Making your own grips ?


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hexidismal
October 13, 2006, 07:09 PM
hi all. I've been thinking recently about making my own handmade custom wood grips. With so many THR member's who love to customise thier guns, I'm surprised this hasn't been addressed more often. Well I have some questions for people in the know.. so here goes.

1.(a.) What tools are typically used in making factory grips ? And (b.) What tools would you use at home ? ( I assume what a factory would use would not be availible to me )

For the most part I would probably be using a dremel with various bits, fine sandpaper, and stain. The dremel might not be the best way to go , but I'm good with it, and I don't know what else to use.

2. How is wood checkering done ?

3.(a.) Where would I be able to get nice peices of wood ( rosewood maybe ? ) in the right sizes and quality ? And (b.) What size peice should I be starting out with ?

4. I have not been able to find any reference resources on this topic , do you know of any ?

Well.. I don't know what else , but if you think of some more info I could use, please help me out. Also, if you have made your own grips let me know how they turned out, maybe include some pictures. Thanks in advance THR, I know some good posts will come of this.

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NVMM
October 13, 2006, 07:18 PM
What kind of grips do you want to make?
Here's a start
http://1911pistolgrips.com/process.php

P95Carry
October 13, 2006, 07:32 PM
I made some for myself a long time ago - but confess I never went to any checkering. I used mahogany as my wood - nice close grain. Only made one more set in recent years, which were for a M85 snub - no pic of those.

I would cut a blank in two after sketching out the grip profile (these were all for revo's) and then set to milling out the inner relief - did that with small router cutter or end mill in drill press - leaving a small safety margin for cleaning up with chisels. Other tools used were all wood carving type - gouges being very much used for making finger grooves.

It's worth making cardboard patterns for some aspects with revo grips - semi grips of course being relatively easier internally. It takes time doing ''one of'' grips but quite satisfying.

I did one ''cheat'' to increase gripiness on one pair - which was to varnish and while wet, sprinkle tiny glass beeds on - the reflective type - and these gave quite a good slip resistance but - aesthetically not pleasing! Rubbed the grips down again later.

IIRC in this pic, left to right - Redhawk, Smith N frame and Trooper MkIII.


http://www.acbsystems.com/boards/thr/shoot7/cb-grips-434-s.jpg

hexidismal
October 13, 2006, 08:03 PM
Right now I'm really starting from scratch here. Question 3 is a big issue, I have no idea whatsoever where to aquire my wood for this project. Oh and BTW , I'll be starting out by trying to make grips for autos ( the Taurus pt99 and even more likely the bersa thunder 380.. wouldnt that be neat ? a bersa with thinner grips made from a nice wood and carved intricately with my own logo? .. I think so. I guess I'd try a 1911 first if I had one becuase they actually seem like the easiest basic shape, but I don't have one.. and I can't afford one. )

P95Carry
October 13, 2006, 08:14 PM
Certainly grips for semi's would be that much easier for starters.

Where to get wood? No ideas right now but if I was looking I'd ask around local lumber companies - saw mills - even google to see where good hardwoods can be found. Shouldn't be that difficult.

Car Knocker
October 13, 2006, 08:18 PM
Here's a primer on wood grip-making:

http://www.blindhogg.com/grips2.html

A source of suitable wood for grips (in small quantities) is Woodcraft stores:

http://www.woodcraft.com/stores/

hexidismal
October 14, 2006, 11:26 AM
I suppose this is going to be a lot harder than I thought. I'll probably have to give up on this project, at least until I have more tools and workspace. I live in an apartment .. it's a very big apartment, but there certainly isn't a place for a belt sander or drill press.

mete
October 14, 2006, 01:36 PM
You don't need power tools ! A good set of files is the big thing and a vise to hold them as you file. Checkering takes some practice. Always start by fitting the wood to the gun then shape the grips.

mj1angier
December 1, 2006, 03:45 PM
I don't think you need more than the dremeal and maybe a few files. As for wood, look in the yellow pages for hardwood suppliers. Also look up knife building suppliers- you are not going to need a large block. Try the checkering on scrap till you get the hang of it.

hexidismal
December 1, 2006, 09:03 PM
Hi mj1angier , welcome to THR!

I had let this post drop for awhile, but actually I did start project, regardless of my tool limitations. I first made an experimental set, with some inexpensive cherry wood, entirely with dremel tools and files. This set fits a Taurus PT99. I learned a few things, made some big mistakes and also made what I felt were some major successes. I have since bought some cocobolo wood that I finally managed to find in the right size and price. I haven't yet found the time to begin working with the cocobolo, but my intention is to make two sets of grips with it. One for a Bersa Thunder .380, and one for a Taurus PT99. When I get some time I'll take some pictures of my experimental cherrywood set that is basically complete (though unfinshed/waxed, except for tung oil.)

jeepmor
December 1, 2006, 10:32 PM
If simple, like 1911 grips, use a pair and get the outlined shape on the money. A hand belt sander jigged upside down will do nicely. Even a el-cheapo unit will do. Then get the screw hole locations perfect....then begin the shaping process. If somthing like revolvers, same thing. But if you have an angle or step to deal with, it will best be addressed by a table saw to generate a good fitting blank, then all hand tools should apply to final shaping.

