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Old 09-29-2007, 01:57 AM
darkest2000 darkest2000 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orange County, California
Posts: 450
Custom Grip Colt medallion installation

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I love smooth rosewood grips particularly the ones from Chip McCormick. I love Colt medallions.

PROBLEM:Chip McCormick doesn't make smooth rosewood grips with Colt Medallions.


Take a set of Chip McCormick Corp smooth rosewood 1911 grips and install the gold Colt medallions then refinish. Simple.

First thing first, I “borrowed” the medallions from my Ajax set and made a quick template for the location of the medallion.

I aligned the template with the CMC grips and marked the spot where the hole for the medallion is to be drilled. Double check to make sure the locations look good, then fire up the drill press.

I drilled an index hole using a small bit to mark the center point. Do this for each grip.

DOUBLE CHECK again, if you mess up on this step, there’s still a chance to fix it.

The diameter of the Colt medallion is the standard ½ inch, so using the ½” wood boring drill bit, line it up with the index hole that I drilled earlier and take a deep breath…

Make sure to hold down the grip so it doesn’t move or slip on accident. I only held it down with my hand although it’s not a bad idea to use a clamp.

GO SLOW during the boring process to avoid any tragic events, stop after the hole is about 1/10” deep.

If the holes aren’t perfectly aligned it’s not really a big deal, I realized that even factory installed medallions aren’t perfect when I was making measurements.

After I finished drilling I test fitted the Colt medallions just to make sure everything is all dandy; Pops right in, not too tight, and not too loose. Excellent.

Remove the medallions and set them aside; it’s time to refinish the grips.

First I used chemical wood stripper to remove the factory sprayed on coating, after the surface finish is gone I carefully sanded the surface, I used 320 grit sand papers, anything higher would take too long and anything lower would cut the wood too fast.

It appears that CM grips were stained as well because I noticed that after sanded it down that bright red color is gone. Great, that’s just want I wanted. Keep in mind that the wood is still naturally reddish, but it isn’t the bright looking, almost orange-ish red from before.

I re-stained the wood with Minwax’s Dark Walnut, which tones down the red, as well as make it darker. This way the grips will have a finish that resembles dark red mahogany.

Above: Grips being stained.

Wait for the stain to set then wipe excess off. Time to install the medallions.

Pretty straight forward process, I used industrial grade epoxy glue to hold the medallions in, be mindful of where the epoxy is applied, we don’t want that stuff to ooze out when you press on the medallion.

Make sure the medallion is positioned upright then use a punch to push the medallion all the way down. Use some sort of padding so the punch doesn’t mar the medallions.

Last and final step is to apply clear coat. Now I’m not a master wood finisher and I don’t have time for a hand rubbed oil finish, plus I didn’t want a glossy surface.

So a spray on polyurethane would do. Some people cringe at the thought of using spray on polyurethane but I think it’s a great looking, easy to use and durable finish and is available in gloss, semi gloss, satin, and etc.

On top of which it offers much more resistance to chemicls an acid from hand sweat.

This is probably the same stuff that CMC uses now for their finish, just a guess.

I did about 5 to 6 coats to ensure that it has a healthy thickness; the finish at this point won't look so nice, you'll see a the wood grains showing through.

But this will be fixed when we sand it down. Think of first coatings as merely to seal the grains.

Above: finish ready to be sanded, notice all the little imperfections and pockets on the finish caused by the deeper wood grains.

After about 24 hours(recommendation was 72hrs, but whatever), sand the finish smooth to remove all the imperfections, then do about 2 more coats. Much better now. Repeat this process until the surface is all perfectly smooth if you like, but I don't think it's necessary. A little bit of grains wouldn't hurt.

Above: Finally!

And voila! The one and only set of CMC smooth rosewood grips with gold Colt medallions!

Here it is on my Colt series 80 stainless, this was intended for my Series 80 blued but I just bought a series 70 reissue blued so I guess this could go on that instead...

Hope you enjoyed, and sorry for the lengthy post.

Last edited by darkest2000; 09-29-2007 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 09-29-2007, 02:14 AM
dakota1911 dakota1911 is offline
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I enjoyed the lenthy post. The pictures were great.
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Old 09-29-2007, 06:59 AM
ishootblanks ishootblanks is offline
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Location: Franksville, Wisconsin USA
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Nice grips

Great job! Beautiful pictures, informative description of the process and super grips. You should be very proud of the results.
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Old 09-29-2007, 07:15 AM
lev83 lev83 is offline
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Great job wish we had more posts like this one. Thanks for your efforts and instruction.
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Old 09-29-2007, 09:39 AM
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2TransAms 2TransAms is offline
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That's awesome! Thanks for the post.
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Old 09-29-2007, 09:45 AM
.45ist .45ist is offline
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I enjoyed this very much. Beautiful job.
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Old 09-29-2007, 10:56 AM
45Driver 45Driver is offline
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Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 787
Absolutely fabulous!

I know you could make this into a lucrative hobby if you wanted to start selling these!

Not sure if it'd be worth the time but I know I'd want at least 2 sets.

You are pretty handy with that camera,too.

Last edited by 45Driver; 09-29-2007 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 09-29-2007, 12:49 PM
Ogie Ogie is offline
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Nicely done and very informative!
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Old 09-29-2007, 05:50 PM
rdinak rdinak is offline
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I enjoyed reading your post. Excellent photos and finished product.
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Old 09-29-2007, 08:23 PM
zenner22 zenner22 is offline
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Those grips came out great! You've got a talent I wish I had...
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Old 10-02-2007, 08:58 PM
mitch256 mitch256 is offline
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Those look awesome.

Does anyone know a good source to get the SILVER mediallons?
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Old 10-06-2007, 01:47 PM
39367 39367 is offline
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Location: Mississippi
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Awesome post, very informative.

What grit sandpaper did you use to sand the grips after you applied the clear?

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Old 10-07-2007, 02:57 PM
darkest2000 darkest2000 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orange County, California
Posts: 450
Originally Posted by 39367
What grit sandpaper did you use to sand the grips after you applied the clear?

400~600 would be ok, but I use 400 for faster cutting. Just make sure to work slower and more carefully to avoid over sanding.
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