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Old 09-09-2020, 03:58 PM
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Default Grip re-finishing

Have any of you refinished your S&W grips? Any tricks or tips you can pass on.
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:47 PM
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First, make sure they fit the gun and are not warped, and feel good in your hand. Don't do a bunch of work unless you'll like the result.
Strip the existing finish. I use acetone, a tooth brush and paper towels.
Don't use anything abrasive, as it will strip the nickel plating off the emblems.
Using Brasso and Q tips, get the crud off the screw escutcheons.
Use a toothbrush to be sure all the finish dust and Brasso bits are out of the checkered panels and surrounding grooves.
Carefully mask off the emblems. I use 2 layers of blue painter's tape and trim with a scalpel or Exacto knife. Mask off the checkering same way. You don't want to sand checkering or nickel plating.

Very carefully eyeball the grips in glancing, low angle light at various angles and you'll see sand paper and file marks from the original manufacture.
What grit sandpaper you use depends on how deep these are.
Choose an area easy to get at, and try 320 grit to see if it's coarse enough to remove the old marks quickly. If not, move down to 220, or 180, or 150 until one works. To minimize wood loss, use the finest grit that does the job.

Do not reduce the sharp edge of the grips that meet the back of the grip frame. Make that narrower and the frame will stand proud of the grips.

Go over all the surfaces until the original sanding/file marks are gone. Blow the dust off, wipe the grips down with lacquer thinner (it doesn't evaporate quite as quickly as acetone)
Move to the next finer grit, and try to sand perpendicular to the sanding marks you just made until the older marks are gone. Repeat dusting and lacquer thinner wipedown, repeat with succeeding finer grits - 150, 180, 220, 320, maybe 400 depending on where you started from.
Go cautiously - succeeding grits after your first sanding erase previous grit marks very quickly.

Make up a 50-50 mix of pure tung oil and mineral spirits. You won't need much. Get the smallest container of tung oil you can buy, mix an ounce or two of this and the mineral spirits in a separate container, shake well before using a paper towel to apply to the wood. Let dry and hour or two, depending on the humidity and temperature of your workspace, gently rub down with 0000 oil free steel or bronze wool. Liberon is a good brand.
Wipe off, blow out wool dust, repeat oil application, dry, steel wool rubdown. Repeat this routine about once an hour for a day, once a day for a week. When you reach the point where you like the soft shine, remove the checkering masking tape and coat the checkering with one coat.

I don't like a lot of finish on the checkering, because it masks the crispness and I like the look of checkering that isn't as shiny as the smooth part of the wood.

Let the very last coat dry until all smell is gone, then gently rub it once more with 0000 steel wool, dust it off, and wax with Renwax or Johnson's paste wax.
The pic is the most recent grip I did. If you want a shinier finish, you can use spray lacquer or Tru oil instead of tung oil.
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Old 09-09-2020, 05:12 PM
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There's your answer, send them to ameridaddy for restoration!
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Old 09-09-2020, 05:31 PM
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Tung Oil as opposed to Tru-Oil or any other Oil.
Would appreciate your thoughts on that.

Back in the '70s thru early '80s I used Tru-Oil for about 2K sets of 1911 grips but am open to your suggestions.
For the past 4 decades, before retiring from Marine Electronics and cutting the gear into various teaks, I let the yacht owners have their varnish people do whatever they liked.
On guitars I just use a wash coat of Parks sanding sealer.

Appreciate you thoughts and time.

Thx
Robert aka: Terry the Pirate.
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Old 09-09-2020, 06:45 PM
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I always sand grips screwed together with a 9mm case for a spacer. This way you don't round the mating edges. I apply finish this way too.
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Old 09-09-2020, 07:26 PM
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Tung Oil as opposed to Tru-Oil or any other Oil.
Would appreciate your thoughts on that.

Back in the '70s thru early '80s I used Tru-Oil for about 2K sets of 1911 grips but am open to your suggestions.
For the past 4 decades, before retiring from Marine Electronics and cutting the gear into various teaks, I let the yacht owners have their varnish people do whatever they liked.
On guitars I just use a wash coat of Parks sanding sealer.

Appreciate you thoughts and time.

Thx
Robert aka: Terry the Pirate.
I'm not familiar with Parks, but Zinsser sanding sealer is a dewaxed shellac that is intended as a first coat for light sanding followed by more shellac. It's clear, fast drying, but it does build, so multiple coats without sanding can start looking plastic. I think shellac is great for furniture, but wouldn't hold up well with sweaty palms on a gunstock. I would think a solvent or water-based sanding sealer would be just fine for a guitar if sprayed on, unless you're willing to rub out each coat if you brush or pad it on.
I haven't used TruOil for decades, but IIRC, it dries glossy, which I guess you could rub out if you want a satin finish. It's also very water resistant.
I recollect it is a varnish with some linseed oil in it, just like old oil paints had linseed oil. With the driers added, it will cure very quickly.

