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Old June 3, 2013, 12:34 AM   #1
TemboTusk
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Refinishing Grips

I just picked up this nice ASM brass 1851 Navy 44. I really don’t like the grips; they look too modern.
Can these grips be saved?

I want to strip the finish and get rid of the black grain color and return it to a more classic period look. I’m worried the black stain or whatever was used to bring out the grain in this manner will be difficult to remove. I don’t want to make them look worse or turn them into a muddy mess by my ignorance in wood finishing.

Thanks for any suggestions!



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Old June 3, 2013, 03:56 AM   #2
Hawg
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You can try stripping them but those grips are laminated. I never stripped laminated wood and have no idea how they will turn out. Maybe someone else has. Might be best to start over with new ones but new/used ones will have to be fitted.
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Old June 3, 2013, 03:35 PM   #3
newfrontier45
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That's not a black stain but a black laminate. There is no getting the black out, it's all the way through. You'll have to either stain them very dark or ditch them altogether.
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Old June 3, 2013, 06:19 PM   #4
TemboTusk
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Thanks Hawg and Newfrontier,

I think I understand. The grip is not made from a solid piece of wood; more like layered and glued wood and carved into a grip.

Looking closer, I see the lines.

Can I assume the gloss finish is varnish which can be stripped and refinished? I figure if I'm going to have ugly a$$ grips, they might as well be beautifully finished ugly a$$ grips!




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Old June 3, 2013, 06:34 PM   #5
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Its probably polyurethane clear. If it is you can use a methylene chloride stripper but that stuff is nasty. Another option is rub it down with 0000 steel wool. That will give it a matte finish.
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Old June 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #6
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Maybe someone will trade you some plain walnut grips. Or you could sell them and buy wood grips.
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Old June 3, 2013, 07:42 PM   #7
4V50 Gary
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Either swap, buy replacement grips

or if you're on a budget, strip it and hit it with a dark leather dye.
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Old June 3, 2013, 08:04 PM   #8
Bill DeShivs
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There is no finish on the grips. They are simply polished. They probably won't take stain, either.
Your best bet is to buy (or make) new grips.
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Old June 3, 2013, 09:51 PM   #9
TemboTusk
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Thanks for all the responses! Sounds like new grips are in order if I want to stay traditional.
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Old June 4, 2013, 04:52 PM   #10
newfrontier45
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Like Bill said, most the time laminates are just polished and no finish is applied.
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Old June 4, 2013, 05:16 PM   #11
TemboTusk
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"Like Bill said, most the time laminates are just polished and no finish is applied."

If I wanted to bring back its original "beauty", could I fine sand the grips and polish it on a wheel to bring back its luster?
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Old June 4, 2013, 06:49 PM   #12
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You would most likely wind up with them being smaller than the grip frame.
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Old June 4, 2013, 09:18 PM   #13
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"Sounds like new grips are in order if I want to stay traditional."

I have a Pietta brass frame .44 and really like but it ain't traditional. Nothing you do to that gun will ever make it traditional. I suggest you keep the grips as they are and shoot the gun. You will save yourself money and grief.
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Old June 4, 2013, 10:27 PM   #14
TemboTusk
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I hear you on a brass 44 not being traditional. It just looks better with a nice rosewood grip!

Thanks for all the advise, I learned something about laminated grips I didn't know before.
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Old June 5, 2013, 06:44 AM   #15
4V50 Gary
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The glue in the laminate won't take a traditional stain. I'm thinking that leather dye would take. Some guys have had good luck with that stuff. I'd go with a dark color just to hide any laminate.
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Old June 5, 2013, 07:06 AM   #16
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Tembo...

It appears that no one answered your last questions which was.

"If I wanted to bring back its original "beauty", could I fine sand the grips and polish it on a wheel to bring back its luster? "

The original beauty of these particular grips is based upon the laminate make-up and the appearance imparted by that technique along with some fairly fine polishing.

