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Old 01-02-2021, 09:37 PM
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Default Trying my hand at grip refinishing

Well....I am making my first foray into the grip refinish arena. I have prepared them with acetone and 000 steel wool. They really cleaned up nice. I am preparing to coat them with Helmsman clear gloss spray spar urethane. These sets were in fairly rough condition initially, so I wasn't as concerned about it going south. Now I'm stoked that they cleaned up so well. I'll post the finished product once they are ready.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:46 PM
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They look great. Look forward to the finished product.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:46 PM
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You might want to consider Minwax Tung Oil Finish. I have had very good success with that product. The key is a good cleaning, and you have already done that. Tung oil is easy to apply, using only your fingers. Let is harden for a day or so.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:57 PM
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Do you think the original finish was polyurethane since you used acetone and it worked so well. Some of my S&W grips look like polymer or polyurethane finish. They have the characteristic chipping and ragged holes vs. simple wear on an oil finish. Maybe I'm weird, but I like the high gloss finish of polyurethane. Done correctly it's rock hard, but it doesn't touch up as easy as an oil finish.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:59 PM
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So far, so good!

I'm looking forward to photos of the finished product!
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Old 01-02-2021, 10:01 PM
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I used Mother’s on a set. Tung oil is great.
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Old 01-02-2021, 10:51 PM
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I'm looking to restore the high gloss style factory finish. I'm thinking it was originally polyurethane or spar urethane. I may opt to go polyurethane after all. Hard to beat those high gloss factory target grips.
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Old 01-02-2021, 10:54 PM
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They look good!
Did the Steel Wool clean the checking without hurting it?
And Iím OK with a flat finish. The Grips I want to refinish are older ones.
The Tung oil would probably work for me.
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:07 PM
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Welcome to the world of restoration!
For post-war stocks, if they just need very minor touch-up, I have some methods to hide rubs and scratches.
For full restores, after repairs to smooth and checkered areas, I give everything a light spray, then mask off the checkering for one or two more sprays.
For pre-wars it's all hand-rubbed Danish oil. One light coat dabbed off of the re-cut checkering, then one or two more hand-rubbed and buffed coats on the smooth parts to get the correct sheen. Feel free to PM!
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Old 01-02-2021, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by THE PILGRIM View Post
They look good!
Did the Steel Wool clean the checking without hurting it?
And Iím OK with a flat finish. The Grips I want to refinish are older ones.
The Tung oil would probably work for me.
I used a firm bristle toothbrush with acetone to clean the checkering. It worked great without dulling it. I used the steel wool on the smooth surfaces.
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:24 AM
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Don't use a rattle can spray on checkered grips, it's too thick of a viscosity and you'll end up with the "heavy" looking finish, and "clogged" checkering often seen on home refinished grips.

Prior to the mid 80's, S&W used a proprietary oil varnish finish and then switched to a polyurethane finish.

What I use is the thin "wipe on poly" finish (Minwax). That gives you much better control over the application to get the look you want. It's easier to need to apply multiple thin coats to get the right degree of finish, than have too thick of a coat out of the chute and needing to deal with that, which typically means stripping and starting over again.

For the checkered areas of the grips, I thin the wipe on poly, and apply sparingly with tooth brush, you don't need much to get the job done.

Some of my grips that I refinished as described as above:

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Old 01-03-2021, 08:23 AM
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Hello Relic Hunter
I'll take the lower right sq butt set 😁😁
Good work!!
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Old 01-03-2021, 07:04 PM
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Like Gunhacker said, the "wipe on" Minwax poly gives you more control due to it being thinned down. As you apply coats, each coat gets a bit more glossy. You can stop applying coats when you get the desired effect. You can "make" your own "wipe on" poly by mixing Minwax poly about 50%/50% with mineral spirits (or paint thinner). Thin even more if you apply a bit to checkering.
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Old 01-03-2021, 07:45 PM
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So, I got them done today. I used minwax fast dry clear gloss polyurethane in a silver quart can. It was pretty thin already. I applied it to the checkering via a clean toothbrush. This worked great. I applied the smooth areas with cheesecloth and a light coat. Honestly, I feel one coat is plenty of gloss to replicate the factory finish. The original finish examples I own have a remarkably light coating overall. I can still see the grain pretty well on my original sets. I took note of this and went light on the finish. They are curing as we speak. I was really impressed at how they turned out. What do yall think about the finished product?
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Old 01-03-2021, 08:13 PM
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Nice work. Those should purdy up any gun.
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Old 01-03-2021, 08:36 PM
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It looks like you need a little more practice--I'd be happy to send you a few pairs for you to perfect your technique. Return them to me--I'll evaluate them promptly and I won't even charge you for the opportunity, lol!

Seriously, nice work.
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Old 01-03-2021, 08:48 PM
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Really nice result. Makes me want to do mine now.
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Old 01-03-2021, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Relic Hunter 451 View Post
Well....I am making my first foray into the grip refinish arena. I have prepared them with acetone and 000 steel wool. They really cleaned up nice. I am preparing to coat them with Helmsman clear gloss spray spar urethane. These sets were in fairly rough condition initially, so I wasn't as concerned about it going south. Now I'm stoked that they cleaned up so well. I'll post the finished product once they are ready.
Did you soak the grips in acetone? How long?
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:06 PM
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I began by immersing the grips in clean acetone for 10 minutes or so. You can see the old finish start to wrinkle up, then start scrubbing with the toothbrush within the checkering. After cleaning the checkering i started cleaning the smooth area with 000 steel wool. Once all the finish was removed I dried and wiped any excess acetone and visually inspected for any remaining finish. I let the grips dry overnight even though the acetone drys pretty quick. I prep sanded the grips with 1000-1500 grit paper, then removed any remaining dust with an air chuck. I then did a quick wipe down of the grips with acetone again. I opened the polyurethane and started with the checkering by carefully applying with a clean toothbrush. After the checkering was completed, I used cheesecloth to finish out the smooth areas. Take it slow and move in the direction of the grain.
I decided to go with the polyurethane instead of the spar urethane. I also took advice from another forum member on hand application vs spray can. It was solid advice. I feel pretty good about this system. It was definitely easier than I anticipated.

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Old 01-03-2021, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
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I began by immersing the grips in clean acetone for 10 minutes or so. You can see the old finish start to wrinkle up, then start scrubbing with the toothbrush within the checkering. After cleaning the checkering i started cleaning the smooth area with 000 steel wool. Once all the finish was removed I dried and wiped any excess acetone and visually inspected for any remaining finish. I let the grips dry overnight even though the acetone drys pretty quick. I prep sanded the grips with 1000-1500 grit paper, then removed any remaining dust with an air chuck. I then did a quick wipe down of the grips with acetone again. I opened the polyurethane and started with the checkering by carefully applying with a clean toothbrush. After the checkering was completed, I used cheesecloth to finish out the smooth areas. Take it slow and move in the direction of the grain.
I decided to go with the polyurethane instead of the spar urethane. I also took advice from another forum member on hand application vs spray can. It was solid advice. I feel pretty good about this system. It was definitely easier than I anticipated.
Thanks, I've got two sets of N frame wood grips that could use a facelift. I think I'll give it a go.
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:06 PM
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Also, I used nitrile gloves while handling the grips to prevent oils from my hands causing adhesion issues. I was extra careful to ensure they were cleaned. Take it slow and they will turn out great.
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