I like the 50-50 tung oil mineral spirits because I'm familiar with it, been doing it for decades, it is very, very forgiving in application because there is no worry about brush marks, runs and sags, it doesn't need expensive brushes and sprayers, it's non-toxic, you can apply it with fingers if you like (I don't), and if you scratch it or nick it down the road, there's no stripping or matching problems, just rub in some more tung oil/mineral spirits. I never takes on a built up, plastic look like polyurethane and some varnishes and lacquers can do.
The down side is it takes patience and a bit of rubbing over the course of a week or two, but only a few minutes each application with something the size of stocks, most of the time is in the rubbing out.

I did a replica of my grandfathers reading table for a friend, and it has more coats than my gunstocks, because I wanted more gloss.
I really can't say that one is better than another; it depends on equipment, whether wood grain like oak or walnut needs the pores filled or not, and the environment it will live in.

Guitar making or luthier work is a real art, and I could not make a finish recommendation for that, as I've never done it.
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Old 09-09-2020, 11:43 PM
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Here is an article I wrote years ago on refinishing stocks or grips. Hope you find it helpful.
How to- Grip / Stocks Refinishing with photos! FINISHED!
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:08 AM
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On a working gun I always use Tung Oil (100% pure). No finish lasts forever and Tung Oil can have coats added right over the old coats without stripping. Just a 30 second pass with 0000 steel wool and more Tung Oil can be applied. Dries thoroughly over night. I even use it on furniture!

I have lost count on how many times my M60-7 has been touched up! The great part is there is no sanding or stripping so no grip size reduction happens and it's very nice and easy to do. Tung Oil never peels!

Last edited by chief38; 09-10-2020 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:26 AM
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On a working gun I always use Tung Oil (100% pure). No finish lasts forever and Tung Oil can have coats added right over the old coats without stripping. Just a 30 second pass with 0000 steel wool and more Tung Oil can be applied. Dries thoroughly over night. I even use it on furniture!

I have lost count on how many times my M60-7 has been touched up! The great part is there is no sanding or stripping so no grip size reduction happens and it's very nice and easy to do. Tung Oil never peels!

I agree with this statement 100%. I have also on the occasioanl safe queen, tossed a coat or two of wipe-on poly on top for some extra gloss and protection


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Old 09-10-2020, 10:11 AM
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Very nice work, ameridaddy!! I have a 31-1 that the bottom of the grips looks like some one used it to tack up wanted posters. I have not refinished the grips because I feared the grips would stand proud from the frame as you point out.
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for the info. I did not know I could use acetone for a stripper. I have one set of grips that are to light for my taste and they have no grain features. I am thinking about adding some stain to them to darken them up a bit.
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:41 AM
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I did a total refinish with Tung Oil on an old Marlin 39A. It was 70+ years old (my Dad's) and the bluing was totally shot (rust was always coming back) - although the rifle itself was in tip top mechanical condition. While the rifle itself was out being refinished I worked on the Stock & Fore-end. I sanded off the original finish (some sort of Lacquer I believe) got it super smooth, repaired dents and dings and applied 12 coats of Hopes brand 100% Tung Oil over a two week period - lightly rubbing with 0000 steel wool between coats. I left the final coat untouched for a more glossy finish which was similar to the original. When the rifle came back, (about 2 months) I reassembled it and now the Marlin is good to go for another 70+ years! Looks GREAT, not fragile at all and I am sooooooo glad I did this!
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:47 AM
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I did a total refinish with Tung Oil on an old Marlin 39A. It was 70+ years old (my Dad's) and the bluing was totally shot (rust was always coming back) - although the rifle itself was in tip top mechanical condition. While the rifle itself was out being refinished I worked on the Stock & Fore-end. I sanded off the original finish (some sort of Lacquer I believe) got it super smooth, repaired dents and dings and applied 12 coats of Hopes brand 100% Tung Oil over a two week period - lightly rubbing with 0000 steel wool between coats. I left the final coat untouched for a more glossy finish which was similar to the original. When the rifle came back, (about 2 months) I reassembled it and now the Marlin is good to go for another 70+ years! Looks GREAT, not fragile at all and I am sooooooo glad I did this!
Who did you send the rifle to for refinish?
Pictures please!
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:48 AM
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Acetone works very fast to remove the old finish. BUT, be very careful with any rags as they can self ignite if left inside.
Watch what you buy for Tung oil, many that advertise as Tung oil have very little in it. It is always satisfying to refinsih a set yourself. It is easy enough and if you don't like the finish the first time it is an easy process to do over until they are what you want.
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:01 PM
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Before the China War started, there was a fellow at the local gun show who regularly had 4 or 5 tables of grips. I asked him what he used, because they all looked real good. He said he used Old English Lemon Oil on his to keep them in good shape. and he said it was $4 or $5 at Walmart. May not be the ticket for a complete refinish of old grips, but I have used it ever since then on my pistol grips.
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:05 PM
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MinWax Tung Oil Finish gives much better results on grips than any other oil finish . Very good product and gives a nice hand rubbed looking finish .... better than Tru-Oil , which I used for decades .
After discovering Minwax Tung Oil Finish I never bought any other .
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:07 PM
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MinWax Tung Oil Finish gives much better results on grips than any other oil finish . Very good product and gives a nice hand rubbed looking finish .... better than Tru-Oil , which I used for decades .
After discovering Minwax Tung Oil Finish I never bought any other .
Gary

