How to make gun grips?


November 30, 2009, 03:19 PM
Not sure if it's the right area, but since I only own BP firearms, it has some relevance.....
I've always wondered how gun grips are made and if I could do it myself. Any links or descriptions would be great. What tools are used...etc
I have wanted to be able to make figured grips for my Walker, Dragoon and SAA for awhile.

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November 30, 2009, 03:46 PM
1. Get a block of wood.
2. Remove everything that isn't a grip. :D

Seriously, many normal woodworking tools and skills are all that are necessary.
Start out with perfectly matched pieces with at least two square edges.
Fit them to the frame first, the mark and trim the frame outlines.
Shape as required.
Finish with Tru-Oil.

Heres more:


November 30, 2009, 04:46 PM
The best tip I can possibly give is to use the old grips as a template,so you'll be pretty close to the mark from the start.If you pencil trace and stay on or outside the pencil line,you should have just enough left over to sand to fit.

November 30, 2009, 04:53 PM
I could be wrong...but arnt ya supposed to let the wood dry...or "cure fer a few days first?

November 30, 2009, 08:32 PM
The one piece grips for the Colts are actually three pieces of wood, the two outside panel and a center spacer. A band saw makes cutting easier but a coping saw well get it done. A plainer if your working with raw logs so you can get a flat surface. Some wood rasps (files) and lots of sandpaper. Those 1X42 inch belt sanders take a lot of the hand work out fitting.

This link well help.

I could be wrong...but arnt ya supposed to let the wood dry...or "cure fer a few days first?

Yup, if you cut down a tree and whack off a slab of wood you need to control how fast it dries, too fast and it cracks. Seal the end of the grain and let it set in your garage for six eight months.

November 30, 2009, 10:01 PM
After you make the grips. If you have experience with wood. do a small drawing or a star or something. Then use some chisels and chisel it out. Then through the back of grips do a small counter sinc and drill a hole. Then put a screw through the grip make sure its small enough to go through the other side and stick out in the chiseled area but not too long to stick past. Now go put some pewter in a small pot. when its melted down good fill in the chiseled area. As soon as it cools down use some fine sand paper to sand it down to meet with the wood. Then stain and finish the wood. You will be suprised on how it will come out.

November 30, 2009, 10:07 PM
Sometimes the grips you have are good enough you just have to refinish them. On my 1858 i wanted some old aged up grips. So out came the blow torch and some shoe polish. then i rubbed it out and put a satin finish on it. After hitting it up and throwing some rocks at it.

November 30, 2009, 10:11 PM
On my pietta 1851 after i stripped the finish i thought the grips just looked terrible. So after about 20 coats of hand applied and rubbed Black Lacquer here you go.

November 30, 2009, 10:11 PM
The factory grips are one piece, but you can save a whole lot of time and effort making it in three parts like the previous poster suggested and it is not un-traditional either since this is the way the ivory grips were often made. To do these make sure to fit both halves to the frame first and leave a bit extra to extend past the other sides. Make the insert exactly the same width as the backstrap, coat all metal parts with release agent, and than epoxy the whole mess together being careful to keep alignment and clamp securely. I use a slow set epoxy for this and forget about it afterwards for at least a day. If you didn't get enough release agent on the parts the grips will be glued to the metal, you can often free it by sticking the gun in the freezer for a couple hours and than taking it out and using a bit of force (don't ask me how I know this). The rest of the task is to shape the grips and that takes some skill, but go slow and you should be alright if you study the originals.

December 1, 2009, 01:25 AM
1. Get a block of wood.
2. Remove everything that isn't a grip.

Why didn't I think of that? hahahah..... Some great info here, thanks. It's what I was looking for. I never realized the one piece grips on my guns were 3 pieces, but that makes perfect sense now. I'll have to give this a try soon with some black cherry burl I have. I bet making a stock for the Henry is a bit more challenging!