So to bring back the beauty of these particular grips you can polish them carefully with a fast wheel and some fine rouge.

They will always retain that laminated apprearance which some people (myself exclued) find appealing. But they can be polished up. Be careful with the fast wheel.

I am with those who recommend replacement wood grips.
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Old June 5, 2013, 09:41 AM   #17
TemboTusk
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Thanks Doc and Gary,

When I started out, I didn't think refinishing the grips would be a big deal. I'm glad I did not go blindly forward, I would have made a mess of them! Everyone's advise helped narrow down what I will do. It will be fun to see how they turn out.

I looked into the various suppliers of grips and was surprised to not find much on the market. There are plenty of faux ivory grips, but no plain wood grips. I guess more people replace wood grips with fancy grips than the other way around.
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Old June 5, 2013, 10:23 AM   #18
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In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, "Well"

If you send me your address I'll put two very rough walnut blanks in the mail that you can cut down and finish. It works okay to make two piece grips even on a Colt.

These things are very rough (prolly 50% oversize) cut so they are very likely to be big enough to fit anything.
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Old June 5, 2013, 01:32 PM   #19
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Doc, A PM has been sent.

Thanks for the offer!!
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:12 PM   #20
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You do have another option . . . if you like the look of "faux ivory". Somewhere on this forum, and it's been a while back, someone posted some grips they "redid" by painting them with what i believe was a "appliance spray paint" - if I remember correctly. I can't remember if they then top coated them with a clear but they looked pretty decent when they got done with them.

I'm not a big fan of laminated grips either - they remind me of plywood but that's just me. Some folks really like that look and it's used on some rifle stocks as well. Different strokes for different folks .. . .

Grips aren't hard to make if you just take your time and fit them properly. You'd have the laminated ones to go by as far as profile shaping them in regards to rounding, etc. You can make your pattern for cut out by taking the existing grips off, putting the frame back together and tracing around the frame, etc. As you probably know - they are one piece grips so you'll have to get the spacer the correct thickness so they will fit the frame.

Grips for a Navy do not have to be one piece - you can make two piece and use a grip screw. Not authentic to the model but I have seen originals over the years that were refitted in that manner. In order to keep the panels in place, you'll have to drill the grip frame and place a locating pin the same way as modern pistols are.

I think it may have been Bill Adkins ??? who did the painted faux ivory grips but may be wrong. Maybe someone will chime in on that and set me straight on that. Do a search and see what you come up with as it is another option to consider. Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:21 PM   #21
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robhof

Those grips cost much more than factory grips and the smart thing to do is find a set of factory grips and sell those, you should have no problem getting more than you spend, either on Ebay or one of the gun auction sites, just be to set a minimum reserve that you can live with as sometimes it's a crap shoot on the auction sites.
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:34 PM   #22
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Robhof is right

I would go to eBay.


It is an absolute sea of idiots with more money than brains.
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:41 PM   #23
TemboTusk
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Thanks for the details Billy.

I will try my hand a some woodwork; Doc, has a spare set of rough grips he is willing sacrifice to the cause!! Not crazy about the ivory grips, although there are some really authentic looking plastic grips.

When I'm done, I'll post up pictures.

Good idea about Ebay.
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:57 PM   #24
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Man, I was hoping he would just send them to ME because I think they look cool.

Glad this worked out.
I knew somebody would send him some extra handles, Doc prob'ly has a sackful layin' around his house.
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Old June 5, 2013, 07:14 PM   #25
bedbugbilly
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Doc . . . tsk, tsk . . . that comment about fleaBay!

Before all of this high tech on line auction site stuff . . . I used to love to attend auction and stand back and watch the pi##ing matches when two folks got in a bidding war and paid more for something when they could just go down to the store and buy the exact same item for a lot less. Now, I don't have to waste gas or time . . . . I can enjoy watching it right from the comfort of my home!
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