Minwax is the best in my experience also, forgot to mention that. I have to get it at Loews, not many places carry it


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Old 09-10-2020, 01:32 PM
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I would suggest using acetone and a stiff bristle brush to remove the old finish, If the grips are warped or dented, take your time and hold over a kettle of steam, this will soften up the wood and ease out the warp. Wait overnight and wipe on boiled linseed oil, frequently over several days. It won't look new, but it protects the wood. Things like polyurathane and piano varnish are just topcoats where things like linseed oil soak into the wood.
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:34 PM
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Who did you send the rifle to for refinish?
Pictures please!
Midwest Gun Works and they did an excellent job!


Midwest Gun Works
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:22 PM
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I've never liked TruOil, this goes back to the 60's and my bad experiences with it. Just never got good results, couldn't get the stuff to dry,,except the remaining finish still in the jar. That always dried up pretty well.

Tung Oil I like, but when I use it I like the wipe-on Tung Oil Varnish sold in the Home Depot type stores. Many say there's no Tung Oil in these types of finishes,,That is a long standing often repeated phrase that came from an article printed in a high brow wood finishing/cabinetmakers magazine many years ago that had an axe to grind w/Homer Formby.

Those wiping varnishes are in truth slim on content when it comes to the key ingredient,,in this case Tung Oil. Maybe 15% or even less. The vast content is plain mineral spirits,,75% usually.

But that is how they work in a 'wipe-on' manner.
If you want true thinned consistancy to work with,,you have it right out of the can or bottle.
They make a beautiful 'in the wood' finish. Once that is done,,it can further be built up above the surface if that is what you want.

Sometimes I use plain shellac,,usually orange shellac. I mix it myself with dry shellac flakes and alcohol.
It lasts longer than the store bought stuff and you can mix as little as you may need for a job. Small amts can be stained for use as a toned finish.
Lots of this is in use in restoration work. Shellac finishes are not the best for modern heavy use utility guns but many oldr guns were finished with shellac.

I like to use stain on just about every stock I work on, make, or make over.
Sometimes an oil stain, or more than one color. Sometimes an alcohol based stain or other solvent stain.
Sometimes I use both on the same stock,,allowing drying times betw the two of course.

I fill the grain by sanding in the first coats of the finish. I start with the grit paper of the last grit I used to sand the plain wood.
Then go finer in grit paper with each 'wet sanding' to fill the grain.
AmerWalnut takes more sandings to fill than Euro Walnut as a rule but usually after 4 sandings and let it dry betw coats,,the pores are filled.
The final wet sand and wipe off leaving an absolutely smooth surface will usually be with 800 or sometimes 1000 grit paper.
If the job is a restoration, the pores may be left somewhat unfilled to math the age and look of the orig finish.
It all depends on what you are working on.

You can stop right there and simply put a couple ultra thin coats of Linseed oil on the wood. Really thin,,rubbed out to what feels to be nothing at all on the wood, but it will bring that glow to the surface that really looks nice and not garish.
Let each coat dry at least a few days..linseed is a notorious slow drying oil. Going back over it before it is completely dry(oxidized) is the main reason most Linseed finishes fail to look like they are supposed to.
I put my thumb over the open mouth of the Linseed Oil bottle, turn the bottle over and then back upright.
The amt of oil that is wet and clinging to my thumb that blocked the opening of the bottle is all that is necessary to completely cover an entire one piece rifle stock,,
Dot it around on the stock & hand rub and draw it out as thin as possible.
That is one coat ..let it dry for a few days before adding anymore....