December 1, 2009, 06:09 AM
Actually, many of the one piece grips, including ivory, are just that, one piece. Colts and the Italians use mostly one piece grips on their SA revolvers. Many aftermarket one piece grips are three piece. The ones I make are three piece because it is much easier to makee the three pieces and fit them together. I use a Japanese pull saw, rasps, and sandpaper for tools. And a pencil. Sometimes a handplane to flatten the two halves to better meet the grip frame.

Another way to do it is to make two piece grips and hold them with a screw and escutcheon. I believe this is how Das Jaeger makes his beautiful grips.

I will be cutting a set of grips for one of my 1860s after the Holydays, maybe I will take some photos and post them.

Let your imagination go for grip material. If you want traditional, think fruit woods like cherry or apple, nut trees like wlanut and pecan make nice grips also. So does maple and ironwood. I favor stag, but ivory is a good choice if available. Exotic woods, zebrawood, rosewood, etc are also good choices. Depepnds on your taste and what you want to do. Ebony and other dense woods shift the weight back into your hand and will counterbalance a muzzle heavy revolver.

Have fun.

December 1, 2009, 09:18 AM
Check out this thread by Das Jaeger he does really nice work.

December 2, 2009, 06:37 PM
RC is exactly correct.

Well, the plan was to take this nice piece of walnut and make a set of one piece grips for a Colt SAA, leave them over-size and offer them for sale.

But now, I see how nice the wood is and I may fit them to one of my Colts and keep em. ;)
Nice chunk of wood - I used a band saw to cut this much from a larger piece of wood and get the basic shape.
chunk of wood cut in half - I used a back saw to separate the two sides. I used a belt sander to sand the inside of the two halves smooth.

Left side starting to take shape. Going good so far if I don't screw it up. I use a Dremel to rough out the shape along with a sanding drum on my drill press and a lot of hand sanding. I do a lot of hand sanding so I can feel the shape. I can feel bumps and areas that don't transition quite the way I want them to.

I like to take photos of WIP as the camera "sees" things I don't see just looking at something. In this case I see a small area that I need to blend the curve a little more. The left side is only about 50% so far. Long way to go yet.

For me making grips is nice as I make em just a tad thicker than the factory grips.

December 2, 2009, 08:27 PM
That walnut has some very nice figure to it, good job.

December 2, 2009, 09:22 PM
It is a nice piece of wood, ain't it?

And I have more.

December 7, 2009, 02:56 PM

December 7, 2009, 05:52 PM
These grips are custom made but not by me they are handi work of Das Jaegar.

December 7, 2009, 05:59 PM
I am currently working on a set with Olivewood.

(Sorry for the poor quality of the images...they're just from my cellphone)

December 7, 2009, 06:04 PM
Very nice wood. Keep us posted on progress.

December 8, 2009, 06:03 AM

What material are you using for the spacer? from the photo it looks like MDF and I owuld have not thought that to be reisitant enough to use.


December 10, 2009, 10:14 AM
Yes, the spacer is just some fiberboard. I am using that to maintain position within the frame. I will use blind pins emoxyed directly into the handle for strength.

December 11, 2009, 04:52 AM
I have a Magnum Research BFR revolver (which is only shot on blackpowder!) which now has a set of custom grips made by a German guy. I did a complete photoshoot on how he did it. The text is in Dutch however.
The end result was absolute perfection.
For a Colt model a piece of wood is glued, as a spacer, between the two grips. this was not done with the BFR since it has a different frame, identical to Ruger's Super Blackhawk.

Click here:


December 11, 2009, 09:07 AM
hildo, that's a great link, thanks. the photos spoke English just fine;)

Your BFR is a very impressive revolver. I would love to handle one some time.

December 11, 2009, 12:31 PM
You are right. Some things are just universal, no matter what language is used.
If you ever happen to get to Holland you're invited to give the BFR a go at the range here.

