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montea6b

Skeleton Grip Cap

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I don't get too many opportunities to tinker these days, but I had a little free time this evening and made some progress on project #2.

 

Here's the grip cap inlet to 99% full depth:

 

IPB Image

 

Here I've made the first strokes with the sureform to get it contoured to the right profile:

 

IPB Image

 

The front edge is contoured almost to the line:

 

IPB Image

 

Here the back is rough shaped: (I wet the stock to see the grain... man it's going to be pretty!)

 

IPB Image

 

Here's a little better view of the grain. Lots of fiddleback, the photo doesn't do it justice.

 

IPB Image

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Boy oh boy! I really like that! I was lookin for some info on this kind of thing just recently. Thanks for sharing. I hope to someday come close to having such skills. MV

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looks like you're right on target. great job! and a beautiful chunk of wood!

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Thanks guys. It's far from perfect, but I think it will look nice when finished. One of the trickiest parts has been getting the flat part flat. The only other grip cap I did I just had to level everything off. It was pretty easy to drag a straight edge across and see where the high spots were then knock them flat with a file. This kind takes a little more painstaking chisel work.

 

I was going to leave some wood around the inside edge, cut a border, and checker just the middle, but I think I'll probably checker all the way to the metal just to break up the border enough to cover the imperfections in the inletting. I'll be sure to post more photos of the final results.

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Guest Guest_roscoedoh_*

Monte,

 

If you want to try putting a little piece of ebony under a skeletonized grip cap some time, holler at me as I may have a little scrap piece you could work with.

 

-Jason

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Jason, hmm... that's a very interesting suggestion that I hadn't even considered. I've never even seen it done, but the possibilities are intriguing. It would would be easier for one thing. One could just flatten the cap area as you would for any grip cap, then trace the outline of the inside portion to a slice of exotic wood, (ebony, burl, rosewood, etc.) then trim to fit. You could start the inlay slightly oversized and creep up on it for an absolutely perfect fit. It would be far simpler than keeping the chisel cuts straight when shaving the sides of the center part down. I don't think I'll got that route now, but I'll definitely think about it next time.

 

Little Canoe, Just go for it! You have to start somewhere, this was my first one. I got a few pointers from my copy of "Gun Digest Book of Riflesmithing", and I think I may have seen another article or tutorial somewhere, as well as some photos for inspiration, but there are really no secrets. You just have to go slowly and be careful. I guess I can try to offer a few tips:

 

As with any grip cap, think carefully about placement before you start. Look at the overall length and sweep of the entire grip area before you decide on the angle and position of the cap. It's probably more critical with this type of cap since you can't just flatten the area first then slide the cap to where you want it since you'll have the shaped center section stuck in the place you carve it.

 

I used the profile of a Ruger #1 grip area that I decided has just the right amount of sweep for me. I pretty much just held the two side by side and placed it by eyeball. I was a little concerned that I should have placed the cap still further aft when I posted the first photo of the cap inlet to about half depth. Z pointed out that it looked like I'd end up with a long grip hanging down below the line from the toe of the butt. At that point he was right, and I thought it might look funny. However, now that I've got it to full depth and smoothed up this area I think it's about right. I might have moved it back about 1/8 inch looking at it now, but I'm happy with it. The transition from the toe line to the back edge of the cap is just a hair bigger than the radius of a rat-tail file which is about right for me.

 

The way I started, and I'm not sure I'd do it like this again, was to drill the holes first and screw the cap down tight before doing any cutting. I then took an exacto knife and cut as deeply as I could around the inside edge. My rational was that I could use the edge as a guide to cut it to exactly the right size and shape. I then removed the cap and started chiseling the flat part very carefully up to the vertical cut I had traced. This formed a rough outline that I could then use to back the chisel up to as I kept going deeper with the vertical cuts.

 

The problem with this technique is that no matter how careful you are, the blade is bound to slip away from the guiding edge of the cap. When it does, it cuts into the very part you DON'T want marred, however slightly.

 

I think the best way would be to trace the outline in pencil, or tap it down with inletting black, then make the vertical cuts oversized and bit by bit slice it down to size with numerous tries tapping it in place with inletting black to highlight the spots to trim. It's painstaking any way you do it, just like inletting an action.

 

Another tip that I'd recommend is that you protect the stock somehow. You end up chiseling in from all angles and there were a couple times that I slipped and lightly gouged bottom edge of the stock on the toe line from the butt end. (You can see this in the first photo if you look carefully) When the stock is clamped upside down this part angles up higher than the grip cap and is vulnerable. Maybe duct taping a piece of leather on would have been a good idea. Again, slow... light pressure... just a little at a time.

 

Wow, I didn't think I'd have that much to say about it, but I just rambled on... It's fun to see the final results though. Best of luck if you try it, and be sure to keep us posted on your progress!

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Monte,

Thanks for the info. I am getting over my fear of doing projects like this and in good time. I have one in progress where I plan on the skeleton grip cap and skeleton butt plate. It's helps to see your photo's and do's and don't's. It takes some of the questioning away.

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roscoe & littlecanoe... i was talking to the biesens a while back, and roger was showing me a skeletonized butt plate, and i was having trouble figuring out how they got it with no inletting hole and the grain looked funny... well, they put a seperate piece of wood under the butt plate, lie the suggestion for the ebony under the grip cap... it's a heck of an idea...

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