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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently visited a new gun shop in town, and searched his loose junk box for anything of interest.

Among the old holsters, used speed loaders, and loose Pachmayr's, I found a set of Colt Second Type Target grips in excellent condition.

These appear to be virtually new, but with a very thin finish caused by age and poor storage.
There were virtually no scratches, and the checkering is still sharp.

I'm refinishing them and though you might like a pointer on this:

The closest thing I can find currently to the Colt factory finish, is Min-Wax PolyShades Old Maple Satin #330 stain and polyurethane finish.
Whatever Colt used was also a stain-finish.

This usually requires two coats to match the factory level of thickness and filling of the grain, and the color is VERY close to whatever the red-brown finish was Colt used back then.

If you want a "show" finish, sand between coats and apply until the wood is full, then spray a finish coat with an airbrush to give a glass-like smooth finish.

I used lacquer thinner and a tooth brush to remove the old flaky finish, and scrubbed the checkering lightly with a brass brush to clean the old finish out of the checkering.

I finished by rinsing in clean thinner, then allowed it to dry for a few hours.

I rubbed the wood down with a grocery store green synthetic pot scrubber pad, wiped and brushed clean, and applied a coat yesterday afternoon.

I allowed them to dry over night until BONE dry, then I rubbed lightly with the pad again, dusted again and applied another coat this afternoon.

The second coat is almost hardened, and after a week's cure time, I'll apply a coat of Johnson's Paste Floor Wax.

I wanted these to be in a factory type level of finish, and they appear to be an exact match for the 60's factory finish and color according to a set of original finish grips I have.
 

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Excellent post as usual. I tried various finishes that came somewhat close but not close enough. I will give yours a try now. Thanks.
 

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Hello, dfw ~ I have a question: how did you preserve the points of the checkering when sanding between coats? I've been fighting shy of refinishing some S&W Model 39-2 grips for fear of wrecking the checkering.
 

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There is no way I would ever attempt to refinish Colt or any other grips knowing I would surely screw them up... Then along comes dfariswheel and now I can't wait to give it a go...

Great post,

/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just don't sand around the checkering.
I use my fingers or some miniature sanding blocks I made from rubber.
I sand AROUND the checkering only if absolutely necessary.

If the checkering is dulled, I clean it up with a triangular needle fine.
Just be careful not to touch the checkering if at all possible.

Colt machine checkered the Target grips, and it curves "funny" on the rounded area at the rear edge.
If you do rework the checkering, be warned that on the rear edge the checkering doesn't curve like a hand checkering tool does, so you may have to use a triangular needle file to re-point the checkering in those areas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry, I didn't take a "before" picture.

Before, they had a thin, flaky flat remainder of the original finish, with no shine at all.



This is two brushed coats of Minwax PolyShade Old Maple Satin #330.
This is an almost perfect match for the early Second Type's Red-Brown color and satin shine.
 

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That's really impressive work. As with most things, the trick is patience and attention to detail.

Did you use a lacquer thinner because the stocks were originally lacquer? Did Colt use lacquer in the early years and switch to polyurethane in their manufacturing process? I'm guessing this is true because polyurethane became so popular in the 70's-80's.
 

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Very nice results, DFaris. You had better watch out or you will soon have members here asking you to refinish their stocks!

Did you remove the medallions before working on the stocks? If not, how did you keep them from getting messed up?

Thanks for the education.

Charlie Flick
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I didn't use any lacquer to thin the Minwax, but I did use it to remove the old finish.
Lacquer thinner just works well to remove the old finish, evaporates fast and doesn't raise the grain, and doesn't seem to harm the wood.

I have no idea what Colt used to finish grips, but it doesn't appear to have been a lacquer finish.

I didn't remove the medallions, due to the risk of cracking the grips, or of dishing out the area where the medallions are mounted and leaving the medallion sticking up above the surface of the wood too much.

I'm just careful about sanding around the medallions, and usually don't need to sand around them at all.

Again, basically I just used lacquer thinner and brushes to gently remove the old finish, do a little touch-up sanding where really needed and brush on two thin coats of Minwax finish.

For a factory-grade finish you don't want to do any more than absolutely necessary, because if you do, they no longer look "factory".

For a "Show quality" job you have to do a little more sanding, and making sure the grips fit the specific gun they're intended for.
This includes ensuring the seams on the front and bottom match up properly.

For show quality, you sand a little more between coats, put on enough coats to completely fill the grain, and spray on the final top coat with an airbrush.
 

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dfariswheel,

They turned out very well. Let me know when you decide to come out of retirement and I'll send you the grips from my 41 year old Python. They could use some work.

John
 

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Simply outstanding, dfs ~ beautiful work.

Thanks for the lessons and the pics. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

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Just completed refinishing a pair according to your directions. You would find it very difficult to choose between the refinsihed and Factory original finishes side by side.
Excellent choice dfariswheel, matches perfectly. Thanks!
Will post pictures when I get home.
 
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