When you feel it's complete, leave it as-is. Or a light rub down with either pumice or rottenstone on a soft pad to dull the gloss to your liking completes the job.
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Old 09-11-2020, 05:55 AM
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IMPORTANT: Anyone interested in using Tung Oil must make sure what they are using is 100% pure and not a blend! Tru-oil is NOT 100% Tung Oil and many products that have the words Tung Oil in them are not as well!

I have been using Hopes brand which is 100% pure Tung Oil and has no other ingredients in it.

BTW since 100% Tung Oil has no added catalysts, thinners, hardeners, etc. it never goes bad or expires! The gallon metal can I have and still use is to over 42 tears old now (purchased it one year before I was married) and still works perfectly! I just recently bought another can as this one os almost done - in plastic quart containers now. So if you want to try Tung Oil please make sure it states 100% Tung Oil on the label.

PS: 100% pure Tung Oil is non toxic and can be used on surfaces that are used to prepare food such as cutting boards, table tops, etc. Tung Oil is a natural Oil from a tree. Other stains and finishes are not!

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Old 09-11-2020, 08:26 AM
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Minwax is the best in my experience also, forgot to mention that. I have to get it at Loews, not many places carry it


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Lowe's is where I get it too .
For all you wood workers , the Tung oil finish is safe to use on kitchen use projects , wooden spoons , roux paddles , cutting boards , bowls etc.
Once the finish is dry and cured it is food safe .
Also can be used on projects that children use ...high chair , cribs etc. where you want a natural wood finish .
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Old 09-11-2020, 10:53 AM
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The original Parks Sanding Sealer was a nitrocellulose lacquer.
IIRC nitrocellulose lacquer is what my buddy, DaveA, the Gibson Man/refinisher down here used.
I'll have my boy order some of the Hope's later today.
Any differences between Hope's 100% and other 100% brands?
Thanks

Back in days of old in Cremona Italy they fiddled with cabinets/furniture as well as string instruments.
That Ruggieri was made in 1684 and the all ebony/rosewood Telecaster was an early 1980 made in my shop. DaveA wound the pickups. Looks like single coils but are stacked to be Humbucker quiet.
When I restored the fiddle I did a plaster casting of the top.
His cellos were prized more than his fiddles from what I was taught.

I wonder if the scrapings of nitrocellulose lacquer, from a cherry or tobacco sunburst guitar, if ground up and loaded, would go bang?
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Old 09-11-2020, 11:05 AM
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...
That Ruggieri was made in 1684 and the all ebony/rosewood Telecaster was an early 1980 made in my shop. DaveA wound the pickups. Looks like single coils but are stacked to be Humbucker quiet.
When I restored the fiddle I did a plaster casting of the top.
His cellos were prized more than his fiddles from what I was taught.
....
!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being trusted with working on those is awesome!!!!!!!
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Old 09-11-2020, 11:11 AM
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As long as the owners had their insurance up to date.
IIRC ...Measuring them, when in one piece, the top pros would carefully put a ferrous metal ball inside and with some electronics measure the current needed to keep the ball attached as they moved around the wood's surface.
They had to calm the violinist with a few shots of a single malt.
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Old 09-11-2020, 05:56 PM
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Rolandag2 Rolandag2 is offline
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Goatsandguns redid a pair for me and the end result is breathtaking. He did great work look at my post you like the job he did awesome and outstanding work
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Old 09-11-2020, 06:53 PM
brucev brucev is offline
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Delightful thread. Just right for Friday evening. Sincerely. bruce.
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:05 PM
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Between Hope's and Liberon is there any difference?
My laminated grips/stocks are a bit different in grain orientation than just face grain layups.... especially the cross grain layups that hopefully will not fracture at the backstrap area on X frames.

Thx
RT

Pic from a few years ago of the new vs old Sgt grip layup tests.
The crossed rifles and slings are a fun chore to accomplish ... First Sergeants and Sergeant Majors a bit easier.
Then there's the Navy Crow.

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Old 09-26-2020, 05:45 PM
Justamessenger Justamessenger is offline
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Great thread!
I have purchased good used magna grips for a police trade 10-5, a shooter.

gallery
S-amp-W-K-Frame-Square-Butt-Wood-Magna-Style-Service-Grips
I don’t think the picture will appear, but they are in good shape, maybe great shape, for the $44 I paid. I won’t be stripping these, but I gather I can put Min-wax tung oil, wipe-on poly, or a wax right on top for extra protection against sweat and holster wear. Which should I go with?
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