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#6237440 - 03/26/16 03:06 PM Single Action Army Grip failure
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
I recently finished up my PhD at the University of Arizona, and my parents bought me this 2nd generation Colt 125th anniversary SAA. This pistol shoots better than any revolver I have ever handled. The timing and lock up are amazing on this old girl .



The problem is the old Walnut grips have shrunk/expanded/shifted over the years leaving a nasty edge exposed all the way around that digs into your hand.



I have made quite a few grips in the past for other pistols, so I figured I would just make some for this guy as well.




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#6237443 - 03/26/16 03:10 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
I dug through my wood supply and settled on this curly maple I had laying around from some guitar builds. The wood is kinda special because it was grown, cut, an dried close to where I grew up in West Virginia



So I start milling it down to size



Curly maple like this has alternating grain patterns, and that is what gives it its stripes. Straight knife cutter heads on jointers and planers eat that stuff up! Real professionals use spiral cutterheads and drum sanders. Hillbillys like myself, take shallow passes, wet the grain with mineral spirits, and run the wood through the planer at an angle



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#6237446 - 03/26/16 03:15 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
I try to pick out the best figure, and cut out the rough shape





This is the critical step on SAA grips, you have to fit the grip to the frame perfectly, or you get nasty looking gaps and nobody likes that.
* Hard maple and sugar maple burn easily when you sand it, the sugars caramelize. Smells nice, but darkens the wood. Not a big deal on this because those areas will be hidden and I plan on dying the wood a darker color





These old Colts with 2-piece grip configurations had index pins to hold the grips in place. I am just using a rubber mallet to precisely mark the holes and trace the perimeter








Edited by Colt W. Knight (03/26/16 03:16 PM)

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#6237447 - 03/26/16 03:19 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
I have a lot of cool sanders because I build a lot of guitars that make shaping the perimeter easier. On 1911s and other pistols, I would actually make a router template and route out the grips using the template, double sided tape and bearing guided router bit. This old Colts were all hand polished and no two grips are the same so making templates won't do me much good.





Layout


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#6237448 - 03/26/16 03:22 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Drilling concentric holes in wood is bit more challenging than working with metal. First, I drill the 1/8" hole through both grips taped back to back to get the proper alignment. But I cant simply drill the 1/4" hole by centering the bit like you would with metal.

I use the 1/8" drill bit to drill an 1/8" hole in the bottom material, then add an indexing pin. Now I can simply change out the 1/8" bit for a 1/4" bit and drill a perfectly concentric hole.





Also, you have to use Forstner or Brad point bits on wood, or you get some nasty tear out.

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#6237450 - 03/26/16 03:25 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Then I went to carve the wood, and this is where the FAIL came to play. All the figure in the wood was superficial, and when I carved the grips I carved away all the figure. This happened to me one time before making a guitar neck. Heartbreaking really. Could be worse I suppose. I carved a figured maple guitar neck once, and the middle of the wood had a big old nasty knot/void which ended up being a total loss.


I ended up with a workable set of grips that wont dig into my hand, but I am not happy with the look.

These were finished with an old technique of hand rubbing the wood with brown paper sack and tung oil, then I gave it nice coat of bees wax.


Once I saw that the figure was all gone, I didn't sand and shape as carefully as I should have and you can see a spot or two where I got a little aggressive.



Edited by Colt W. Knight (03/26/16 03:28 PM)

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#6237478 - 03/26/16 04:30 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
Slow Drifter Offline


Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 4252
Loc: Central Texas
Couple spots where the metal is proud, but beautiful work, and congratulations sir! I'll address you as Doctor Colt from now on! cheers

Edited to add: you can call me Mr. Pig...lol


Edited by Slow Drifter (03/26/16 04:34 PM)
_________________________
"I have no idea what WW-III will be fought with, but WW-IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

A. Einstein


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#6237481 - 03/26/16 04:36 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
mrmo Online   content
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Registered: 11/20/09
Posts: 20847
Loc: 31*32'57"N 97*8'47"W
I think you did a Great Job, Thanks for sharing!
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#6237486 - 03/26/16 04:41 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Slow Drifter]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: Slow Drifter
Couple spots where the metal is proud, but beautiful work, and congratulations sir! I'll address you as Doctor Colt from now on! cheers

Edited to add: you can call me Mr. Pig...lol


Yeah, once I lost the figure, I didn't take my time with the shaping. These won't be on the gun very long.

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#6237487 - 03/26/16 04:41 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: mrmo]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: mrmo
I think you did a Great Job, Thanks for sharing!


Thanks

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#6237491 - 03/26/16 04:56 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
RiverRider Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 6203
Loc: Wise Co.
Too bad about how the figure was lost, but I think they turned out pretty nice, myself...and you got yourself a little tuneup on technique. Hope you hit the jackpot on the next attempt!
_________________________


Originally Posted By: Cleric
God I am hating caliber threads more and more

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#6237505 - 03/26/16 05:25 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
603Country Offline
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Registered: 07/03/12
Posts: 4867
Loc: Central Texas
Nice job! You're a real woodworker. I need one of those Ridgid sanders. I have some fairly fancy looking spalted Pecan, which is almost white, with the spalting lines in it. Also spalted Ash. I can send you some if you'd like. Just let me know.

Or, Woodcraft will sell you Rosewood, Bocote, Satine, or others.

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#6237528 - 03/26/16 05:56 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: 603Country]
Colt W. Knight Offline
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Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: 603Country
Nice job! You're a real woodworker. I need one of those Ridgid sanders. I have some fairly fancy looking spalted Pecan, which is almost white, with the spalting lines in it. Also spalted Ash. I can send you some if you'd like. Just let me know.

Or, Woodcraft will sell you Rosewood, Bocote, Satine, or others.


The Rigid Oscilating belt and spindle sanders are amazing little tools. They are not super powerful, so they won't remove a lot of material - but that is also what makes them nice.

Thank you very much for the offer, that spalted pecan sounds amazing. I have a bunch of lumber in my shop, I should be able to find something suitable.

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#6237529 - 03/26/16 05:57 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: Colt W. Knight]
BassCat'99 Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 921
Loc: Stratford Texas
I have a strong feeling that your next run will be a winner! Frustrating but that will temper your next try. GL
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TS

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#6237530 - 03/26/16 05:57 PM Re: Single Action Army Grip failure [Re: RiverRider]
Colt W. Knight Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 2036
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: RiverRider
Too bad about how the figure was lost, but I think they turned out pretty nice, myself...and you got yourself a little tuneup on technique. Hope you hit the jackpot on the next attempt!


Seriously, SAA grips were much more difficult than I anticipated.

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