And now, a set in cherry.....

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Project by Hoosierdaddy posted 02-27-2012 01:04 AM 2152 views 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Whilst making attempts at the first set of pistol grips I made this set of grips out of a small piece of cherry left over from the toy box projects. Turned out pretty well, and think I’ll keep them for myself.

BTW, I was at Northwest Lumber and picked up blanks of Leopard and Sycamore…..they seem to be somewhat softer than the birds eye maple or this cherry but the character of the blanks were too outstanding to pass up, so I’ll be posting pics of those grips in the near future.

Also have a set of grips in walnut that are done, just waiting on an opportunity to dry fit them with the .45 of a friend of the family….hopefully tomorrow, then off to the finishing table.

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..........

6 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117340 posts in 3781 days

#1 posted 02-27-2012 01:39 AM

Good looking pistol grips.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2510 days

#2 posted 02-27-2012 01:48 AM

Nice, Cherry looks good against the black

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

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2496 days

#3 posted 02-27-2012 04:00 AM

Very nice. Looks like you’ve got it down to a fine art. I’ve looked at making these grips, and it is a lot harder than it appears at first glance. I’m sure you will enjoy shooting with them.

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

View Jeremiah's profile


82 posts in 2528 days

#4 posted 02-27-2012 02:23 PM

what did you use to make them? if you don’t mind, I’d love to hear the order of tools used. (ie bandsaw, router, then belt sander..ect) I’ve got an older Ruger mark 2 that i would like to redo the grips on and was wondering what it would take.


View usabirddog's profile


23 posts in 2501 days

#5 posted 02-27-2012 11:05 PM

grips look great on the 1911 great job

View Hoosierdaddy's profile


81 posts in 2845 days

#6 posted 02-28-2012 01:07 PM

Hi Jeremiah, for your information and the benefit of the others here’s the way I do it….

I start off with a blank, usually it’s 3/4” thick, so lacking a band saw I cut it down using my tablesaw to the point where it’s about 3/8” thick, maybe a little thicker. Making multiple passes thru a table saw leaves one surface pretty uneven, so I take it next to the planer, good side down, table saw/bad side up, and make a few minor passes to take away the worst and hopefully end up a trued and clean surface and still have an overall depth of right about 3/8” thickness.

Then, it’s off to trace the outline of grips, using the factory grips that came with the pistol. That way you can be assured that when you make your pencil marks, it’ll be slightling outside the actual size you need, allowing you to sand down to a proper size for width and height and most importantly you’ll get the hole placement and location down for the mounting screws.

I cut the shapes of the grips out using the scroll saw. Nothing fancy here, just a normal blade and a steady hand. Had to use a spiral cut blade for an indentation on the right grip to allow for a screw on the frame of the pistol.

Next I head off to the drill press, drill the thru holes for the mounting screws, in this case 15/64”. Once those holes are set I clamp the piece onto the jig I described in the first set of Pistol Grips to make sure the 15/64” bit is perfectly aligned with the already drilled hole. Then, without changing anything on the set up I carefully replace the 15/64” bit with 3/8” forstner bit to back drill the BACK of the grip to accomodate the screw mounting stud on the frame of the pistol. Don’t go too deep, just enough to at least establish the hole, you can always come back later and make it deeper if you need….the point here with the jig is to get the forstner bit hole centered over the 15/64” hole. Obviously do this for both holes, both grips.

Take the piece out of the jig, test fit the depth of the forstner bit back drill against a stud you can reach….for the 1911 it’ll be the lower of the two and go back to the drill press if you need to make it deeper to accomodate the stud. You can do this part “free hand” since you still got flat stock.

The right side grip, for the Taurus had to have the backside carved out a little to allow for the safety….which is not present on the Rock Island, hence I may be adding steps here that you don’t have to deal with! The backside drilling was done before I attacked the front of the grip with the random orbit sander and used a 5/8” forstner bit to make the cut out to allow the safety to lever up and down, with a little extra work using an exacto blade. It’s a real pain on the Taurus models, let me tell you. Also, on the right side grip, down at the bottom you may need to make a minor indentation to allow for a pin/rivet in the frame of the pistol. I used my dremel with a little dremel fitting that basically is a 1/8” round shaper…..I imagine a drill bit of the same size or slightly larger would work too.

Once done it’s time to flip ‘em over and start sanding to get the profile you need. I generally aim for 5/16” thick at the bottom tapered to about 3/16” at the top of the grip and 3/32” at the left and right edges….not hard and fast rules, just what I do. Finding a decent way to clamp these little parts and still be able to attack over half of the piece with a random orbit sander is a trick everyone needs to resolve on their own. My way was to clamp as much of the piece over the edge of the workbench. Quite a few times I had clamped too much over the edge and when I started sanding the piece flipped out of the clamps and hit the floor….no blood no foul…just went back and reclamped it and tried again. A majority of the sanding was done with the random orbit sander but when getting the final profile of the grip a block plane earns it’s keep in having a nice flat edge you can sand the edges of the grips against. Test for fit and look at this point and make sure clearance between the edge of the grips and the pistol frame are even, at least even to your personal satisfaction.

I’ve found out the hard way that not all 1911’s are made the same way, comparing a Taurus to a Rock Island at least so it helps to have the pistol handy, but in a wood shop invites extra opportunities to have to clean and reoil it….so keep it covered while not being used to check for fit.

I used a random orbit 5” sander and 80 grit paper to make the initial sand down of the edges and establish the profile. You can do this by hand, it just take a lot longer.

The left side grip had to have the top inside edge notched to allow for a protrusion on the 1911….I used a coping saw and hand files for that part.

When the end was in sight after the 80 grit sanding I went back to the jig, clamped the grips right side up, used the 15/64” bit to establish center over the holes, clamped the grip down, took out the bit and replaced it with the 21/64” bit to drill the slight indentation in the front of the grip for the screw to sit in. This is wholly and totally done by eye, so don’t be to aggressive here. I usually drill a little, deep enough that the screw head looks like it should just meet the edges of the hole, turn off the press, drop the screw into the hole and just see if it looks and feels right. I usually went back and drilled just a hair deeper. Didn’t affect the depth too much and definitely allowed the screw another turn or so into the stud. Before finishing the grip should be “finished” enought that you can see how it fits the pistol overall. For me I made sure the edges of the grips were even as they could be around the edges of the frame, the fit over the screw studs was good, and the screws got at least a few turns on them for a good purchase/grip.

Final sanding was with 220 grit, by hand. The finish was four coats of tung oil with 0000 steel wool buffing between coats.

Hope this helps! From start to finish it generally takes about 3 hours…probably less with out distractions, potty breaks, changing the station on the radio, interruptions by the boss, etc.

All told, I suppose you’ll need a tablesaw/bandsaw, planer, scroll saw, drill press, drill bit index, forstner bits, coping saw, random orbit sander, block sander, 80 grit and 220 grit sandpaper, tung oil and a few hours.

Good luck!

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

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