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1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
first off, I'll credit this site and this fellow's instructions.
It's where I started and was a valuable resource to me.
If you're an experienced wood worker/crafter, it's all you'll need


If you're an ameture/hobiest wood worker or just a tinkerer and would like to try "rolling yer own".....go ahead and do it.
Read the link posted above and read my thread, and I'll bet a nickel you can make a sevicable pair of grips

Tools needed;
Drill press
15/64" drill bit
9/32" drill bit
Belt sander with rough grit and fine grit belts
set of finished grips.
Sand paper
wood finish
I used many other tools as well, but I don't know how it could be done with out those tools on hand

I'll try and be somewhat brief,
cause the link above is good and I ain't re-inventing the wheel.
i did deviate a bit from his proccess though

I'll start here

wood needs to be well seasoned and dry.
On left is a chunk i cut off of a rough cut walnut board.
Appx 1.75" x 5" x 1 1/4" thick
I used my table saw to rip it into 3/8" thick "scales"

then using stock grips, i traced the cut lines and drilled the 15/64" holes.
getting holes drilled right is critical.

I tried this method

but i just couldn't get them "perfect".
So used the stock grip and double faced tape to stick them together, centered the drill bit through the stock grip hole, then clamped it to the drill press.

Once the holes are drilled, take the stcky tape off at test fit on the gun.
You can use the right of the gun to test both grips
(cause the left grip won't fit down yet because of the plunger tube)
but the holes are the same distance, so if the left grip fit goes over the right side bushing, it will on the left side too, once the plunger relief cut is made

if grip fits, it's on to the saw.
I used a scroll saw, but jig saw would work.
Scroll or band saw will just be much easier.
Leave the trace lines showing for final belt sand shape and fit

belt sand back of grip to get 1/4" thickness.
I use my dial calipers and measure at four corners while sanding.
Once that's achived, back to the drill press for the back side counter sink w/9/32" drill bit.
Center drill and just a little itty bitty deep counter sink is all you need for the back side.
Just enough to fit over the bushing bottom.
Test fit that it fits flush to the frame.
Use the bottom bushing.
If it fits flush there, it will on all the others too.

Now another critical cut is needed for the left side grip to allow clearance for the plunger tube.
I used a cutting wheel on the dremel
They tell me the grip should help support the plunger tube, so test fit as you're hacking away

If you did it right, it should end up looking "something" like this after fishing shaping/sanding

Now use a dremel to cut the mag release relief on rt side panal.
dremel relief for MSH pin now too, if preferred.
MSH relief for left side too

Finish shape
(top pic, right)

i found double sided taped to a small block made this proccess easier.
fine grit belt on the sander, and "eye ball" the shape and contour as you "roll" the grip to profile.
This is also where i get finish the sides and bottom.
Go slow and test fit, so you don't mess up
(like I did here)

next comes the counter sink for the grip screws.
Center bit, clamp and drill.
Use a grip screw for test to get the depth right.

now the final finish sand.
a finish palm sander takes all the work out of it.
I started w/220 grit to sand all scratches from the belt sander.
Then when to 500grt and finally 800grt

Finish wood with what ever wood finish you like.
So far I've used wood stain, urathane and yesterday I tried toung oil

give it shot, what do you have to loose?
Nothing but a few hours time and a buck's worth of wood
(if you start with domestic hardwood)

you might end up with something like these


Premium Member
5,072 Posts
Nice job Cap.

1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks fellas

Good information. I have long wanted to try my hand at this. What sources do you use for your wood?
BlackH, I had the walnut on hand.
domestic hardwood shouldn't be hard to find locally for you.
i think Home Depot and Lowes sell S4S (sanded 4 sides) hard woods.
Heck, i bet you'll find plenty material for free just looking thru the "spring clean up" road side put outs.
Look for things like old bed head boards, old dressers (many will have solid drawer fronts and tops) and some will be interesting grained wood.
You'll find woods like maple, oak, birch, walnut etc.

if you know any hardwood floor installers, I'm sure the cut off scrap they throw away would be more than big enough for grip scales.

I ordered a couple burl wood pieces off e-bay a couple weeks ago.
That's a source for exotic/specialty woods.

There's also a lot of exotic wood dealers on line.
I did a google search and found several

I'd suggest you start with domestic hardwood for your first grips.
It's inexpensive (free if scrounge the junk piles or move outs)
That way the first couple sets you make, you can "go to school" on.
It won't break your heart if you crack or mess up that wood as much as jacking a "one off" piece of special grained exotic wood

Here's a couple others I've done

The reason there's only 1 and half sets in that pic, is cause I got carless and broke the matching side.
That's a maple burl.
Burl has some beautiful charactor to it, but burl is "sick wood" essentially.
The very charactoristics that give it it's unique look, also makes it fragile when working with something so thin.

I'll make a few more sets with what i have and keep my eyes open for the "most interetsing" grain/color/charactoristic


1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Go ahead, Red.

I thought about it for over a year.
It wasn't til i needed a set for my new bobtail that I decided to get on the stick (pun intended)

it's really not all that difficult.
I don't figure to ever try and sell them like the dude that started "my first grips" thread over on John's board.

Forgive me for being a cynic, but I suspect his motivation for starting those grip threads were more about "mining gold" from the members and less about helping them make their own.

Not that I have any problems with a guy making a buck, just that he kind of showed up like the Fuller Brush man and opened his bag of goodies for sale.
Maybe the rules allow that over there.
I thought not

anyway, guess it's none of my business.
i just like to share (and show off:biggrin:)

I'm no exeprt, but i bet I could walk anyone through the process whether complete rookie to a nice smooth set of grips


1,043 Posts
Cap, I want to inset a Navy medallion into a set of 1911 grips. What type of bit would you recommend to do that? The medallion is about the size of a quarter.:smile:

1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Cap, I want to inset a Navy medallion into a set of 1911 grips. What type of bit would you recommend to do that? The medallion is about the size of a quarter.:smile:
dang...sorry AutoM

I was away from the board for awhile and just now catching back up.

measure the medallion exactly with calipers.

I'd use a forstner drill bit if it matches the size

here's my latest.
check out the grain on these puppies

winter is here and biz has slowed to a crawl, so with plenty of time on my hands, I'm back goofing around with grips again


1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As a matter of curiousity, how would you texture the grips??
couple ways that I know of.

the "old fashioned" way by hand with checkering tools.
Personally, I'd don't think I have the patience or wood carving skills to try.

The other way is with a CNC mill/router.
I'm reasonably sure that's what the pro grip makers use.


1911auto Supporters
340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
No I haven't , T-Jack

'bout as close as i ever came to that was when I tried to make ring out of a round steak bone when i was a 8-9 year old kid
(for real)

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