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Missed it by THAT Much!

January 10th, 2012 Posted in Pistol Grips

OR “What a Beautiful Mistake”

So, as some of you are aware, I have started on the path to teach myself how to make custom grips.  I have tools (bandsaw, drill press, sander and various hand tools), I have skills (classically trained artist and designer), and I have wood (both hard and soft varieties).

What I don’t have is experience at making gun grips so I decided to start off the smart way with a bunch of reading, book buying and working on pine instead of something more expensive and so far that has been working out OK.  I cut out about 10 blanks for 1911 grips and began shaping and forming them into 1911 grips.

I used a set of 1911 grips that I had purchased as my pattern and marked the drill holes and then drilled, shaped and sanded until the looked right.  There were some flaws with angles and I still have the mag release notch and safety notch to cut out on the set, but overall I was pleased so I decided that I should try it on hardwood so I could figure out any changes I would need to do because of the material hardness.

So, after roughing out five sets in pine I pulled out the good stuff and went to work.  here’s the results.

Unfinished and without the bevels on the top and bottom, nor the cutouts required.  This set I sanded down to 400 grit sandpaper, normally I’ll take it to 800.  But the reason this set, my very first hardwood set, will never get finished?

The screw holes are off.

By just about 1mm.

Yep.  So, now I have ordered a second and third 15/32nd punch so I can clamp my pattern grip to the wood set both punches at the same time and make sure that the are not off at all.

If at first you don’t succeed….


5 Responses to “Missed it by THAT Much!”

  1. DirtCrashr Says:

    Doh!! I couldn’t even easily remove my old grips to take a pic – the escutcheon pins (or whatever you call them) are tight!

  2. Kerry Says:

    Though I do not know if it’s possible, but if you can, I would recommend a jig through which you and drill the holes into your (soon to be) new grips when they, and the jig, are still flat and square. Then you are working to an existing centerline/reference line, and shaping the grips to fit the firearm. Also, if you drill the first holes at 1/16″ or 3/64″, and then follow up with either another small bit and then the final hole size, you can better control any tendency of the bit the move to one side while it’s cutting through the wood. Does that make sense? Hope so. K.

  3. Kerry Says:

    Oops…not “you and drill”, you “can” drill. Also, in a drill press, if you have a jig into which the blank can be placed, with stops at both ends, the far right stop is the position for drilling the left hole, and far left for drilling the right. You’ll get it. What wood is that? The pinkish red says Bubinga, though the open pores say maybe not.

  4. Instinct Says:

    The wood is Paduak, really nice hardwood. The color is a bit off because of the lighting. It does have reds, but they are more subdued and the color is closer to a chocolate.

    I’ve been thinking about a jig for a while and what you are suggesting it pretty much what I have decided would work. I would just have to make sure that every blank is the exact same size or I would end up with the same problem I have now – small error making a big problem.

    What I am setting up is a 3/4″ thick HDPE template that I can mark the blanks with a 15/32″ punch. So, with the punch hole properly centered then I am going to try smaller to larger bits.

  5. Will Says:

    A problem with drill bits is they don’t always stay centered when making holes, even when you are just using a larger bit to open up a previous hole. On top of that, they don’t actually make round holes. Which sounds weird, but what happens is the bit bends a little as it rotates, and/or the part walks around. What you end up with is a hole that has lobes defining the edge, instead of being circular/round. If using a two cutting edge drill, you get three lobes, three gives you four, etc…

    This will be more obvious on metal than wood, I think. Anyway, I was going to suggest you might want to try using a milling bit in a plunge cut. Use one the correct size for the through-hole, and a second one for the screw head counterbore. It’s possible there is a cutting bit with the correct c-bore and center cutter for those 1911 stocks.

    You can get x-y tables to use on drill presses for this sort of semi-precision work. Making fixtures to hold the blanks would be useful, as you could then do rough shaping of the stocks using appropriate tooling in the drill press. Eventually, obtaining a vertical milling machine would enable you to utilize the measuring capabilities of the x-y-z movements to speed up the process even more.

    (creating a rocking fixture to enable tooling in the drill press to give you the curved surface of the stocks would be a big time saver, plus give you repeatabilty of dimensions. Plus, you could then use it to cut angles/planes into the curved surface for different shapes.) You want to limit the amount of hand sanding needed to make a set, for time and consistency reasons.

    Keep in mind I’m primarily a metal guy.
    Came here from Anthroblogogy.

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