Since you have a dremel, I suggest you get some sureform tools from stanley also. They are like a cheese grater for wood, and their cheap and stay within your aparment noise limits. They should make quick work of the initial shaping and they come in many shapes and varieties that should prove quite useful.

A small $99 tabletop drill press will also work wonders if you couple it with a rotary drum sanding implements. I used mine in an apartment many years ago to manufacture some products and help finance a move from Arizona in my college days. Drill press drum sanding is dusty though, I do this stuff with my shop vac running and the hose in one hand or jigged/clamped appropriately. You can fashion simple dust collector diffusers out of cardboard and duct tape to stay on the cheap. I've used our household canister similar sanding duties coupled it does a really good job of catching the dust and keeping the noise down.

I was an avid woodworker when younger, then life set in and the college degree took over. I'm still an avid DIY, but more home/auto related now than pure woodworking like this. Regardless, I understand your apartment workspace and see this as a simple project you can do with the right tools, and you have a few of them already. If you're interested, I have an old sears table top band saw that I have not used for years. I'd be willing to part with it to someone pursuing a hobby like this. PM if mildly interested, I'll let it go cheap, real cheap.

jeepmor

jeepmor
December 1, 2006, 10:46 PM
If simple, like 1911 grips, use a pair and get the outlined shape on the money. A hand belt sander jigged upside down will do nicely. Even a el-cheapo unit will do. Then get the screw hole locations perfect....then begin the shaping process. If somthing like revolvers, same thing. But if you have an angle or step to deal with, it will best be addressed by a table saw to generate a good fitting blank, then all hand tools should apply to final shaping.

Since you have a dremel, I suggest you get some sureform tools from stanley also. They are like a cheese grater for wood, and their cheap and stay within your aparment noise limits. They should make quick work of the initial shaping and they come in many shapes and varieties that should prove quite useful.

A small $99 tabletop drill press will also work wonders if you couple it with a rotary drum sanding implements. I used mine in an apartment many years ago to manufacture some products and help finance a move from Arizona in my college days. Drill press drum sanding is dusty though, I do this stuff with my shop vac running and the hose in one hand or jigged/clamped appropriately. You can fashion simple dust collector diffusers out of cardboard and duct tape to stay on the cheap. I've used our household canister similar sanding duties coupled it does a really good job of catching the dust and keeping the noise down.

I was an avid woodworker when younger, then life set in and the college degree took over. I'm still an avid DIY, but more home/auto related now than pure woodworking like this. Regardless, I understand your apartment workspace and see this as a simple project you can do with the right tools, and you have a few of them already. If you're interested, I have an old sears table top band saw that I have not used for years. I'd be willing to part with it to someone pursuing a hobby like this. PM if mildly interested, I'll let it go cheap, real cheap.

jeepmor

dmarschal
December 2, 2006, 09:44 AM
Don't give up! Woodworking is a beautiful one! I'm working on wood grips that's why I know.

Starting with 1911 grips as others mentioned can be the first step. They are simple and easy to produce.
If you don't like big machines next to you bed I suggest hand tools like our grandfathers used like hand planes, spokeshaves, chisels, engravers, and scrapers. They will not produce dust and smoke but splinters which easy to clean out. Use wet sanding. This also reduces dust production or simply use vacuum cleaner.

The tools others mentioned above also comes handy and clould save a lot of time especially for drilling.

First try soft woods like Alder, Maple or Cherry. You can learn how to carve them to leave smooth surface, which direction to cut and so on.

Hope I could help you. Be careful with those sharp tools!

Have a nice day,
Dennis

Gripus
December 27, 2006, 10:35 PM
If you are going to try cocobolo, be careful. The dust is a MAJOR lung irritant and can also cause a poison ivy like rash on your skin (that's one reason we don't make cocobolo grips any more). To hold the grip while you are working it, try cutting a rectangular piece of wood about 3/4 X 3/4 X 3 inches long and use some strong double sticky back tape to hold the grip on (we use carpet tape). That allows you to hold the grip without sanding your fingers. ebay is a good source of wood in small quantities...look for wood from a seller Cook Wood out of Oragon. I have purchased a lot from them and they always send me exactly what they advertise...sometimes even better. Good luck! If you decide it is too much trouble, check out http://www.gripus.com for some custom grips.

If you enjoyed reading about "Making your own grips ?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!