The manufacturing process of these grips took close to 4 hours.
It is incredible to see two pieces of ivory transform into such a complex shape without any specialty tools like CNC machining or the like. This is true handcrafting, I love it and have great respect. This man is no beginner and has done many, many grips and it shows in the routine he was working with. The rough work went fast, the finishing touch took much longer. Over and over fitting them to the gun to check the dimensions without any measuring. It's all done on gut feeling. If you take away just a bit too much, it's over and you can toss them.

JCT, if you are going to make some grips yourself make sure you have enough time. Especially for a first time grip maker I think it will be a long process, just have patience, don't rush. If you have just a little feeling for working with your hands I think you'll be just fine.

Good luck.


December 11, 2009, 03:39 PM
Thanks for all the great posts, I'm holding off on starting this until the new year. That's when I can get some walnut and cherry to play around with. I can see the basic shaping is straightforward, it's the details that take the time and can be tedious. I may start with some maple before I go buying expensive woods.....

Big Russ
December 11, 2009, 10:27 PM
When I still had my cheap little .22MAG revolver I got the idea to refinish the grips. Started off practicing on a $12 piece of pine lumber from Lowes to get a feel for working in the curves....those photos make the process look easy!

December 12, 2009, 06:51 AM

Thanks for all the great posts, I'm holding off on starting this until the new year. That's when I can get some walnut and cherry to play around with. I can see the basic shaping is straightforward, it's the details that take the time and can be tedious. I may start with some maple before I go buying expensive woods.....

JCT, of the three woods you mention, maple is usually the hardest followed by walnut than cherry. All will take a nice finish but the walnut (especially American black walnut) will benefit from filling the pores. Most of the available fruit woods are good also.

As for expense, well it depends how much figure you want but for the amount of wood you need for grips, it shouldn't be too bad. But start with the plain grade and see how you do.

December 13, 2009, 01:58 AM
One piece SAA grips I made. I also made the display stand.

and progress on current set

The right side is about 75% complete; the left side has bit more to go.
I applied tung oil to the right side so I could see the grain. The tung oil also helps to show areas that need more sanding.

December 16, 2009, 12:53 AM
A couple more coats of tung oil and steel wool, maybe some sort of poly finish and the two sides will be ready to install.

December 16, 2009, 05:59 AM
Exemplary grips! Can't wait to see them mounted. Thanks for sharing with us.:)

December 16, 2009, 06:06 PM
Now, for some final finishing.

December 16, 2009, 06:55 PM
Awsome dave, damn good work!

December 17, 2009, 07:41 PM
Thanks, I appreciate it.

December 18, 2009, 06:47 AM
Great work Dave. Nothing beats that Tung oil finish either, looks and feels like wood.

December 19, 2009, 07:08 PM
yep, nice wood is second only to ivory.

December 19, 2009, 10:40 PM
Confused. Whats holding the gun up

December 20, 2009, 06:54 AM

Confused. Whats holding the gun up

Thank God someone else asked that. I thought I was the only one who didn't see the trick.

December 20, 2009, 08:11 AM
I was beginning to think no one noticed.

The answer is:
1. I photoshopped the supports out of the photo;
2. it's glued to the display;
3. magnets;
4. very well balanced gun;
5. the gun is screwed to the display;
6. none of the above.

What do you think?

I sent one to someone at Colt. I heard everyone there loved it.

I make em and sell em mostly to gun stores and gunshow vendors.

it even works with this Desert Eagle

December 20, 2009, 08:12 AM
A really strong magnet?

December 20, 2009, 08:20 AM
Yep, really strong magnet.

December 22, 2009, 08:32 PM
Here they are, folks! I gave up on the blind pin idea and went for real mosaic pins. Managed to fit it pretty well and finished with 5 (:eek:) coats of tung oil. One these days I'll set up the light box and get proper glam shots that are actually in focus. Enjoy.

December 23, 2009, 07:12 AM
very nice

December 23, 2009, 07:29 AM
Good job on the grips. Nice thing about tung oil is it mellows with age and use. You can always add another coat if you think it needs it. I have added coats after years of use and it livens things up nicely.

December 23, 2009, 08:24 AM
Maybe posted already but

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