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Wood Grip Tutorial

by Arnie



These are the things you need to fabricate wood grips, OTHER than basic woodworking knowledge.

Begin first by removing your pistol’s grips. This example is using an SCW Infinity. Be sure to keep your eyes on the brass bushings that are embedded under the top screw hole on the grip panel. They are quite easy to loose so put them somewhere safe. NOTE: You will need the appropriate sized key to take your grips off.

(I lost these several times during the gripmaking process)

This is a closeup of one of the lower brass bushings, on this Infinity they are securley attached, so don’t worry about them. Remember, not all pistols will have the same methods of attatchment, they will vary depending on the style of pistol you have.
Take one panel of your grips over to the table saw. Adjust the distance between the fence and the blade using the thickness of the panel as a template. Gently insert the panel between the fence and blade and adjust the fence accordingly. Be gentle, the blade is quite sharp.
This is an important step, choosing the wood for your grip. Pick a wood style with a grain that is pleasing to the eye, it’s completley up to you. Remember that the density of the wood will influence the ease of cutting.

This photo illustrates the wood being fed through the table saw, you can see that the thickness is that of the grips (remember step 3) If you don’t have a fancy wood holder like I do, you will need a scap piece of wood to keep it straight as you push it through. CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE.

This image illustrates the side view of the process. Warning. Blade is sharp (hopefully) CLICK FOR LARGER PICTURE

Oh darn, blew the power. REMEMBER when using a dense wood (and having the blade quite high) will result in the blade seizing (if you try and cut too quickly)

please take your time, the saw will do the work.

If this happens to you, scurry over to your breaker box and fix it.

We have the piece of wood cut (but I didn’t continue the cut all the way through, it stops about a foot into the wood. I just used the tail end of the wood as a guide for the saw) You will now lay your grips on to the cut wood (to check how much you need)
This shows the final horizontal cut, as you can see the wood is already in two halves, you just need to cut them apart. The pencil markings are the ammount of wood each grip will require.
Tools are you friend. You now need your grip and a reliable pencil, solid lead works the best… fancy mechanical pencils have no place in a workshop.
Here is the grip laying on one of the newly cut blanks, notice the thickness difference. This will be corrected later.
Here are the two SVI grips sitting on their cut blanks.

Take your trusty pencil and begin to trace around the grips. Please try and be at precise as possible, although if the lines aren’t perfect don’t worry.

Having someone hold down the grips helps, or just use your free hand.


Picasso would be proud.

This is one of the more daunting parts of the process. You need to use a jigsaw, bandsaw or recipcrocating saw to cut the blanks out. Try and follow the lines as close as possible. If you aren’t good with saws, find someone who is… or just….. buy some wood grips online.

This is the blank you just cut out (without and of the fancy curves, thoes you should do with a dremmel)

Note: Thats no security blanket, use a towel to protect the finish of your pistol from the unforgiving workbench.

Place the real grips on to your wood blank, and hold it securely. Use a nail set (or punch) and insert it into the screw holes on your grips and push down into the wood. This will create some reference holes for later use.

This is the brand new punch hole, this will be your reference for further drilling purposes.

This is an important part, get a few chunks of spare wood. They will act as the base and the risers. Temporarily attaching the wood blanks to risers allows you to work freeley on them without holding them. It also allows you to sculpt freely without your fingers getting in the way.

Here is an example of a riser, any scrap wood will do.

This is one of the most important tools in your arsenal for this activity. Any adjustable speed power drill will do.
Use a drill bit that is roughly the size of the screw holes on your grip. Checking and double checking helps, you can only drill once. So don’t screw it up!

Hey kids look, it’s Mr.Countersinking bit. This is a very important tool to have. If you don’t know what it does, stop making your grips now!

After countersinking your holes, insert the stock grip bolts to see if they fit. The heads should drop down a bit under the surface of the wood. Check the back of the grip to see how much is sticking out. You will need to do some work back there later.

This is what a countersunk hole looks like, that ridge is what prevents the grips from coming off.

Countersinking makes the screw head flush with the surface, or below the surface.

This is a shot of it temporarily attatched to the risers. NOTE: Use some screws you have laying around, put the stock bolts back into your keepsake box. Try not to screw them in too hard, or your hard work will crack.
Check the fit of the grip once more, to make sure nothing happened between when you cut it and now.
This dremel contractor set was on sale, so I bought it. Comes with a plethora of attatchments and the flex shaft. This is helpful if you are lazy, and like more control over the bit.

Here comes the part where I can’t help you out. This is where you contour and sand the grip to your liking. The tool you see is a Black and Decker mouse palm tool. It’s extremely helpful for this job. Saved me hours of hand sanding and dremmling. Keep a grip infront of you for reference on the different countours the grip has. If there are special angles you might need to do them by hand with a dremmel and sandpaper.

DONT GET TOO COCKY. THE FIRST GRIP IS DONE. YOU NEED TWO REMEMBER? This process will take about an hour to sand both grips to your liking.

This is what the grip looks after you attack it with the mouse, don’t worry.. there is still a ton more work to be done to it.
Attach a bore-out or grinding bit to the dremel and clean out the indents for the mag release and that mystery one at the bottom of the grip. This might take a while, Ignore the smoke that comes out, thats normal (if your grips burst into flames, tend to it quickly!)
Time to test it out! Unscrew it from it’s temporary living place and do a dry fitting on the gun. Thi is the time where you need to figure out what needs to be tweaked. In my case, the ambi safety was getting in the way of the top of the grip. I had to flatten it down so it wouldn’t interfere with it. You will also need to clean out the back of the holes so the bushings will fit in snuggly. There were some lead weights attatched to the inside of the grips, but I took thoes out. The weight of the wood makes up for it.
Now it’s time for the super fine grit sandpaper, this will give your grips a very smooth surface. They take off very little wood, so don’t be suprised if you don’t see any sawdust coming off. It’s important to sand it so the stain will adhere evenly to the grip. Use a tack-cloth to remove any dust left on it, and the dust from inside the grain (it will look horrid when you stain it, if you don’t remove all of the foreign matter)
After being smoothed and cleaned up. NOTE: I left the grips thick because I have gorilla hands, and this is a must for me. It’s more comfy. You can sand down the backside of the grips to make for a more contoured fit.
This is another turning point in the life of your wood grips, you need to choose the stain that you will use. This is another choice that is completley yours. I chose a maple/honey colour for mine. This shot is before staining.
If you haven’t stained anything before, it’s not as scary as it looks. Just put a bit on the grip and wipe it around for a few seconds. Wipe all of it off, what stays is now deep in the grain of the wood. Make sure you rub all of it off, or the finish will not be even in the end.
All done! Leave the stain to dry for about an hour (or however long the can says, obey the can.) At this stage, a clear coat is optional. If you would like the extra layer of protection that is up to you. You can choose a glossy or matte finish.
Here are the new grips beside the older grips. You can see how they are almost identical. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Classic feel. Classic look. How could you say no?
Wow. Swanky.

All photos and text are property of penguin (aka “peng” here) , 2003-2004.

contact : Hyperspin@rogers.com

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