drilled out with a standard 21/64” bit, not to deep, for screws to sit in. I fretted for a couple of weeks how to do this particular portion of the work. If there was such a thing as a 6 or 7mm forstner bit that MIGHT have worked but in the end I’m much happier with this. My first few grips I experimented with a 5/16” forstner bit and couldn’t quite get the forstner hole centered over the original pilot hole. I ended up creating a little jig for my drill press that I clamped the grip down to, then inserted a 15/64” bit in the press, centered the grip onto that bit, clamped the jig that was holding the grip into place, backed out the 15/64” bit, inserted the 21/64” bit and CAREFULLY drilled the countersinks to receive the screws. I apologize for having diarrhea of the fingers, just wanted to let you all know how I skinned this cat. I think my process assured that both holes were aligned with each other after having been double clamped, grip to the jig and then jig to the drill press.

When all was finally said and done, four coats of tung oil was applied, with a mild buffing of 0000 steel wool in between applications.

The upside of the whole project is I was able to justify getting a new set of nice P-C forstner bits, digital calipers, tung oil, danish oil, wipe on poly and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. All told probably $125 in stuff, before I bought any wood. The wood came from the friends at Northwest Lumber (northwest side of Indianapolis….a must visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood).

Looking to deliver the grips tonight to his parents and they’ll in turn give to him. I plan to hem and haw about a final price for the grips, hoping that I can get away with saying “I’ll get back to them after I think about it for a bit.” I honestly have no intention of charging them, or him for these. He’s more than paid a price with his service and I just don’t feel right asking for anything.

thanks for looking!
God Bless these United States of America!

-- I don't know what this is going to be like, but there's only one way to find out..........

25 comments so far

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2455 days

#1 posted 02-23-2012 12:13 AM

That’s beautiful, and a great sentiment. Anything we can do for the people that keep us safe in our workshops is worth every bit of time put into it.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 02-23-2012 12:17 AM

Very nice, havent ventured to make a set for my pistol yet.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View a1Jim's profile


117242 posts in 3726 days

#3 posted 02-23-2012 12:21 AM

Very impressive ,work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2557 days

#4 posted 02-23-2012 12:30 AM

Those will REALLY dress up his pistol.

Good job!

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View dakremer's profile


2730 posts in 3241 days

#5 posted 02-23-2012 01:11 AM

you should go work for Red Jacket :) hehe

Cool gun!!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2441 days

#6 posted 02-23-2012 02:12 AM

Semper fi. Love the 45 acp. The older I get and the more I shoot it versus other handguns, the more I appreciate the caliber and the 1911. John Browning was pure genius and you’ve done well by his memory.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Kevin's profile


63 posts in 3213 days

#7 posted 02-23-2012 02:23 AM

One of the best items I’ve seen here!

Good luck in dodging the parents’ insisting on paying for the grips. You’re right, the young man AND his parents have paid more than their “fair share,” and they paid in something far more valueable than money. How many good nights sleep to you think the parents got while he was on duty.

View marines087's profile


23 posts in 2463 days

#8 posted 02-23-2012 02:51 AM

I am pretty jealous, i would love to get a stock 1911 so i could get some grips that look as good as those do.

View Josh's profile


36 posts in 2445 days

#9 posted 02-23-2012 03:20 AM

Awesome grips!

-- Josh, Columbus, GA

View SisQMark's profile


384 posts in 2749 days

#10 posted 02-23-2012 03:27 AM

Nice grips, you did well. Just an idea, you could use some epoxy to coat them & seal the emblems in at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

-- Don't waste today, it is yesterdays tomorrow!~SisQMark

View waho6o9's profile


8438 posts in 2726 days

#11 posted 02-23-2012 03:49 AM

Most excellent work Hoosierdaddy.

View mark76wa's profile


97 posts in 3544 days

#12 posted 02-23-2012 05:14 AM

That is awesome. I like it.

View Hoosierdaddy's profile


81 posts in 2791 days

#13 posted 02-23-2012 12:27 PM

Thanks to all for your kind comments. Was able to sidestep the payment issue somewhat awkwardly last night dropping off these grips….think it’s a dead issue.

thanks for the correction HillBillyShooter, it was Mr. Browning’s design, could have swore otherwise!

Also, with all the talk of Iran on the boob tube of late I meant to say that this you man served in IRAQ, not that other sandbox!

God Bless these United States of America

-- I don't know what this is going to be like, but there's only one way to find out..........

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3613 days

#14 posted 02-23-2012 04:35 PM

Excellent work for a worthy cause. My thanks to you, sir.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 3583 days

#15 posted 02-23-2012 05:41 PM

Bravo my friend. Excellent work. I’ve done a few of these in the last year and I can tell you that the drilling is the toughest part. After that it’s just shaping and finish.

Your finish is superb. Not a single grit streak to be seen. Very commendable.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

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